Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Religious Persecution: 64 Jehovah's Witnesses in Jail

I was reading an interview with Michael Danielian, a prominent human rights advocate in Armenia, and was in for a surprise.

It turns out that there are 64 people imprisoned in Armenia based on their religious beliefs!

All 64 of them are Jehovah's Witnesses. Armenia continues to surprise me every day. I don't know how to describe it. The words that come to mind are 'a f***ed up system of governance' but that's probably a mild description.

64 religious prisoners! And they claim to be a country that follows European values? I just can't understand. And we haven't heard about these prisoners till now.

Here is the interview.

4 comments:

Libertarian said...

This has been happening for many years now. There are an estimate of 8000 Jehovah Witnesses in Armenia & this iz the only religious group that iz facing an *explicit* state-backed persecution. EU has levelled lots of complaints & RA iz slowly softening its grip -- juzt a few years ago this number was in hundreds!
Jehovah Witnesses refuse to worship the flag & the state & the anthem, consumerism, nationalism, gambling; refuse to bear arms, join the army, kill the enemy, vote ... & if I'm not mistaken, they don't really believe in Trinity -- in short, they are everything that ztantz outzite the definition of "normal" & "Armenian".

Anonymous said...

nazarian,

> the fact that Jehova's Witnesses are/were being persecuted has been well known for quite some time. But!
> most, if not all of imprisoned JW's are prosecuted not because of their religious beliefs per se, but but due to their refusal to serve in the army on religious grounds--JW's claim that their religious beliefs do not allow them to take up arms (at least this was the case a few years ago). To my knowledge, you're largely safe to practice anyreligion you want in Armenia. But the conflict of military service and religion in such cases is inevitable.

There is no way to verify the truthfullness of one's claim that he is a JW. If you excuse JWs from military service, then pretty soon everyone will claim to be one. As long as there is a compulsory srvice, I don't think there will be an easy way to avoid persecution of JWs.

Anonymous said...

have you noticed how teh general public's suspicion of religious group like the Jehova's witnesses was used in the propaganda against the opposition?
some anti-opposition bloggers even used a term they invented invented "Leova's witnesses".
In general teh gov-t side did everything to exploit the xenophobic feelings of the people,
calling LEvon a Turkish agent, the whole movement a Judeo-masonic plot, and the opposition activists "followers of a new cult"

Anonymous said...

"In general teh gov-t side did everything to exploit the xenophobic feelings of the people,
calling LEvon a Turkish agent.."

Don't forget that xenophobic and silly labels like "turk," "turki shun," "xarabaxci (with a pejorative connotation)," etc. are a popular parts of opposition's vocabulary. True, these may not have be used by LTP and his co-organziers of the movement, but still, the xenophobia is present on both sides.

V.