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Turkey violated religious freedoms of Jehovah Witnesses: ECHR


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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Turkey violated the right to freedom of religion of a group of Jehovah Witnesses in İzmir and Mersin through “direct interference” by refusing to grant them appropriate places of worship. 


The Association for Solidarity with Jehovah Witnesses and others appealed against the ECHR against Turkey in June 2010 and complained that national authorities refused to grant a place of worship status to their houses of worship while also rejecting their requests to provide access to places of worship. 

In the appeal, the association claimed Turkey violated the group’s right to freedom of religion (Article 9), right to a fair trial (Article 6) and freedom of assembly and association (Article 11). The group added that they did not benefit from the right to an effective remedy (Article 13) and were discriminated against over their membership to a minority religious community – a violation of prohibition of discrimination (Article 14). 

The aforementioned difficulties arose from a Turkish Law No. 3194 on Urban Planning which prohibits the opening of places of worship on sites which were designated for other purposes in local development plans.

The same law also established a number of conditions to build places of worship. Accordingly, even a small place of worship must have a surface area of at least 2,550 square meters. 

The private premises which were used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the southern province of Mersin and the Aegean province of İzmir were closed down by authorities for being “unlawful.” Appeals by the believers for the allocation or use of alternative premises as places of worship were also turned down by courts. 

In its decision, the ECHR ruled that “the impugned rejections by the authorities amounted to such a direct interference with their freedom of religion that it was neither proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued nor necessary in a democratic society.”

Noting that states are largely free to implement urban planning policies, the court nevertheless underlined that the needs of minority communities were not taken into consideration by state authorities. 

“Domestic courts had taken no account of the specific needs of a small community of believers,” the ECHR said, adding that Turkey’s practices were in violation of Article 9 of the convention. 

Violations of the remaining articles on which the Jehovah Witnesses complained should also be declared admissible, the court said, but found no need to examine their merits because they were already sufficiently covered.

Turkey was ordered to pay 1,000 euros to the applicants in non-pecuniary damages in addition to 4,000 euros to cover their costs and expenses.

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      Masharipov had fled in July 2014 from forcible detention in a Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Dashoguz, where he was injected with harmful unknown drugs, "out of fear for my life and my health". He was arrested in the capital Ashgabad [Ashgabat] on 30 June 2016 and was transferred to Investigation Prison in Dashoguz ahead of his trial.

      Other prisoners of conscience

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      In addition to those imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, the authorities regularly hand down corrective labour sentences to those unable to perform compulsory military service on grounds of religious conscience. The men must live at home under restrictions and a fifth of their wages are seized by the state. The most recent such known corrective labour sentence was handed down to Jehovah's Witness Dayanch Jumayev in Ashgabad in February 2016. He was sentenced to one year of corrective labour (see F18News 5 July 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2196).

      Ashgabad arrest

      Masharipov – who is unmarried – is an ethnic Uzbek who lived in Dashoguz until he moved away from the city in 2014 to avoid arrest. In May 2004 he was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of his religious faith. He was among four Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors freed from prison under amnesty in April 2005 (see F18News 22 April 2005 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=548).

      Police officers arrested Jehovah's Witness Masharipov on 30 June 2016 in a park in Ashgabad, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. He was then transferred back to his home city of Dashoguz, where he was held in the city's Interior Ministry's Investigation Prison (DZD/7).

      Police had been hunting for Masharipov since summer 2014 to punish him for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. On the morning of 3 July 2014, six police officers and officials had come to his home in Dashoguz as part of "preventive measures" because of his "adherence to the Jehovah's Witness religion", the August 2016 court verdict notes.

      One of those raiding Masharipov's home was Hudainazar Artykov, an official of the Religious Affairs Department of the Regional Hyakimlik (administration)

      The police officers asked Masharipov to hand over all his literature about religion. He "voluntarily" gave them 22 copies of the New Testament and other books, 15 religious leaflets, 42 religious discs, 7 exercise books with religious notes, 304 pages of religious notes, a religious calendar and a computer notebook containing six or seven Jehovah's Witness films. Masharipov told the officers he had been given these items by an unknown individual on a visit to Uzbekistan. Officers also seized his mobile phone.

      The officers then demanded that Masharipov go with them to the police station for – in the words of the verdict - "explanatory work" and "preventive measures in connection with his adherence to the Jehovah's Witness movement", but he refused.

      Police officer Gurban Khanov claimed that once outside the block of flats, Masharipov tried to run away. Officers then grabbed him by the arm to try to put him in the police car. Khanov claimed Masharipov tore the lower button and left epaulette from his police uniform before they managed to get him into the car.

      Masharipov was charged under Criminal Code Article 211, Part 1 with assaulting a police officer, "although it was the police officers who had subjected him to rough physical mistreatment," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "Mansur Masharipov has previously endured abuse, even torture, for his peaceful religious activities."

      Criminal Code Article 211, Part 1 punishes "The threat of murder or use of violence not dangerous to life or health in relation to a law-enforcement or military officer or those close to them in connection with the carrying out of their duties in protecting law and order". Punishment is corrective labour or a prison term of up to two years.

      Did police assault and lodge false charges against Masharipov?

      Masharipov's fellow Jehovah's Witnesses gave Forum 18 in late July 2014 a different account of what happened on the day he was detained (see F18News 1 August 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1981).

      Once the search was complete, one of the plain-clothed police officers grabbed Masharipov from behind by the neck, "choking him so he could not breathe, and then dragged him into a waiting vehicle". Once in the vehicle, the officers "began to beat him repeatedly on his head and on his body above his kidneys".

      At 12 noon the police took Masharipov to Dashoguz City Police Station, where he was again beaten. From there he was taken to a supervisor's office where the police began to openly discuss what pretext they would use to justify placing him in detention. They brought in police officer Ruslan Jumaniyazov (who had been present during the raid), who said he would claim that Masharipov had ripped off his shoulder insignia while resisting arrest.

      At 1 pm Masharipov was returned to Dashoguz City Police Station, where he was again beaten. "The police threatened they would place him in a 'harem' cell with male prisoners where he would be raped," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18 back in July 2014.

      The police gave Masharipov a document in Turkmen, which he does not understand, and forced him to sign it. They claimed the document contained a report that they had seized religious books during the search of his flat. The officials included three officers from the Ministry of State Security (MSS) secret police and one representative of the religious affairs department of the Regional Hyakimlik.

      Police again threatened that they would charge Masharipov with ripping off the insignia of a police officer. Local policeman Merdan Khanov (also present during the raid) stated that he would testify to this effect.

      In the afternoon, the police took Masharipov to Dashoguz City Prosecutor's Office. The prosecutor took a statement from Masharipov and he was then returned to Dashoguz City Police Station and again beaten.

      Some of the same police officers in Dashoguz were also involved in accusing another local Jehovah's Witness of tearing off the insignia from an officer's uniform. The same Artykov from the regional religious affairs department testified that Bibi Rahmanova had assaulted the officer in July 2014 within days of Masharipov's detention. She received a four-year prison term the following month, but had her sentence suspended on appeal in September. This meant she was ordered to serve the rest of her sentence at home under travel restrictions (see F18News 28 October 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2009).

      The duty officer at Dashoguz City Police refused to discuss with Forum 18 in August 2014 the treatment of Masharipov by its officers.

