Civil Activists Demand Belarusian Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Registration Made Void

Свидетели Иеговы

Belarusian civil activist signed an open letter demanding to void the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belarus. The address received by had been signed by Alieh Nahorny, Michal Rakovič, Aliaksandr Biełski, Iryna Jaskievič, Maksim Astrejka and Anastasija Blusienkava form Minsk, Michal Arsiencieu from Babrujsk and Raman Barodzič from Baranavičy. Those people are not affiliated with the government and are not members of Orthodox or Catholic Church, some of them are victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses and some of them are researching sects independently from the state and the church, states the letter’s appendix.

They claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ accusations of the authorities and main Churches “of organizing persecutions of religious minorities, of violation freedom of faith and other democratic rights and principles” are not unbiased. “The democratic process consists of three subsystems: rights, obligations and control and the Law of the country is regulating the process. When Jehovah’s Witnesses or other organization neglect their obligations, when they violate the Law, they disturb the functioning of a democratic process. In this case the authorities are acting to protect democracy and not against it”, – states the open letter.

It also emphasizes that human rights organizations that tell about Witnesses’ persecutions fail to notice “the cases when the “persecuted” themselves violated the law”. “The Jehovah’s Witnesses have use to quote declarative articles of the law, the Constitution for instance, which guarantee a freedom of consciousness and religion to the citizens. But they forget that the freedom of ons endes where begins the freedom of others. To draw a border dividing freedoms and rights of all parties the law provides a regulatory part that sets certain tools of implementation of declarative norms. And these norms are being regularily vioated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses”, – the authors of the declaration claim.

They also find necessary to revoke registration of the National Association of the Jehovah’s Witnesses because “its doctrine and practises contradict Belarusian Constitution and the Law”, particularily, Art.16.

The letter states that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine warns its followers against participation in any forms of the country’s sociopolitical life (including elections), demonizes all forms of political organizations. “The only authority acknowledged by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the theocracy of the Watchtower’s Ruling Committee. The notion of patriotism is purely negative in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine and defense of the Motherland with arms is considered as something immoral”, – say the authors, while mentioning that “the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ anti-patriotic position encourages irresponsible bwhavior towards the Motherland”.

They also remind that “the Concept of national security of the Republic of Belarus” points out weakening patriotic spirit and willingness to protect the country and that Belarusian electoral law prohibits boycotting the elections.

The address emphasizes that due to the religious prohibition of blood transfusion ca 2000 people die every year and ca. 200 000-300 000 people had died in total since 1961, the year of prohibition. For those who decided to undergo transfusion the intercultural sanctions are provided. “Thus the Organization is encouraging a behavior dangerous to health and applies pressure to the diisentient”, – claim the authors.

They also point out the fact that relatives and friends of the Jehovah’s Witnesses complain about hostile sentiments towards them due to their unwillingness to join the Organization and to accept its teachings and that “the Organizations’ official literature is full of criticism of traditional churches which sometimes degrades into giving offending labels”. Several  Jehovah’s Witnesses’ publications and sites are prohibited from distribution in Belarus and Russia (e.g. the magazine “Watchtower proclaims Jehovah’s Kingdom”, May’12 issue).

“Considering the aforementioned facts, we ask the authorities to review the possibility of banning of the National Association of the Jehovah’s Witnesses until teaching and practices that contradict the Constitution and the Law will be eliminated”, – the letter states.

As has previously reported, on 2 February the Plenipotentiary for religions threatened to revoke registration of several Jehovah’s Witnesses communities for the dessemination of religious literature without a special permission. It is worth mentioning that the Plenipotentiary’s administration has no power to revoke the registration. Only the court can decide to liquidate the community while the registering body can only issue a warning. At the same time Paval Jadlouski, the chairman of the Religious association of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belarus claims that Lieanid Huliaka hadn’t met the Association’s representatives for more than two years and that a warning had been issued only to the one of 27 communities.