State Department's Religious Rights Report Raps Central Asian States
Religious liberties in Central Asia are under threat, the US State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Report finds.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan remained primary sources of concern, the report indicated. "The most severe abuses take place in certain strict authoritarian regimes that seek to control all religious thought and expression as part of a more comprehensive state control of expression and civic life," stated the report, which was released on October 26.
In Uzbekistan, the report noted the number of people jailed for religious extremism in Uzbekistan "appeared to" decrease. Even so, the Uzbek government came in for criticism. "Respect for religious freedom declined in several respects during the reporting period," the report said.
In Turkmenistan, the report highlighted "raids and arbitrary detentions involving Jehovah's Witnesses."
The report expressed concern that the Tajik government was using security concerns as a cover for engaging in repressive measures. Kyrgyzstan faced criticism for "forcibly extraditing" at least two individuals who were later found guilty of religious extremism in Uzbekistan.