      Tortured with drugs

      At 6 pm on 3 July 2014, police took Masharipov to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Dashoguz. "This was done as a pretext to justify his detention," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "The medical staff administered four injections to Mansur Masharipov, one in each buttock and two below his shoulder blades." His arms and legs became paralysed and he vomited throughout that evening and the following day. He also began to suffer a high fever and severe headaches.

      Fearing further torture, Masharipov escaped from the Drug Rehabilitation Centre on 5 July 2014 and fled from Dashoguz.

      Dashoguz sentence

      Following the arrest of Masharipov in Ashgabad on 30 June 2016, police and prosecutors revived the criminal case against him. As well as accusing him under Criminal Code Article 211, Part 1, Dashoguz City Prosecutors' Office also considered accusations under Criminal Code Article 177 ("Incitement of social, ethnic or religious hatred"). However, on 1 August Prosecutors abandoned charges under this Article.

      On 18 August, Judge V. Amanov of Dashoguz City Court heard the case against Masharipov not in the court, but at a hearing held in the city's Housing Trust. Judge Amanov found Masharipov guilty under Criminal Code Article 211, Part 1. He sentenced him to one year in a general regime labour camp, according to the verdict seen by Forum 18. Masharipov denied the allegations against him in court.

      Police officer Gurban Khanov, described as the "victim", testified in court and called for Masharipov to be punished. The verdict notes that a 5 July 2014 medical report on Gurban Khanov had not found any injuries.

      Also testifying in court was regional religious affairs official Artykov. He told the court that Police had already destroyed the New Testaments and other religious literature confiscated from Masharipov during the raid on his home in July 2014. However, the verdict also quotes an 8 July 2016 letter from the Muftiate representation in Dashoguz Region to say that the confiscated books had been handed over to the government's Commission for Work with Religious Organisations and Expert Analysis of Resources Containing Religious Information, Published and Printed Production before being destroyed.

      Forum 18 has been unable to obtain a copy of the Muftiate letter, which is Page 118 of the case file.

      The Commission was established in summer 2015 to replace the Gengesh (Council) for Religious Affairs, the government body controlling religious communities (see F18News 18 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2169).

      The verdict does not explain why Masharipov's religious literature was destroyed.

      The verdict ordered that his confiscated computer and mobile phone should be transferred to the state.

      The prison term was deemed to run from 30 June, the date of his arrest, with each day in pre-trial detention counting as the equivalent of two days' labour camp.

      Forum 18 was unable to reach Judge Amanov at Dashoguz City Court on 21 September. It was also unable to reach regional religious affairs official Artykov the same day.

      Appeal lodged

      On 30 August, Masharipov lodged an appeal against his conviction – seen by Forum 18 - to Dashoguz Regional Court. He denied the police account that he had used force against them, noting that because of his faith "for me an individual, their worth, life, rights and freedom are of great value". He added that "my religion teaches and helps me to relate to other people with deep respect and love".

      Masharipov recounted the beatings and rape threats from police officers after his 3 July 2014 detention. He added that later that afternoon, when he was brought out of the Prosecutor's Office, he tried in vain to run away. He was then beaten again "right on the street". Beatings continued once officers had taken him back to the police station.

      Masharipov also recounted that at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre, staff gave him four injections "after which I felt sick, I had a headache and a high temperature and it was almost impossible for me to move". "On 5 July 2014, out of fear for my life and my health, and with the aim of preserving them, I fled from the Drug Rehabilitation Centre."

      Masharipov – who says he does not smoke or drink alcohol – questions why he was sent to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre with no court decision. He notes that on 7 July 2014 he sent complaints about the Police conduct to the Interior Ministry and, the following day, to the General Prosecutor's Office. On 30 March 2015 he sent a complaint to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

      In his appeal Masharipov also complained about procedural violations. He said he had not been given the opportunity to acquaint himself with the accusations against him, and that the July 2014 house search had been conducted without a search warrant from the Prosecutor's Office.

      Masharipov insists that the case against him violates the protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief outlined in Turkmenistan's Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkmenistan is a party.

      No-one at Dashoguz Regional Court would confirm to Forum 18 on 21 September whether any appeal hearing has yet been set in Masharipov's case.

      If Masharipov's appeal is rejected, he is likely to be sent to serve his sentence at the general regime labour camp in the desert just outside the eastern town of Seydi in Lebap Region.

      UN appeal

      Jehovah's Witnesses lodged an urgent appeal on 11 July 2014 about Masharipov's case to the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Geneva.

      The appeal – seen by Forum 18 – gives details of the abuses in Masharipov's case and includes photographs of scars on his arms, legs, stomach, back and one cheek which Jehovah's Witnesses say were inflicted on him in police detention.

      The appeal also covered abuses against three other Jehovah's Witnesses (see F18News 1 August 2014http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1981).

      No charges against police officers

      The verdict in Masharipov's case also reveals that Prosecutors considered criminal cases against two police officers involved in the July 2014 raid. Dashoguz City Prosecutors' Office considered criminal charges against Gurban Khanov and Jumaniyazov under Article 181 ("Misuse of official powers"), Article 182 ("Exceeding official powers") and Article 182-1 ("Torture").

      Dashoguz City Prosecutors' Office dropped these charges on 1 August 2016. The verdict gives no reason for the decision.

      Under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Turkmenistan is obliged to arrest and try under criminal law any person suspected on good grounds of having committed torture. (END)

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    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest
      By Guest
      they are rounding them, i'm guessing there will be a mass execution?
      one like we haven't seen in a long time i'm guessing..
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The military in Turkey claims to have taken over the government, detaining the country’s leaders and seizing buildings amid scenes of tanks on the streets and the sound of explosions.
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation this week that severely restricts freedom of religion by prohibiting any religious speech or evangelization outside of places of worship.
      “This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” said Dr. Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, reports National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”
      The new law, which goes into effect July 20, is actually an amendment to a package of laws against terrorism and extremism approved by the Russian Parliament’s upper chamber. As a result of the legislation, faith sharing in homes, in the media, online, or any place other than a government recognized church is prohibited.
      The measure is expected to especially affect evangelical groups and Jehovah’s Witnesses who often share faith in homes rather than traditional churches.
      In a column at the Daily Signal, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) wrote the new law is “an affront to free people everywhere.”
      “We need to begin telling the truth about an increasingly aggressive actor in global affairs,” he said. “This Russian law would be an affront to free people everywhere—at home and abroad—who believe that rights of conscience—the rights to free speech and to freedom of religion—are pre-political.”
       
