2017-08-08 10:17:00

Protestant pastor jailed for 3 years for extremism in Tajikistan

Dushanbe, August 8, Interfax - A pastor of the Korean Christian Church Sonmin Sunbogym was sentenced for three years of imprisonment on charges of extremism in northern Tajikistan.

The sentence had been handed down to the pastor in late July, but it became known only now, local media said. Bakhrom Kholmatov, aged 42, was detained, following an inspection of the Protestant church with Korean origins, in Khujand on April 10, 2017, media said.

According to official report of law enforcement structures, the man was detained on suspicion of extremism.

Tajik authorities said that the Sonmin Sunbogym Christian Center is not registered officially, and, therefore, its activities are illegal in the country. However, the Korean church said on its website that the Sonmin Sunbogym Center had been officially registered in the Tajik Religious Affairs Committee in 2009.

The Christian center has been active in Tajikistan since 1993 and operated as a religious mission before the adoption on the law on religious activities.

Over 70 non-Muslim centers and organizations are currently active in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan has been recently criticized for the infringement on the rights of believers. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it considers Tajikistan "a country causing particular concern" in ensuring the freedom of belief. Citizens continue to be subjected to religiously-motivated persecution in Tajikistan, the USCIRF said.