State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Uzbekistan
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||4 March 2007|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Uzbekistan, 4 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a9712ec.html [accessed 23 July 2014]|
In May 2005, the government responded to an armed uprising in Andijan, Uzbekistan, with indiscriminate force, gunning down hundreds of mostly unarmed civilians. The protest started when a group of armed people freed 23 businessmen accused of Islamic extremism and took officials hostage in local government buildings. Repercussions were felt throughout the region as refugees fleeing the violence flooded into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, some of whom were forcibly repatriated in blatant contravention of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Despite European Union (EU) sanctions imposed after the massacre, the crackdown on dissent among minorities in Uzbekistan has continued. In May 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture documented reports of torture, disappearances and harassment against Muslims who practise their faith outside state controls. Many are labelled terrorists, and have been convicted of religious extremism, yet the government continues to create conditions in which popular support for radical Islam is likely to grow. In October 2006, President Karimov fired Andijan governor Saydullo Begaliyev, naming him partially responsible for the Andijan massacre, but generally Karimov continues to deny that his regime's policies were in any way at fault, while the same abuses go unchecked in other provinces.
State control of religious expression is extreme in Uzbekistan. In December 2006 Uzbekistan's state Religious Affairs Committee and state-controlled Spiritual Administration of Muslims (the Muftiate) restricted the number of Uzbek Muslims making the Haj pilgrimage to 5,000. According to Forum 18, a Norwegian non-governmental organization (NGO) reporting on threats against the religious freedoms of all people, on 24 September, a Baptist church in Tashkent was raided mid-way through a sermon and two church members subsequently fined, while on 1 October, in the town of Angren, nearly 50 members of a registered Pentecostal church were taken to the police station after their Sunday service was raided. Other religious minorities also face severe pressure. Forum 18 also reports that a Hare Krishna devotee was taken to the Khorezm police department on 19 August. Under pressure from her parents and officials from the law enforcement agencies, she signed a document renouncing her religious beliefs.