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Support for conscientious objection increases

(KOREA)

By Kim Se-jeong

The number of people in Korea who support conscientious objection has risen significantly over the last decade, a recent survey showed, Monday.
According to the survey conducted by the National Human Rights Commission on 2,556 people aged 15 or older from May to December, 46.1 percent of respondents said the country should allow conscientious objection.
The commission has conducted the survey regularly and the support ratio has increased from 10.2 percent in 2005 to 33.3 percent in 2011.
"Tolerance has improved, but it is clear that conscientious objection is still a contentious issue in Korean society," the commission said in a report. "The number shows it is time for open discussion about it."
The survey didn't mention what contributed to the change in public opinion.
All able-bodied men aged 18 or older in Korea are obliged to serve in the military. Objectors are subject to prison terms. According to statistics, almost 600 men are punished every year for refusing to serve.
Most objectors in Korea cite religion or personal belief in peace as reasons for refusal. Many of them are Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination.
They demand the government give them an opportunity to serve the country in other ways by introducing alternative services. But the government has refused to accommodate their request, saying no exception is allowed for compulsory military service.
The survey results came out hours before a local court ruling in favor of conscientious objection.
Siding with a 23-year-old conscientious objector surnamed Park, the Jeonju District Court in North Jeolla Province said, "We recognized that the defendant refused to serve on the basis of his religion and values, which is an individual freedom given to all."
Park, a Jehovah's Witness, was taken to court by the government in June last year after refusing to comply with the mandatory service.
A dozen other local courts and an appeals court in Gwangju have also ruled in favor of conscientious objectors.
The Constitutional Court has been reviewing petitions from such people and is expected to make a ruling sometime early this year on whether compulsory military service infringes on individuals' freedoms and whether the country needs to allow alternative services.
The ruling was originally due by the end of last year, but was put off as the court has been focusing on the review of President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.
In 2004 and 2011, it ruled against objectors.

THE KOREAN TIMES

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Posted : 2017-01-10
By Kim Se-jeong

 

 

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      A South Korean court has ruled in favor of a man who refused to take part in the country's mandatory military service on religious grounds.

      The Gwangju District Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by prosecutors, upholding a previous ruling that found the man not guilty.

      It also acquitted two other so-called "conscientious objectors" who had been sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison.

      All three of the men are Jehovah's Witnesses, who say they are prohibited by their faith from entering the military.

      The court said the men's refusal of mandatory military service was consistent with their religious faith and conscience, considering how they were brought up. 

      It cited an international trend of recognizing conscientious objectors, and pointed to a growing consensus that some kind of alternative military service is needed in such cases.

      The Defense Ministry urged the court to use caution and prudence, as cases like this may affect national security, cause a decrease of morale for active-duty servicemen, and enable others to evade military service.

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    • Guest Kurt
      By Guest Kurt
      Alternative nonmilitary community service is better than prison, economically, as real benefits accrue from those who refuse to go to war.

      South Korea’s Unjust Treatment of Dong-hyuk Shin. Photo: Courtesy of jw.org, used with permission.
       
      Since 1953 the Republic of South Korea—one of Asia’s most advanced democracies—has severely punished #conscientious objectors. In 64 years, more than 19,000 young male Jehovah’s Witnesses there have served prison terms totaling more than 36,300 years of accumulated confinement. Presently 393 are serving sentence, typically 18 months to two years. “The New York Times” says 600-700 go to prison annually and comprise more than 90 percent of imprisoned conscientious objectors worldwide. This policy needlessly harms society in general, not just conscientious objectors:
      Society foots incarceration costs for prisoner upkeep.
      It loses the valuable alternative work these prisoners could perform as community service.
      The national economy loses millions of tax dollar revenues that these healthy young men cannot contribute by holding gainful employment.
      Then there’s the incalculable emotional devastation to each prisoner’s family.
       
