Bakhrom Kholmatov, 42, was sentenced to three years in prison. The authorities claim that his Sunmin Sunbogym Christian centre is illegal. For the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Tajikistan is a "country of particular concern".
Dushanbe (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A pastor of the Korean Christian Sunmin Sunbogym (Good News of Grace) Church in northern Tajikistan was sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of extremism.
Local news media report that the clergyman’s sentence was issued in late July but it became known only now.
It is reported that 42-year-old Bakhrom Kholmatov was arrested on 10 April of this year in Khujand after an inspection of a Protestant church with Korean roots.
Tajikistan authorities maintain that the Sunmin Sunbogym Christian centre does not have official registration and therefore its activity on the territory of the country is illegal.
However, the church’s website notes that the centre was officially registered in 2009 with the Committee for Religious Affairs of Tajikistan.
Sunmin Sunbogym has been in the central Asian nation since 1993. Before the adoption of a new law on religious activity, it operated as a missionary organisation.
At present, more than 70 non-Muslim centres and organisations are active in Tajikistan.
Recently, Tajikistan has been subjected to criticism for infringing the rights of believers. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom considers Tajikistan a "country of particular concern" with respect to freedom of religion.
According to the authors of the report, Tajikistan continues to persecute its citizens on religious grounds.