The government of Turkmenistan is one of the worst persecutors of Christians in the world. Only the Russian Orthodox Church and government-sanctioned Sunni Islam have been permitted to obtain official registration. According to a former Turkmen foreign minister, “every believer is controlled”. The President tolerates no dissent and controls the country through the National Security Committee, the KNB (former KGB). He believes that religion is something bad that has to be controlled. As a result, Turkmenistan has the most repressive policy towards religion of all the former Soviet republics.
The relatively small population of this vast desert country situated in Central Asia, are wandering in a spiritual wilderness left there by years of oppression. A sense of hopelessness prevails among the people. Believer’s meetings, considered illegal, are often disrupted. Christian leaders are imprisoned and threatened with the loss and confiscation of their belongings. Believers and their families are intimidated. KNB spies are rife, infiltrating all aspects and levels of society. Amid all this, Christ is bringing hope and life to people. Many Christian believers remain strong, despite the intense persecution. When persecuted Christians are asked what other believers can do for them, the number one request is, “Will you pray for me?”
Crackdowns in Turkmenistan
Here is one example of a recent crackdown against Christians. When investigating a car wreck the police the found a box of Christian videos dubbed in the Turkmen language. The Turkmen Christian believers in the accident were subjected to repeated beatings, electric shocks and other forms of torture while under interrogation. Finally in the judge’s decision concerning this case, he allowed the believers released from prison sentences, in exchange for oppressive fines. They were forced to sign a statement declaring that they “voluntarily” donate everything they owned as a “gift to the President”. All their identity documents, as well as the ownership papers of their homes and cars, were confiscated.