According to Forum 18, on 8th November, Police in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent raided a Protestant worship meeting, detaining members of the group and their nursing children. Police also stole money and confiscated a large amount of Christian literature, as well as personal property including computers and other electronic devices.
The Tashkent raid was sparked by the headteacher of a school, who informed the District Police that two pupils, who are anonymous for fear of state reprisals, were sharing their faith with fellow-pupils.
Some of the believers told Forum 18 that the two pupils “came to a Protestant meeting only twice and shared the good news on their own initiative”. After the headteacher contacted police, the pupils allegedly wrote statements against Sarvar Zhuliyev, a local Protestant, and they also accompanied police on the raid.
Police in Uzbekistan have previously pressured children who wish to attend a place of worship into writing such statements, and have also confiscated written letter of consent from parents allowing their children and young people to attend a church.
During the raid on the church, police confiscated Christian religious materials and private property, including notebook computers, computer hard discs, 100 Christian books (including 5 New Testaments in Uzbek and 3 Bibles in Russian), DVDs and leaflets with Biblical texts.They also took 300,000 soms ( around 100 Euros, or 110 US Dollars).
In Police Station, police “refused the detainees both the use of toilet and water to drink”, and proceeded to beat some of the detainees. Parents of five infants were not allowed to feed them until they wrote statements against their pastor and themselves.
All parents were compelled to write statements that Pastor Zhuliyev “taught them the faith of Jesus Christ.” Police also interrogated some of the young children on their own and compelled them to write similar statements.
The believers were subsequently convicted of exercising freedom of religion or belief and fined.
Uzbekistan has long been recognised as one of the most repressive regimes in Central Asia with respect to religious freedom, and all Christians gatherings are illegal unless they are in state registered churches.
- Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan, for whom even owning an Uzbek Bible is illegal. Pray for strength, for their faith to be strong and to have courage in the face of intense opposition.
- Pray for the spread of the Gospel in Uzbekistan and across Central Asia, that many will have encounters with Jesus Christ through the witness of Christians, and also through dreams and visions.
- Pray that Uzbek Christians can access resources for study and for discipleship in their won language.
- Pray for the Uzbek government, to relax controls on Christians and to allow them freedom of worship without fear.
Ephesians 6 vs 18: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”