UZBEKISTAN: Another jailing, large fines for meeting upheld, more confiscations
Uzbekistan already enforces several laws that allow it to violate the religious freedom of Christians and other minorities. When those laws prove an inconvenience, however, state officials have shown a recurring willingness to perform even illegal actions in order to keep religious minorities in line. Several illegal confiscations of personal property last month, in which several court bailiffs actually climbed over the wall of a Christian family’s outer gate to secure the confiscations, are only a recent example.
By Mushfig Bayram
7/24/2014 Uzbekistan (Forum 18) – In the latest set of confiscations experienced by Lyubov Lyubivaya and married couple Alisher Abdullayev and Oksana Abdullayeva in the central city of Samarkand [Samarqand], court bailiffs Sadriddin Salahuddinov, Mamur Yuldashev and several others on 10 and 11 June confiscated private property from the homes of the three. All of them are members of the city’s Baptist Church belonging to the Council of Churches Baptists. These churches refuse to seek state registration, or permission to exist, in the countries they operate in.
On 10 June the bailiffs told Lyubvaya that they were taking her property for an unpaid fine imposed on her in 2012 for her “illegal religious activity.” They then gave her a copy of the confiscation report.
On 11 June the same bailiffs broke into the home of the Abdullayev family by “climbing over the wall, as Oksana refused to open the gate for them because he brother Alisher was not at home,” local Baptist Veniamin Nemirov stated.The bailiffs told Abdullayeva that the confiscations they made in March were not enough to cover the fine given to them in 2012.
The latest confiscations follow earlier confiscations – which were illegal even under Uzbekistan’s “legal” system – following large fines imposed on Nemirov, Abduallayev and Lyubivaya in 2012. The latest confiscations also followed other raids and fines on Nemirov and other Baptists for meeting together for worship without state permission…
Two mobile phones, a carpet, an oil heater, and a petrol-powered electric generator were confiscated from Lyubivaya’s home, and two carpets and two sheets of iron for making cooking pots were confiscated from the Abdullayevs’ home.
Nemirov stated that the bailiffs “threatened to break our door when we refused to open it on their demands” when the Bailiffs came to his home 10 days afterwards. “They left threatening us that they will come back again.”
Shukhrat (who would not give his last name), head of Samarkand City Court Bailiffs, asked Forum 18 on 24 July “why don’t they pay the fines[?] We will keep returning to their homes as long as we confiscate everything until they pay the fines.” When Forum 18 suggested that all the confiscated items probably covered the amount of the fines, he angrily stated: “They need to pay the fines. That’s it. We will keep knocking on their doors until they do so.”