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Uzbek Authorities Admit Arresting Protestants

(RFE/RL) 12 September 2006 -- Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry has admitted that it recently arrested a group of Protestants in southern Surkhandarya Region on charges of violating the country's religious legislation.

In comments carried today by the pro-government information website, Interior Ministry spokesman Alisher Sharipov said that police last month detained 25 Pentecostal Christians who were attending a summer camp near the city of Termez.

Sharipov said all women and children were released shortly after their arrest, and that four men were sentenced to up to five days in jail.

Another two people who had no residence permit in Uzbekistan were sent to a rehabilitation center for 10 days. One of them was a Ukrainian national.

Sharipov denied reports that the detainees were ill-treated.

The Oslo-based Forum 18 rights group first reported on the incident on September 6.

Uzbekistan has long been cracking down on nontraditional religious groups.


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