CESNUR (01.10.2020) – Fifty leading international scholars of religion have signed an appeal calling for the immediate end of the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, a country where members of the religious organization are routinely arrested and sentenced to terms in jail, and where all activities of their congregation are forbidden. The document was born out of a conference on opposition to the Jehovah’s Witnesses held online from Vilnius, Lithuania, on September 3, whose speakers were the first to sign, followed by colleagues from all over the world, including Russia itself and China.
“It seems that Jehovah’s Witnesses are really punished in Russia because of their growth, which is an unwelcome competition for the powerful Russian Orthodox Church,” commented Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne, who helped draft the statement. “The government and the Russian Orthodox Church may not like proselytization, added Alessandro Amicarelli, a human rights lawyer in London and the president of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB), also a co-drafter of the appeal, but the freedom to proselytize and to persuade members of other religions is an integral part of freedom of religion under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Russia has subscribed.”
The fifty scholars urged “President Putin and his administration to take action to cease the systematic and senseless persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a community of peaceful, law-abiding citizens who only ask to practice their faith in peace.”
See the text of the letter and the signatures at: https://www.cesnur.org/2020/jehovahs-witnesses-statement.htm.