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  • » 01/15/2010, 00.00

    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.
    Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) – Uzbek police continued to persecute Christians during Christmas. In several cases, it stormed gatherings and religious functions, imposing heavy fines. Repeat offenders were also jailed.

    On 3 January, police raided a Christmas gathering by about 40 members of the Full Gospel Holiness Church in Umid village (Yangiyul district). Although the Church is recognised by the authorities and is allowed to engage in religious activities, police officer Bobur Usmanov told the Forum 18 new agency that the Church “was not registered in Umid village.”

    Under the current law on religious freedom, which was made more restrictive in recent years, religious groups must register in the regions where they want to carry out their activities.

    Police have given the law an even more conservative interpretation to mean that religious groups must register in each small town and village. Without such recognition, getting together to pray or just speak about religion in a private home can be considered unlawful.

    Now the leaders of Holiness Church, Kholmet Ashirov, Ayazbek Taytaliyev and Rustam Usmanov will probably be heavily fined. The last two were sentenced to five days in prison in 2009 by the district court of Yangiyul for organising and chairing religious meetings. Now they could be sentenced again as “repeat offenders”.

    In late December of last year, the Termez City Criminal Court fined Rev Bakhrom Nazarov a total of 2,805,000 som (US$ 1,825) for holding an unauthorised prayer. In a country where the average monthly is around US$ 20, such a fine represents 81 months of wages.

    Nazarov, who heads the Full Gospel Church in Urgench, which is also not registered locally, has been harassed by the authorities. He has also been in prison on several occasions. In 2004, even his Bible was seized.

    Forum 18 has reported that the situation for Christians has worsened. It noted that many believers have spent anywhere between 5 to 15 days in jail for attending religious meetings, people like Mahmudjon Turdiev, Mahmudjon Boynazarov and Ravshanjon Bahmarov, all from Kurgantepe; and Roman Tsoi, Pavel Nenno, Andrei Sim, Vladimir Tyo, Yuri Tyo and Dmitri Sim from Tashkent.

    Local sources said that Mahmudjon Turdiev and Ravshanjon Bahmarov have also been threatened with more time in prison if they insist on appealing their sentence.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses Dilshod Akhmedov, Fatima Akhmedov, Ilhamjan Akhmedov, Galina Fris, Ayshe Setablaeva, Mamlakat Nabieva, Angelina Farahova, and Gulchehra Tashboltaeva have spent 5 to 15 days in prison.

    A number of them appealed but the appeal court judge in Mirza-Ulugbek (Tashkent) not only confirmed their sentence but also imposed heavy fines, 1,962,800 som or US$ 1,250, for Mamlakat Nabieva, Angelina Farahova, Gulchehra Tashboltaeva and 4 other members of the Church, many of whom are unemployed.

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    See also

    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.

    06/07/2012 UZBEKISTAN
    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.

    13/12/2014 UZBEKISTAN
    Uzbek state media campaign against freedom of worship and religion
    Official newspapers pursue a campaign against religious communities and believers, such as Protestants and Jehovah's Witnesses. One of their accusations is that the latter "turn children into zombies". Victims of slander have no chance to reply. In one case, defamatory articles led to four Christians losing their job.

    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.

    28/11/2006 UZBEKISTAN
    Bible burning and high fines for those who pray

    "Unauthorized" religious minorities are continuously condemned for "illegal religious activities" because believers pray or come together in church. Police frequently conduct raids in places of worship to identify those present.





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