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Portuguese parliament petitioned to extinguish the legal entity that represents Jehovah's Witnesses due to their shunning practice

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PORTUGAL

Based on legal arguments that revolve around violations of several articles of the Portuguese Constitution and the Religious Freedom Act, a petition has been launched to the Portuguese parliament to extinguish the legal entity that represents the Jehovah's Witnesses in Portugal and eliminate this community from the national registry of religions recognized and protected by law.

The petition does NOT seek to prohibit Jehovah's Witnesses as a whole in the country. The petition denounces the institutional policy of shunning former members as a violation of basic human rights and psychological torture, and asks lawmakers and Portuguese judicial authorities to take measures to stop this abuse and suspend legal recognition of the entity. the branch until the shunning policies are changed.

The petition is now gathering votes. 1000 votes assure that the author (s) of the petition will receive a hearing in parliament to present their case; 4000 votes ensure that the parliament will debate the petition during its session.

You can see the petition here: http://peticaopublica.com/mobile/pview.aspx?pi=ExtRegistoATJ

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      Jehovah's Witness Mansur Masharipov has appealed against a one-year prison term handed down on 18 August in the northern city of Dashoguz for allegedly assaulting a police officer back in July 2014. Police subsequently destroyed Bibles and other religious literature seized from him during a raid on his home, according to the verdict seen by Forum 18. His fellow-Jehovah's Witnesses insist the 32-year-old Masharipov is innocent of any wrongdoing and was targeted for his faith.

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      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).

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      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)
      http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2217
    • Guest Nicole
    • 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
      Portugal 1-0 France (aet)
      Portugal shrugged off an early injury to Cristiano Ronaldo to claim a first-ever major tournament trophy thanks to Éder's 109th-minute strike.

      Portugal beat France 1-0 after extra time to lift their first major trophy Sub Éder scores 109th-minute winner, his first competitive goal for country Portugal captain and all-time record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo off injured after 25 minutes Both teams – through André-Pierre Gignac and Raphael Guerreiro – denied by woodwork France's first tournament defeat on home soil in 19 games, since 1960 third-place play-off
      Portugal are UEFA EURO 2016 champions. The team that drew all three of their group games, that won only once inside 90 minutes all tournament, beat hosts France after extra time at Saint-Denis to get their hands on their first major trophy.
      They did it without the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo too, their captain forced off early in the first half through injury. Fernando Santos's side clung on at times but, with Ronaldo orchestrating things from the technical area as much as their coach by the end, they eventually provided the one moment of magic required. Éder's fizzing 20-metre strike in the second half of extra time was just too good.
      Such a scenario looked impossible after eight minutes, Ronaldo initially continuing after a heavy collision with Dimitri Payet before eventually being replaced. There were tears and a standing ovation from all corners as he was taken off. All the talk, all the analysis, all the predictions – out the window. Off went 61 international goals.
      Cristiano Ronaldo leads the celebrations
      One man chasing only his second was Moussa Sissoko. The France midfielder was rampant and threatened to break the deadlock soon after Ronaldo's departure yet his shot was saved.
      Rui Patrício had earlier thwarted Antoine Griezmann, athletically tipping away the in-form forward's looping header. Portugal offered little in those opening exchanges, three passes straight out of play encouraging the hosts.
      Kingsley Coman came on for Payet inside the hour and soon teed up Griezmann for surely the chance of the game – Les Bleus' No7 was unmarked but headed over. Though Olivier Giroud briefly got in on the act with a low effort, Rui Patrício was again up to the task. He had to be sharper still to keep out Sissoko's thumping strike later in the half.
      Only once, well into added time, was the Portugal keeper beaten. Substitute André-Pierre Gignac turned in the box and scuffed a shot into the ground which bobbled towards the net only to bounce agonisingly back off a post.
      Hugo Lloris had been far less employed in regulation time, only really called into action to claw away Nani's miscued cross and then hold Ricardo Quaresma's acrobatic attempt from the rebound. Though he subsequently dealt with Éder's header, the French captain was rescued by the crossbar when Raphael Guerreiro fired in a free-kick and, with 109 minutes on the clock, could do nothing to keep out the sensational winner.
      Match analysis from Stade de France
      Man of the Match: Pepe (Portugal)
      Pepe missed the semi-final with a thigh injury but returned in style, keeping adidas Golden Boot winner Griezmann as quiet as could have been hoped. "We've written a brilliant page in the story of Portuguese football," said the centre-back.
      All without Ronaldo
      The man Portugal's hopes apparently rested on was out of action after less than ten minutes. To watch him battle on for a quarter of an hour was both desperately sad and hugely admirable. It was indicative of his relentless drive to have an impact – a desire that is heightened on the big occasion. For him then to cajole his players before extra time and gesticulate desperately throughout the additional 30 minutes was testimony to his team spirit. He was, if only briefly, a coach as well as a star player.
       
      Who needs goals for drama?
      This was not exactly thrill-a-minute stuff. Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium and some of the biggest names on the field were either not at their best or not on the pitch at all. However, it quickly became evident that one moment would decide this. That knowledge that someone was only a split-second from becoming a hero made for a gloriously nervy night. The tension was palpable throughout the stadium.
      http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2016/matches/round=2000451/match=2017907/postmatch/report/index.html?xtor=EPR-11-[1107_Daily_EURO_EN_R2]-20160711-[Hero Image]-1148729093197@1
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Carnaxide (Lisbon)—Jehovah’s Witnesses are inviting the public to attend their 2016 “Remain Loyal to Jehovah!” Regional Convention. Beginning Friday, July 29, 10:20 the Witnesses will be hosting these free events throughout Portugal and around the world. This three-day program will feature 49 presentations, each exploring the theme “loyalty.” including 35 video segments and two short films.
       
