Tajikistan pastor jailed for singing religious songs ends appeal

Bakhrom Kholmatov
Bakhrom Kholmatov
Bakhrom Kholmatov (Facebook)

A Protestant pastor serving three years in prison for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred” has chosen to make no more appeals against his sentence, reports regional news agency Forum 18.

Bakhrom Kholmatov, 42, was sentenced in July and began serving his three-year prison term in solitary confinement in a prison in Yavan, 360km from Khujand, where his family live. Officials said it was “normal procedure” to place convicts in solitary confinement for 15 days before they are released into the main prison.

His decision about making no further appeal was revealed by Protestants who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals.

Members of Kholmatov’s Sunmin Sunbogym (Full Gospel) Protestant Church in Khujand claimed they were harassed and tortured by secret police after the arrest of the pastor.

Kholmatov, who is married with three children, was arrested on unspecified charges during a 10 April raid on his church. Affiliated churches in the Sogd region were raided and closed down earlier in the year.

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