ASIA NEWS REPORT
Sentenced to 18 months "corrective" work and part of his
salary paid to the State as a fine. The fear is that he will be sent to cotton
fields for harvest, exhausting work. In the capital, a group of believers
punished with "heavy fines" for having met in a home to read "Christian
Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) - The Uzbek authorities have sentenced a Protestant
Christian in Urgench, in the northwest of the country to 18 months of
"corrective labor", charged with "illegal production, storage, importation or
distribution of religious materials." The judge Makhmud Makhmudov ruled that the
woman should carry out menial jobs at the complete service of the state, while a
good part of her salary be handed over as payment of a fine. In addition, for
the next few months she can only travel within the state.
In a second incident of violation of religious freedom, a group of people in
the capital were sentenced to heavy fines for "gathering" to pray and read
Christian material (a Bible) in a private home.
Local sources said that
the secret police artfully assembled fake evidence to nail Sharofat Allamova,
who was then convicted in a sham trial. The possession of religious materials is
strictly controlled by the State, with a heavy censorship of the Committee for
Religious Affairs, which often targets the Christian minority.
The double raid on the private home took place in January and the court only
ruled on the case recently, in accordance with Article 244-3 of the Criminal
Code. Already in May 2012 she had suffered similar punishment, again for
possession of religious materials. In addition to the confiscation of the Bible
and other texts, the biggest fear is that the woman can be shipped to the cotton
fields for the autumn harvest. As repeatedly denounced by organizations and
activists, the state uses the work of minors and convicts for the grueling
88% of the Uzbek population is of the Sunni Muslim faith while Christians
make up 8%. In the country, confessional freedom is subject limited by the
government. The annual report of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom,
published on April 30, under the heading "Countries subject of particular
attention" included a list of 15 governments including that of Tashkent.
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