Children’s camp in Uzbekistan raided by riot police; youngsters questioned

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

 

Christian gatherings are frequently raided by the Uzbek authorities

Christian gatherings are frequently raided by the Uzbek authorities

Uzbekistan, August 13, 2013: A Christian children’s camp in Uzbekistan was raided by 20 riot police officers along with 60 other officials; all 22 children were subjected to questioning and the homes of the organisers searched.

The incident in Mironkul village, Samarkand region, took place on 23 July. Four bus-loads of officials, including members of the Fire Brigade and the Sanitary-Epidemiological Department, descended on the camp at 11am. Police officers, who numbered 30, brandished their rubber batons and began collecting statements from everyone, even small children.

This process continued for six hours before all nine adults and 22 children were taken to Mironkul Police Station for further questioning. They were all eventually released.

The officials confiscated a number of items, including computers and music equipment, two Uzbek New Testaments and ten private notebooks.

Police then raided the homes of the four adults considered responsible for organising the camp. They seized personal Bibles, Christian books and other resources, and computers. It is thought that charges will be brought against the four under the country’s harsh laws regarding religious activity, which prohibit the unauthorised conduct of children’s and youth meetings and teaching religious beliefs without permission.

In a separate case, in Bostanlyk districk, Tashkent, the authorities are trying to seize land bought by the Baptist Union for holding summer camps for children and families. They are claiming, without any apparent legal foundation, that the two-and-a-half acre plot was purchased “illegally” in 2000.

The Baptist Union had bought the land from a restaurant chain; it had previously belonged to the Department of Privatisation and Deregulation of Property (DPD), which is now claiming that in 2004, some local residents had complained that the Christians were violating land use rules.

The spurious legal challenge is the latest assault on the camps. They have previously been subjected to raids, in 2009, 2011 and 2012, which resulted in large fines, pressure on children and parents, and a media smear campaign.

One article claimed that Uzbekistan had “created an environment where all conditions exist for children to grow spiritually rich and for freedom of conscience and religion”, adding:

Today we are trying to protect our children from all kinds of questionable religious doctrines (..) However, unfortunately, we come across people who against the laws at any cost try to capture the minds of our children and use them for their selfish purposes.

– barnabas team

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