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UzbekistanMap reflects the 30 most recent Persecution Reports. Click HERE for the Map Legend.
It has been discovered that the 76-year-old woman who was victim of a raid at the hands of authorities in Uzbekistan also suffers from Parkinson’s disease. She lives alone and has difficulty walking. When she didn’t answer the door when authorities arrived to raid her home, they broke in through her window. She has been charged with the illegal possession of religious material. Authorities claim this was an “anti-terror cleaning.”
Things have been steadily heating up in Central Asia. It seems that Islamic extremism is increasing and that religious minorities, including Christians, will be the ones to suffer. Recent cases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are focused on in this article.
Judge Ignores 62 Breaches of Law by Uzbek Authorities In Building Bogus Case Against Accused ChristianSaturday, June 8th, 2013
New tidbits of information continue to leak out concerning the case of an Uzbek Christian who was convicted of illegally storing Christian literature in her home. Sharofat Allamova was sentenced to a year-in-a-half of corrective labor after a judge ignored as many as 62 breaches of the law made by authorities during investigations, and upheld the case against her.
The executive director of Uzbekistan’s Bible Society is denying claims that people in Uzbekistan are prohibited from having Bibles in their homes. This comes not long after a Christian in Uzbekistan had religious literature confiscated and criminal charges brought against her for the illegal production, storage, import and distribution of religious literature.
The collapse of the Soviet Union caused a growth in Islam and Extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Predictions are now being made that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 will “have a destabilizing effect on the whole region.” The prediction is that Islamic extremism will increase in the next few years and that Central Asia will need to be closely monitored.
The executive director of Uzbekistan’s Bible Society is denying claims that people in Uzbekistan are prohibited from having Bibles in their homes. This comes not long after a Christian in Uzbekistan had her Bible and other religious literature confiscated and criminal charges brought against her for the “Illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature.” Individuals in Uzbekistan may only own government approved religious material in approved amounts. While Bibles are allowed in the country, the restrictions placed on the type and number one can own continues to be an infringement on their citizen’s rights to religious freedom.
Despite the fact that four Baptists in Uzbekistan where members of legal churches (and becoming a legal church is a feat in itself) they were detained at the border for over 7 hours, and all their religious material was confiscated. Officials have opened cases against them citing "Non-declaration or inaccurate declaration of goods transported through the customs border". This is just one of the numerous and typical ways the government harasses religious minorities and infringes on their rights to religious freedom.
Officials Climb Through Window of a Christian’s Home in Uzbekistan to Confiscate Christian LiteratureThursday, May 30th, 2013
A 76 year old Christian woman had her home illegally searched when officials climbed through her window and without showing a search warrant “turned everything in the home upside down." They confiscated her personal Bible along with Christian books and DVD’s. She has long been a target of officials as they have tried numerous times to force her to sign documents confessing that her daughter runs an illegal religious organization out of her home. In a hearing she was charged a fine 10 times the monthly wage, and one official told her, "this is a Muslim country and all of your Christian books including the Bible are outlawed".
Despite hopes that there might be changes in what is seen by many as an unfair sentence, a Christian woman in Uzbekistan still faces one in a half years of ‘corrective labor’ after criminal charges of “illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature.”
“Fines have been imposed on people in the capital [of Uzbekistan] for meeting in a private home and having Christian literature, and for carrying a personal Bible and New Testament. Baptists have noted that the latter conviction is illegal in Uzbek law.”
“Sharofat Allamova, a Protestant from Urgench in north-western Uzbekistan, has been given one and half years of corrective labour, after being convicted under criminal charges brought for the ‘illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature’. It has been stated that the NSS secret police compelled witnesses to make false statements against her.”
Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov rules according to Communist Soviet methods, so society is heavily regulated. Revolutionary and jihadist Islam are real threats to his regime. Religious laws primarily targeting these Islamic groups are also used to persecute Protestant Christians whom the regime considers are threatening social cohesion. Small house churches are routinely raided by hostile security police. Protestants charged with breaching the religion law by possessing Christian literature, witnessing or worshipping without registration face exorbitant fines often 50 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage. These fines leave them destitute. This persecution has nothing to do with state security and everything to do with making Protestant Christianity undesirable to its members and to the masses. Despite this, Uzbekistan's Protestant and independent churches are growing. Please pray for them.
