Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) - The
Uzbek authorities have sentenced a Protestant Christian in Urgench, in the
northwest of the country to 18 months of "corrective labor", charged with
"illegal production, storage, importation or distribution of religious
judge Makhmud Makhmudov ruled that the woman should carry out menial jobs at
the complete service of the state, while a good part of her salary be handed
over as payment of a fine. In
addition, for the next few months she can only travel within the state.
In a second incident of violation
of religious freedom, a group of people in the capital were sentenced to heavy
fines for "gathering" to pray and read Christian material (a Bible)
in a private home.
sources said that the secret police artfully assembled fake evidence to nail
Sharofat Allamova, who was then convicted in a sham trial. The
possession of religious materials is strictly controlled by the State, with a
heavy censorship of the Committee for Religious Affairs, which often targets
the Christian minority.
The double raid on the private
home took place in January and the court only ruled on the case recently, in
accordance with Article 244-3 of the Criminal Code. Already
in May 2012 she had suffered similar punishment, again for possession of
religious materials. In
addition to the confiscation of the Bible and other texts, the biggest fear is
that the woman can be shipped to the cotton fields for the autumn harvest. As
repeatedly denounced by organizations and activists, the state uses the work of
minors and convicts for the grueling task.
88% of the Uzbek population is of
the Sunni Muslim faith while Christians make up 8%. In
the country, confessional freedom is subject limited by the government. The
annual report of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, published on April
30, under the heading "Countries subject of particular attention" included
a list of 15 governments including that of Tashkent.