       
       
      Religious freedom attorneys and human rights groups are already preparing an appeal to Russia’s Constitutional Court, reports Forum 18. The legislation drew widespread protests and religious leaders are uncertain how they can fulfill the law’s obligations.
      “Today is indeed a black day on the calendar,” lawyer Vladimir Ryakhovsky of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice posted on his Facebook page. “Hope was that Vladimir Putin would not in the end sign this law. A law which openly contradicts the gospel command ‘go and make disciples’ and, in addition, violates the constitutional rights of citizens.”
      Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Presidential Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, protested the new amendments directly to Putin, asserting that they “create unjustified and excessive restrictions on the freedom of conscience of believers of all religions, and encroach upon the fundamental constitutional principle of non-interference by the state in the internal arrangements of religious associations.”
      Financial penalties for violating the law are reportedly up to 50,000 roubles for individuals and up to one million roubles for organizations.
      “We are distressed by the law and see it as repressive for believers in our country, because the law contradicts the Bible,” said a spokeswoman for the Council of Churches – Baptists. “We must assume there will be repression and persecution.”
      “The United States government and all other nations that profess a commitment to religious freedom should urge Russia to repeal this unjust law, NRB President Dr. Jerry A. Johnson said. “Let’s pray this new iron curtain of Christian persecution in Russia will be lifted quickly and without harm to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
      http://www.breitbart.com/faith/2016/07/10/putin-signs-measure-revoking-religious-freedom/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      One of the attackers at Istanbul Ataturk Airport smashing his rifle on the floor in frustration over being unable to find new victims. 
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Stanislav Kim could be jailed for up to three years if convicted of having "illegal" religious literature in his home in Urgench. In Bukhara, two Jehovah's Witnesses were jailed for ten days and, with 28 others, fined for "illegal" literature and worship meeting.
      Police in Urgench [Urganch] in Uzbekistan's north-western Khorezm Region appear about to hand to court a criminal case against a local Baptist to punish him for "illegal possession" of religious literature in his home. Stanislav Kim could face up to three years' imprisonment if convicted. The Investigator who prepared the indictment refused to tell Forum 18 if Nikolai Serin, another Baptist questioned as a witness in the case, also faces prosecution. Courts routinely punish people for "illegal" religious literature as well as holding meetings for worship.

      Khorezm authorities also raided a Baptist worship meeting in February. In late March the host and her non-believing husband were fined for possessing "illegal" literature in their home when the meeting was raided.

      Meanwhile in the southern Bukhara Region on 27 January, 30 Jehovah's Witnesses were punished for meeting for worship and possessing religious literature officials claimed was "illegal". They received fines totalling more than 1,050 times the minimum monthly wage or 136,752,000 Soms (390,000 Norwegian Kroner, 42,000 Euros or 47,000 US Dollars at the inflated official exchange rate). Two of the Jehovah's Witnesses - Andrei and Yelena Yu - were fined 30 times the minimum monthly wage each and given 10-day jail terms for exercising their freedom of religion and belief.

      Against its international human rights obligations, Uzbekistan imposes strict censorship on all religious publications and all aspects of their distribution. There is a de facto ban on religious literature of any faith in homes and if found such literature is frequently ordered to be destroyed. State pressure is so great that for their own safety some religious believers have destroyed their own sacred texts (see Forum 18's Uzbekistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1862).

      Imprisonment for religious literature?

      On 27 June Investigator Lieutenant Sarvar Artykov of Urgench City Police in Khorezm Region prepared and signed the indictment (seen by Forum 18) against local Baptist Stanislav Kim. He is accused of "illegal possession" of Christian literature under Criminal Code Article 244-3.

      Article 244-3 punishes "Illegal production, storage, import into the territory of Uzbekistan with a purpose to distribute or distribution of religious materials, committed after enforcement of an administrative penalty for a similar violation" with a fine of 100 to 200 times the minimum monthly wage or corrective labour of up to three years.

      "The Investigator warned us that Stanislav might be fined or even jailed for up to three years," Nikolai Serin, Kim's fellow-Baptist from Navoi Region, told Forum 18 on 27 June. Police told Serin and Kim that Urgench City Court will hear the case in up to fifteen days (by about 10 July), Serin added.

      Both Kim and Serin are members of separate Council of Churches Baptist congregations. Council of Churches Baptist churches do not – as Uzbekistan against its human rights obligations requires – seek state permission to exist (see Forum 18's Uzbekistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1862).

      Urgench Police questioned Serin on 26 June as a witness in the case, he noted. On 19 June Police in Navoi had already raided his home there and confiscated his Christian books. Navoi Police told him that a case had been opened against him under Administrative Code Article 184-2, which punishes "Illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious materials" with a fine for individuals of 20 to 100 times the minimum monthly wage, as well as confiscation of the materials and any equipment used to produce them.

      "We've done nothing criminal, but only exercised our Constitutional rights which allow us peacefully to practice our faith, which does no harm to anyone," Serin insisted to Forum 18. He said that when he told Investigator Artykov, who is leading the case, that he refuses to be a witness, the Investigator warned him that "I also may be punished with up to three years' imprisonment unless I cooperate with the Police."

      Serin did not sign any Police reports or statements prepared by Urgench Police during questioning either on 17 May or 26 June, he told Forum 18.

      "Extremist"?

      Investigator Artykov argues in the 27 June indictment that the materials found in Kim's home "contain ideas of converting believers of one confession to another, which is against Article 5, Part 3 of the Religion Law". He concludes therefore that Kim "stored illegal religious materials in his private flat".

      The indictment says that among the items officers seized from Kim was a Russian-language book "To Mecca", which "propagates the Protestant religion". The book is a "testimony of a former [non-Uzbek] Muslim man who became a Christian", Serin told Forum 18. He confirmed that Kim had a copy.

      The "expert analysis" by the government's Religious Affairs Committee says that the book "does not contain ideas against Uzbekistan's Constitutional order, or of an extremist or separatist nature". But it claims that the book "can be used for missionary purposes", Serin noted.

      Arslan Ruzimov, Chief of Khorezm Regional Police Criminal Investigation Department, adamantly defended the charges against Kim. Asked on 28 June why the authorities want to imprison him, he told Forum 18 from Urgench: "The religious expert analysis found the materials confiscated from Kim to be extremist."

      Told that the confiscated literature consisted of Christian magazines, children's stories, song-books and Kim's personal notes, and asked what specifically is "extremist" in those materials, Ruzimov could not answer. "They have a lawyer, they can ask him to defend them," he retorted. Asked why Serin was pressured to be a witness against Kim, his co-believer, he did not answer. He then declined to talk to Forum 18.

      Investigator Artykov also used a July 2001 conviction in a non-religious criminal case to justify the unrelated new case. Kim was sentenced that year to 20 years' imprisonment as an alleged accomplice in an intentional killing. Artykov argues that although Kim was freed from his sentence, "he continued violating the Law".

      Serin told Forum 18 that Kim was released from prison in 2009, and that "he became a believer while in prison." He said that "it looks like the authorities want to imprison him again, which is why they bring up his criminal conviction from the past in the indictment."

      Investigator Artykov told Forum 18 on 28 June that the case against Kim has not yet been handed to the Court, but refused to answer Forum 18's other questions. Asked whether any charges were brought against Serin, as well as why a criminal case was opened against Kim simply for having Christian books and materials in his home, Artykov replied: "If you want to know the answers then send your representative to our office. I will not answer your questions over the phone." Artykov also did not say when the Police will refer the case to the Court.

      Why criminal charges?

      The indictment explains that police opened a criminal case against Kim because this is the second case against him within one year for possessing "illegal" religious literature.

      Urgench City Criminal Court fined Kim ten times the minimum monthly wage, 1,184,000 Soms, on 8 August 2015 under Administrative Code Article 184-2, according to the June 2016 indictment. The Court ordered part of the Christian literature confiscated from him to be destroyed and the rest to be handed over to the Khorezm Department of the state-backed Muslim Board.


      Secret police and anti-terrorism police raid and confiscations

      The latest trouble began for Kim on 17 May, when Major Shukhrat Masharipov of Urgench Anti-Terrorism Police and two unidentified officers raided his home in the city, Serin told Forum 18. The indictment indicates that the two officers represented the National Security Service (NSS) secret police. The officers pretended to be conducting a passport inspection.

      Without showing a search warrant, officers confiscated Christian literature, including the book "To Mecca", one copy each of "Herald of Truth" magazine, two Baptist song books ("Hold on to Christ" and "Youth for Christ"), a book of Christian children's stories, and several notebooks with personal notes.

