Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sept.10
By Demir Azizov- Trend:
Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan issued a message expressing disagreement with the assessment of the situation with religion in the country, given by the U.S. State Department in the report on religious freedom in the world for 2013.
"Information on the situation of human rights, including the rights of believers in the Republic of Uzbekistan, was provided on the basis of political considerations of our enemies, as before," the committee said Sept.10.
"Year after year, the copying of the same issues that have long been out of date and do not have any relevance now, is taking place," the committee said. "The report used expressions that can cause a negative attitude of uninformed people to Uzbekistan as a whole on purpose," the committee added.
At present, Uzbek law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" is recognized as one of the most easily enforceable regulations in the world, the report says.
Under the law, there are no restrictions on time and quantity of the registration of religious organizations. Religious objects considered historical heritage are returned to the believers - many objects of Islamic and Orthodox churches, Catholic churches in Tashkent (1992) and Samarkand (1997), a Lutheran church in Tashkent (1993), the Armenian Apostolic Church in Samarkand (1992).
Assistance in the preparation and conduct of the anniversary celebrations, devoted to the creation of an organization or religious objects is implemented on a permanent basis. The same situation is with the manufacture, import and distribution of religious materials.
Much of the listed in the report makes no sense due to statute of limitation, the committee said. For example, at present, the issues related to "Jehovah's Witnesses" religious believers may already be outdated.
The statement on improving of the situation was made by the leaders of the European Association of "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the oral (during the annual meeting of the OSCE ODIHR in Warsaw in late September 2013) and in written form (letters were sent to the UN, EU, and OSCE).
The other matter rests in the unregistered communities belonging to the so-called "Council of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists". Despite the meetings with representatives of the religious direction, organized with great difficulty, any advancement towards the legality is not observed.
"Any attempts to cease their illegal activities legally run into hostility and interference of their governing bodies abroad," emphasizes the committee.
There are 2,236 religious organizations of 16 different religious denominations today in Uzbekistan.