West & Central Africa

Jailed Tajik pastor ends appeal against jail term

Bakhrom Kholmatov. Photo: The Voice of the Martyrs

A Christian pastor jailed for being in possession of “subversive” hymnbooks has called time on efforts to appeal his three-year sentence.

Bakhrom Kholmatov was arrested in April and held in custody until his trial in July, when he was handed down a three-year prison term for “inciting national, racial, local or religious hatred or dissension.” The pastor has chosen not to make any further appeals against his sentence.

Bakhrom’s relatives, who live 360km away, have now been able to visit him to give him food and clothes; his family did not hear from him for three months after his initial arrest.

Authorities threatened the family not to release details of his trial.

The secular government of Tajikistan uses anti-extremism laws to crack down on all religious groups; since 2011, children have been banned from taking part in religious activities.