(Church in Chains) — Tajik pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov has been released from prison three months early. He was due for release in March 2020, but was freed at 10 a.m. on Dec. 18.
Pastor Bakhrom (43) was arrested and imprisoned in April 2017 after secret police officers raided his church, the Sunmin Sunbogym (Good News of Grace) Protestant Church in Khujand, capital of the Soghd region of northwest Tajikistan. In July 2017, he was sentenced to three years in prison for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred.”
Pastor Bakhrom served most of his sentence in Yavan Prison in the southern Khatlon Region, 360km from his home in Khujand, where he lives with his wife Gulnora and their sons Firdavs (22) and Firus (20) and daughter Gulnoza (15). Gulnora has suffered from exhaustion, stress and high blood pressure since her husband’s imprisonment.