UZBEKISTAN: Military raids Baptists, Church ordered closed

By Mushfig Bayram | Forum 18

For the first time Uzbekistan’s military has raided Tashkent Baptists meeting for worship. Asked why the military were involved, officials said “it is a special operation”. Police threatened Baptists they “will come every Sunday and disrupt the Church service every time until we give up and stop our activity”.

On 25 November, 20 plain clothes officials rising later to 40 officials raided Baptists meeting for Sunday morning worship in Yashnobod District in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. For the first known time in such raids, members of the military – the National Guard – took part in the raid. Other agencies participating in the raid included the State Security Service (SSS) secret police, the Justice Ministry, and Yashnobod District Police. When Baptists asked why the SSS secret police and the National Guard were on the raid, the raiders responded: “It is a special operation”.

Officials searched every part of the building, which was “ransacked”, Baptists complained. Officials confiscated about 7,800 items of literature and DVDs, including all books and songbooks the Church uses for its meetings for worship. When one woman tried to conceal some songbooks used for worship, an official “screamed at her that you are liars, Christians must not hide anything” (see below).