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Uzbek Protestants Face Intense Persecution

4/20/2007 Uzbekistan Forum 18 News In the wake of a January raid on a private home in Nukus in north-western Uzbekistan where 18 Protestants had gathered, one of those present, Salauat Serikbayev, faces criminal trial for teaching religion illegally, with a three year maximum sentence if convicted.
Forum 18 News Service has learnt that the hearing is set for 24 April. The host of the meeting, Grigory Ten, was fined nearly 500 US Dollars on 9 April, with the court ordering that his hymnbook be confiscated. In the eastern city of Andijan , three members of the embattled church led by Dmitry Shestakov – imprisoned on 9 March – are also facing possible prosecution.
In Samarkand police swooped on an outdoor Protestant Easter service. Several prominent Protestants are facing death threats and the daughter of one pastor was traumatised after being kidnapped by unknown young men. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses report that five of their meetings to commemorate Jesus’ death were raided this year, far fewer than in the past two years. Reached by Forum 18, an aide to the head of the government’s Religious Affairs Committee dismissed all these reports as “false information”.