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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

UZBEKISTAN: Devout Muslim jailed after return to country

Prisoner of conscience and devout Muslim, 52-year-old Alijon Mirganiyev has been transferred to a strict regime prison to serve a 6 and a half year sentence imposed after he returned to Uzbekistan from Turkey. He was promised he would not be arrested if he returned to end criminal charges brought against him for his exercise of freedom of religion and belief, but was arrested on arrival at Tashkent Airport. "This is one of the numerous fabricated cases made against influential Muslims," says human rights defender Yelena Urlayeva.

UZBEKISTAN: 15-day jail for haram yoghurt videos

Hojiakbar Nosirov, a 25-year-old consumer rights activist from Tashkent, posted a video on social media on 5 April declaring that the red colouring agent carmine he had found in locally-sold yoghurt is haram (forbidden) for Muslims. Police investigated and commissioned an "expert analysis" from the regime's Religious Affairs Committee that claimed Nosirov had expressed "enmity, intolerance or discord". A 3-minute closed online trial jailed him for 15 days. "The experts quickly conducted a literary examination, wrote down the conclusion and decided the fate of an individual", his lawyer complained.

UZBEKISTAN: Easter church raid, Baptists tortured, prison Ramadan fast ban

Police raided the Baptist Church in Karshi during worship on Easter Sunday, 9 April. They "damaged the door of the prayer house, behaved crudely, and arrested three church members", Baptists said. Police "brutally beat David Ibragimov and a few more church members in front of our fellow believers" and "used electric shock prods and other implements to incapacitate" church members. Police refused to explain why they raided the church and tortured church members. Open Prison No. 49 in Olmalyk banned prisoners from fasting during Ramadan, threatening those that do.

UZBEKISTAN: "Go on dreaming!" prison governor replies to tortured prisoner of conscience's medical need

Prisoner of conscience Fazilkhoja Arifkhojayev is being forced to do work he cannot medically do, damaging his spine even more. He has been repeatedly tortured, and when the family asked Prison Governor Oybek Tishayev personally whether they could arrange medical care at their own cost, or as required by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules) the prison could arrange the necessary specialist medical care. Tishayev replied: "Go on dreaming!"

UZBEKISTAN: Judge jails Muslim as he "read literature .. spread his beliefs .. met others"

A Bukhara Region court jailed 47-year-old Bobirjon Tukhtamurodov for 5 years 1 month for participating in a group that met to study the works of Muslim theologian Said Nursi. Judge Akrom Rakhimov told Forum 18 that prisoner of conscience Tukhtamurodov was jailed as: "He not only read literature, but spread his beliefs and met others." He had returned from exile in Russia after Uzbekistan's regime told him he would not be jailed.

UZBEKISTAN: "The authorities do not want us to exist"

The regime has nationwide in 2021 and 2022 blocked state registration attempts by Muslim, Protestant, and Jehovah's Witness communities, making it impossible for them to meet legally. Often the excuses used are property-related, with officials taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by the Religion Law for arbitrary and inconsistent demands. Religious community members often want their names and the names of their communities to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals.

UZBEKISTAN: Two more prisoners of conscience jailed, one for 7 years

Today (27 May), trauma surgeon Alimardon Sultonov jailed for 7 years in labour camp "for criticising President Mirziyoyev, state-appointed imams .. " Both torture and 2 regime "parliamentarians" were used to try to get him to admit "guilt". On 17 May Muslim former prisoner of conscience Oybek Khamidov sentenced to 5 years' jail. Against published law neither Prosecutor nor "witnesses" were in court. The Judge did not want to talk to Forum 18 about the apparent illegality of the court proceedings, or the jailing.

UZBEKISTAN: Muslim jailed for four extra years, Nursi reader arrested

Muslim prisoner of conscience Khasan Abdirakhimov was on 28 April jailed for four extra years in an ordinary regime labour camp. The Judge told Forum 18 he was jailed "because he put likes under [religious] materials, and shared them with others on the internet". On 11 April Muslim Bobirjon Tukhtamurodov who met others to read theologian Said Nursi's works returned from exile in Russia to Uzbekistan. Despite previous assurances he was arrested, and is being held for six months in pre-trial detention.

UZBEKISTAN: "Police watch us like we are in the palm of their hands"

From 2018 mosques have had to pay for surveillance cameras controlled by the regime to be installed inside and outside mosques. In early 2022, the Interior Ministry also ordered non-Muslim communities to install the cameras. Muslim and non-Muslim religious communities and followers have told Forum 18 that some people have stopped attending meetings for worship, for fear of being identified and then facing state reprisals. A Muslim commented that "we want to concentrate on our meetings for worship, and not be afraid".

UZBEKISTAN: Latest prosecution for teahouse Islam discussion

Former prisoner of conscience Oybek Khamidov is on trial after his younger brother fled Andijan, following police questioning over five days after a teahouse discussion of Islam with friends. Khamidov was threatened that if he did not help police find his brother, he would be put on criminal trial. The family have no knowledge of his brother's current whereabouts. The indictment claims Khamidov "did not learn his lesson" and began again "storing and distributing religious materials".

UZBEKISTAN: "The law prohibits holding prayers in a public place"

On 2 March, Nosir Numanov and his friends went to their local mosque for evening prayer. As there were too many other worshippers and many police outside the mosque, they went to a local teahouse to say their prayers, and afterwards planned to have a meal together. On 11 March a Judge handed Numanov a 15-day jail sentence and fined the teahouse owner about 10 months' average wages. Separately, a Judge fined former prisoners of conscience Gaybullo Jalilov and Laziz Vokhidov for having allegedly "illegal" religious materials on their phones.

UZBEKISTAN: Raids, searches, detentions, fines, criminal investigations

Since early 2022, Tashkent Police have targeted Muslims with raids, house searches, detentions, arrests, administrative punishments (for allowing prayers to take place on business premises, and for teaching religion without state permission), and criminal investigations. Police detained an 18-year-old woman they had earlier pressured for wearing the hijab and studying Arabic. After 10 hours' questioning without food or water, the young woman – who has anaemia - fainted. Police refused to explain why they raided the family home and pressured the family and young woman, and why no one was tried or punished for torturing her. Tashkent City Criminal Court upheld the 7 and a half year jail term given to Fazilkhoja Arifkhojayev in January for criticising state-appointed imams.