Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jehovah's Witnesses - Their Dilemma in Russia (Tito Feliciano Portfolio Post Unit 1)

The Jehovah's Witnesses, a christian group of an estimated 7 million members, has been subject to legal persecution in Russia for many years now, and as of 2004, they were banned from practicing their religion by law. This was due to the fact that the political leaders in Russia thought that the Jehovah's Witnesses were "it encourag[ing] younger members to disown families and neglect civic duties".

This ruling was taken to the European Court of Human Rights and it decided that the ruling "to dissolve the Moscow branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses was illegal" and "was based on insufficient grounds".
The result was that, for a while, the court's decision went unchallenged. However, on the 9th September, 2010, Russia officially challenged the unanimous decision by the ECHR, requesting "that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber."

"The unanimous decision of the ECHR made clear that the liquidation and ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses was in violation of fundamental human rights guaranteed by the European Convention, including freedom of religion and freedom of peaceful association. Reversing the ban on the Witnesses and restoring their status as an officially registered religious association in Moscow would be an important step forward for Russia regarding freedom of worship. However, the Russian government’s request for a rehearing of the matter by the Court’s Grand Chamber delays Russia’s compliance with the Court’s ruling and adds fuel to an already heated environment of religious intolerance against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

The Moscow ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, based on a June 16, 2004, ruling of the Moscow City Court, has been systematically used by officials to justify a campaign of hostility with the aim of banning the Witnesses throughout Russia. Since then, a series of negative court rulings in Russia threaten freedom of worship. In particular, the December 8, 2009, ruling by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation regarding the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses has led to a dramatic increase in the number and intensity of incidents against Witnesses. There have been arson attacks on their places of worship, physical attacks on individuals, and unwarranted arrests. These and hundreds of other documented acts of religious intolerance, either instigated or condoned by the Russian government, continue unabated.

Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide look to the European Court either to allow the present ruling to stand or to reinforce it by an affirming ruling from the Grand Chamber."

Dialogues: David Kinkaid posted our dialogues on a blog post of his.

Sources: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2010/06/10/Court-supports-Russian-Jehovahs-Witnesses/UPI-57201276218114/


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