FORUM 18 NEWS SERVICE, Oslo, Norway
The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one's belief or religion
The right to join together and express one's belief
31 January 2006
ROMANIA: CONTROVERSIAL RELIGION BILL GOES TO CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES
Religious minorities and human rights groups are worried over the proposed new religion law, which resumes its parliamentary progress in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, on 1 February. 'This is a very critical time for religious liberty in Romania,' Evangelical Alliance president Pastor Paul Negrut told Forum 18 News Service. He complained that the government-drafted law passed unchanged through the upper house, the Senate, in December. Peter Eckstein-Kovacs, head of the Senate's legal committee, recognises that the draft is 'problematic' but denied to Forum 18 that its adoption by the Senate without a vote had been a 'trick'.
Adventists, Baptists and other Protestants, Greek Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Baha'is have already complained about the draft law. 'The draft law infringes many laws and the Constitution of Romania, as well as international human rights commitments to which Romania is subject,' Iustina Ionescu of the Bucharest-based Centre for Legal Resources told Forum 18.
2 February 2006
UZBEKISTAN: ASSAULT ARRANGED BY AUTHORITIES?
A Protestant pastor is convinced that a brutal assault he was subjected to, which left him unconscious and needing a week in hospital, was arranged by the Uzbek authorities. He thinks that this is the reason why the police do not want to open a criminal investigation.
"In early January I saw my attackers on the street and now I even know where they live. But the police don't even want to talk to me," Bakhtier Tuichiev told Forum 18 News Service. Separately, sources from across Uzbekistan have told Forum 18 that recently the authorities have closed down many charitable organisations run by Christians. The closures include attempts to close down the charities "voluntarily," using similar tactics as have been ordered against religious communities in the capital, Tashkent. The authorities have refused to discuss either the assault on Pastor Tuichiev or the charity closures with Forum 18, but claim that there have recently been increased complaints about non-Muslim missionaries.