Uzbekistan: State tries to take one children's camp and raids another

Uzbekistan is attempting to deprive the registered Baptist Union of land it owns and uses to run summer camps for children and families.

Uzbekistant shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south. Before 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union.

According to a story by Mushfig Bayram for Forum 18 News Service the state is claiming - without any apparent legal foundation - that the land was "illegally" purchased in 2000.

Baptists have complained to the Prosecutor-General that "the future of Uzbekistan cannot be built on the plundering of religious organisations".

Separately in Samarkand Region, an unrelated children's camp organised by local Protestants was raided.

Forum 18 said the raid on a camp of 31 adults and children involved 30 regular police, 20 riot police, and 30 officials from the regional tax authorities, fire department, Sanitary-Epidemiological Department, and the regional administration.

According to Forum 18, police "began brandishing their rubber batons, and collected statements from everyone - even from small children sepa rated from their parents."

After over six hours of questioning and raids on the alleged organizers' homes, it is expected that charges will be brought against six Protestants.

Police have refused to discuss the raid with Forum 18.

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