      The struggle to recognize conscientious objection
      At a rare juncture in South Korea’s history, according to “The Korea Herald,” both its Supreme Court and its Constitutional Court are dealing simultaneously with conscientious objection.
      Various lower-court guilty verdicts have risen through the appellate levels for final judgment. Under scrutiny is whether conscientious objectors should be criminally punished by imprisonment for their stance of 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . South Korea’s Constitution is also under the microscope, due to pressure by numerous international entities, including the United Nations, which has urged South Korea’s government to adopt legislation that allows for alternative nonmilitary community service.  
      The conscientious objector’s view
      To the conscientious objector, #murder is murder. They hate it. Being ordered to murder doesn’t make them hate it any less. Yet theirs is more than a question of personal taste. They believe that no one—not even a high-ranking official barking orders—can give them, or anyone, the right to take another human’s life.
      Many believe a Supreme Authority condemns such permission-giving, even in times of war. And we need to keep that view in mind when figuring out what to do about and how to treat those who will not—for moral reasons that form the core of their very being—commit murder.
       
      Far from cowardly
      It’s easy to think of conscientious objectors as cowards who shirk their patriotic duty and flee from danger. But that’s not the case at all. Conscientious objectors face their responsibility; they don’t dodge it. When the Law issues an order, they obey it. If they can’t, they confront the Law through the proper channels, seeking recourse that allows them to discharge their duty without murdering. When their only options are—in their view—to murder or to disobey the law, they do what they are convinced is the morally right thing to do, knowing full well the grave consequences they will face: loss of liberty, sometimes loss of life. That takes considerable courage. Only the brave retain their dignity. Cowards have none to start with and thus none to lose upon fleeing.
      Repeated punishment
      Particularly egregious is South Korea’s treatment of Dong-hyuk Shin, who successfully completed military service in 2005 with honorable discharge. That automatically enrolled him in the reserve forces. After studying the Bible, his conscience moved him to change his position regarding military training and service. When summoned in 2006 for reserve forces training, he did not flee. Instead, he informed officials of his new status as a conscientious objector and one of 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . Military officials ignored his objection—to them, it simply did not exist. Enough is enough
      Altogether, from March 2006 to December 2013, the military summoned Mr. Shin 118 times for reservist training. He has been prosecuted and convicted 49 times, has made trial and appellate court appearances 69 times and has received 35 court verdicts. The Court certainly could better spend its time and resources pursuing true criminals and leave Mr. Shin alone. Courts have fined him more than U.S. $13,300. Six times he has been sentenced to prison terms of six months or longer, later replaced by conditional sentences, including 200 hours of community service. Due to all the court appearances, he has had to change employment seven times. The stress has taken a physical toll on his strength and health. His mother has suffered emotional distress due to all the turmoil, and this has intensified Mr. Shin’s own suffering.
      The end of all wars
      John F. Kennedy wrote to a Navy friend: “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” The inverse of that perceptive prediction is fascinating: When everyone views warfare as murder and conscientiously objects to murder in all its circumstances, then all wars will cease. Warriors may equally dislike taking human lives. Yet their government gives them permission to do so with impunity in certain circumstances. It is the conscientious objector who steels himself (or herself) in face of the State’s demands, to follow the dictates of conscience.
      A winning policy, guaranteed
      South Korea’s move to adopt alternative nonmilitary service for conscientious objection would be a win-win situation: The nation would benefit from free community services rendered by productive members of society; tax revenues would accrue as conscientious objectors would also be gainfully employed instead of behind bars; with starkly fewer prison inmates, government spending on corrections would drop; and thousands of Korean families would be relieved of the stress and trauma that a family member’s unnecessary imprisonment inflicts on them. International entities worldwide are keenly anticipating the move South Korea will make as a world-leading democracy. 

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    • By Bible Speaks
      Amnesty International publishes the story of a Jehovah's Witness from South Korea.
       
       
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      Do you have more photos/video of the South Korea Bethel to share with all of us? Please post them as a reply below:
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      Thanks Rajan for sharing this with me.
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Turkmenbashi City Court jailed 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Mekan Annayev for the maximum two years for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. Five others have already been jailed in 2018, one in an apparent show trial. Two more young men face trial in August.
      The city court in Turkmenbashi in western Turkmenistan has handed down the longest known prison sentence so far in 2018 to punish refusal to conduct compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. At the request of the prosecutor, Judge Myrat Garayev handed 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness Mekan Annayev the maximum two-year jail term, he told Forum 18 from the court on 23 July.

      During one meeting at the city's military conscription office in October 2017, officials had called in the city's chief imam to conduct "explanatory work" with Annayev in an apparent attempt to pressure him to undertake military service, even though Annayev is not a Muslim (see below).

      In all five other known jailings of conscientious objectors in 2018, courts handed down one-year jail terms. All those sentenced were – like Annayev – Jehovah's Witnesses (see F18News 30 July 2018 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2400).

      Two more Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors face trial in August. The trial of Isa Sayaev was due to have begun on 9 August in the northern Dashoguz Region. The trial of Ruslan Artykmuradov is due to begin in Lebap Region on 13 August (see below).

      Prosecutor's Offices are considering similar criminal cases against other Jehovah's Witness young men for refusing military service on grounds of conscience, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      The trial of one of those jailed in July was held in the District Military Conscription Office. It remains unknown if this was to show other local young men the punishment for failing to abide by call-up notices (see below).

      Forum 18 wished to ask the Human Rights Ombudsperson Yazdursun Gurbannazarova, who was named by the government-appointed parliament, why individuals who cannot do military service on grounds of conscience cannot undertake alternative, civilian service and why they are jailed. However, her telephone went unanswered each time Forum 18 called on 10 August.

      No conscientious objection, no alternative service

      Turkmenistan offers no alternative to its compulsory military service. Military service for men between the ages of 18 and 27 is generally two years. Article 58 of the 2016 Constitution describes defence as a "sacred duty" of everyone and states that military service is compulsory for men. Turkmenistan ignored the recommendation of a July 2016 legal review of the draft Constitution by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation that it should include a provision for alternative, civilian service (see F18News 3 October 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2220).

      Young men who refuse military service on grounds of conscience face prosecution under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. This punishes refusal to serve in the armed forces in peacetime with a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment or two years' corrective labour (see Forum 18's Turkmenistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2244).

      In March 2017, at the end of its review of Turkmenistan's record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee again called on the authorities to end punishments for those unable to perform military service on grounds of conscience and introduce an alternative, civilian service (CCPR/C/TKM/CO/2).

      "The State party should revise its legislation without undue delay with a view to clearly recognizing the right to conscientious objection to military service," the Committee declared, "provide for alternative service of a civilian nature outside the military sphere and not under military command for conscientious objectors, and halt all prosecutions of individuals who refuse to perform military service on grounds of conscience and release those who are currently serving prison sentences."

      Officials refused to explain to Forum 18 why they did not implement the UN recommendation. With the two jailings in January 2018, less than a year after the UN report was issued, Turkmenistan began imprisoning conscientious objectors again after a break of four years (see F18News 23 March 2018 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2363).

      Turkmenbashi: maximum 2-year jail term

      The Conscription Office in Turkmenbashi, a port city on the Caspian Sea, summoned Jehovah's Witness Mekan Orazdurdiyevich Annayev (born 22 June 1999) to Balkan Regional Conscription Office for military service in June 2017 (when he reached the age of 18). The Conscription Office summoned him twice in October 2017 and again in March 2018 and twice in April 2018, according to the indictment seen by Forum 18.

      In response to two of the summonses, Annayev went to the city Conscription Office, telling officers that he could not conduct military service on grounds of conscience. The indictment records that he quoted Jesus' words from the Gospel of Matthew: "Put away your sword, for all who live by the sword shall die by the sword."

      On 26 October 2017, the indictment notes, Annayev "arrived at the military conscription office with his parents and brother. Explanatory work was conducted with him with the participation of the Chief Imam of Turkmenbashi." Annayev repeated his refusal to perform military service on grounds of conscience.

      Curiously, the indictment notes that Annayev is not a member of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, the country's ruling party.

      On 4 June 2018, after establishing that Annayev was medically and psychologically fit for military service, had no criminal record and was not on the register of alcoholics or drug addicts, Trainee Assistant to Turkmenbashi Prosecutor L. Saltykova brought charges against him under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. Annayev's trial was held at Turkmenbashi City Court on 26 June, four days after his 19th birthday.

      During Annayev's trial, the court's chief judge Rustam Atajanov came to the courtroom and interrupted Judge Garayev, who was presiding over the hearing. "Atajanov began rudely questioning Mekan Annayev and accusing him and all Jehovah's Witnesses of being traitors," Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. "He even demanded, loudly screaming, to throw two attendees out simply for whispering." After Judge Atajanov left, the hearing continued.

      At the end of the trial, the state prosecutor asked the court to sentence Annayev to two years' imprisonment. "In most other cases, state prosecutors usually ask to sentence young Jehovah's Witnesses to one year of imprisonment," Jehovah's Witnesses noted.

