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    » 07/06/2012, 00.00


    After four years in prison, Uzbek Jehovah's Witness gets another 30 months

    Abdubannob Ahmedov was set for release on 23 July but was convicted on unspecified charges of violating prison rules. A Baptist woman could also get three years in prison for "illegally reaching religion." Uzbek authorities continue their crackdown on religion.

    Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) - One month before the end of his four-year sentence, Jehovah's Witness Abdubannob Ahmedov received an additional 30-month sentence on charges of violating prison rules. Two other Jehovah's Witness prisoners of conscience also had their prison terms extended, but have now been freed. Four Muslims were also freed, on condition of speaking publicly in favour of government policies. Overall, Uzbek authorities continue their crackdown against religious believers and their activities, focusing on Protestants, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses without distinction.

    Abdubannob Ahmedov, from Fergana (central Uzbekistan), was given a new prison sentence of two and a half years. The sentence came just a month before he was due to complete a four-year prison term on 23 July, Forum 18 News Service reported. Four years earlier, he was convicted on alleged "illegal religious activities". He was convicted again in accordance with Article 221 of the Criminal Code for violating prison rules.

    The fate of Yelena Kim, a Baptist also from Fergana, remains a mystery. She faces up to three years' imprisonment on charges of "illegally teaching religion". Police raided her home in late June, seizing various documents, including books, videos, Bibles, hymns as well as personal papers.

    Uzbek authorities deny that religious freedom is violated in their country. However, each community has to apply for a state permit to exercise it. And the former are fickle about issuing such permits. Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses are among the most affected groups with some of their members brought to trial and convicted.


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    See also

    18/05/2012 TURKMENISTAN
    Ashgabat: second Jehovah's Witness sentenced to forced labour in 2012
    Aibek Salayev, 33, was accused of "distributing pornography". Supreme Court upholds his conviction, which goes into effect immediately. He will go to the Karabogaz camp on the Caspian Sea. Another Jehovah's Witness was sentenced to two years of hard labour for conscientious objection.

    21/06/2010 UZBEKISTAN
    Uzbek authorities force Christians, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to go underground
    Church members and religious groups complain that the state does not authorise them to operate on the basis of pretexts or by silently ignoring them. Without a permit, even meeting to pray can be punished. After many years, the Central Protestant Church is still fighting for its rights.

    15/01/2010 UZBEKISTAN
    Tashkent: heavy fines and prison terms for Christians
    Police persecute Christians even during Christmas. Fines often are worth years of wages and repeat offenders can go to prison.

    11/02/2012 UZBEKISTAN
    Tashkent, two Jehovah's Witnesses risk 5 more years of hard labor
    Olim Turaev (38 years) and Sergei Ivanov (25 years) charged by prison authorities of disobedience. In reality it is an attempt to force them to abandon their faith.

    23/08/2008 UZBEKISTAN
    In Tashkent meeting at home to pray is a crime
    The state appoints imams, chooses what goes into religious education and decides who can and who cannot go to Makkah. Non-Muslim groups are hard pressed to be recognised. Jehovah Witnesses can get two or three years in jail just for getting together.

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