Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Putin’s Words Notwithstanding, Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Continues in Russia
Nibelein spoke with Andrey K, a 38-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who together with his wife and child have received asylum in Germany. They came there, he says, because they could easily get tickets and because they believed that German officials would recognize their claims of reasonable fear of persecution in their homeland.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have secured visas in Moscow, but Andrey and his family came in transit to Serbia, which does not require Russians to get a visa, and then in the Munich transit hall appealed to the police. It took some months, but they were finally granted asylum, a status more than a thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses now have in Germany.
The community is quite active, Andrey continues. “We try to find a common language with people of various cultures. Because as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we seek to speak about the Bible with people of various nationalities. We try to speak with them in English” or when we can, in German “which we also are studying.”
Among the people they have spoken to is a family of Chechens, who even began to attend meetings at the local kingdom hall. “I very much regret,” Andrey says, “that this family was later deported to Chechnya.”
Not all Jehovah’s Witnesses who apply for asylum in Germany are successful, he says. German law takes an individual approach, and if a particular applicant cannot show that he or she has been subject to discrimination, they are rejected. But more than a thousand have received asylum, and most expect to remain in Germany permanently.
The situation in Russia is untenable for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not only are many in jail and more facing charges, but the police refuse to reign in those groups like Nashi who promote hatred against the Jehovah’s Witnesses even as they refuse to come to the defense of this religious community.
Andrey showed Nibelein photographs of Nashi demonstrators wearing t-shorts declaring “I hate the Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Honk if you’re against the Witnesses.” The police told the Witnesses that they saw nothing wrong with what the Nashi people were doing. And that, even more than the demonstrators, is a reason for continuing concern.