Numerous fines and raids on “religious believers” occurred in 2012 and have continued in 2013. Many of these were done in private homes, and even against members of officially registered churches. One believer was fined for discussing his religion with his neighbor after a judge deemed that “illegal missionary activity.”
A Christian couple in Uzbekistan had their house raided while they were out and the children were home with a babysitter. Their Christian literature was confiscated. Four days after the raid the couple and their babysitter, who they claim is not even a believer, were summoned to court. The Judge handed them “unbelievably high fines” 100 times the minimum salary, without a hearing.
Reports from Uzbekistan indicate that authorities are widening their crackdown on Christian converts from Islam. Details are just beginning to emerge regarding the most recent incident of police harassing a family of believers, while searching for a church leader.
Two years after an Uzbek Baptist Christian was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking, which his church says is a false charge, Uzbekistan shows no signs of relenting on its ongoing persecution of Christians.
With disturbing reports of persecution against Christians trickling out of a region that appears to exist in the shadows, religious freedom in Central Asia remains a matter of grave concern for the rest of the world.
Christians in Uzbekistan continue to face raids, confiscation of their personal religious materials, outrageous fines, and possible imprisonment.
A Christian man in Uzbekistan sought to “overturn a large fine” given to him for allegedly distributing religious literature illegally. The man had 1,300 books, 2,100 brochures, 450 leaflets, 50 magazines, 200 videos, and 350 audio cassettes confiscated from his home and “expertly analyzed” in one day. To be expertly analyzed, all of these items must be thoroughly read, listened to, and scrutinized; an impossible feat in that amount of time. Also, witnesses in his court case were fictitious.
At the beginning of December police raided a group of Christians who were meeting together for worship while on vacation. They confiscated their Christian songbooks and Bibles, and took everyone’s fingerprints. In addition to the fines they were charged with, the judge ordered their Bibles to be destroyed on Christmas Eve, the day when Protestants in Uzbekistan begin their Christmas celebrations.
After an illegal search of her home, police confiscated three Christian books and two DVD’s containing a Christian film and a sermon. Now, Sharofat Allamova, a Christian in Uzbekistan, faces up to three years in prison for the "illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature".
In a continuation of the discussion of religious freedom in Uzbekistan, this article points out numerous instances including Christians songbooks confiscated, punishing people for reading their Bibles and more.
Uzbekistan continues to defy its human rights violations by making it illegal for anyone to share their faith. The religion law states, "Actions aimed at attracting believers of one confession to another (proselytism) are forbidden, as is other missionary activity." This makes it difficult for Christians to practice their faith with freedom.
In Uzbekistan it is illegal for Christians to gather and worship anywhere other than places registered and approved by the government. Recently, a gathering of 80 believers, who were on holiday together, was raided by police in plainclothes. The believers were exercising their right to freedom of religion, but were not in a building registered for religious purposes. They were threatened, verbally abused and fingerprinted by the police. Their Bibles and song books were confiscated and the leaders of the group are being charged on numerous counts, one of which is “carrying out unauthorized religious activities”.
Following a terrifying ordeal, Pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov has not only been released from prison, he has also been reunited with his family and flown to Europe where he and his family will remain safely in an unnamed location.
After being held for three months in prison in Kazakhstan Pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov has been granted asylum in Europe. This is an answer to prayers of Christians around the world who have praying for his release. Djabbarbergenov is a native of Uzbekistan, but fled with his family to Kazakhstan, where he was later arrested and threatened with extradition.
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ICC is constantly monitoring the state of Christian persecution in countries around the world and looking for ways that we can act as bridge between our supporters and the persecuted church. Beyond the projects you see above, we are working in many other areas to provide practical assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ. View our other projects page to understand more of our work and keep up to date on our current projects.