Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 03 June 2013
“Anti-terror” raid on home of elderly Christian woman in Uzbekistan
Country/Region: Uzbekistan, Central Asia
Uzbek officials were said to have “acted like bandits” in an illegal raid on the home of an elderly Christian woman who has Parkinson’s disease.
|A Bible and Christian books were confiscated and destroyed|
When Naziya Ziyatdinova (76), who has great difficulty walking because of her medical condition, did not immediately open the door of her home in Guliston, four police officers banged on the doors and shouted loudly, disturbing the neighbours. One of them then forced his way into the property through a second-floor window.
The officers then removed Naziya from her bed and, according to local Christians, “turned everything in the home upside down” without producing a search warrant. They confiscated her Bible, other Christian books and DVDs.
The incident, which was officially described as “Anti-terror-Cleaning”, took place on 14 March. Several court hearings have subsequently taken place, culminating in Naziya being fined on 19 April 795,900 Soms, which is ten times the minimum monthly salary.
Christian friends said that she cannot afford this sum, as she has to scrape by on a monthly pension of just 120,000 Soms, which is not even enough for her to buy her medicines.
Naziya was convicted of “Illegal production, storage, or import into Uzbekistan with a purpose to distribute or distribution of religious materials by physical persons”.
The judge ordered that her Bible, 14 Christian books, six DVDs and a video be destroyed. She was told by court officials, “This is a Muslim country and all of your Christian books including the Bible are outlawed”.
She had been threatened with more serious charges relating to the carrying out of unauthorised religious activity in an effort to pressure her to sign an incriminating statement against her daughter. But she refused.
The legal proceedings caused Naziya a great deal of anxiety. After one court hearing, the pensioner felt so unwell that an ambulance was called for her.