Crackdown worsens in Uzbekistan

By June 17, 2011

Uzbekistan (MNN) — A long string of reports has come out of the country ranked ninth on the World Watch List for the persecution of believers.

Forum 18 News Service recently released several reports on rights violations and police brutality against believers in Uzbekistan. Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association comments, "It's alleged that police officers conducted some sort of an assault on a woman at her home while her parents were undergoing some interrogation over their religious activity at a local police station."

The woman was reportedly given a concussion and refused hospital treatment by several hospitals under pressure of police.

Other reports describe police threatening a believer with death. The man had been fined after police raided his home and found Christian literature. His fine is 80 times the minimum monthly wage. Forum 18 reports an officer allegedly threatening the believer to pay the fine by telling him, "I have prepared an axe for you, which will be flying after you, observing you, and if need be, kill you."

A separate report says a man was threatened with beating if he did not sign statements against his church's pastor and bookkeeper. A woman was fined 50 times the monthly minimum wage for proselytizing when she gave a children's Bible to a co-worker.

Forum 18 notes that instances like these violations are typical, and many have been tortured or threatened with torture. Griffith agrees that the situation is worsening for Uzbek Christians.

"As we've noted [previously], and hearing from our own church-planting missionaries who are there, as well as these occasional news media reports that come in, the situation for the churches in these largely Muslim-dominated republics of central Asia is just increasingly growing difficult," says Griffith.

And yet amid the onslaught, the church continues to remain strong and to grow. "We know that they're not going to stop proclaiming the Gospel because of this," notes Griffith.

SGA continues to support its missionaries and pastors financially, and you can help with that here. But most importantly, SGA asks you to help bathe these believers in prayer.

"We really need to just redouble our prayer efforts on their behalf," pleads Griffith.

Pray for safety and for continued church growth. Pray that believers would not back down, despite what police might throw in their way.

Uzbekistan has a history of persecution. Learn more about it here.

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