28 July 2009
UZBEKISTAN: "JOY" CHILDREN'S HOLIDAY CAMP ATTACKED
Uzbekistan Baptist Union is facing criminal charges for allegedly unlawfully teaching children religion, and for supposedly misusing their property as a summer camp, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. As a result, Baptist Union Chair Pavel Peichev faces huge fines, the confiscation of the property, imprisonment, or some combination of these penalties. Baptists have vehemently denied the allegations. The authorities have also instituted checks on the tax and other obligatory payments by the Baptist Union. The first sign of trouble for the Baptists were two articles published by a government-sponsored news agency. Independent human rights defender sources think that the agency is sponsored by the NSS secret police, and that the author may be an NSS officer. The authorities have refused to discuss the details of the case, although the main prosecutor claimed to Forum 18 that "we have nothing against the [Baptist]denomination.". Repeated attempts to contact the author of the articles and the news agency have been unsuccessful.