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Jehovah's Witness Jailed In Turkmenistan For Conscientious Objection To Military Service

Jehovah's Witnesses are often viewed with suspicion in some post-Soviet countries due to the views of its members about military service, voting, and government authority in general.

A court in Turkmenistan has jailed a Jehovah's Witness for objecting to military service, the religious group's spokesperson told RFE/RL.

Jarrod Lopes said on February 24 that a court in Turkmenistan’s northern Dashoguz region found Vepa Matyakubov guilty on February 17 of avoiding mandatory military service and sentenced him to two years in prison.

According to the group, Turkmen authorities have imprisoned 20 Jehovah’s Witnesses for their conscientious objection to military service since 2018.

All of the men, except three believers, were jailed for evading mandatory military service. Eleven of them were released after serving their terms, while nine remain in custody.

Turkmenistan laws oblige all men between 18 and 27 years of age to serve in the armed forces for two years. Dodging military service is punishable by up to two years in prison.