Barnabas Fund. April saw a number of incidents of harassment against Christians in Uzbekistan as they celebrated a birthday, played sport together and cared for the homeless, as reported by Forum 18. On 10 March, a birthday party held in a private home was raided under the pretext of an “anti-terror raid”. Ten women from a registered church were given heavy fines for “violating the procedure for arranging and holding gatherings” and “creating the conditions for conducting unsanctioned meetings”. Each church member was fined 100 times the minimum monthly salary – 3,768,000 Soms (£1,565; US$2,400; €1,800) – an extortionate amount, but especially for eight of those fined, who are pensioners struggling to survive on a meagre state pension. The women appealed against the fines, but on 2 April the judge at Tashkent City in Uzbekistan. .
On 10 April, a Christian youth conference in the capital Tashkent was raided by police, as a group were playing football and basketball. Over 40 young people, the conference leader and his wife were taken to the police station, where the police photographed them and took their fingerprints. The conference leaders are now under investigation for “violation of the procedure for holding mass events” and “violation of the law on religious organisations”. All those detained were released later that evening. In a third incident two days later, police, tax inspectors and local officials raided another church in Tashkent, where members were providing food for homeless people. Television journalists were also present at this raid, which authorities claim was carried out because church members were conducting activities “not according to their [registered] charter”.
• Pray for those Christians affected by the events described above, especially for the 40 young people who were taken to the police station. Pray for a softening of the attitude of the authorities. • Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan, facing regular and unwarranted harassment. Pray that they will continue to stand together and worship the Lord in spite of such persecution.