Christian sentenced to prison; believers heavily fined in Uzbekistan
March 26, 2010
(christiansunite.com) - Members of the Council of Churches Baptists in Uzbekistan have faced prison sentences and fines in recent weeks for refusing state registration, citing fears that it could lead to interference from the state. Unregistered religious activity in the country is banned, as is evangelizing, publishing unapproved religious literature, and attending religious meetings in private homes.
Tohar Haydarov (27), who was arrested on charges of producing or storing drugs, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Local Christians insist the case was fabricated to punish him for his religious affiliation. Tohar was found guilty on March 9 of the "preparation of a crime or attempted crime" and of the "illegal sale of narcotic or psychotropic substances in large quantities." Other Baptists were not permitted to testify on Tohar's behalf and the lawyer they hired for him was not allowed into the courtroom. Tohar has appealed the ruling and the case has been referred to the Regional Court. At last report, a date had not yet been set for his appeal.
Thirteen Christians in Almalyk have been fined 100 times the minimum monthly salary for conducting "illegal teaching of religious doctrines without a special authorisation from a central religious organisation". The Christians were each fined 3,768,000 soms (approximately $2,500 CAD) on February 23. The believers have issued a protest letter to the judge and the prosecutor's office, claiming that police committed over 60 violations of Uzbek law, including using excessive force, falsifying case files, denying them a lawyer and refusing to inform their relatives about their detention. (Source: Forum18)
Pray that Tohar will find his strength and comfort in Christ while in detention. Pray that the ruling against him will be overturned and he will be released. Pray that the fines against the 13 Christians will be dropped. Pray that Uzbekistan's authorities will recognize religious freedom.
For more information about the plight of Uzbek Christians, go to www.persecution.net/uzbekistan.htm.