Date:                    March 31, 2021


UZBEKISTAN: Fines, magazine destruction, short-term jailing, beard shaving,
By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18

On 18 January, a Tashkent court fined local Baptist Tatyana Akhmadiyeva two
weeks' average wages for offering 15 Christian magazines to her neighbours
at a Christmas celebration in her home. The Judge also ordered that the
magazines – which police had seized from each of the recipients – be
destroyed. On 12 February, Tashkent City Criminal Court upheld the decision
to fine Akhmadiyeva and order the magazines to be destroyed.

Akhmadiyeva's 18 January trial lasted 15 minutes, and Baptists told Forum
18 that the Judge "did not even introduce himself or the parties in the
Court." They also pointed out that the Judge illegally "did not familiarise
the defendant with her rights and duties" (see below).

Baptists told Forum 18 that Akhmadiyeva is appealing against the fine,
magazine confiscations, and order to destroy the magazines. Such freedom of
religion and belief violations were common before 2019.

Judge Anzhelika Shamsutdinova of Tashkent City Criminal Court, who upheld
the decision, refused to explain to Forum 18 why she did this, or why
people cannot share religious literature with others who wish to receive it
(see below).

Following the Christmas gathering, Police had summoned Akhmadiyeva to a
police station where an officer of the police "Struggle with Extremism and
Terrorism Department" filmed her and questioned her about the magazines. He
told her that the magazines were sent to the Religious Affairs Committee
for "expert analysis". This claims: "The Baptist magazines were imported
into Uzbekistan illegally, and their distribution violates the [Religion]
Law, although they do not contain information contrary to the law. The
magazines should be destroyed" (see below).

Police, Religious Affairs Committee, and Interior Ministry officials
refused to explain to Forum 18 why the "Struggle with Extremism and
Terrorism Department" hunts people exercising their freedom of religion and
belief, why the regime punishes people for having religious material, or
why such material should be confiscated and destroyed (see below).