      All are welcome: Salão de Assembleias Av. do Forte. No. 11, 2790-074 CARNAXIDE. No entrance fee - No collection.
      7/29/16 at 10:20 AM - 
      7/31/16 at 4:00 PM
      Where
      Portugal Lisbon Carnaxide Map
      Host
      Jehovah's Witnesses
      Led by
      AlanBevan
      Source: http://community.expatica.com/event/9339
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      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.
      Source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-violated-religious-freedoms-of-jehovah-witnesses-echr.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99591&NewsCatID=509
    • 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)
      Source: http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2192
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Public witnessing in Lisbon, Portugal. 

    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
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    • Absolutely agree. But what I see as it is possible to read in WT Society text about Higher education is this: They tend to separate young minds from "secular knowledge" because of some fears. Perhaps one of fear is not main reason, to be learned about non-Bible ideas. But as main reason i see how this "secular ideas" can cause that young JW members begin to question WT and Bible.  Please have in mind what you already said, JHVH not decided to separate Congregation, but He doing just opposite. He let all sort of influence to be spread on  people, all people, not just JW's. If JHVH not made separation in literal way, than WT try to do this separation in limited level on limited class of people for limited time in their life - looks funny and not productive as they expect.  This was completely necessary to be said ... using this sort of illustration with mafia as subject :))))) ........... but you "provoked" me a little :)))) and i will add. We all working for devil the boss, because he is ruler, god of this world, global company/corporation. Just another, different way of rationalization.   :))))))
    • I agree that God is organized, which is clear in creation.  He has also organized his anointed Body of “144,000” perfectly, by distributing gifts in various measure. All are to benefit from each other.  (1 Cor chapter 12)  And he himself gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to a measure of the maturity of the fullness of Christ.  Eph 4:11-13 In Matt 13:36-43 it says, “The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all the causes of sin and those who do lawless deeds” Matt 13:41 Jesus stated that his kingdom is “no part of this world”. John 18:36  His kingdom is comprised of the anointed – those part of his Body.  He is the “Lord of lords and King of kings”.  Rev 17:14 (Matt 20:21)    And they were singing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll     and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered,     and bought people for God by your blood     from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and made them a kingdom and priests to our God,     and they will reign on the earth.” Rev 5:9,10 (1 Pet 2:5,9) Matt 13:37,38 – “So he answered and said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world. And the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom, but the darnel are the sons of the evil one.” If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:29 We know that not all of God’s anointed become faithful members of the Bride.  They can fall from their heavenly position. 2 Pet 3:17; Rev 8:10,11  This harvest firstly concerns those belonging to Christ, who are part of his kingdom and are found either as good seed or weeds.  I hope you can see that Matt 13:36-43 has nothing to do with the all the kingdoms on the earth and the people in them.  (Luke 4:5-7)  In Matt 13:38; It does say, “the field is the world” – but world can mean, “an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution” which describes the anointed arrangement of "kings" under their Head Jesus Christ.  John 4:23,24 -   Jesus said right before these scriptures:   “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” John 4:21 Christ’s Body replaced the temple in Jerusalem.  There is no more literal, physical place of worship, since the Temple is now built with “living stones”.  1 Pet 2:5,9   They are given “spirit” and “truth”.  1 John 2:20,27; John 16:13  If they fail in their devotion to God and Christ, they lose what has been given them.  Luke 8:18; 1 Cor 3:18  They will not be sealed into the tribes of “Israel”.    Luke 13:24; Rev 3:11 Again in Rev 18:4, “my people”, refer to God’s holy people – His “special possession”.  They and their companions with them are to leave the “organization” where the “darnel” are teaching His people, lies. Rev 18:4-8 (1 Pet 2:5,9,10)      
    • I don't know if anyone provided an update to this story, but the "brother" finally pled guilty, and was sentenced to five years, for three felony counts of child rape with two different victims. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-who-raped-jehovah-s-witness-girls-sentenced-5-years-n1082136 Elihu Rodriguez, 32, of Yakima, Washington, was given five years, the maximum sentence prosecutors had asked for, after Rodriguez pleaded guilty to three felony counts of child rape in the third degree in September. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender. Both of his victims attended the sentencing, which took place Friday at the King County Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington. I believe this was the case I was told something about in 2018, which is why I mentioned then that I couldn't say much because it was an upcoming court case. If it's the same one, then someone (parent?) convinced her not to report it because it was just a matter that this 25-year-old was in love with her, and so they told her it was actually multiple acts of fornication, not child abuse or child rape. She agreed not to report on the basis that she would be considered guilty of fornication, too. So the family moved to another congregation, and within months, she got to a point where she decided she needed to report it to the elders. (I don't think it was because she learned about another girl being raped/abused by the man, even though this would make sense.) When she did report it to her new congregation's elders in 2013, they actually called the legal department just as they were supposed to, but evidently someone thought it was going to be possible to treat this as "consensual" and the elders tried to get her to say it was consensual. She refused to agree with the elders that it was consensual, and took it to the authorities. When I heard about this case (or perhaps another one just like it) I was only told the general area of the US, and some circumstances, but no names. I was only told that this was disturbing that someone would try to turn a child molestation case of a "16 year old girl" into a consensual case in spite of the young age. (I was not told that she was actually 14/15.) Years earlier, J R Brown, as a spokesmen for the Society, had tried to minimize a lot of these cases by saying that a lot of them are like cases of an 18 year old boy with a 16 year old girl, which sounded a bit like the old "boys will be boys" excuse. 
    • The point was that Jehovah is organized, the evidence is all around us. This leads us to believe that His visible favored people would be organized in doing His will. Moving forward we can consider WHO HE is about to sanction based on Matthew 13:36-43, John 4:23,24,Revelation 18:4 and a few more.......
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