      Judge Garayev acceded to the prosecutor's request and sentenced Annayev to two years' imprisonment in an ordinary regime labour camp. As Annayev had not been under arrest before the trial he was arrested after the verdict was handed down and taken away to begin his sentence.

      Judge Garayev refused to explain to Forum 18 on 23 July why he had punished Annayev for refusing military service on grounds of conscience or why he had given him the maximum penalty. He also refused to discuss the conduct of the trial, including why the chief judge had interrupted proceedings.

      Annayev did not appeal against his conviction to Balkan Regional Court, the court told Forum 18 on 23 July.

      August trials

      Two more Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors face trial in August under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1 after refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience.

      The trial of Isa Sayaev was due to have begun on 9 August at Koneurgench City Court in the northern Dashoguz Region. Forum 18 was unable to reach the court on 10 August to find out if the trial took place as scheduled.

      The trial of Ruslan Artykmuradov is due to begin in Lebap Region on 13 August, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      Was July trial a show trial?

      Three Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors are known to have been jailed in July under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. Each was given a one-year ordinary regime labour camp sentence. One of the three, Ikhlosbek Valijon oglu Rozmetov (born 26 November 1997), was convicted on 11 July at Gurbansoltan eje District Court in Dashoguz Region (see F18News 30 July 2018 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2400).

      According to the verdict seen by Forum 18, Judge Sh. Almazov of Gurbansoltan eje District Court held the trial in the conference hall of the District Military Conscription Office. It added that the trial was open. The verdict gives no reason for the decision to hold the trial there.

      Forum 18 was unable to reach Gurbansoltan eje District Court or the Military Conscription Office to find out who had attended the trial apart from the accused, prosecutors, lawyers and witnesses and whether the trial was meant to send a signal to local young men of what happens to those who refuse compulsory military service.

      The verdict notes that Rozmetov had not been under arrest in the run-up to the trial (he had been required to sign a declaration not to leave the area). He was arrested in the courtroom after the verdict was delivered to be taken away to begin his sentence.

      Imminent transfer to Seydi Labour Camp?

      The latest jailed conscientious objectors are likely to be sent to serve their sentences at the ordinary regime labour camp LB-K/12 in the desert near Seydi, in Lebap Region. Many other prisoners of conscience jailed to punish them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief have been held in the camp.

      The two imprisoned Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors - Arslan Begenchov and Kerven Kakabayev – were sent there after their January convictions (see F18News 23 March 2018 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2363).

      Also held at Seydi Labour Camp is fellow Jehovah's Witness Bahram Hemdemov. He was arrested during a March 2015 raid on his home, after which he was tortured. He is serving a four year prison term from 19 May 2015 on charges of allegedly inciting religious hatred, which he strongly denies, but his real "crime" seems to have been hosting a meeting for worship (see F18News 5 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2164).

      The address of the Seydi Labour Camp is:

      746222 Lebap velayat

      Seydi

      uchr. LB-K/12

      Turkmenistan

      (END)

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    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Born to a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baek Jong-keon realized the price of his faith in South Korea at an early age. 

      His father had gone to jail for refusing to take up arms, and his three older brothers chose the same path when the time came for them to serve their mandatory military service. 
       

      Baek Jong-keon works as an assistant at a law firm in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Bak Se-hwan/The Korea Herald
      In a country where all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military to defend against North Korea’s 1.2 million-strong armed forces, it seemed like a bleak future awaited him, too. 

      “I grew up watching my father -- and my three brothers -- go to jail for objecting to the mandatory military service. It was hard to overcome the fear and the pain as a kid,” said Baek, 33, in an interview with The Korea Herald. 

      “That’s why I wanted to become a lawyer -- to change the situation.” 

      Baek also chose the life of a conscientious objector in South Korea -- or the life of a convicted “draft dodger.” He was sentenced to 18 months in jail by the Supreme Court in 2016. 

      He served his prison term and was released in May this year. The Korean Bar Association suspended his lawyer’s license for five years, a possibility that he had known since he was preparing for the bar exam. 

      All this, however, does not mean Baek is accepting things as they are. Now working as an assistant at a small law firm, he is fighting to regain his license. He has been rejected once, but is still fighting. 

      He is also fighting for the sake of other conscientious objectors to have the government and society recognize their freedom of conscience and offer them alternative ways to serve the country. 

      “Roughly 400 young conscientious objectors are currently in jail. I think that we should seriously consider giving them alternative forms of military service instead of just treating them as outlaws,” he said. 

      Since 2013, nearly 2,500 people were prosecuted for failing to enlist in the military, according to data from the Military Manpower Administration. The military service law mandates a prison sentence of up to three years for men who avoid the draft. 

      A majority of the 2,500 are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who object to any form of militarism. Of the total, 15 are unreligious, objecting conscription based on their personal beliefs and the principles of “no violence” and “no war.” 

      But there are growing signs that the judicial system may be easing its stance on conscientious objectors. This year alone, 40 acquittals were made at lower courts for conscientious objectors, five times more than in 2016, reflecting a possible change in legal perceptions. 

      Although no final decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the acquittals has been made yet, the repeated rulings in favor of the objectors are pressing the government to react.

      The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the conscription law, with several complaints filed regarding conscientious objection.

      During his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly last month, new Constitutional Court chief Lee Jin-sung hinted at the need to change the long-entrenched judicial practice against conscientious objection. 

      “We should take the situation seriously where people endure being sent to prison for their adherence to their conscience,” Lee said. 

      Views on conscientious objection seem to be changing as well.

      According to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission, 46.1 percent of people said last year the government should allow conscientious objection, up 12.8 percentage points from 33.3 percent in a 2011 poll. 

      “The answer is simple,” Baek said. “We just have to adopt legislation that allows conscientious objectors to carry out an appropriate alternative service of a length comparable to that of military service.” 

      Three bills are pending at the National Assembly seeking to add alternative options to the mandatory military service system. 

      Critics argue it is premature to adopt an alternative service program, especially amid ongoing threats from North Korea. It would also affect the morale of conscripted soldiers to see those citing faith -- which is hard to prove -- being allowed to avoid the tough life in barracks. 

      “We do not ask for special treatment,” Baek said. 

      “Some people wrongly assume that we would be exempted from the national duty mandated to all male citizens of South Korea once the court rules in favor of conscientious objection.

      “But we are willing to serve our country once an alternative service for objectors is introduced. That will allow us to contribute to the community in a way that does not conflict with our conscience, for instance, in the areas of public health, social welfare, the environment and labor,” Baek added. 

      He also believes that religious conscientious objectors have an important role to play. 

      “It is our part not to give up and to keep hope alive. I hope they do not resign themselves to be sent to jail, but keep appealing against the prison term to bring about change,” Baek said. 

      By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Jeong Chun-guk, who served the longest time in Korea for conscientious objection, seven years, is now a farmer. [KIM SEONG-TAE]
      For 69-year-old Jeong Chun-guk, whose seven years and 10 months in jail is still the longest time ever served by a conscientious objector to mandatory military service in Korea, the struggle for peace has finally led him to a tranquil plot of land in Geumsan County, South Chungcheong, where he can focus on farming and his faith. 

      “I believed that it was more important to spread the new world I discovered within the Bible,” he says of his decision not to serve in the military. He had followed his mother’s footsteps, becoming a Jehovah’s Witness when he was a freshman studying medicine at Chungnam National University in Daejeon. 

      Jehovah’s Witnesses have traditionally held a view that worship should be only to the “Kingdom of God,” therefore banning allegiance or participation in any national government or politics among their faithful. Though taught to obey the laws of where they inhabit, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been known to disobey the laws that conflict with their doctrines, such as denying blood transfusion and refusing to serve military duties. 

      His father, a prison officer, was at a loss for words upon hearing that Jeong had dropped out of school after only one semester. 

      “The watchtower my father climbed with his lunch box seemed like a great dungeon from some novel,” he says. “I never imagined that I would live in such a place.” 

      When Jeong turned 21 in 1969, he was incarcerated for 10 months, at the height of anti-communist sentiment following the Blue House raid on Jan. 21, 1968, when North Korean commandos attempted to assassinate then-President Park Chung-hee. 

      After the October Restoration of 1972, in which Park assumed dictatorial powers, conscientious objectors and their families were publicly shamed and the penalty was sharply increased with amendments to the Military Service Law and the new Special Acts for Violation of Military Service Law. 

