With the passing of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, the outlines of his legacy are beginning to take shape. While Karimov can retain credit for leading Uzbekistan through its first 25 years of independent statehood, the number of increasingly strict human rights restrictions brought in to Uzbekistan are among his most notable achievements.
Whilst it is true that some of the realities Karimov left behind weren’t necessarily the most appalling internationally, they are indicative of the domestic repression brought to bear under Karimov.
For instance, Uzbekistan under Karimov had both a lower score than Saudi Arabia in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, and a worse score in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index than Zimbabwe.
Karimov’s Uzbekistan also found itself among the 17 worst countries internationally for religious freedom, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In addition, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Uzbekistan was one of only two post-Soviet countries in the top 15 globally for the total number of journalists jailed.
Due to the country’s cotton industry, the Walk Free Foundation stated that Uzbekistan challenged North Korea for the world’s highest rate of domestic slavery, coming in at nearly 4 percent of the population.
The future of this country is still to be seen, but many Uzbeks wait and live in the hope that a new president will see a new dawn of freedom of speech and belief in this country. Christians especially are concerned for the future, and what a new president will mean for their, already oppressed, rights to meet together worship.
- Pray for Uzbekistan as comes to terms with the death of Karimov, and waits to see what a new president will bring to its people.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment for those responsible for appointing a new president.
- Pray for the Church in Uzbekistan, as it waits to see what the future holds for Christians in this country.
- Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan. They already face many restrictions in terms of meeting together, owning a Bible and the ability to worship without fear. Many believers are already in prison for their beliefs – pray for their release and for charges against them to be dropped.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to move over this nation, for many to encounter Jesus Christ and to bring transformation to lives and communities across this land.
Psalm 86 vs 9: “All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”
Source: http://www.persecution.org, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion