Russia’s ban on Jehovah Witness activities enters fifth year

“Over 600 Jehovah’s Witnesses, including 40 men and women over the age of 70, have been charged criminally."
Russia’s ban on Jehovah Witness activities enters fifth year

Jehovah’s Witnesses have marked the fifth year since the Russian government instituted a ban on its activities within its territory.

According to a statement made available to WUzupNigeria, about 400 legal entities registered to the organisation, including their houses of worship, have been shut down.

Despite continuous clamour from international human rights bodies, over 320 Witnesses have been imprisoned, with over 80 still in custody.

Reports revealed that Russian security operatives raided more than 1,740 homes of the Witnesses.

On April 20, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court issued a ruling banning Jehovah’s Witnesses after the justice ministry called on it to dissolve the organisation over alleged “extremist activity”.

“Over 600 Jehovah’s Witnesses, including 40 men and women over the age of 70, have been charged criminally. During the 2017 Supreme Court hearing, the Russian government claimed that although it was liquidating the legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, individual Witnesses would be free to practice their faith. However, the government’s claim of allowing freedom to worship has been inconsistent with its actions,” the statement added.

Commenting on the treatment of the Witnesses, a former British ambassador to Russia, Andrew Wood, stated that the actions of the Russian government was an injustice and a breach of a basic tenet of human rights.

“Their arrest, ill-treatment, and confinement are a breach of elementary human rights together with the infringement of the freedom of all souls to seek their path to the truths of religion as best they may. The targeting of particularly vulnerable people of whatever gender or age adds to the injustice,” he said.

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