By BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Marshall Ramsey with BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest
TASHKENT/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Police in Uzbekistan reportedly jailed ten Baptists for up to five days and fined three others 80 times the monthly minimum wage on charges of unauthorized worship at home, BosNewsLife monitored Friday, August 7.
Ten other Christians, including small children, were held for one day and released following the July 28 raid on the Baptist house church in Mirzo-Ulugbek District of the nation’s capital Tashkent, said religious rights group Forum 18, which investigated the case.
The Christians were detained during a worship service service security forces surrounded the house with five cars and broke into the house church, witnesses said. Forum 18 quoted Christians as saying that police pushed “believers forcefully” into the awaiting cars while others were “kicked and dragged out of the house.”
Among those detained were also three Christians who were hearing and speaking impaired while a detained four-year-old boy was said to have been “scared by seeing how badly the police treated his mother.”
Police also confiscated two personal Bibles, four songbooks and one violin lesson textbook, Forum 18 said, citing church sources.
On July 29, Judge Shukhat Bakayev of Mirzo-Ulugbek District Criminal Court in Tashkent handed down massive fines and short-term jail sentences to all 13 people brought before the court, trial observers said.
Yuriy Garmashev was reportedly given five days in jail, and nine others — Nikolay Serin, Gleb Izmestyev, Stanislav Kim, Stanislav Anin, Yevgeni Vinokurov, Davlat Ilakhunov, Dmitri Bilan, Vitali Liner, Nikolai Shaldayev were given three days each. Sisters Oksana and Yelena Kamyshina, and David Goryachev, were each fined 80 times the minimum monthly salary, $1,860 each, Forum 18 said.
Baptist Christians said they face a tense weekend of worship as police entered the house church once again Tuesday, August 4, this time talking to the leaders of the church. However “after writing down the leaders’ names – they warned them that they would not leave the church alone,” Forum 18 added.
Uzbek officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet nation, has come under international
pressure to improve religious and political rights.
Critics say long-term leader Islam Karimov tolerates no opposition and political and rights activists have fled.