Uzbekistan: Illegal Christmas as Unregistered Religious Activity Punished
1/14/2010 Uzbekistan (Forum18) – Uzbekistan continues in 2010 to punish unregistered religious activity, in defiance of international human rights standards, Forum 18 News Service has learned. On 3 January, eight police officers raided a Christmas gathering organised by an officially registered church. Asked why celebrating Christmas was illegal, police told Forum 18 that the Full Gospel Holiness Church is “not registered” in Umid village. Three leaders of the Church face administrative charges as a result. Also, following an unregistered religious meeting in the southern Surkhandarya Region, Pastor Bakhrom Nazarov has been fined over 83 times the minimum monthly wage. 21 people are known to have suffered short-term jail sentences between February and August 2009. However, there were no known short-term jailings of people for exercising their freedom of religion or belief in the latter part of 2009.
Asked why, a Judge told Forum 18 that “it may be because of the liberalisation of Uzbekistan’s Judiciary, which is underway at the moment.”