Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses

Photo Courtesy of Ridge Vids

Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses

Salvador Martinez, Photojournalist

For the past few months, 175,000 of Russia’s Jehovah’s Witnesses have been targeted with charges. After several years, of persecution against the religious group, the Kremlin moved to exterminate  the denomination for good. Last February, Jehovah’s Witnesses were titled as “extremists” and locked out of their offices and put off to the side. Soon Kremlin officials launched a legal effort to ban the denomination. That case quickly made its way to the Supreme Court, where Justice attorney Svetlana Borisova stated the group posed a “threat” to “public order and public security.” In court, Borisova brought in former followers to testify that top church officials took “total control” of their “intimate life, education and work.”

 

Lawyers for the Jehovah’s Witnesses roundly denied those allegations… After 6 days of hearings, the Supreme Court sided with the government on Thursday. They dominated the group’s of St. Petersburg headquarters and 395 churches could be seized and liquidated as soon as possible. All church activities, including worship and door-to-door evangelizing, were banned and if that was ever seen, they could be facing serious consequences. Those who defy the ruling face a fine of several thousands of dollars and six to ten years in prison.

 

This was criticized on Thursday as a “terrible blow to freedom of religion and association in Russia” by  Russian citizens… so far religious leaders promised to appeal. But they’re not hopeful. In the Soviet era, some denominations were officially banned, and Jehovah’s Witnesses was viewed as traitors and spies. One group was shipped off to Siberia. After the Berlin Wall fell, Witnesses hoped that restrictions would stop. That has not been the case. Since 2006, 8 local organizations have been banned by regional courts. Nearly 100 pieces of Jehovah’s Witness literature have been placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials, including “My Book of Bible Stories,” an illustrated children’s book.

 

Based on the facts, Samantha Dela Bretoniere (10) says, “I am Catholic and I know that what is being done in Russia is wrong! I know some people who are Jehovah’s witnesses, if the government is so against them, the best thing they should do is respect and pass some special laws but not exterminate them, that doesn’t fix anything.” Stating religious extermination, this is almost like the targeted people in Nazi Germany and World War II under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler,” says Jade Low (9), “We do not need to repeat history, but learn from it”.