      Serin told Forum 18 that he was present during the Police raid on Kim's home, since he happened to be visiting him that day.

      Six hour interrogation

      Officer Masharipov and the other officers took Kim's and Serin's passports and left, demanding that the two appear at Urgench Police Station the next morning.

      On 18 May, Major Masharipov and Police Investigator Shavkat Bekjanov questioned the two Baptists for six hours, Serin told Forum 18. "They suggested that we write statements but we refused." The Police told the Baptists that as Kim had been found for the second time "illegally possessing" Christian literature in his home, this time he may be jailed. The two were released from the Police Station that evening.

      February Khorezm raid and fines

      On 17 February in Gullanbog, in Yangiaryk District of Khorezm Region, two plain-clothes Anti-Terrorism Police officers and the local ordinary police officer raided the home of Oybek and Gulnara Rahimov as 15 Council of Churches Baptists were meeting for worship.

      "When the local police officer saw we were worshipping, he called for a police squad," Baptists told Forum 18 on 15 April. Police then began filming those present and took down their names. Police also confiscated a Bible, a children's Bible, one other Christian book and two Baptist song-books.

      All the meeting participants were taken to Yangiaryk District Police Station, where they were questioned for three hours.

      Oybek Rahimov is not a Baptist and was not at home during the raid. But that did not stop Judge Yerpolat Berdiyev, Chair of Bogot District Criminal Court, on 22 March fining both wife and husband 10 times the minimum monthly wage each. Baptists have particularly expressed outrage at the fine imposed on Oybek.

      Judge Berdiyev also ordered the destruction of Christian literature confiscated from the Rahimovs' home. Courts frequently order that such confiscated religious literature be destroyed (see Forum 18's Uzbekistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1862).

      Asked why the Baptists were raided, Bogot District Police on 8 June referred Forum 18 to Anti-Terrorism Police officer Dilshot Fayzullayev. However, asked the same day why officers conducted the raid, fines and confiscations, he refused to answer.

      Neither Bogot District Court, nor Judge Berdiyev, answered their phones on 9 June.

      Two short-term prisoners of conscience, 30 large fines

      Meanwhile, in Kogon in Bukhara [Bukhoro] Region on 27 January, 30 Jehovah's Witnesses received fines totalling more than 1,050 times the minimum monthly wage or 136,752,000 Soms (390,000 Norwegian Kroner, 42,000 Euros or 47,000 US Dollars at the inflated official exchange rate). Two of the Jehovah's Witnesses - Andrei and Yelena Yu - were fined 30 times the minimum monthly wage each and given 10-day jail terms for exercising their freedom of religion and belief.

      The fines and jailing of the two prisoners of conscience followed an early January raid by Kogon Anti-Terrorism Police and the ordinary police on the home of Aziz Pulatov. Jehovah's Witnesses were meeting together for worship, they told Forum 18 on 8 June.

      Numon Tukhtayev, Deputy Head of Kogon Anti-Terrorism Police, refused on 8 June to explain why the raid took place. The same day the ordinary police similarly refused to explain their actions.

      Judge Zarif Sherov, Chair of Kogon Criminal Court, found the accused guilty under Administrative Code Articles 184-2 ("Illegal production, storage, or import into Uzbekistan, with the intent to distribute or actual distribution, of religious materials by physical persons") and Article 240 ("Violation of the Religion Law"), Part 1 ("Carrying out of unauthorised religious activity, evasion by leaders of religious organisations of registration of the charter of the organisation, the unauthorised organisation and conduct of worship by religious ministers, and the organisation and conduct of special children's and youth meetings, as well as vocational, literature and other study groups not relating to worship").

      Aziz Pulatov and Fazliddin Tukhtayev were fined 100 times the minimum monthly wage each; Akpar Pulatov, Shahzoda Pulatova, Mukaddas Rakhmatova, Zuhra Tashayeva, and Malyuda Kuldasheva were fined 50 times the minimum monthly wage each; Shahnoz Gulomova, Shahzoda Mavlyanova, Mukhabbatkhon Mirzayeva, Mokhidil Zairova, Gulnora Norova, Dilfuza Kobilova, Orom Khaydarova, Soliya Niyazova, Mahliyo Zhurayeva, Ibodillo Zhurayev, Gulchehra Ibadova, Shoista Mamedova, Shahin Norov, Zarina Kosimova, Munavvar Mardonova, Azamzhon Ismatilloyev, Farida Amonova, and Zarina Amonova were fined 30 times the minimum monthly wage each; and Gulbahor Mavlonova, Nilufar Ibrohimova, and Mizhgona Ismatillayeva were fined 5 times the minimum monthly wage each.

      Judge Sherov denied that he had jailed prisoners of conscience Andrei and Yelena Yu. "I do not know about the jailing," he claimed to Forum 18 on 9 June.

      However, the Judge admitted that he had imposed fines totalling 1,050 times the minimum monthly wage. Asked why he did this to people exercising their freedom of religion and belief, Sherov stated: "I explained to them during the hearing that the fines were given based on the existing law."

      Asked about the restrictions the Religion Law, Administrative and Criminal Codes put on the exercise of freedom of religion and belief, the Judge replied: "I cannot comment on that". He then said "let them appeal if they do not agree with our decision" before declining to talk further to Forum 18. (END)
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    • My best guess is that Cesar really hates Jehovah's Witnesses, individually ... all of them, and is crude, rude, insulting and vulgar without letup to demonstrate to non-Witnesses that if they are considering the Jehovah's Witnesses religion, they will become like him .... thereby horrifying them, and scaring them away. I would also guess that this is caused by raging, massive and persistent neurotic insecurity, and is over-compensation due to unawareness. I don't expect perfection, or
    • Like I said, he's nothing but a troll...
    • @César Chávez You appear to have some special reason or need to respond to others with vulgarity. You've done this to several people in the past, too. If "Pudgy" had been vulgar first, perhaps I missed it. Still, considering your claims to moral superiority over everyone, it seems a bit unseemly. This wasn't a topic under any religious heading or club, so I won't spell out Ephesians 5:3-4.
    • When there is a good interlocutor, like you, it is so simple and easy to go from the topic of artificial satellites and torn parts flying in Earth orbit to the topic of the persecution of Christians. :))
    • Are Cats For Christians QUESTIONS FROM READERS "Is it appropriate for a Christian to own a cat in light of their past pagan religions affiliation and the new medical information that is now coming to light?" Many conscientious ones among Jehovah's people today have wondered if Christians should own cats in view of their sorted past and many health risks. What may be acceptable to one person may, although unintentionally, stumble another. This can become a life-or-death issue since
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    • Eric Ouellet

