Uzbekistan deports another Baha’i for organizing “illegal meetings” in private homes
September 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Sepehr Taheri, a Baha’i with British citizenship who had lived in the Uzbek capital Tashkent since 1990, is married to an Uzbek citizen and their children were all born there. In the wake of his deportation, a local news website accused Taheri of “propagandizing Baha’i religious teaching” and increasing the number of “proselytes” in the country. The website’s chief editor defended to Forum 18 its publication of the article, which was written by the same author who attacked the previous Baha’i to be expelled from Uzbekistan.
According to a 5 February article by Abduvali Turaev on the Novosti Uzbekistana website, Taheri was working in Tashkent as an English language teacher. He was found guilty of violating the Code of Administrative Offences and, on 17 November 2009, was deported from Uzbekistan. The Baha’i community confirmed Taheri’s deportation to Forum 18 without giving details.
The deportation of Taheri is the latest in a series of government moves against the Baha’i community, which has been able to register its groups in Tashkent, Samarkand, Jizak, Bukhara and Navoi.More than ten officers from the police and NSS secret police, together with an official of the City Justice Department and the head of the mahalla (city district) committee raided the Baha’i centre in Tashkent’s Khamza District in July 2009.
Two Baha’is were found guilty of resisting the police, charges they denied, and sentenced to fifteen days’ imprisonment. After that one of the two was expelled to neighboring Kazakhstan (see F18News 24 September 2009
Turaev’s article, “Sower of Alien Ideas”, claimed that Taheri had come to live in Uzbekistan in 1990 “for mercenary reasons” and as a missionary. It claimed he married an Uzbek citizen “to legalize his presence in the country, to conceal his mercenary aims and to avoid being unmasked”. The author alleged that “by concealing his real aims” he was able to set up nine Baha’i groups across Uzbekistan.
Turaev claimed Taheri had been arrested in August 2008 while “brainwashing” a local woman “with the aim of forcing her to change her religious views”. But “on that occasion he was able to evade responsibility”. The author then claims that Taheri organized the participation of more than 200 people from Uzbekistan in an “unsanctioned” meeting of Baha’is from Central Asia in Almaty in Kazakhstan in December 2008. The author claimed that most of those who went from Uzbekistan did not know they were going to a religious conference.
The author accused Taheri of organizing “illegal meetings” in private homes in Tashkent in the first three months of 2009, as well as invitations to foreign Baha’is to visit communities in the country. “It is natural that his activities were recognized as contradicting the laws of Uzbekistan,” Turaev declared.
In September 24, 2009 another Baha’i Mr.Timur Chekparbayev, was deported for proselytism children as young as 16 years. Mr. Timur Chekparbayev carried out missionary and proselytizing activity without having the consent of the Uzbekistani authorities and the consent of the parents, it was in clear violation of the Uzbekistani law.