ISTANBUL, March 6 (Compass) — A Christian Uzbek pastor jailed since February 1999 on contrived fraud charges is being subjected to physical beatings for witnessing to his cellmates, church sources in the Central Asian republic reported in early March.
Pastor Kim Stanislav of the Chilchik Christian Church has been incarcerated for more than a year in the Tabaksai Prison, some 10 miles from Chilchik in the Lyon region near Tashkent. An Uzbek citizen of Korean descent, Stanislav was directing a local construction company when he embraced Christianity about six years ago, church sources said.
Stanislav is serving a three and one-half years' prison sentence on what his congregation says are falsified charges of tax fraud by the
construction company he directed before he resigned to become a full-time pastor.
Arrested in early February 1999, Stanislav was sentenced just a few weeks later without a formal trial. His lawyer was not allowed to be present at the court proceedings.
"This brother had a strong witness through his vocation," a personal acquaintance told Compass, "and he led many to Christ."
But local municipal authorities, including the mayor of Chilchik, forced the businessman's resignation as director of the Chilchik Construction Company after he started pastoring the Chilchik Christian Church, an independent congregation meeting in house-church fellowships. At least a quarter of the 200-member congregation are ethnic Uzbeks.
When Stanislav refused to renounce his Christian activities, he was reportedly threatened that unless he paid a massive $5,000 bribe, he would be arrested and thrown in jail.
"He was too honest," one source commented. "And until now he has refused to allow any publicity about his jailing, because he personally wanted to stay and minister inside the prison."
Stanislav reportedly led 25 of his cellmates to Christ during his first month of imprisonment. When he was offered the comfort of a private cell after being sentenced, he declined so he could continue sharing his faith and discipling other prisoners.
Stanislav, 42, is married with two sons. His wife Lena has been permitted to visit him once a month.
"Very recently, his family has become concerned about the severe beatings he is now receiving," a source said.
Last year Uzbekistan imprisoned four Christian pastors on falsified drug charges, handing down stiff jail terms of five to 15 years. In the wake of widespread international protests, President Islam Karimov ordered the four released, along with another Uzbek pastor jailed on a one-year sentence for Christian evangelism activities.
Copyright Â© 2000 Compass Direct News Service.
Used with permission.