22 November 2016
Uzbekistan has released Christian prisoner Tohar Haydarov (33) after six years and 10 months of his ten year sentence, local sources have confirmed to Open Doors.
His release came unexpectedly for everyone involved. The Uzbek authorities didn’t alert anyone and there was nobody to pick Haydarov up from the prison.
On 7 November, a judge officially granted Haydarov parole. He left the prison one day later and was finally reunited with his family once he made it home. ‘God has heard the prayers of many Christians,’ an Uzbek Christian said. ‘We are thankful for everyone who prayed for him and sent letters to him while he was in prison.’
Haydarov received a warning that he should ‘not get into trouble’ after his release.
The young Baptist was arrested in March 2010 and sentenced to ten years in prison with labour for drug possession, a false claim according to Christians close to him. They suspect he was really being punished for his religious activities. During the investigations, he was probably beaten and forced to sign papers.
Haydarov’s release is very surprising because in May 2016 he was denied amnesty while many other prisoners received permission to leave the prison. ‘We are very grateful Tohar has been granted parole,’ one contact says.
‘We have prayed for him for years and we need to continue our prayers. After six years in such difficult circumstances he needs to be restored and re-establish his relationships with his loved ones. We know from other ex-prisoners that the process can be hard.’
PERSECUTION IN UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan is number 15 on Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List. It has one of the harshest dictatorships in Central Asia. The regime will do everything possible to stay in power – all forms of opposition and deviations from the norm are ruthlessly attacked. Christianity is regarded as an alien and destabilising factor. Christian converts from a Muslim background also experience additional pressure from their families and communities.
The previous president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, ruled the country with an iron fist. He passed away at the end of August or early September (officially on 2 September, but possibly earlier) and was eventually succeeded by Shavkat Mirziyoyev as interim president. A new presidential election is scheduled for 4 December.
Source: Open Doors
- Praise God for Tohar’s release
- For healing for Tohar as he recovers from his time in prison
- For provision and strength as begins to adjust to normal life