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Persecution – State-sponsered violence in Uzbekistan

February 2016

A group of Christians were detained and beaten after meeting together for worship in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, in November.

At 11.00am, eight plain-clothed anti-terrorism police officers stormed their meeting and seized a large quantity of Christian literature.

In a report from news agency Forum 18, it was revealed that police handcuffed two of the believers and another, Ruslan Bekzhanov, was ‘hit and kicked’ on the head and in the abdomen by an armed police officer.

During the raid, police officers seized 100 Christian books and other Christian materials, as well as computers, mobile phones, cameras and a guitar. The Christians were then taken to the police station, where they were held for nine hours. During that time, they were forbidden to use the toilet facilities and denied water to drink.

According to Barnabas Fund, some of the Christians detained had infant children with them and were not allowed to feed them until they wrote statements against Sarvar Zhuliyev, whose home they had met in.

Later, on 16 November, at the Yashnobod District Criminal Court, the Christians were fined under the country’s administrative codes against the illegal production, storage and import of religious materials; violating the Religion Law; and teaching religious beliefs without permission from a registered body.

Barnabas Fund has highlighted that the publication and distribution of religious literature is subject to intense state control, in what is considered to be one of the most repressive regimes in Central Asia in terms of religious freedom.