Uzbekistan starts torturing Jehovah's Witnesses

An issue of Jehovah's Witnesses' Awake! magazine
Police in Uzbekistan have for the first time used torture against a Jehovah's Witness, a 54-year-old woman from Horezm Region, by suffocating her to force a confession to importing religious literature.

Gulchehra Abdullayeva, a resident of the village of Muhayo in Hazarasp District in Horezm Region, has decided to go public over details of her detention and trial, the Forum 18 religious news agency has reported.

As a Jehovah's Witness, she complained to four state agencies and the United Nations over torture she faced.

On 25 July, the Hazarasp District court fined her five times the minimum monthly wage (316,000 sums, or about $120).

The judge found Abdullayeva, who works as a paediatrician, guilty of violating Article 241 of the Code of Administrative Offence - "violation of rules of teaching religious beliefs”.

In her complaints, the woman said that her confession was forced.

Abdullayeva was arrested on 15 July, two weeks after she had returned from Kazakhstan where she had been on a private visit.

She was detained by officers led by Captain Atahan Boltayev from the local criminal investigation police department.

Officers insisted that Abdullayeva had smuggled books about Jehovah’s Witnesses from Kazakhstan and demanded that the woman hand them over to the authorities.

After Abdullayeva said that she had not brought back any religious publications, police searched her home without a warrant.

Failing to find anything, policemen demanded that Abdullayeva hand over at least some kind of religious literature.

Abdullayeva, just as many other Jehovah’s Witnesses in Uzbekistan, does not keep religious books at home.

After being plainly refused, officers took her to a police station where they made her stand up for four hours without water, while the temperature was over 40 degrees, and put a gas mask over her head and blocked air supply.

Abdullayeva was not able to withstand the torture and wrote a statement saying she was a Jehovah's Witness.

This was the first case of a Jehovah’s Witness being tortured in Uzbekistan, Forum 18 noted, citing its sources among other Jehovah's Witnesses.