The authorities in Uzbekistan’s south-western Navoi Region keep raiding and punishing local Christians “to stop them meeting for worship and peaceful religious activity”, Council of Churches Baptists told Forum 18 on 15 March. The attempts are focused on local Baptists who asked to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals. They stated that the police “watch us, follow us, and threaten us with court cases and fines to stop us attending church”.
Baptists also said that the authorities compelled the relatives of ethnic Uzbek Christians to try to stop family members from meeting their co-believers.
In one case, an 8-year-old child was taken from school without his parents permission to face hostile questioning by officials. Police and schoolteachers have told children that if they attend any place of worship – including mosques and churches – they will be punished. Children and young people are not formally banned from attending meetings for worship, but officials frequently pressure parents and communities of all faiths to stop them attending religious meetings. After the boy was allowed home from school, officials summoned him and his mother. The family was threatened with fines or a short-term jail sentence if they continued to attend their local church.
In Tashkent, a Baptist woman was put on trial and fined, and a memory chip with family photos was destroyed. She was illegally denied the possibility to appeal.
And in an attempted TV “show trial” in Urgench, the authorities tried to persuade two Baptists to “repent and ask for forgiveness during the hearing, so the judge could lessen the punishment.” When the two Christians came into the courtroom they saw TV cameras: “We understood that they wanted to make a show trial, but we stood firmly and instead witnessed about our faith”, Stanislav Kim told Forum 18. He was then fined 100 times the minimum monthly salary.
Source: Forum 18…
Uzbekistan is number 16 on the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List. Due to the general Islamic culture, Christians from a Muslim background experience pressure and violence from family, friends and local community.
In addition, the police, secret services and urban authorities monitor religious activities by bugging homes, tapping phones, infiltrating groups and monitoring church services. Non-registered places of worship are raided, religious materials confiscated, believers interrogated, leaders arrested and churches fined. Russian Orthodox churches experience fewer problems from government as they do not usually attempt to make contact with the Uzbek population.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.