A group of about six officials - two of them in police uniforms - raided Begjan Shirmedov's home in Dashoguz, Turkmenistan. They arrived during a house church meeting, attended by about 15 church members.
The officials told them that religious activity without state registration is illegal. The believers replied that they have been attempting to obtain registration without success since 2004.
Police searched every room in the house, and confiscated all Christian literature and CD’s. When they asked where the literature had come from, family members insisted they had collected the books over many years, as they have been Christians since the mid-1990s.
About 15 church members, women and children included, were taken away to be questioned. According to a Forum 18 report, "Begjan Shirmedov was dragged out of the house by his collar.” Begjan is a 77 year old, elderly man who, according to the Turkmen tradition, should be treated with more respect.
"They treated an elderly man like a tramp in front of his wife, his children, church members and neighbors without fear of having to answer for their actions," said a local source.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes
Rank: 20 Previous Rank: 19 Leader: President Berdymukhamedov Government: One-party state Religion: Islam Population: 5.3 million (94,700 Christians) Source of persecution: Dictatorial paranoia/Organised corruption