Eight Christians in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan have been punished in recent months for having religious literature at home, Norwegian human rights organisation Forum18 has revealed.
Seven of these were landed with heavy fines, while the other was sentenced to two years of corrective labour for committing the same offence twice within the space of a year.
Bibles and other Christian resources come under intense state control in Muslim-majority Uzbekistan. This results in many Christians being faced with heavy fines and much Christian material being confiscated or destroyed.
Also, in September 2016, Pastor Dmitri Butov and his wife Svetlana, who live in Zarafshan in the country’s central region, were fined after their house was raided. The judge ordered the confiscation of two Bibles and two songbooks. The couple, who have four children, were also told to hand over their computer to the state.
In August, Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, died. Under his leadership Uzbekistan was already one of the strictest and a harsh place for Christians, but since then the repression of Christians is increasing.