JWPersecutionRussian

Jehovah’s Witness sentenced to five years in prison.

The freedom to practice any religion and to believe in any faith is a human right that is not recognized by all countries in the world. The past few months some Soviet countries are restricting the practice of one denomination of the Christian faith, the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation. Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians who believe in the sanctity of the Bible and in the vocation to spread the Scripture. The group has undergone persecution in the recent past in Kazakhstan as well as in the Russian Republic.

In Kazakhstan, a Jehovah’s Witness was charged with promoting hatred and discord among various religious and ethnic groups within the nation. 60-year-old Teymur Akhmedov was arrested in January on these allegations, and sentenced to five years in prison. However, some testified that the only crime Akhmedov had perpetrated was to preach about his faith. His lawyers said Akhemedov was put in custody while teaching because he taught the Christian faith in a Muslim-majority Kazakhstan. Adding, the state had disallowed Akhemedov treatment despite the elderly Jehovah’s Witness cancer diagnosis. Kazakhstan violated the rights of the Witness because of his beliefs.

When Akhemedov 's lawyers realized they could not win his case in a biased court, they wrote an appeal to the President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. The pair, namely Vitaly Kuznetsov and Natalya Kononenko, argued that there were no criminal elements in Akhmedov’s actions. Members of the Soviet nation’s security committee launched an investigation into the attorneys, stating that the lawyers had revealed information they should not have unveiled. Kuznetsov remarked that the charges were absurd because the information had been publicly broadcasted throughout the Middle Asian country. The charges have not been negated nor confirmed, but it was clear the two had been targeted because of their defense of a Jehovah’s Witness.

Russian persecution of the Christian sect was more public than that of Kazakhstan. In Russia, the Supreme Court declared being a Witness a punishable crime. The denomination was labelled an extremist group, making it illegal to practice it within the Soviet superpower. Also, the decree allowed Russian authorities to commandeer any assets that the church held in the country. This move by the Russian government ensured that no one in the country dared to publicly declare themselves as Witnesses, thus cutting off the Jehovah's Witness church in Russia. Additionally, Russia allegedly arrested and tortured related homosexuals, a group that is accepted by the global church.

The persecution of Witnesses in Soviet countries resulted in the weakening of the church in those nations. Witnesses were scared to come forward and preach for fear of prosecution and torture. In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss human rights issues she said how “important the right to demonstrate is in a civil society and how important the role of NGOs is." Merkel challenged the Russian President to protect the freedom of worship of the minority group.

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