UZBEKISTAN: Tashkent, two Jehovah’s Witnesses risk 5 more years of hard labor
Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) – Two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW), former prisoners of conscience and near the conclusion of their sentence, could be sentenced to 5 years of hard labor. In recent days, in fact, the Tavaksay prison authorities, where they are detained have filed a complaint against them for “disobeying orders” while in prison.
The two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Olim Turaev (38 years) and Sergei Ivanov (25 years), are in fact serving sentences for “illegal religious activities”. The crimes for which they are being tired is of having rested for a moment in which they were forbidden, and entering a different cell without permission.
The two admitted their “crimes” but defended themselves saying that they made the mistake “in ignorance”.
In fact, according to members of the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tashkent, the two had already been told they would never be released if they did not abandon their faith.
Olim Turaev of Samarkand is a doctor, married with three children. He was sentenced to four years of hard labor, which began April 25, 2008, for holding a religious meeting without State permission. Turaev was to have been released in April 2012.
Sergei Ivanov, 25, unmarried, was sentenced in 2008 by a court in Fergana for “illegal religious activities” such as possession of religious literature and participation in illegal religious organization. His sentence of three and a half years, was to expire at the end of January 2012.
The Uzbekistani authorities deny that there are cases of violation of religious freedom in their country. But in fact, every community must ask State permission exercise this right. And the state awards permission at whim. Among the most affected are, in addition to the JWs, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims.