Uzbek Protestants detained and their religious materials confiscated despite being legal


Date:                    November 29, 2018


Christian women in Uzbekistan meet for a meal and to pray together. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
In an undated photo, Christian women in Uzbekistan meet for a meal and to pray together. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Uzbek police raided a home, where eight Protestants had gathered for a meal and to read the Bible, on 19 November, and arrested all of them, Forum 18 reported.

The incident took place in the town of Pap in Uzbekistan’s eastern Namangan Region. Police conducted the raid without a search warrant and confiscated religious literature, including Bibles, and digital materials, all having been acquired legally, Forum 18 said. A laptop and a desktop computer also were taken away.

The people taken to the police station were questioned until 3 a.m., though no detention warrant was produced, Forum 18 said.

Police told the Protestants that all religious materials will be sent to the Religious Affairs Committee for “expert analysis” and that they may be charged for possession of the religious literature despite the fact that it was bought legally.

Forum 18 reported that it contacted police authorities involved in the raid by phone, but that its questions were ignored.

Earlier, on 30 September, the Tashkent Region police raided and detained 40 Protestants during a gathering for a retreat.

The “psychological pressure” by police resulted in a woman and a five-year-old girl being taken to hospital. According to Forum 18, four women who participated in the raid stole property from female Protestants.

Thirty-one Protestants were then prosecuted under Administrative Code articles for illegal production, storage or import into Uzbekistan of religious materials; violation of the procedure for holding religious meetings; and teaching religious beliefs without specialised religious education and without permission from the central registered religious organisation.

The trial resulted in Protestants being made to pay fines equivalent to as much as 20 times the monthly minimum wage.

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