World Watch List: 22
Leader: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Population: 5.9 million
Main Religion: Islam
Source of Persecution: Dictatorial Paranoia
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Central Asia through:
- Literature distribution
- Biblical and vocational training
- Socio-economic development
- Women’s ministry
”What was different from other prayer days? Unity, willingness to join and to connect, to be together with other brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear problems in their regions and to pray in unity. We really need unity as Christians in Turkmenistan.”
– Shared during a prayer day in Turkmenistan
Source of persecution: Dictatorial paranoia / Islamic oppression
The highest level of control
Out of the Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan has the highest level of state control. Despite what is written in the Constitution, there is barely any freedom of religion in the country. Agents of the state closely monitor all religious activities, and there are so many restrictions on what a person is allowed to do to practice one’s faith.
State-run and state-controlled
No religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed. Unregistered churches or Christian groups are illegal, but it has proven almost impossible to be registered. They recurrently face police raids, threats, arrests, and fines. Meanwhile, the activities of registered groups are monitored; police, secret services, and local authorities regularly attend church services. All religious literature must be screened by the authorities, where they are mostly confiscated and destroyed.
The decreasing minority
Christians make up only 1.2% of the population, with majority belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. With the continuous emigration of ethnic Russians from the country, the Christian community is set to decrease, making it an even smaller minority.
Believers from a Muslim background bear the brunt of the persecution both at the hands of the state and from family, friends and community. They may be beaten or locked up by their families for long periods of time to make them recant. Other Christians who are suspected of evangelising to Muslims also face harassment.
- For unity across denominations in the Turkmenistan church, so that they can stand strong against the persecution together.
- For endurance and faith for believers from a Muslim background who are facing pressure to renounce Jesus.
- That house churches will be protected, and that Christians will not give up meeting together despite the risks.