      CHANTONS À JÉHOVAH UN CHANT NOUVEAU
      Il est bon de rendre grâces à Jéhovah
      et d’exécuter des mélodies pour ton nom, ô Très-Haut !
      D’annoncer ta bonté de cœur le matin
      et ta fidélité pendant les nuits,
      sur un instrument à dix cordes et sur le luth,
      aux accords sonores de la harpe.
      Car tu m’as réjoui, ô Jéhovah, à cause de ton action ;
      à cause des œuvres de tes mains je pousse des cris de joie.
      Que tes œuvres sont grandes, ô Jéhovah !
      Tes pensées sont très profondes.
      L’homme dépourvu de raison ne peut les connaître,
      et le stupide ne peut comprendre cela.
      Quand les méchants germent comme la végétation
      et que fleurissent tous ceux qui 
      pratiquent ce qui est malfaisant,
      c’est pour être anéantis pour toujours.
      Mais toi, tu es là-haut pour des temps indéfinis, ô Jéhovah!
      Car voici que tes ennemis, ô Jéhovah,
      car voici que tes ennemis périront;
      tous ceux qui pratiquent ce qui est malfaisant seront séparés les uns des autres.
      Mais tu élèveras ma corne comme celle du taureau sauvage;
      je m’arroserai d’huile fraîche.
      Mon œil regardera mes ennemis;
      mes oreilles entendront parler de ceux
      qui se dressent contre moi, les malfaiteurs.
      Le juste fleurira comme un palmier ;
      il grandira comme un cèdre du Liban.
      Ceux qui sont plantés dans la maison de Jéhovah,
      dans les cours de notre Dieu — ils fleuriront.
      Ils prospéreront encore durant les cheveux gris,
      ils resteront gras et frais,
      pour annoncer que Jéhovah est droit.
      Il est mon Rocher, Celui en qui il n’y a pas d’injustice.
      Jéhovah lui-même est devenu roi!
      De grandeur il est vêtu ;
      Jéhovah est vêtu de force Il s’est ceint.
      Le sol productif aussi s’établit solidement
      de sorte qu’il ne peut chanceler.
      Ton trône est solidement établi depuis les temps anciens ;
      tu es depuis des temps indéfinis.
      Les fleuves ont fait retentir, ô Jéhovah,
      les fleuves ont fait retentir leur bruit ;
      les fleuves sans arrêt font retentir leur fracas.
      Par-dessus les bruits des eaux immenses,
      des vagues majestueuses de la mer qui déferlent,
      Jéhovah est majestueux dans les hauteurs.
      Tes rappels se sont révélés très dignes de foi.
      La sainteté convient à ta maison, ô Jéhovah,
      pour la longueur des jours.
      Ô Dieu aux actes de vengeance
      Jéhovah , ô Dieu aux actes de vengeance, apparais.
      Lève-toi, ô Juge de la terre!
      Fais revenir la rétribution sur les orgueilleux.
      Jusqu’à quand les méchants, ô Jéhovah,
      jusqu’à quand les méchants vont-ils exulter ?
      Sans cesse ils font jaillir un flot de paroles,
      sans cesse ils parlent avec audace;
      sans cesse ils se vantent, 
      tous ceux qui pratiquent ce qui est malfaisant.
      Ton peuple, ô Jéhovah, ils continuent à l’écraser,
      et ton héritage, ils continuent à l’affliger.
      Ils tuent la veuve et le résident étranger,
      ils assassinent les orphelins de père.
      Et ils continuent à dire : “ Yah ne voit pas;
      le Dieu de Jacob ne le comprend pas. ”
      Comprenez donc, vous qui êtes dépourvus de raison parmi le peuple;
      et vous, stupides, quand serez-vous perspicaces ?
      Celui qui plante l’oreille, est-ce qu’il ne peut pas entendre ?
      Ou Celui qui forme l’œil, est-ce qu’il ne peut pas regarder ?
      Celui qui corrige les nations, 
      est-ce qu’il ne peut pas reprendre,
      oui Celui qui enseigne la connaissance aux hommes?
      Jéhovah connaît les pensées des hommes,
      il sait qu’elles sont comme une vapeur.
      Heureux l’homme robuste que tu corriges, ô Yah,
      et que tu enseignes par ta loi,
      pour lui donner le calme aux jours du malheur,
      jusqu’à ce qu’une fosse soit creusée pour le méchant.
      Car Jéhovah n’abandonnera pas son peuple,
      et il ne quittera pas son héritage.
      Car la décision judiciaire retournera à la justice,
      et tous ceux qui ont le cœur droit la suivront.
      Qui se dressera pour moi contre les malfaiteurs?
      Qui se postera pour moi contre ceux qui pratiquent ce qui est malfaisant ?
      Si Jéhovah ne m’était venu en aide,
      sous peu mon âme aurait résidé dans le silence.
      Lorsque j’ai dit : “ À coup sûr, mon pied chancellera ”,
      ta bonté de cœur, ô Jéhovah, m’a soutenu sans relâche.
      Quand mes pensées troublantes se multiplièrent au-dedans de moi,
      tes consolations se mirent à cajoler mon âme.
      Sera-t-il allié à toi, le trône qui cause des adversités,
      tandis qu’il façonne le malheur par décret ?
      Ils lancent de vives attaques contre l’âme du juste
      et déclarent coupable le sang de l’innocent.
      Mais Jéhovah deviendra pour moi une hauteur sûre,
      et mon Dieu, le rocher de mon refuge.
      Il ramènera sur eux leurs méfaits
      et les réduira au silence par leur malheur.
      Jéhovah notre Dieu les réduira au silence.
      Oh ! venez, poussons des cris de joie vers Jéhovah !
      Poussons des cris de triomphe vers notre Rocher de salut.
      Présentons-nous devant sa personne avec des actions de grâces;
      avec des mélodies poussons vers lui des cris de triomphe.
      Car Jéhovah est un grand Dieu
      et un grand Roi au-dessus de tous les autres dieux,
      lui en la main de qui sont les profondeurs 
      les plus secrètes de la terre
      et à qui appartiennent les cimes des montagnes;
      lui à qui appartient la mer qu’il a faite
      et dont les mains ont formé la terre ferme.
      Oh ! entrez, adorons et courbons-nous!
      Agenouillons nous devant Jéhovah notre Auteur.
      Car il est notre Dieu, et nous sommes le peuple
      de son pâturage et les brebis de sa main.
      Aujourd’hui, si vous écoutez sa voix,
