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Another Protestant Pastor is arrested for proselytism

ICC NOTE: Another pastor arrested in Uzbekistan

4/27/07 Uzbekistan For the full article (AsiaNews/F18) – Pastor Salavat Serikbaev was arrested in Mayan, a city in Karakalpakstan, on April 18th, accused of “incitement to religious hatred”, “running an illegal religious organization” and “distributing materials promoting religious extremism”. Released the following day, Forum 18 agency refers that in 1999 Salauat Serikbayev spent 4 months in prison and that recently he and his family have received numerous threats. Following a January raid on a private home in Nukus in north-western Uzbekistan where 18 Protestants had gathered, one of those present, Serikbayev has been accused of illegally teaching religion. The opening of the trial was set for April 24th. Grigory Ten, the owner of the dwelling was sentenced to pay a fine of 496 dollars on April 9th, a sum that is greater than the average annual wage in Uzbekistan .

The new charges laid against Serikbayev are the same as those with which the Pastor Dmitry Shestakov was sentenced on 9 March to four years’ imprisonment in an open work camp. He was found “guilty” of celebrating religious functions in the Pentecostal Full Gospel Church and of being in possession of religious reading materials. Meanwhile in Andjian 3 members of his group risk finding themselves on trial for having participated in church services.

Foreign Ngo’s are also under pressure, accused of carrying out “religious proselytism”. On April 17th the Uzbek Minister for Justice told the Russian Tass that activists from Friendship and Hope International (who has been carrying out humanitarian work there since 1995) received written warning to cease all “missionary activities”, under the threat of sanctions. For charges to transform themselves into a sentence, the declaration of a person claiming to have witnessed an act of proselytism is sufficient.