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9 August 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Raids, prison, fines for home religious meetings

After police raided a religious meeting in a home in Bukhara Region, four Sufi Muslims were imprisoned for four years each for participating in an "illegal" religious group. Eleven more were fined. Protestants have been tortured and fined for "illegal" literature in homes.

12 July 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Meals and under-18s in mosques banned

Uzbekistan this Ramadan banned shared public Muslim iftar meals in Tashkent. Human rights defender Shukhrat Rustamov commented "the main reason .. is because this is a public expression of their [Muslims'] faith". The authorities also continued nationwide to ban people under 18 attending mosques.

28 June 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Three-year imprisonment for religious literature?

Stanislav Kim could be jailed for up to three years if convicted of having "illegal" religious literature in his home in Urgench. In Bukhara, two Jehovah's Witnesses were jailed for ten days and, with 28 others, fined for "illegal" literature and worship meeting.

24 June 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Prisoners of conscience jailed, one extradited

Uzbekistan jails two prisoners of conscience for five years for allegedly possessing Islamic sermon on music CD, and a third for seven years after Russian extradition for social media sermons. They were tortured and tried unfairly, the NSS secret police helping choose one lawyer.

15 June 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Harshened Criminal and Administrative Code punishments

Uzbekistan has harshened its Administrative and Criminal Codes' restrictions and punishments for exercising the freedoms of religion and belief, and expression. Human rights defenders and religious believers think the changes target Muslims exercising these fundamental human rights, and give more possibilities to prosecute non-Muslims.

7 June 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Large fines for "illegal" religious literature

Uzbekistan continues raids, large fines and confiscation of "illegal" religious literature, at least 18 Protestants and 11 Jehovah's Witnesses being fined up to 60 times the minimum monthly salary. Asked whether people have freedom of religion and belief, a Judge told Forum 18 "maybe".

25 May 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Fines, rape threat for religious literature

Of four female Jehovah's Witnesses detained by Samarkand police for meeting for worship, one faced rape threats, Forum 18 has learnt. Three were fined for "illegal" religious literature. Two Protestants – one spent 16 days in prison - have fled Uzbekistan to escape "police persecution".

13 April 2016

UZBEKISTAN: Poor jail conditions, torture and large fines for Protestants

Latipzhon Mamazhanov, a Protestant who was arrested and jailed on 12 March for 15 days in Fergana in eastern Uzbekistan, was released from jail on 28 March. This is one day after he should have been released under the law, Forum 18 News Service has learned. on 31 March. Police illegally raided Mamazhanov's home and those of other Christians in Fergana on 12 March searching for religious literature. Mamazhanov was imprisoned in the Region's Kuva District Police Detention Centre where up to seven inmates were put in a cell designed for two people, no sanitary and hygiene rules are followed, and food is only given once a day. He and other prisoners who inststed they were innocent of crime were also tortured several times. "They can keep one Bible in their homes," Rustam Yegamberdiyev, Head of Fergana City Criminal Police, insisted to Forum 18. "But if they keep more than one then this means that they are intending to gather others in their homes for illegal prayers and meetings. It is exactly the same for Christians, Muslims and others."

7 April 2016

UZBEKISTAN: "His only fault was to have some sermons on his mobile phone"

Three months after Uzbekistan's National Security Service (NSS) secret police arrested Kyrgyzstan-born Russian citizen Bakhtiyor Khudaiberdiyev at Tashkent Airport and opened a criminal case against him, relatives fear he might face long imprisonment if tried and convicted. Relatives adamantly denied to Forum 18 News Service that Khudaiberdiyev had any extremist materials on his phone. "Bakhtiyor had only some suras [verses] from the Holy Koran, some sermons of mullo Ulugbek Kary and some video clips of the Osh events he downloaded from the internet," relatives told Forum 18. Fears are that Khudaiberdiyev might face torture in secret police detention. The Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in Tashkent refused to tell Forum 18 what steps – if any - the Embassy or other Russian state bodies are taking to raise his case with the Uzbek authorities. Uzbekistan imposes rigid control over all religious materials, whether on paper or on electronic devices. At least two Muslims are serving five-year prison terms for the Koran and sermons in their mobile phones, while Customs authorities detained a Baptist for two days in mid-March for carrying religious materials on electronic devices and who now faces administrative charges.

21 March 2016

UZBEKISTAN: "Aren't you exaggerating by saying he was detained?"

Tashkent Regional Customs Department held Kazakh citizen Boris Prokopenko for two days in mid-March after discovering religious materials on electronic devices as he entered Uzbekistan, fellow Baptists complained to Forum 18 News Service. Freed after an "expert analysis" found nothing "extremist", he still faces administrative prosecution. "Aren't you exaggerating by saying he was detained? He was only staying with us temporarily since we were waiting for the expert analysis from the Religious Affairs Committee," Chief Customs Inspector Tahir Nasirkhodjayev told Forum 18. He denied any violation of Prokopenko's rights, as "we only enforce the Law, which demands us to stop and clarify what kind of religious materials people carry with them". Six Muslims were fined after being stopped in December 2015 for carrying "illegal" religious materials on their mobile phones, customs officials told Forum 18. Such punishments are part of the rigid control of religious materials entering and being transported within the country on mobile phones, tablets, personal computers, memory sticks and other electronic devices and media. At least two Muslims are serving five-year prison terms for the Koran and sermons in their mobile phones.

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