Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Memorial Says Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian Jails are Political Prisoners

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 6 – The Memorial Human Rights Center says that the more than 29 Jehovah’s Witnesses now in preliminary detention or under house arrest in the Russian Federation are political prisoners because the charges against them have been fabricated by the government.

            “We do not use the term ‘prisoner of conscience’” which International Amnesty does, but it precisely conveys the essence of the case: they are being persecuted exclusively and immediately for their faith and convictions, for the realization of their rights to freedom of conscience  and convictions which are guaranteed both by the Constitution and international norms,” Memorial says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B66F9821E17B).

            “The decision of the Supreme Court about the ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the recognition of their organization as extremist does not withstand any criticism. It is in fact based on previous decisions of various district courts in the course of recent years which have more than one recognized printed materials of this church as extremist,” the group says.

            And these decisions in turn, the SOVA Human Rights Center adds, are in every case based on hireling experts who say whatever the authorities want said without any regard for the truth. 

            In reporting this, human rights activist Sergey Davidis observes that he “does not understand the logic and meaning of this persecution. Its illegality is obvious, but many are persecuted illegally in [Russia].  In the majority of cases, however, it is clear why this is being done and what profit those who engage in it receive.”

            But “in the case of the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whatever the hypothetical gains of the authorities might be … they are exceeded many times over by the real attacks on the reputation [of the country and its government,] losses which in turn will only grow over time.” In this situation, one can only call for “freeing the political prisoners,” he says.

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