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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 05/12/2006, 00.00

    UZBEKISTAN

    Religious persecution in Uzbekistan going from bad to worse



    Government seeks total control of Muslim majority and wants to rid the country of other religions. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the army massacre of defenceless civilians in Andijan.

    Tashkent (AsiaNews/Forum18) – Religious freedom continues to be violated in Uzbekistan as the government seeks total control over religion. According to art. 8 of Uzbekistan's Religion Law, only registered religious groups can engage in any religious activities, but more often than not, registration is never granted.

    Many groups that have applied to be registered are still waiting for approval. For them, even a simple prayer in a private home is dangerous. Participants in such illegal activity can be fined under art. 240 of the Uzbek Administrative Code (this year fines increased tenfold) or incarcerated up to 15 days. Under art. 216-2 of the Criminal Code, proselytising is also punished with prison sentences varying from six months to three years.

    With Muslims constituting over 90 per cent of Uzbekistan's population, the authorities see Islamic radicalism as a reason to keep a lid on Islam and the population. Fearing Islamic radicalism the government has used state media and a network of secondary and higher educational institutes to train state-appointed imams, who are nominated and replaced at the whim of the authorities although the law does not allow it. Even Friday prayers must be approved by the Muftiate, the government-controlled Islamic religious leadership.

    Non-state controlled mosques are not registered and so must operate as social clubs, libraries, museums, like during Soviet times.

    Non-state controlled religious education is forbidden. Violators can be fined or even imprisoned.

    State Islamic educational institutions are keen to ensure that students are politically loyal to the President, using means such as asking applicants questions to test their political reliability.

    Many Muslims are incarcerated on charges of belonging to radical or banned organisations or simply for meeting to pray or discuss God.

    Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Andijan massacre, when the army fired on unarmed demonstrators, killing hundreds.

    No one has been charged for the crime, but hundreds of people have been tried and sentenced for "organising" subversive demonstrations.

    Since May 2005 a wave of repression has hit anyone involved in religious activities.

    "It is clear that the majority of Muslims arrested after the Andijan rebellion were 'guilty" only of meeting to read the Qu'ran and talk about God," said Ikramov of the Human Rights Initiative Group of Uzbekistan.

    But Muslims are not the only one suffering. However numerically insignificant other religions may be, the government does not simply want to control them; it seems bent on restricting them if not altogether eliminating them.

    In the north-western region of Karakalpakstan Christian, mostly Protestant, groups are not allowed to worship or engage in any activity, except for the Russian Orthodox parish in the regional capital Nukus. The anti-Christian campaign has gone so far as threatening children to get them to renounce their religion

    In March and April, Jehovah's Witnesses have also come under attack with government agents disrupting religious functions.

    "When Christians meet in private apartments for discussion, the authorities see them as potential terrorists. Since the events in Andijan the number of raids by police on private apartments owned by Christians has risen, as has the number of arrests of believers," Iskander Najafov, a lawyer for the Tashkent Protestant Church. (PB)

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    See also

    22/05/2009 UZBEKISTAN
    Bible and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ banned in Uzbek region of Karakalpakstan
    Regional authorities impose ban but offer no explanation. All religions except Islam are outlawed in the area. Religious literature is systematically confiscated and anyone caught in possession of such material, even for personal use, can be fined or jailed.

    20/09/2004 UZBEKISTAN
    Two female students thrown out of university because they are Christian


    15/05/2008 UZBEKISTAN – KYRGYZSTAN
    Three years after the Andijan massacre torture and manhunts continue
    In May 2005 the army shot at unarmed demonstrators, killing hundreds. Since then eyewitnesses have been tortured, made to disappear or forced to “confess” their errors, this according to Human Rights Watch, which has called on Uzbekistan’s neighbours not to repatriate Uzbek fugitives.

    30/12/2005 KYRGYZSTAN – UZBEKISTAN
    Kyrgyzstan under pressure to repatriate refugees to Uzbekistan
    Human Rights Watch writes an open letter to Kyrgyz President Bakiyev. It fears that upon repatriation refugees will be torture to extract confessions.

    31/01/2008 UZBEKISTAN
    Big gas exporter Uzbekistan keeping its citizens in a deep freeze
    In energy-rich Uzbekistan people are freezing in the dark because of gas and power shortages. With temperatures that dip to -20 centigrade during the day and -30 at night, people’s complaints have little impact on powerless authorities.



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