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article imageAttacks on Jehovah's Witnesses on the Rise?

By Kevin Jess     Jul 23, 2009 in World
In many countries religious freedoms appear to be under attack. This is not restricted to one particular religious group, but Jehovah's Witnesses appear to be targeted due to their stance on military and political issues.
Recently, in Georgia, the former Soviet Republic, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses were planning a summer revival in a field on Friday, but a mob came the night before.
Approximately two dozen men wearing crosses of the Georgian Orthodox Church arrived on buses and ransacked the home of the host. They piled Bibles, religious pamphlets and the homeowner’s belongings in the yard and burned them. They also filled the baptismal pool with diesel fuel.
Police also appeared, but no arrests were made. It is not clear whether police were involved in the attacks. There was also another attack at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the village of Otarsheni on Thursday evening where meetings were in progress and members were chased down and beaten.
In February, offices of a Baptist church just north of Tbilisi were broken into. The perpetrators burned hundreds of Bibles and other books. Even an advocacy group financed by Americans was attacked and staff members beaten due to their criticism of such attacks.
As of July 2009, there are 72 Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned in Armenia due to refusal of military service on religious grounds.
In Turkmenistan, two Jehovah’s Witnesses are imprisoned for refusing military service.
Twenty-three arrests have been made in Eritrea including children and elderly persons ranging in ages of 2 to 80. Most of these were women as their husbands had long been arrested and in detention for as long as 15 years without formally being charged. Arrests were made for merely attending Christian meetings.
Since the 1950’s over 13,000 Jehovah’s witnesses have been imprisoned in South Korea for refusing military service. As of September 30, 2008 there were 408 witnesses still in prison in South Korea for refusing military service and over 80 witnesses were subjected constantly to heavy fines totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars according to the website for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In Asbest, Russia, a pregnant woman, Mrs. Aleksandr Mastyugina, miscarried during an illegal police raid on May 24, 2009 of a religious meeting where over 50 Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested and photographed. Local television crews were on hand to film the event. A 15-year-old boy is still being detained without charge.
Russian authorities still continue to defy the European Court of Human Rights that upholds the rights of individuals to worship.
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