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ICC Note: According to reports, three Protestant Christians have been detained throughout Uzbekistan over the past two months for openly practicing their faith. One of the prisoners of conscience was forced to pay a fine of over three years’ minimum wage upon his release. Religious minorities face tight scrutiny in Uzbekistan as they are unable to openly practice their beliefs without facing major penalties such as jail terms or heavy fines.

By Mushfig Bayram

04/24/2015 Uzbekistan (Forum 18) – Three Protestants are known to have been jailed in different parts of Uzbekistan in March and April for between seven and 15 days to punish them for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief, local Protestants have told Forum 18 News Service. A Tashkent Region court also fined one of the prisoners of conscience – Council of Churches Baptist Doniyor Akhmedov – more than three years’ official minimum wage after his release from 15 days in jail.

The two other prisoners of conscience known to have jailed for short periods in March and April for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief were: a Protestant in Bukhara who received seven days’ imprisonment for “illegal” religious activity; and another Protestant elsewhere in Uzbekistan who received 10 days’ imprisonment for “teaching religion illegally”, fellow Protestants who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18. They declined to reveal the identity of those short-term prisoners for fear they might suffer further state reprisals.

Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses are frequently fined and occasionally given short-term prison sentences, but Muslims who exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief often face much harsher penalties, including long prison terms. Although six known Muslim prisoners of conscience jailed for exercising their freedom of religion or belief were freed under amnesty in February after “repenting”, many more remain imprisoned (see F18News 4 March 2015

Raids, Fines, Literature Censorship

Another Protestant from Namangan, Murodjon Rakhimov, was summoned on 17 April by the City Police and compelled to write a statement against his Church. He was released the same day but officers are thought to be preparing administrative charges against him for violating the Religion Law, local Protestants told Forum 18 (see below).

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