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Turkmenistan: ‘I Don’t Know How These People Are Going To Pay The Fines’

After a January 22, 2011, raid on Protestants in a private flat [apartment] in Turkmenabad in eastern Turkmenistan, a court has imposed heavy fines on about 17 of those present, Protestants who asked not to be identified for fear of state reprisals, told Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org).

Satellite dishes everywhere. An extraordinary street scene in Turkmenabad

According to a story by Felix Corley, all are thought to have been fined under Article 205 Part 2 of the Administrative Code, which punishes “support for or participation in the activity of a religious group of religious organization not officially registered in accordance with the legally established procedure”.

Corley wrote, “Two children present were forced to stand before their entire schools and publicly insulted. Victims of other raids are often afraid to have their cases publicized, for fear of attracting further state harassment.”

Local people told Forum 18 that the fines represent between one and two months’ average wages for those in an average state job.

“I don’t know how these people are going to pay the fines,” one told Forum 18. State officials refused to discuss the case with Forum 18.

“The Administrative Code is being re-drafted, but previous legislative changes have not improved freedom of religion or belief in practice,” added Corley.

Note: Turkmenistan is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR) and is one of the six independent Turkic states. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, Uzbekistan to the east and northeast, Kazakhstan to the north and northwest and the Caspian Sea to the west.

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Continental News is a French Newspaper created by Aloys Evina, pastor of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee).

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