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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: Synagogue demolition threat now removed?

Tashkent's Jewish community is expecting on 10 August to receive a written court decision confirming that the building company aiming to destroy the Synagogue has withdrawn its suit. "Only then will it become clearer what will happen," a community member told Forum 18. Separately, officials including a Deputy Justice Minister have indicated that existing violations of human rights are likely to remain in a new Religion Law.

UZBEKISTAN: "They want to destroy our Synagogue"

Despite having legal proof that since 1973 Tashkent's Jewish community bought and remains the owner of its Synagogue, a building firm is preparing to demolish it and is claiming "compensation" from the Jewish community. It remains unclear how the city Hokimat (Administration) could allocate the land to the private company. The next hearing in the case brought by the building firm is due on 5 August.

UZBEKISTAN: Agents provocateurs, arrests, torture, criminal cases

In three known cases so far in Tashkent in 2020, Muslims who discussed their faith with others are being prosecuted for alleged terrorism-related offences. In all three cases, the men were tortured and agent provocateurs used to bring false charges. Separately, a surgeon in Karakalpakstan who asked about coronavirus cases and then had religious texts confiscated has been put under house arrest.

UZBEKISTAN: When will draft Religion Law be made public?

Members of religious communities expressed their frustration to Forum 18 about the secrecy of the new Religion Law's drafting process, and the regime's apparent lack of willingness to end restrictions violating human rights obligations. Officials' statements about a draft text do not match the concrete changes people in Uzbekistan have said they would like to see in a new Law.

UZBEKISTAN: Police agent provocateur used to entrap Muslims

A police agent provocateur tried to get four young men interested in Islam to support terrorism. After this failed, Tashkent City Criminal Court jailed three of the men for between five and six years. Despite telling the Court that their "confessions" were extorted by torture "this was totally ignored". Another trial of eight men is underway on similar charges at the same Court.

UZBEKISTAN: Despite coronavirus lockdown officials continue literature raids

The authorities are using a new March Criminal Code Article 244-5 ("Dissemination of knowingly false information about an infectious disease") against a surgeon in Karakalpakstan because he had Muslim religious texts on his computer. Many Islamic texts face a new ban, raids for religious literature continue, and import bans on non-Muslim texts continue.

UZBEKISTAN: Obstacles, pressure, bribe demands obstruct legal status applications

Officials gave permission to exist to some religious communities in late 2019, but many others complain of official obstacles. Some cannot get Land Registry or Mahalla approval, others face demands for bribes. Seven Jehovah's Witness communities were rejected. Catholics await registration for a sixth parish. Police pressured Shia Muslims in Bukhara to halt a petition to reopen a closed Shia mosque.

UZBEKISTAN: Haj pilgrims face state control, bribery, exit ban lists

Uzbekistan imposes severe restrictions on haj pilgrims, including using exit ban lists to bar devout Muslims, arbitrarily restricting who can go on the pilgrimage. Controls are complex and multilayered, involving the SSS secret police, the Muftiate, and the government's Religious Affairs Committee. The system's complexity facilitates corruption.

UZBEKISTAN: Raids, eviction threat for Urgench Baptists

Police raided a Baptist church's Sunday meetings for worship in Urgench in September and administration and police officials threatened Pastor Stanislav Kim with eviction from his home. Although the local administration then orchestrated a hostile mob, the congregation has in October met without official interference.

UZBEKISTAN: Muslim human rights defender's sentence imminent?

The Prosecutor asked Tashkent City Court to give 48-year-old Tulkun Astanov a five-year suspended sentence, with a verdict expected on or after 18 October. The Muslim human rights defender is being punished for visiting the state-controlled Muftiate to discuss hijab bans and other restrictions on freedom of religion and belief.

UZBEKISTAN: Torture, no pardon, for prisoner of conscience

Officials tortured Muslim prisoner of conscience Khayrullo Tursunov over six hours in an attempt to extract false testimony and ridiculed him for thinking of applying for parole. A Shia Muslim jailed for having Shia texts has been given parole, but officials know of no legal Shia texts.

UZBEKISTAN: Supreme Court challenge to student hijab ban

Two women are awaiting Supreme Court hearings in their challenges to the ban on female students wearing hijab in Tashkent's International Islamic Academy and its secondary school. The Academy expelled Luiza Muminjanova in 2018, while Abdukakharova was allowed back after appealing. The state created the state-run Academy in 2018 from pre-existing state-run Muftiate and state institutions.