      n’endurcissez pas votre cœur comme à Meriba,
      comme au jour de Massa dans le désert,
      quand vos ancêtres m’ont mis à l’épreuve ;
      ils m’ont examiné, ils ont aussi vu mon action.
      Pendant quarante ans j’ai éprouvé du dégoût pour cette génération,
      alors j’ai dit :
      “ C’est un peuple au cœur errant,
      et ils n’ont pas appris à connaître mes voies ” ;
      à propos de qui j’ai juré dans ma colère:
      “ Ils n’entreront pas dans mon lieu de repos
      Chantez pour Jéhovah un chant nouveau.
      Chantez pour Jéhovah, vous tous, gens de la terre !
      Chantez pour Jéhovah, bénissez son nom.
      De jour en jour annoncez la bonne nouvelle de son salut.
      Proclamez parmi les nations sa gloire,
      parmi tous les peuples ses œuvres prodigieuses."
      Car Jéhovah est grand et on doit le louer infiniment.
      Il est redoutable par-dessus tous les autres dieux.
      Car tous les dieux des peuples sont des dieux sans valeur ;
      mais Jéhovah, lui, a fait les cieux.
      Dignité et splendeur sont devant lui;
      force et beauté sont dans son sanctuaire.
      Attribuez à Jéhovah, ô familles des peuples,
      attribuez à Jéhovah gloire et force.
      Attribuez à Jéhovah la gloire qui appartient à son nom;
      portez un don et entrez dans ses cours.
      Prosternez-vous devant Jéhovah en ornements sacrés;
      soyez dans de violentes douleurs à cause de lui, 
      vous tous, gens de la terre !
      Dites parmi les nations :
       “ Jéhovah lui-même est devenu roi."
      Le sol productif aussi s’établit solidement,
      de sorte qu’il ne peut chanceler.
      Il va plaider la cause des peuples avec droiture. 
      Que les cieux se réjouissent, et que la terre soit en joie.
      Que gronde la mer et ce qui la remplit.
      Qu’exulte la campagne et tout ce qui s’y trouve.
      Qu’en même temps tous les arbres de la forêt 
      poussent des cris de joie devant Jéhovah. 
      Car il est venu ;
      car il est venu pour juger la terre.
      Il jugera le sol productif avec justice
      et les peuples avec sa fidélité.
      Jéhovah lui-même est devenu roi ! 
      Que la terre soit en joie.
      Que les îles nombreuses se réjouissent
      Des nuages et une obscurité épaisse sont tout autour de lui;
      justice et jugement sont le lieu fixe de son trône.
      Devant lui marche un feu,
      il consume ses adversaires tout autour.
      Ses éclairs ont illuminé le sol productif ;
      la terre a vu, elle a été prise de violentes douleur.
      Alors les montagnes ont fondu
      comme de la cire à cause de Jéhovah,
      à cause du Seigneur de toute la terre.
      Les cieux ont annoncé sa justice,
      et tous les peuples ont vu sa gloire.
      Qu’ils soient honteux,
      tous ceux qui servent quelque image sculptée,
      ceux qui se glorifient en des dieux sans valeur.
      Prosternez-vous devant lui, vous tous les dieux !
      Sion a entendu et s’est alors réjouie,
      et les localités qui dépendent de Juda sont devenues joyeuses
      à cause de tes décisions judiciaires, ô Jéhovah !
      Car toi, ô Jéhovah, tu es le Très-Haut sur toute la terre ;
      tu es très haut dans ta montée par-dessus tous les autres dieux.
      Ô vous qui aimez Jéhovah,
      haïssez ce qui est mauvais.
      Il garde les âmes de ses fidèles;
      de la main des méchants il les délivre.
      La lumière est apparue pour le juste,
      et la joie pour ceux qui ont le cœur droit.
      Réjouissez-vous en Jéhovah, ô vous les justes,
      et rendez grâces à son saint mémorial.
      Chantez pour Jéhovah un chant nouveau,
      car prodigieuses sont les choses qu’il a faites.
      Sa droite, oui son saint bras, lui a procuré le salut.
      Jéhovah a fait connaître son salut;
      aux yeux des nations il a révélé sa justice.
      Il s’est souvenu de sa bonté de cœur et de sa fidélité
      envers la maison d’Israël.
      Toutes les extrémités de la terre ont vu le salut de notre Dieu.
      Poussez des cris de triomphe vers Jéhovah, vous tous, gens de la terre !
      Égayez-vous et poussez des cris de joie et exécutez des mélodies.
      Exécutez des mélodies pour Jéhovah avec la harpe,
      avec la harpe et la voix de la mélodie.
      Avec les trompettes et au son du cor,
      poussez des cris de triomphe devant le Roi, 
      JÉHOVAH.
      Que gronde la mer et ce qui la remplit,
      le sol productif et ceux qui y habitent.
      Que les fleuves battent des mains ;
      que toutes ensemble les montagnes poussent
      des cris de joie devant Jéhovah
      car il est venu pour juger la terre.
      Il jugera le sol productif avec justice
      et les peuples avec droiture.
      Jéhovah lui-même est devenu roi.
      Que les peuples s’agitent.
      Il siège sur les chérubins. 
      Que la terre frémisse.
      Jéhovah est grand dans Sion, et il est élevé
      par-dessus tous les peuples.
      Qu’ils louent ton nom.
      Grand et redoutable, celui-ci est saint.
      Avec une force de roi il a aimé le jugement.
      C’est toi qui as solidement établi la droiture.
      Le jugement et la justice en Jacob, c’est toi qui les as réalisés.
      Exaltez Jéhovah notre Dieu et prosternez-vous
      devant son marchepied ; Car Il est Saint.
      Moïse et Aaron étaient parmi ses prêtres,
      et Samuel parmi ceux qui invoquaient son nom.
      Ils appelaient Jéhovah, et lui leur répondait.
      Dans la colonne de nuage il leur parlait.
      Ils gardaient ses rappels et la prescription qu’il leur avait donnée.
      Ô Jéhovah notre Dieu, tu leur répondais toi-même.
      Tu as été pour eux un Dieu qui pardonne,
      mais qui exécutait la vengeance
      contre leurs actions scandaleuses.
      Exaltez Jéhovah notre Dieu
      et prosternez-vous à sa montagne saint.
      Car Jéhovah notre Dieu est saint.

