Christian converts in the Kyrgyz Republic have reportedly experienced an increase in persecution beginning this year.

Open Doors United Kingdom highlighted in a news release on Wednesday that Kyrgyzstan Christian converts are widely persecuted not only by society but also within their families.

"In Kyrgyzstan, the local authorities have considerable power and tend to be under the influence of the local Muslim community. This has strong repercussions for converts to Christianity. For many Christians in Kyrgyzstan, persecution is a daily occurrence. They face discrimination--be it in their local community, workplace or army. Some converts are locked up for long periods by their families and beaten. Local Islamic teachers preach against them and may cause them to be expelled from their communities," an OpenDoors UK region representative, named Aibek for security purposes, said.

The Kyrgyz Republic, though located in Central Asia, was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, as per the United States Department of State. Britannica explained that the country is bounded on the east and south by China, on the northwest and north by Kazakhstan, on the south by Tajikistan, and on the west by Uzbekistan. It has an estimated population of 6.7 million as of 2021 with two official languages: Russian and Kyrgyz.

Russian rule, however, did not convert the country into a Christian one. On the contrary, Kyrgyzstan's population is 80% Sunni Muslim, 15% are Christians but mostly Russian Orthodox, and the remaining 5% are Buddhists, Jewish, and many others.

In the news release, the international religious freedom watchdog enumerated several cases of persecution where Kyrgyzstan Christians were threatened, their pets poisoned, and, at times, don't even have a place to bury their dead.

One case involved Kerim (not his real name), who was not allowed to attend his mother's funeral because he is a Christian. He was only able to enter the cemetery and mourn when all the people left. However, a Muslim leader or "mullah" and other people saw him and threw him out of the cemetery. The mullah reasoned he would desecrate the cemetery. When Kerim persisted in an explanation, the mullah forced him to pack his things and leave their village.

Accordingly, the mullah previously denied burial to Kerim's brother in their village since he, too, was a Christian. Kerim's family had to bury his brother in the nearest Christian cemetery, which was a hundred miles away.

Another case involved a pastor and some of his congregants who distributed books of Bible stories in a boarding school. The pastor and his companions received threatening phone calls and WhatsApp messages afterward. The pastor's dogs were poisoned also.

In addition, there is the case of Kirimaya (not her real name also) who is a young mother. Kirimaya was ejected from her home at night by relatives who didn't like her conversion to Christianity. Kirimaya then took a job at a local cafe as a dishwasher and cleaner to support herself and her child. But it didn't take long for her employer and coworkers to know she is a Christian convert. They maltreated her, forcing her to leave her job.

The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom has repeatedly urged the Kyrgyzstan government to seek the counsel of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for the drafting of their religion law amendments. The USCIRF also stressed that the religious freedom violations be raised to the international fora by the Kyrgyzstan government.

As follow through, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya visited the Kyrgyz Republic last April 11-16 to meet on matters of human rights and enhance bilateral cooperation, among other issues.