Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Officials to return Uzbek pastor, a religious refugee since 2007

Kazakhstan (MNN) ― According to the Forum 18 News Service, officials are sending Pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov and his family back to neighboring Uzbekistan, the nation they fled to escape religious persecution. Forum 18 says Uzbek authorities put the Protestant pastor on a wanted list for illegal teaching of religion and literature distribution, religious "crimes" he had committed in 2007.
The charges against Djabbarbergenov each carries a maximum of three years' imprisonment. Pray for the pastor and his family as they endure this persecution. The Djabbarbergenovs are expecting their fifth child in April. Pray that their faith remains steadfast.
An assistant working in the District Prosecutor's Office told Forum 18 that "Uzbek authorities are seeking to imprison Djabbarbergenov because he led an unregistered Protestant church in his home town.
"As a person, I can say this is not right," he added. "But we have to follow the rules. We just collect the documentation."
Kazakhstan has a reputation for returning religious refugees in order to maintain political favor with China and Uzbekistan. Forum 18 points out that in June, the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) criticized Kazakhstan for extraditing 29 Uzbek Muslim refugees in 2011. Though the men sought asylum and religious refuge, Kazak officials accused them of being terrorists and sent them back to Uzbekistan, where intense persecution is routine.
Uzbekistan has steadily moved higher on Open Doors USA's World Watch List, a compilation of the world's most heavily-persecuted nations. The Central Asia nation ranked #10 on the list two years ago but has since moved to #7 following increased governmental suspicion, police attacks, and raids. Common cruelty used by Uzbek authorities includes electric shock, beatings, rape, asphyxiation, and psychological abuse.


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