      · 0 replies
    • folens  »  Eric Ouellet

      Hello Eric merci pour ce bon condensé sur les vœux. Bonne journée et à bientôt. Michel
      b-13-sculptures-de-givre-ggo-wp1.ppsx
      · 1 reply
    • Eric Ouellet

      « Le vœu que tu fais, acquitte toi de se voeux sans renoncer »
      « Tu dois t’acquitter envers Jéhovah de tes vœux » (MATTHIEU 5:33).
      YIPHTAH était un chef et un guerrier courageux. Hanna était une femme humble qui prenait soin de son mari et de sa famille. Tous les deux adoraient Jéhovah. Mais ils ont un autre point commun : ils ont fait un vœu à Jéhovah et ils l’ont respecté fidèlement. Ils sont d’excellents exemples pour les chrétiens qui décident de faire des vœux à Jéhovah. Répondons maintenant à ces trois questions : Qu’est-ce qu’un vœu ? Faire un vœu à Jéhovah, est-ce sérieux ? Quelles leçons tirer des histoires de Yiphtah et de Hanna ?
      Dans la Bible, un vœu est une promesse sérieuse faite à Jéhovah. Par exemple, la promesse de faire quelque chose, d’offrir quelque chose, de commencer un certain service, ou de ne pas faire certaines choses. On fait un vœu volontairement, en utilisant sa liberté de choix. Personne n’est obligé de faire un vœu. Mais si on décide d’en faire un, Jéhovah le considère comme une promesse dont on doit s’acquitter. D’après la Bible, un vœu est aussi important qu’un serment. Un serment, c’est quand une personne jure de faire ou de ne pas faire quelque chose (Genèse 14:22, 23 ; Hébreux 6:16, 17). Que dit la Bible à propos du sérieux des vœux faits à Jéhovah ?
      Dans la Loi de Moïse, on lit que si quelqu’un fait un vœu à Jéhovah, « il ne doit pas violer (trahir) sa parole. Il fera selon tout ce qui est sorti de sa bouche » (Nombres 30:2). Plus tard, Salomon a écrit : « Quand tu fais un vœu à Dieu, n’hésite pas à t’en acquitter, car il n’y a aucun plaisir dans les stupides. Le vœu que tu fais, acquitte-t’en » (Ecclésiaste 5:4). Plus tard encore, Jésus a enseigné qu’un vœu fait à Jéhovah est quelque chose de sérieux, en rappelant : « Il a été dit à ceux des temps anciens : “Tu ne dois pas jurer sans tenir [parole], mais tu dois t’acquitter envers Jéhovah de tes vœux” » (Matthieu 5:33).
      C’est donc clair qu’il faut prendre très au sérieux toute promesse qu’on fait à Jéhovah. Respecter ou non nos vœux a des conséquences sur notre relation avec lui. Un jour, David a demandé : « Qui pourra monter à la montagne de Jéhovah, et qui pourra se lever en son lieu saint », autrement dit être accepté par Jéhovah ? Il a répondu que c’est celui qui ne fait pas de « serment avec tromperie » (Psaume 24:3, 4). Mais quels vœux Yiphtah et Hanna ont-ils faits ? Cela a-t-il été facile pour eux de s’en acquitter ?
      ILS SE SONT ACQUITTÉS DE LEURS VŒUX
      Yiphtah a fait sa promesse à Jéhovah avant de combattre les Ammonites, des ennemis du peuple de Jéhovah (Juges 10:7-9). Il a fait ce vœu (en résumé) : « Si vraiment tu me donnes la victoire, voici ce qui devra arriver : quand je reviendrai en paix de chez les fils d’Ammôn, la personne qui sortira de ma maison à ma rencontre, celle-là devra alors t’appartenir. » Jéhovah a répondu à la prière de Yiphtah en l’aidant à gagner la guerre. Quand Yiphtah est rentré chez lui, sa fille chérie est sortie vers lui. Ce serait donc elle qui « appartiendrait à Jéhovah » (Juges 11:30-34). Qu’est-ce que cela allait changer pour elle ?
      Pour respecter le vœu de Yiphtah, sa fille devrait partir servir Jéhovah à plein temps au tabernacle. Yiphtah avait-il fait son vœu sans réfléchir ? Non. Il savait sans doute que sa fille pourrait être la première personne à sortir vers lui. Mais qu’il l’ait su ou pas, cela n’a pas été facile pour lui de respecter son vœu, et pour sa fille non plus. En effet, en la voyant sortir, il a dit que cela lui causait un grand chagrin. Et elle, elle est partie « pleurer sur sa virginité ». Pourquoi ont-ils pleuré ? Yiphtah n’avait pas de fils, et maintenant sa fille unique ne se marierait jamais et n’aurait pas d’enfant. Le nom de famille de Yiphtah disparaîtrait. Mais tous les deux comprenaient que le plus important, ce n’étaient pas leurs sentiments. Yiphtah a dit : « J’ai ouvert ma bouche pour Jéhovah ; je ne [peux pas] revenir en arrière. » Et sa fille a répondu : « Fais-moi selon ce qui est sorti de ta bouche » (Juges 11:35-39). Tous les deux étaient des personnes fidèles : ils n’auraient jamais eu l’idée de casser un vœu fait à Jéhovah, même si c’était difficile de le respecter (lire Deutéronome 23:21, 23 ; Psaume 15:4).
      Hanna aussi a fait un vœu à Jéhovah dans un moment difficile de sa vie. Elle était malheureuse parce qu’elle ne pouvait pas avoir d’enfants, et qu’à cause de cela elle subissait des remarques méchantes (1 Samuel 1:4-7, 10, 16). En exprimant ses sentiments à Jéhovah, elle lui a fait cette promesse : « Ô Jéhovah des armées, si tu ne manques pas de regarder l’affliction (le chagrin) de ton esclave et si vraiment tu te souviens de moi, si tu n’oublies pas ton esclave et si vraiment tu donnes à ton esclave un descendant mâle, oui je le donnerai à Jéhovah pour tous les jours de sa vie, et le rasoir ne viendra pas sur sa tête. » (1 Samuel 1:11). Jéhovah a répondu à sa prière : l’année suivante elle a eu un fils, Samuel. Elle était très heureuse ! Mais elle n’a pas oublié le vœu qu’elle avait fait à Jéhovah. Après la naissance de son fils, elle a dit : « C’est à Jéhovah que je l’ai demandé » (1 Samuel 1:20).
      Quand Samuel a eu environ trois ans, Hanna a tenu sa promesse. Elle a amené Samuel au grand prêtre Éli, en disant : « C’est à propos de ce garçon que je priais, pour que Jéhovah m’accorde [...] ce que je lui demandais. Et moi, à mon tour, je l’ai prêté à Jéhovah » (1 Samuel 1:24-28). À partir de ce jour-là, Samuel a habité au tabernacle. La Bible dit que « le garçon Samuel grandissait auprès de Jéhovah » (1 Samuel 2:21). Cela n’allait pas être facile pour Hanna de respecter son vœu. Elle ne pourrait plus passer du temps chaque jour avec son fils qu’elle aimait tendrement. Ce serait dur de ne pas le voir grandir. Mais elle a pris son vœu au sérieux. Pour tenir sa promesse, elle a accepté volontiers de sacrifier des choses qui étaient importantes pour elle (1 Samuel 2:1, 2 ; lire Psaume 61:1, 5, 8).
      Parmi les vœux faits à Jéhovah, il y a le vœu de l’offrande de soi, le vœu du mariage et le vœu des serviteurs spéciaux à plein temps
      T’acquittes-tu de tes vœux envers Jéhovah ?
      LE VŒU DE L’OFFRANDE DE SOI
      Le vœu le plus grand qu’un chrétien puisse faire, c’est celui de s’offrir à Jéhovah pour toute la vie. Dans une prière personnelle, ce chrétien promet à Jéhovah d’utiliser sa vie pour le servir pour toujours, quoi qu’il arrive. En faisant ce vœu, il « se renie lui-même » : il promet de donner la plus grande importance non pas à lui-même, mais à Jéhovah (Matthieu 16:24). À partir de ce moment, il appartient à Jéhovah (Romains 14:8). Il prend au sérieux son vœu d’offrande de soi. Il pense comme l’écrivain des Psaumes qui a dit : « Que rendrai-je à Jéhovah pour tous ses bienfaits envers moi ? Je m’acquitterai de mes vœux envers Jéhovah, oui devant tout son peuple » (Psaume 116:12, 14).
      As-tu fait le vœu d’offrir ta vie à Jéhovah, et l’as-tu montré en te faisant baptiser dans l’eau ? Si oui, félicitations ! Rappelle-toi le discours de ton baptême. Le frère t’a demandé si tu avais offert ta vie à Jéhovah, et si tu comprenais qu’en te faisant baptiser, tu montrais « que tu devenais Témoin de Jéhovah ». En entendant ton « oui », tous les assistants ont compris que tu avais offert ta vie à Jéhovah et que tu pouvais te faire baptiser ministre ordonné de Jéhovah. Tu as certainement fait très plaisir à Jéhovah !
