Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Uzbekistan

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, sends this message from Uzbekistan

During August 2006 there was evidnece of increasing persecution of Protestant church leaders and their families, many of whom have now gone into hiding. This follows a surge of anti-Christian activity in Uzbekistan over several months. It is believed that this is linked with the 15th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence, today, 1st September.

A well-known church leader and evangelist, Sergey Hripunov, was given a week to leave the country with his wife and children. This is the second incident of deportation of a church leader from Uzbekistan in a month. The leader of a church started by Sergey Hripunov was given only 24 hours to leave the country with his wife and two children, the youngest of whom was only two weeks old. They were given no reason for the order, nor was there a court order accompanying it.

Around 24th August a group of Christians were arrested in the town of Termez by the Security Services. Some of the Christians, including women and children, were beaten. The following day some of the group were released, but six men were kept under arrest. Officials have as yet given no information as to why the Christians were arrested. One of the men detained was a Ukraine national, called Yuri Stefanko, visiting some friends in Uzbekistan.

In another incident in August a group of Uzbek Christians, mostly young men but also including a pregnant woman, were arrested in Surhandarya. The men were beaten and detained in jail.

Earlier in August the government introduced an increase to fines for unregistered religious activity. Anyone caught sharing their faith will now face fines between 200 and 600 times the minimum monthly salary. This is an increase on the current fines which stand at 50 to 70 times the minimum monthly salary. According to some reports their church minister will also face a fine. If a person continues to share their faith and is caught a second time they, and their church minister also, will face a prison sentence of three to eight years.

2 comments:

T-Moor said...

As a citizen of Uzbekistan I can say that this report is biased, the people, whom you call Christians are mostly representatives of some sect and they came to Uzbekistan under some disguise. Some of them pretend to teach English language, especially this concerns US citizens and in some close meetings they try to propagate their version of Christianity and mostly to Uzbek guys. Therefore, I personally think that our government is doing the right thing by driving out this pseudo-christians.

Terry Hamblin said...

Well, no. These are evangelical Baptists - probably the largest group of Christians in America. You might regard them as pseudo-christians, but freedom of religion means just that. How about if America suggested that Orthodox Christians were only pseudo-christians and should be treated in the way that Uzbekistan treated them? Uzbekistan citizens are surely able to decide for themselves which god they should follow or none.

There are many voices in the west who want to expel all Moslems from their countries - and I guess there are some correspondents on this blog who feel the same way. I believe that freedome of religion is one of the essential freedoms. It should never be enforced, and only those who attempt to do this should be restricted. There are many who are quite able to accept the gift of the English language and discard the tract it is wrapped in.