By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (Worthy News)– The Baptist Council of Churches refuses to register their churches with Uzbekistan; the Council views registration as a precondition for exercising freedom of religion to be against the binding international human rights agreements Uzbekistan formally promised to implement.
Last month, Baptists in Uzbekistan were fined for the unregistered exercise of freedom of religion.
Judge Ilhom Rahmankulov of Kashkadarya Region’s Mubarek District Criminal Court fined four local Baptists under Administrative Code Article 240, “Violation of the Religion Law,” Part 1: “Carrying out of unauthorised religious activity, evasion by leaders of religious organisations of registration of the organisation or its charter, the organisation and conduct of worship by religious ministers and of special children’s and youth meetings, as well as vocational, literature and other study groups not relating to worship”.
Vladimir Khanyukov and Valeriy Stepanov were fined five times the minimum monthly salary, or 314,600 Soms (167 US Dollars) while Yelena Tursunova and Yekaterina Dyu were fined the minimum salary of 62,920 Soms (33 US Dollars).
Judge Rahmankulov also ordered numerous confiscated Christian books, brochures, magazines, CDs, calendars sent to the state Religious Affairs Committee.
In the central southern city of Karshi, Judge Makhrifat Ochilova of Karshi Criminal Court fined 10 Baptists under Administrative Code Article 240, Part 1 and Article 241: “Teaching religious beliefs without specialised religious education and without permission from the central organ of a (registered) religious organisation, as well as teaching religious beliefs privately”.
Judge Ochilova also ordered that confiscated Christian magazines be destroyed; confiscation of religious literature in Uzbekistan is commonplace, especially at border crossings.