Persecution Friday: Uzbekistan

May 27, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Uzbekistan: Raids Increase in April

Christians in Uzbekistan have faced increased persecution recently in the form of raids, literature confiscations, court-ordered literature destruction and heavy fines.

On April 5, Police and National Security Service (NSS) officers raided the home of Anvar Rajapov, a believer in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, according to Forum 18 News Service. Police confiscated about 250 religious books and recordings, a computer and Rajapov’s passport. A police officer also photographed Rajapov’s children without his knowledge.

Rajapov was convicted on April 14 of violating five articles of the administrative code, including those prohibiting the illegal storage of religious materials, the illegal organization of meetings, and proselytism. Rajapov was fined 80 times the minimum monthly wage, or about $2,330. The judge also ordered the destruction of the religious books confiscated in the raid, “except for those that can be allowed for internal use of religious communities.”

Local Christians told Forum 18 that the court had produced no evidence to support the charges brought against Rajapov. “The whole case is fabricated,” one believer said. He added that the judge “did not even investigate the case but just signed the hastily and carelessly prepared decision.” Local believers said the head of the city district committee, Ulmas Shukurov, had called for Rajapov to be punished and expelled from the district because he had left Islam and accepted Christianity. Shukurov accompanied police on the raid of Rajapov’s house.

Rajapov’s case is not uncommon, as Uzbekistan’s courts frequently order the confiscation and destruction of religious literature, including Bibles. Uzbek authorities conducted two raids in April on the Hamza District Baptist Church, also located in Tashkent. In a raid on April 7, police confiscated thousands of Christian books from the church as well as money belonging to a church member. Four days later, on April 11, police and NSS officers raided a church-owned flat nearby, confiscating printing equipment and tens of thousands of Christian books. Four church members were each fined between 50 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage, according to Forum 18. In addition, tax authorities fined the church the equivalent of about $4,090 on April 28 for failing to use a cash register to record sales and donations.

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