Uzbekistan: The Church of Christ is suspended in Tashkent; eight members of it are brought to trial
On May 18 Mirzo-Ulugbek district criminal court of Tashkent considered the case of 8 workers and congregants of Tashkent Church of Christ, accused of few criminal attempts. As a result three defendants – Church pastor and two congregants – became the subject of 15 day administrative arrest; the accountant and cashier have to compensate 80 minimum salaries while three other congregants were sentenced to pay five minimum salaries.
It turned out that the reason of detention became the statement of Tashkent resident Shavkat Ishmukhamedov, dated May 15, outlining that on May 9 he was walking with his little son. Allegedly, few moments later he found his son in the devotional hall of the Church, where he was illegally taught Christianity.
On the next day the police officers visited the church and detained 8 workers and congregants. According to the defendants, on Sunday morning over a dozen of unknown men entered the church and started filming. They also wrote down passport information of all congregants, including the license plate date of parked vehicles. Besides, the police officers took off the cell phones of random congregants that were taking pictures.
Other three congregants were obliged to pay 5 minimum salaries because they refuse to write explanatory statements, reasoning their visit to the church. At the same time, the police officers ran unsanctioned search in the facility and took away donations in the amount of 1 047 000 sum.
The police officers were also accompanied by the representatives of tax authorities, fire department and sanitary inspection; as a result, the Church of Christ was sealed. The police officers took away dozens of CDs with religious films, accounting books, six computers and two printers.
High pressure was put on the church workers and congregants. For instance, ethnic Uzbek Bakhodyr Adambaev, which was arrested for 15 day arrest, was asked why he did not speak Uzbek and why he attended Christian church. Later on, his fingerprints were copied although this is allowed only in case of criminal, but not administrative, case.
The Church of Christ is the religious organization, officially registered by the Tashkent Justice department in August of 1999. The last inspection was carried out by Justice department only two months ago and revealed no violations.