      At 26, Jeong received another draft notice and arrest warrant. He sent Daejeon District court a seven-page appeal, but the appeal judge sentenced him to three years in prison, twice the initial sentencing. 

      Prison guards, he came to learn, were particularly brutal towards Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Fearing that Jehovah’s Witnesses might proselytize, they did not make us work. Instead we were forced to sit down for the whole day. The only times we could stand up were during our three meals and 15-minute exercise sessions,” says Jeong. “We prayed so that we may work standing.” 

      In those days, the Military Service Law did not allow exemptions from service until three years of penal labor had been served. The Supreme Court deemed it legal to repeat this punishment every time military service was declined, so Jeong was sentenced again in 1974. 

      Upon completing his second sentence at 29, he asked the Military Manpower Administration why a university dropout like himself was being drafted. 

      The Military Service Law back then considered candidates eligible for active duty from the time they graduated high school until the age of 28. But for undergraduates, this was extended to 30. 

      The administration replied that even freshman dropouts were considered undergraduates. 

      One day in February 1977, as he was waiting to finally go home, Jeong was taken to the 32nd Infantry Division. 

      He received another four years in jail from the military court on the conviction of “disobeying orders.” “I thought this was the end,” says Jeong, “I remember crying at the sight of my mother’s tear-filled eyes.” 

      His punishment ended in 1981 at the age of 33. 

      “It was strange to see no one stalking me from behind as I walked home,” he says. 

      Recently, a lawyer advised him to re-open his case, but Jeon has decided against this. “It’s not impossible to empathize with those who try to protect society by policing those who step out of line,” he says, “even if they have the strangest reasons.” 

      BY MOON HYEON-KYUNG [bae.seunghoon@joongang.co.kr]

