From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Turkmen Pastor Faces Bleak Future After Destruction of Church

From "Beckett, John" <>
Date 12 Apr 2000 09:35:07

ANN Bulletin
Adventist News Network
Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters
April 11, 2000
Turkmen Pastor Faces Bleak Future After Destruction of Church
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan .... [ANN]

In a recent interview with news agency Agence France-Presse, the pastor of
the Seventh-day Adventist Church which was destroyed by Turkmen authorities
last November described the final moments before bulldozers began the
destruction of the seven-year-old Church building where more than 80 people
had worshiped each week.  Pavel Fedotov, 28, told an AFP reporter last week
of weeping church members who sang hymns as authorities outside ordered
operators of heavy demolition machines to begin tearing down the church.

"The security forces ignored our requests to show their orders, as well as
our pleas that people still remained in the church," Fedotov is quoted as
saying. "They said they had an injunction to quickly tear down the building,
because it was allegedly in a state of disrepair."  Fedotov points out that
although Turkmen authorities claimed the church was being destroyed so that
a major road could be constructed, work on the road has still not begun in
the five months since the building was flattened.

Fedotov, however, remains committed to serving his Ashgabat congregation.
"As before, we will meet for prayer," he told the AFP reporter, "but there
is no permanent place for the service, and no official approval. The future
will only get worse."

The destruction of the Ashgabat church in 1999 continues to act as a
lightning rod for the concerns of international human rights organizations
and governments around the world, which view with concern Turkmenistan's
increasing repression of religious minorities. The incident has been cited
numerous times by members of the United Nations in session, recorded in the
United States' State Department's annual international religious freedom
report, and retold in a growing number of news stories dealing with the
plight of minority religions in this central Asian country.

While the Muslim and Russian Orthodox faiths have thrived in post-Communist
(post-1991) Turkmen society, protestant Christian groups and other
non-mainstream religions are facing escalating hostility from the Turkmen
government, led by entrenched president Saparmurat Niyazov. These religious
groups must fulfill what has been described as "near-impossible"
registration requirements before being granted legal status, and most have
been unable to comply. [Bettina Krause]

Contact Information: 
Communications Department
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600

Phone: 301-680-6300

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