      Quand tu t’es fait baptiser, tu as promis à Jéhovah d’utiliser ta vie pour le servir, et de tout faire pour obéir à ses normes. Mais le baptême n’est qu’un début. Le temps passant, on doit tous continuer à s’examiner. Alors, demande-toi : « Ma relation avec Jéhovah est-elle de plus en plus forte depuis mon baptême ? Est-ce que je le sers toujours de tout mon cœur ? (Colossiens 3:23). Est-ce que je prie souvent ? Est-ce que je lis la Bible tous les jours ? Est-ce que j’assiste régulièrement aux réunions de la congrégation ? Est-ce que je prêche aussi souvent que possible ? Ou, au contraire, est-ce que j’ai perdu un peu de mon envie de faire ces activités ? » D’après l’apôtre Pierre, pour ne pas devenir inactifs dans notre service pour Jéhovah, nous devons nous efforcer de faire grandir en nous la foi, la connaissance, l’endurance et l’attachement à Jéhovah (lire 2 Pierre 1:5-8).
      Une fois que quelqu’un a prononcé le vœu de servir Jéhovah, il ne peut pas reprendre sa parole. S’il en a assez de servir Jéhovah ou de vivre en chrétien, il ne peut pas dire : « Je n’ai jamais vraiment offert ma vie à Jéhovah ; mon baptême n’était pas valable* » (lire la note). Si un chrétien commet un péché grave alors qu’il s’est offert à Jéhovah, il est responsable de sa conduite devant Jéhovah et la congrégation (Romains 14:12). Nous ne voulons pas ressembler aux chrétiens à qui Jésus a dit : « Tu as laissé l’amour que tu avais au début. » Au contraire, nous voulons qu’il puisse nous dire : « Je connais tes actions, et ton amour, et ta foi, et ton ministère, et ton endurance, et je sais que tes actions récentes sont plus nombreuses que celles d’autrefois » (Révélation 2:4, 19). Nous voulons faire plaisir à Jéhovah en nous acquittant avec zèle de notre vœu.
      LE VŒU DU MARIAGE
      Des mariés échangent leurs vœux de mariage
      Le deuxième vœu le plus important qu’on puisse faire, c’est celui du mariage. Le mariage est sacré. Jéhovah considère ce vœu comme quelque chose de très sérieux. Quand des mariés prononcent leurs vœux, ils font une promesse devant Jéhovah et devant les personnes présentes. Ils se promettent de s’aimer, de se chérir et de se respecter l’un l’autre aussi longtemps qu’ils vivront ensemble sur la terre dans le cadre du mariage tel qu’il a été institué par Dieu. Quelles que soient les paroles exactes que les mariés se disent, dans tous les cas, ce sont des vœux faits devant Jéhovah. En les faisant, ils deviennent mari et femme. Le mariage doit être une union pour toute la vie (Genèse 2:24 ; 1 Corinthiens 7:39). Jésus a dit que personne ne doit séparer ce que Jéhovah a uni (Marc 10:9). Un homme et une femme qui se marient ne doivent pas se dire que, si leur union ne marche pas, ils pourront toujours divorcer.
      Bien sûr, il n’y a pas de mariage parfait puisqu’il n’y a pas d’humain parfait. C’est pourquoi la Bible dit que toute personne mariée aura parfois « des tribulations (des problèmes) » (1 Corinthiens 7:28). Dans le monde d’aujourd’hui, beaucoup ne prennent pas le mariage au sérieux. Ils pensent : « Si ça ne marche pas, on pourra toujours divorcer. » Mais les chrétiens ne considèrent pas le mariage de cette façon. Ils sont conscients qu’ils ont prononcé leur vœu de mariage devant Jéhovah. S’ils cassaient leur vœu, ce serait comme s’ils lui mentaient. Or Jéhovah déteste les menteurs ! (Lévitique 19:12 ; Proverbes 6:16-19). Les chrétiens mariés doivent se rappeler ces paroles de l’apôtre Paul : « Es-tu lié à une femme ? Cesse (arrête) de chercher à t’en détacher » (1 Corinthiens 7:27). Paul a pu dire cela parce qu’il savait que Jéhovah déteste aussi les divorces quand ils sont des trahisons (Malaki 2:13-16).
      Jésus a enseigné que la seule situation qui donne une raison de divorcer, c’est lorsqu’un mari ou une femme commet l’adultère (est infidèle à son conjoint) et que le conjoint innocent décide de ne pas lui pardonner (Matthieu 19:9 ; Hébreux 13:4). Par ailleurs, peut-on se séparer de son conjoint ? La Bible est claire à ce sujet aussi (lire 1 Corinthiens 7:10, 11). Il n’existe pas de raison biblique de se séparer de son conjoint. Mais parfois un chrétien (ou une chrétienne) pense que c’est absolument nécessaire. Par exemple, il est sûr que sa vie ou sa relation avec Jéhovah seront en très grand danger s’il reste avec un conjoint violent.
      Si des conjoints demandent conseil aux anciens de la congrégation pour rendre leur couple plus solide, les anciens pourraient leur demander s’ils ont regardé la vidéo Qu’est-ce que le vrai amour ? et s’ils ont étudié la brochure Le secret des familles heureuses. Ces documents montrent quels principes bibliques peuvent rendre un mariage plus solide. Des Témoins racontent : « Depuis que nous étudions cette brochure, notre couple est plus heureux que jamais. » Une sœur mariée depuis 22 ans pensait que son mariage allait bientôt se briser. Mais elle a regardé la vidéo. Elle raconte : « Nous sommes tous les deux baptisés, mais sur le plan affectif nous étions complètement différents. La vidéo est arrivée au bon moment ! Maintenant, notre couple va beaucoup mieux. » Vraiment, si un mari et une femme appliquent les conseils de Jéhovah, leur union devient plus heureuse et plus forte.
      LE VŒU DES SERVITEURS SPÉCIAUX À PLEIN TEMPS
      Au début de l’article, nous avons parlé des vœux de Yiphtah et de Hanna. Grâce à ces vœux, la fille de Yiphtah et le fils de Hanna ont passé leur vie à servir Jéhovah d’une façon spéciale. À notre époque, beaucoup de parents chrétiens ont encouragé leurs enfants à s’engager dans le ministère à plein temps et à concentrer leur vie sur le service pour Jéhovah. En fait, nous pouvons tous encourager ces jeunes frères et sœurs à tenir bon dans leur service (Juges 11:40 ; Psaume 110:3).
      Aujourd’hui, il y a des dizaines de milliers de membres de l’Ordre international des serviteurs spéciaux à plein temps des Témoins de Jéhovah. Certains servent au Béthel, ou dans l’activité de construction ou alors dans le service de la circonscription. D’autres sont formateurs aux écoles bibliques, pionniers spéciaux, missionnaires, ou serviteurs affectés à une Salle d’assemblées ou à un centre d’écoles bibliques. Ils ont tous fait un « Vœu d’obéissance et de pauvreté ». En le faisant, ils ont promis de concentrer leurs efforts sur toute activité qu’on leur donne au service de Jéhovah, d’avoir une vie simple, et de ne pas avoir un emploi payé s’ils n’en ont pas l’autorisation. Ce ne sont pas les personnes qui sont considérées comme spéciales, mais leurs activités. Ces chrétiens sont humbles, et ils sont décidés à s’acquitter de leur vœu tout le temps qu’ils resteront dans le service spécial à plein temps.
      Dans cet article, nous avons étudié trois vœux qu’un chrétien pourrait faire aujourd’hui à Jéhovah. Peut-être que tu en as fait un, ou deux, ou les trois. Nous savons que nous devons prendre nos vœux au sérieux et tout faire pour les respecter (Proverbes 20:25). Si nous ne respectons pas nos vœux faits à Jéhovah, les conséquences risquent d’être graves (Ecclésiaste 5:6). Faisons donc comme le psalmiste qui a dit à Jéhovah : « Je veux exécuter des mélodies pour ton nom à jamais (pour toujours), pour m’acquitter de mes vœux jour après jour » (Psaume 61:8).


      · 0 replies
    • K625XM

      Hello Twyla,
      I am not able to view the study materials.  Can you help me out pls ?  Thank you.
      · 0 replies
    • Claud's Lst  »  misette

      Bonjour ma sœur Misette. Comment vas-tu ? J'espère avec l'aide de Jéhovah toute la communauté et especialement toi vont bien. 
      Je n'ai pas reçu la réunion de cette semaine, est-ce qu'il y a un problème pour cette semaine ? 
           Bonne journée ou soirée 
                                   Agape 
      · 3 replies
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