On April 19, 2019, for the first time in recent years, our brothers throughout the entirety of Uzbekistan were able to commemorate the Memorial of Christ’s death publicly.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Uzbekistan are officially registered only in Chirchik, a city near Tashkent. In previous years, our brothers living outside of Chirchik would commemorate the Memorial in secret so as to avoid potential police interference. This year, the brothers informed the police of the Memorial observance and invited them to attend. The police officers responded amicably and even took measures to ensure the safety of attendees. In some areas, police officers attended the program.
Brother Mark Sanderson of the Governing Body delivered the Memorial discourse in a Kingdom Hall complex in Chirchik, as shown in the lead photograph. The program was translated into Russian. The total attendance was 781. Later in the evening, two more Memorial observances were held at the same complex.
During the visit, Brother Sanderson, accompanied by Paul Gillies from world headquarters and two brothers from Central Asia, met with senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and the National Centre for Human Rights. During the meetings, our brothers were allowed to present accurate information about our faith and organization. It is hoped that well-informed officials will support registration in communities beyond Chirchik, which will help the brothers acquire appropriate facilities for worship.
The public Memorial observance and the respectful meetings with officials are the latest positive developments in Uzbekistan. During the past six months, there have been no raids, fines, or arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And, approximately one year ago, on May 14, 2018, Mr. Javlon Vakhabov, the ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United States, publicly stated that parliament would work to change legislation to make it easier for Jehovah’s Witnesses to acquire registration.
We look to Jehovah to bless the efforts of our brothers in Uzbekistan as they continue to lead “a calm and quiet life with complete godly devotion and seriousness.”—1 Timothy 2:2.