Persecution Fridays: Uzbekistan – False Prosecutions

August 19, 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: False Prosecutions

Authorities in Uzbekistan continue to pressure churches and religious groups, often fabricating evidence to punish or limit Christians’ ability to practice their faith. Christians recently have been subjected to excessive fines, false accusations and literature confiscations. In the most recent case, on July 15, 2011, Konstantin Malchikovsky, pastor of the Hamza District Baptist Church in Tashkent, was indicted for tax fraud.

The indictment involved allegations that Malchikovsky failed to pay taxes on church offerings and book sales between 2003 and 2010. According to Forum 18 News, a government investigator threatened church members with jail time if they refused to fabricate evidence against the pastor. The government apparently wants the church to use a cash register to receive offerings so they can issue a receipt for each one.

Malchikovsky faces a maximum of two years in jail if convicted. Local Christians told Forum 18 that city tax authorities did not present to the court all of the documents claimed as evidence. And the judge ignored documents that proved the inaccuracy of the indictment.

Last spring, authorities raided the Hamza District Baptist Church, confiscating money, printing equipment and tens of thousands of Christian books. Four church members, including Malchikovsky, were fined between 50 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage.

In a separate raid in June, authorities confiscated about 250 Christian books and recordings, a computer and a passport from Christian Anvar Rajapov’s home. Rajapov was fined 80 times the minimum monthly wage. Ignoring police threats, Rajapov twice unsuccessfully appealed the ruling to Tashkent Criminal Court. On July 10, when Rajapov asked the court for the return of his hard drive, the court ordered that it be destroyed.

In another case, the Uzbek Supreme Court recently upheld the 10-year sentence of Tohar Haydarov, who was arrested in March 2010 and charged with the “illegal sale of narcotic or psychotropic substances in large quantities.” Church members consistently told Forum 18 News that the allegations were fabricated to punish him.

Although prison authorities have shown Haydarov letters that have been mailed to him, he has not been allowed to read them. The reason, prison authorities say, is that there are “too many citations from the Bible in them.” Local Christians told Forum 18 News that Haydarov has admonished other Christians to “appreciate dearly your worship services and listen attentively to the sermons. I so much wish to attend worship services, but, alas, I don’t have the opportunity.”

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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