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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: 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.

UZBEKISTAN: Raids, torture "to discredit us in front of our neighbours"

Three former prisoners of conscience were among Muslims in the southern Kashkadarya Region raided and questioned by police in November 2021. "I think they targeted us during the November campaign specifically to discredit us in front of our neighbours and the general public," Gaybullo Jalilov told Forum 18. "They see that time in prison did not break our determination to continue practising our faith. We still attend Mosque regularly, we still wear beards, and we are still respected by our community as examples of good Muslims." Police tortured another of those detained and questioned, Khayrullo Tursunov. Police refused to tell Forum 18 why his torturers have not been arrested and put on criminal trial for torture as legally-binding human rights obligations require.

UZBEKISTAN: New trial imminent for Muslim prisoner of conscience?

Muslim prisoner of conscience Khasan Abdirakhimov, jailed since November 2021, awaits a new criminal trial for allegedly distributing Islamic material that the regime claims constitute "a threat to public security and public order". Police completed the investigation on 16 February. Abdirakhimov faces up to a further eight years' jail if convicted. Police Investigator Nurullo Norkulov, who leads the case, refused to discuss it. Abdirakhimov's wife Iroda Nekboyeva says he did not appeal against the court verdict that sent him to prison as police said he would be released soon if he did not "make a noise". "But apparently we were all deceived and now they opened a new case and want to give him a long sentence."

UZBEKISTAN: More Muslims jailed, tortured, arrested

A Tashkent court jailed Muslim prisoner of conscience Fazilkhoja Arifkhojayev for seven and half years in a labour camp for criticising state-appointed imams. He was repeatedly tortured, including after his defence lawyer Sergey Mayorov lodged formal complaints about the torture. The judge ignored his torture. "The torturers continue with impunity," Mayorov observed. The Supreme Court upheld in absentia Odilbek Khojabekov's five year labour camp sentence for returning from the haj pilgrimage with Islamic literature, and he is now in hiding. The National Guard has arrested Alimardon Sultonov for criticising the President and state-appointed imams.

UZBEKISTAN: Targeted for being a devout Muslim woman

Officials are harassing an 18-year-old Muslim from Tashkent who wears the hijab. The family complained to the President and others about her being added to the Preventative Register. Police told neighbours that the authorities do not like her and warned them not to associate with her. Muslim men who have had their beards forcibly shaved have also been added to the Preventative Register. "Muslims are indignant that the state is attacking their beards and hijab, which is a very private matter for each individual," one Muslim told Forum 18. After anti-beard and –hijab talks in colleges, a Higher Education Ministry official claimed that "students will not be punished for a beard or hijab".