HIAS Secures Asylum for Tajik Persecuted for Converting to Christianity
Sep 14, 2014
HIAS is proud to announce that a client, a converted Christian from Tajikistan who was jailed and tortured for bringing bibles into the country, has been granted asylum in the U.S.
AG first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student in 1994 and returned to attend college.
While studying, he was offered employment setting up U.S. operations for a Tajikistan company. While living here, he became interested in Christianity, which was solidified by the comfort it provided him when his father died.
On trip home in 2008, AG took 15 bibles, which he planned to give to a Russian friend. When they were discovered by authorities in Tajikistan, he was arrested for violating a local law which actually prohibited Muslims from transporting religious books without permission. He was detained and tortured until a local human rights organization secured his release.
AG left to resume his position in the U.S. but returned home only weeks later when he learned that his father’s grave had been vandalized. He was once again arrested in Tajikistan, this time in possession of his own bible. He was interrogated and tortured for approximately 10 days.
When AG was released, it was with the warning that if he was caught again with Christian materials, he would be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility. A week later, AG traveled to Moscow with his wife and two children to be baptized. The following day, police arrived at his home in Tajikistan and told his brother they had come to take him for psychiatric treatment. AG returned to the U.S. to request asylum.
HIAS provided AG with pro bono legal representation under our PRINS Program, which assists persecuted professionals as well as scientists, scholars, and artists who need asylum.
Safely settled in the U.S. AG says he and his family are living his American dream. He is a manager in a Brooklyn-based logistic company and is planning to get an MBA. His wife has a job as a supervisor in a day care and his children are A students at their high school. AG calls it the perfect family picture.