The following story has been taken from a previously posted eighteen page article from a trusted source. We will not name that source here because of security for Muhammad and his associates.
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In early May of 2015, police in the Navoi region of central Uzbekistan stopped four Protestants from various churches traveling together by car from Samarkand to Navoi. "We understood that the police were informed of their arrival in town and were waiting for them there," a fellow Protestant from the capital Tashkent, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of state reprisals, told our source on 15 May. Officers at Karmana District Police Station then interrogated the four men, torturing one until he lost consciousness and threatening to rape another. The Criminal Police are believed to have already handed administrative cases against the four in court, the Protestant added.The driver of the car, Muhammad, is under constant close police surveillance, and his car has often been stopped. Like other individuals prominent in religious communities or punished earlier for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, his name appears to be listed in the Preventative Registry. When they detained Muhammad and his friends, officers specifically asked if they were listed in the Registry at their home addresses.
A very wide range of state agencies, from courts to health care and nature protection agencies, can put people on this Register, which was formalized in 2014. This subjects them to a variety of police "preventative measures" for one year or more. These measures can include someone being fired from their job and there are many possibilities for officials to arbitrarily keep people on the Register for many years.
Meanwhile, in the south-eastern Kashkadarya Region, the Criminal Police repeatedly visited the home in Karshi throughout May of Protestant Aaliyah, banging on the yard's gates and trying to climb over the wall. She has been in hiding since July 2014, fearing possible police brutality and arrest for allegedly talking to family members about her Christian faith. Officers appear to be trying to open a case against her and have issued a summons to the police.
The use of physical violence and torture, or threats of this, is widespread in Uzbekistan by the authorities. For extremely good reasons, most victims are unwilling to discuss their experiences publicly, and women are often particularly targeted by male officials.
Karmana District Police is believed to have prepared cases under Administrative Code Article 194 ("Failure to carry out the lawful demands of a police officer") against Muhammed and his three companions, Kareem, Abbad and Omar, members of various Protestant Churches from across Uzbekistan. Officers told the four the case was being opened because they refused to write statements explaining the purpose of their travel in the region as well as their religious activity.
Punishments under Article 194 consist of fines of up to three times the minimum monthly wage or (for repeat offences within one year) a prison term of up to 15 days.
Muhammad, Kareem and Omar have earlier been punished under the Administrative Code for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. Muhammad has also faced criminal prosecution. In November 2013, Andijan Regional Criminal Court overturned a fine on Muhammad for "illegal" storage of religious literature handed down the previous month. The National Security Service (NSS) secret police had earlier tried to pressure him into becoming an informer.
Trouble began for the four Protestants on the morning of May 8th, when they were stopped while crossing from Samarkand Region to Navoi Region. The four were traveling in the car, driven by Muhammad. The police "know Muhammed very well as he was persecuted by the police and other authorities in the past and fined several times before. The police know his car and license plate, and seemingly they were informed about all four Protestants' arrival in town and were waiting for them."
The Traffic Police Sergeant who stopped their car in Karmana District produced no identification document or search warrant. He asked the four to show their identification documents and the registration certificate of the vehicle. He then made the men get out of the car and inspected the car's passenger compartment and the boot. "When he realized he could find no fault with the brothers, he asked them to show the inside of their bags and pockets." When Muhammad asked for two witnesses for the search, the Sergeant became "agitated and began shouting and said that he does not need any witnesses."
Another police officer in plain clothes then came running. He, too, did not present his identification documents but examined the Protestants' passports. Seeing stamps of foreign countries in them, he began questioning the men about who they were, why they traveled abroad, and what activity they were involved in. "Later, we found out that this was Lieutenant Farrukh Khujakulov of Karmana Criminal Police."
To the Protestants' demands that the Sergeant tells them why he stopped them and that he show them the Traffic Police's warrant, Lieutenant Khujakulov responded: "I don't work for the Traffic Police. I am a police dog handler." Asked on what grounds a police dog handler stopped their car and told that he had violated their constitutional rights, he shouted at them: "The Constitution and laws are for Tashkent; here in Navoi, we have our own laws."
Then the two police officers again searched the car with the help of a dog and inspected their mobile phones. When they could find no fault, Lieutenant Khujakulov demanded that the four men write statements about their travels abroad, the purpose of their visits, whom they met, and what they discussed. When the Protestants refused to do so, he threatened to open a case against them for disobeying a police officer's order.
After keeping the four at the Traffic Police checkpoint for three and a half hours, until 1 pm, Lieutenant Khujakulov called for a police car and took them to Karmana District Police Station.
Once at the Police Station, officers interrogated the Protestants, torturing at least two of them. The interrogation was led by Khujakulov and a colleague from the Criminal Police, Feruz Ruziyev, and Olim Kunakov, a Crime Prevention Inspector from the District Police.
The officers dragged the brothers into various offices in the Police Station, where officers illegally demanded that they say whether or not they were convicted before, whether they use drugs, and whether they are on a special Police Register where they live. They were also asked about the lifestyle of their family members and relatives, what they live on, where and why they are traveling abroad, and whether or not they have any diseases."
To be continued ......