Thinking Out Loud

May 12, 2009

Turkmenistan Censors All Forms of Religious Literature

turkmenistan flagThey confiscate books, Bibles, calendars containing Bible verses and even laptop computers.    When the laptops are returned, Bible software has been deleted.  When asked who makes the decisions, they refer to “the commission.”   When asked who sits on this commission, the phone line is suddenly cut.

Turkmenistan-mapTurmenistan is located north of Afghanistan and also borders on Iran and Ubekistan.   The ban affects all manner of Protestants and sects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, though ethnic Russians are more likely to get personal materials returned if they appeal.

All this information comes from a news release earlier today from Forum 18 News based in Oslo, Norway.   The source of the story is as interesting as the story itself.   F18 News is an online service affiliated with a Norwegian-Danish charity.   It explains its objectives…

Everyone has the fundamental human right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief. This is firmly established in international law, notably in Article 18 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The first part of both articles states:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

F18 LogoForum 18, named after these paragraphs, expresses this fundamental right as:

The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

Forum 18 is a Christian web and e-mail initiative to provide original reporting and analysis on violations of the freedom of thought, conscience and belief of all people, whatever their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner. It mainly publishes on the former Soviet states, notably Belarus and Central Asia, but also publishes original work on states such as Serbia and Turkey. Forum 18 works for religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Forum 18, on the theological basis of the Incarnation, affirms that each person – whatever their belief or non-belief – has a fundamental dignity which no state or person can take from them. Therefore, Forum 18’s work affirms that religious freedom – including the right to have no religion and to criticise any religion – is a fundamental human right essential for the dignity of humanity and for true freedom.

To read today’s story, click here, and then use the navigation bars to read other stories or find out more about F18.

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