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Turkmenistan Chapter - 2017 Annual Report

Turkmenistan Chapter - 2017 Annual Report

Russian Translation

Turkmen Translation

Key Findings

In a climate of pervasive government control of information, particularly severe violations of freedom of religion or belief persisted in Turkmenistan in 2016. The government requires religious groups to register under intrusive criteria, strictly controls registered groups’ activities, and bans and punishes religious activities by unregistered groups. A new 2016 religion law further tightened registration requirements. Police raids and harassment of registered and unregistered religious groups continued. At least 20 Sunni Muslims who engaged in private religious study remain jailed; their leader, Bahram Saparov, is serving a 15-year term and reportedly has been severely tortured. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mansur Masharipov and Bahram Hemdemov, are known to be in prison for religious activity and reportedly have suffered torture. Turkmen law does not allow a civilian alternative to military service, and six Jehovah’s Witness conscientious objectors are known to be detained. In light of these severe violations, USCIRF again finds in 2017 that Turkmenistan merits designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The State Department has designated Turkmenistan as a CPC since 2014, most recently in October 2016.