Photo: Dmitry Mikhailov (Shuya); Ivan Puida (Khabarovsk); Dennis Christensen (Orel).
Dennis Christensen: Simon Kruse / Berlingske (

Human Rights

More than 60 public figures in Russia demand an end to the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses

The appeal "This is actually happening to us" was published on June 19, 2018 by human rights Internet resources and the media. It is signed by well-known human rights activists, lawyers, writers, historians, public figures.

"What is happening to them, in fact, is happening to us," the authors of the appeal state, "this is a test of the immune forces of society. The persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses shows the failure of anti-extremist legislation in general. If society does not protect Jehovah's Witnesses, if they are not restored to their rights, this will mean that anyone can be declared an extremist."

In intelligible language, human rights activists explain what the "extremism" of believers is: "In the story of how a person found answers from Jehovah's Witnesses to questions that a Catholic priest could not resolve, the courts saw propaganda of religious superiority - that is all extremism. Such "extremism," and much more brutal, can be found in doctrinal, liturgical, and other texts of most faiths. If you approach religious scriptures with the same yardstick, you will have to ban all religions."

"Law enforcement agencies, organizing raids and detentions, and the courts, authorizing searches in the homes of Witnesses and imprisoning them, refer to the decision of the Supreme Court to unconditionally ban the activities of this religious organization. The Supreme Court, in banning the Witnesses, referred to the decisions of the district courts to recognize the texts as extremist. The district courts referred to expert opinions. Experts working for the FSB and the "E" centers are able to detect "signs of extremism" even in the borscht recipe. As a result, the circular irresponsibility of the authorities led to a police operation launched from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka against innocent law-abiding citizens. This special operation is carried out, in fact, on the basis of several custom-made examinations.

After listing by name the believers who are behind bars, the authors conclude: "We call and demand: 1) to stop persecuting Jehovah's Witnesses for their religion; 2) immediately release from custody Jehovah's Witnesses accused under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of an extremist organization or participation in it), in fact, for professing their religion; 3) to cancel, using the available procedural possibilities, the decision of the Supreme Court of April 20, 2017 on the liquidation and prohibition of the activities of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses.