Christian Persecution in Uzbekistan
by Marshall Ramsey II, Worthy News US Correspondent
TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (Worthy Christian News)-- Being a Christian in Uzbekistan can be costly. Just ask Galina Shemetova who was ordered to pay a fine of 2,486,750 som, 50 times the minimum monthly pay for giving a colleague a children's Bible. This amounts to $60,320US, four times the yearly pre-tax salary of a 40 hour-a-week minimum wage earner. Miss Shemetova not only had to pay the fine, but she was also beaten physically by police, a fact known by the Tashkent Court of Appeals.
Or how about Anvar Rajapov, who on April 14th of this year was fined 80 times the minimum monthly wage because religious, that is, Christian, books were found in his house. This fine equals nearly $100,000US.
The situation is even more dangerous for him. The judge issuing the decision did not notify Mr. Rajapov of their decision, indicating that he was not even aware that a trial was taking place, and local police confiscated his passport and threatened to kill him if he tries to appeal the decision. Mr. Rajapov has made a complaint of the situation directly to Uzbek President Islam Karimov and the Uzbeki Supreme Court.
TASHKENT POLICE HATE CHRISTIANITY
Also taking place in April of this year, Tashkent police, along with special forces, carried out secret searches of the homes of Baptist Christians, confiscating thousands of religious texts.
On May 26th, Tashkent police arrested Amir Temur and Sergey Shilnikov, both Christian. Their crime: Having a Bible, two copies of the book of John, and two other religious texts. The charge: Introducing and illegally trading improper (non-government sanctioned) religious literature.
In early June, district authorities in Hamza tried to convince some Baptists that their pastor, Konstantin Malchikovsky, and an Anna Portova, had sold them religious texts, without paying taxes, a charge punishable by two years in prison. In an effort to get them to 'confess' to their crime, some of them were arrested and held without charge, even threatening to arrest some of their children. They refused. And when the authorities mentioned were approached by Christian activist group F18 concerning the matter, they did not want to talk about it.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture Commission has reported that incidents of violence, torture, and threats such as these are considered normal. Uzbekistan laws on religious freedom make it difficult for groups to obtain official recognition, and considers illegal any activity of unrecognized groups, even house churches where families gather together in prayer.
Some information for this report was provided by Asia News.