The authorities in Uzbekistan’s south-western Navoi Region keep raiding and punishing local Christians “to stop them meeting for worship and peaceful religious activity,” Council of Churches Baptists told Forum 18 on 15 March.
The attempts are focused on local Baptists who asked to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals. They stated that the police “watch us, follow us, and threaten us with court cases and fines to stop us attending church.”
Baptists also said that the authorities compelled the relatives of ethnic Uzbek Christians to try to stop family members from meeting their co-believers.
In one case, an 8-year-old child was taken from school without his parents permission to face hostile questioning by officials. Police and schoolteachers have told children that if they attend any place of worship – including mosques and churches – they will be punished.
After the boy was allowed home from school, officials summoned him and his mother. The family was threatened with fines or a short-term jail sentence if they continued to attend their local church.
Children and young people are not formally banned from attending meetings for worship, but officials frequently pressure parents and communities of all faiths to stop them attending religious meetings.
In addition, the police, secret services and urban authorities monitor religious activities by bugging homes, tapping phones, infiltrating groups and monitoring church services. Non-registered places of worship are raided, religious materials confiscated, believers interrogated, leaders arrested and churches fined. Russian Orthodox churches experience fewer problems from government as they do not usually attempt to make contact with the Uzbek population.
- For Christians facing increasing pressure, raids and searches across Uzbekistan.
- Pray for strength and courage for families, and especially children, that are being targeted and intimidated by the state.
- Pray for wisdom for church leaders as they try to lead churches under intense scrutiny and fear of arrest.
Stay updated with news from the persecuted church.
Source: Forum 18