77 Christians Locked In Prison, 49 Held In Russian Concentration Camps
Some 77 Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently in prison for their strict adherence to Bible principles, with 49 confined to Russian concentration camps termed “colonies,” where they are exploited for labor.
The Christian organization has faced strategic oppression backed by the Russian Orthodox Church and supported by Russian law in an effort to eradicate the existence of that religious minority residing in Russia, following a Russian Supreme Court decision to ban the religiously devout group of peaceful proselytizers.
In 2017, The Russian supreme banned the religion under anti-terrorist laws and labeled them "extremist."
Their crimes include peacefully gathering to worship, reading the Bible and encouraging others to obey Jehovah God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ.
Many of those arrested had no criminal record prior to their conviction however their politically neutral stand internationally has often put Jehovah's Witnesses at the forefront of persecution, even in the United States during WWI, however the US and allies including Great Britain have bucked down on condemning the actions of the Russian Federation and any country that falsely labels Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist for adhering to their Bible trained conscience.
Even for those who have not faced prison, others have been victims of sexual assault, arson, beatings and have suffered heart failure following their ordeal. Women, children and the elderly have not been spared these trials and today the Russian Federation looks more like the Hitler Regime who similarly vowed to exterminate Jehovah’s Witnesses, placing them in similar concentration camps while using threats and acts of terror to intimidate the peaceful Bible Students.
The Russian Federation is an absolute embarrassment to the United Nations, making the organization seem more like a laughing stock as they play international politics while assaulting some 175,000 of their citizens in utter defiance to international human rights laws, making their allies complicit.
As members of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, we note with grave concern the increased repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a number of countries. We uphold the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to practice their religion and their beliefs and their ability to adhere to being apolitical and pacifist without fear, harassment, discrimination, or persecution.
In countries around the world, governments investigate, detain, arrest, and imprison Jehovah’s Witnesses on account of their religious beliefs. They are falsely designated as “extremist.” Officials conduct home raids against Jehovah’s Witnesses, place them in prolonged pre-trial detention and require excessive prison sentences due to their religious practices and beliefs, and deny citizenship under domestic law. They also are subjected to violence and discrimination.
We affirm that the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) includes the ability to conscientiously object to military service. We note that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that parties may not derogate from their obligations with respect to Article 18 in times of public emergency which threatens the life of a nation. States should not, therefore, discriminate against individuals based on their religious beliefs when considering conscientious objection from military service.
We call upon all states to, where applicable:
Immediately release all Jehovah’s Witnesses jailed for exercising their religious beliefs, including charges for their religious expression, activities, and conscientious objection to military service.
Immediately end the torture and physical abuse of Jehovah’s Witnesses in detention.
Immediately end home raids against Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Immediately address harassment of and discrimination against of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Immediately eliminate any discrimination against Jehovah’s Witnesses in decisions with respect to citizenship and/or issuance of national identification documents.
Create space for conscientious objection through non-military alternative civilian service.
Allow Jehovah’s Witnesses access to their religious literature and equal access to legal registration for religion or belief groups.
Desist from targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses with ‘anti-extremism’ laws and forced conscription.
Review current “anti-extremism” legislation that severely limits or prohibits all activities of Jehovah organizations.