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    • By Bible Speaks
      Judge Kim Jin-Wook, of the south Seoul District Court, dispatched two Jehovah's Witnesses to violate the military service act, in the last addition to a series of judicial rulings in favour of conscientious objectors. Men, both of whom were 23 years old, were accused of disobeying the government's order to enlist in the army in 2014 because of their faith.
      The judge said that his non-compliance had " justifiable reasons " and that it was due to the government's " negligence " to provide alternative ways to serve the country.
      There are about 20.000 conscientious objectors in South Korea who have gone to jail for refusing to serve in the armed forces based on freedom of thought, conscience or religion, as military service became mandatory for all Healthy Men during the 1950-1953 S WAR.
      Conscientious objectors have been uniformly sentenced to 18 month s' imprisonment.
      Only this year, more than 30 conscientious objectors have been acquitted. But the Supreme Court held that conscientious objection is illegal, revoking the acquittals in 16 cases this year.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The U.S. Commission in International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) sounded the alarm about the "worsening" state of affairs for religious freedom across the globe in its report for this year, the Christian News Network reported.
      The report, released on Wednesday last week, urges the U.S. Department of State to designate 16 more nations as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), citing particular instances in those countries that merited their inclusion in the list.
      "Overall, the Commission has concluded that the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations," said USCIRF Chairman Thomas Reese in a statement.
      "The blatant assaults have become so frightening—attempted genocide, the slaughter of innocents, and wholesale destruction of places of worship—that less egregious abuses go unnoticed or at least unappreciated," he pointed out.
      Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, a USCIRF member, said during a panel discussion on Wednesday in Washington D.C. that the commission "specifically name names so that those stories are lifted and people gain the strength that they need in order to continue fighting for their faith," CBN News reported.
      The commission urged the State Department to designate six nations—Russia, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Vietnam as countries of concern.
      The commission blew the whistle on Russia due to worsening religious freedoms in that country, which became even more evident with the recent ban of Jehovah's Witnesses.
      Once again, North Korea topped the USCIRF list of countries with the most repressive regimes, noting that freedom of religion is non-existent in that communist nation.
      North Korea is also Number 1 on Open Doors USA's World Watch list of the top 50 Christian-persecuting countries in the world.
      The Commission urged both Congress and the Trump administration to continually speak up about religious freedom abuses around the world, both in public and in private meetings.
      "You cannot have religious freedom without the freedom of worship, the freedom of association, the freedom of expression and opinion, the freedom of assembly, protection from arbitrary arrest and detention, [and] protection from interference in home and family," the report states.
      Read more at
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      A performance criticizing the government’s handling of conscientious objectors, at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square by Amnesty International Korea, the Center for Military Human Rights, World Without War, and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) to call for an end to the publishing of personal data on military service evaders, Mar. 28. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
      Objectors and civic groups calling for government to introduce alternative forms of service, instead of punishment
      On Feb. 23, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) sent a notice to 23-year-old Park Sang-wook informing him that his personal details were to be made public as a military service evader. Park’s failure to report to the training center on his reported enlistment date of Dec. 26 was defined by the MMA as “evasion of active military service.” Barring special grounds, the notice informed him, his name, age, address, and other personal details would be published online at the end of the year.Park is a conscientious objector. His decision not to perform military service was motivated not by religious reasons, but by his pacifist convictions. On Mar. 28, he took the microphone at a press conference organized at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square by Amnesty International Korea, the Center for Military Human Rights, World Without War, and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) to call for an end to the publishing of personal data on military service evaders.“What is evasion? It means deliberately avoiding a task because of laziness,” he said.“Under the guise of ‘protecting the public,’ the state has established a rigid military state and is massacring its own citizens or deploying them as hired soldiers,” he continued. “Tarnished as it is by defense industry corruption and suspicious deaths, isn‘t it the military itself that is really full of evasion?”Park is awaiting trial after being indicted this month for violating the Military Service Act. Unless he can present special grounds, he will have to spend eighteen months in prison. Barring other circumstances, he will have his name, address, and other personal data made public in December as a military service evader.As a fellow conscientious objector, PSPD secretary Hong Jeong-hoon is in a similar position.“Publishing personal data for someone undergoing trial defies common sense,” Hong said at the press conference.“We need to recognize individuals’ conscience and convictions and institute a system for alternative forms of military service,” he continued.Last year, the MMA began publishing personal information about military service evaders, including their name, age, address, and the nature of their evasion. The Ministry of National Defense instituted the system to prevent evasion at higher echelons in particular and promote an atmosphere of diligent military service compliance. In late 2016, it published the first list of 237 military service evaders who had not reported by December since an amendment to the Military Service Act went into effect in July 2015.The group World Without War noted that “at least 160 of the 237 people were conscientious objectors as Jehovah’s Witnesses, suggesting conscientious objects represent the majority of the system’s targets.”“As a system that seeks to use shaming to force compliance with military service duties, this system has no effect whatsoever on conscientious objectors who feel they cannot defy the dictates of their conscience, even if it means going to prison,” the group said.Speaking at the press conference, Amnesty International Korea secretary Park Seung-ho explained, “The United Nations Human Rights Committee previously said it was a breach of protocol for the South Korean government to impose prison sentences on conscientious objectors without giving them an opportunity for alternative service.”“Now the South Korean government has built up the conscientious objection issue so much that we can talk about conscientious objection being a right in itself,” Park added.“Instead of infringing more on human rights by releasing personal information, what the South Korean government should be doing is honoring its promises to the international community.”By Park Su-ji, staff reporterPlease direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      On  his drive to Calipatria State Prison, Ricardo Perez thought of the couple he’d met a few months earlier and their desperate plea: Can you help us get our innocent relative out of prison?
      It was spring 2012. Perez was fresh out of Loyola Law School and yearning for a meaningful case, so he agreed to look into their relative’s conviction. After reading the trial transcript, he went to meet Marco Contreras.
      “Are you innocent?” he asked him. “If you're not, I won’t judge you and I won’t tell your family. But if I’m going to spend the next several years on this, I need to know for sure.”
      Contreras looked him dead in the eye, Perez recalled, and said, “I’m innocent.”
      That conversation led to years of investigation and, ultimately, Contreras’ release from custody on Tuesday — the second time this month that a team of lawyers and students from Loyola have helped free a wrongfully convicted man.
      After spending 20 years behind bars, Contreras used the moments after his release to speak to others in his situation.
      “Keep fighting,” he said in Spanish. “Be patient and keep fighting.”
      Contreras, 41, who maintained his innocence, was convicted in 1997 of attempted murder and attempted robbery for a shooting at a Compton gas station a year earlier. He was sentenced to life in prison.
      Superior Court Judge William Ryan ruled last week that Contreras was factually innocent, and Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace said Tuesday that prosecutors lost faith in Contreras’ conviction, adding that other men have been linked to the crime.
      Attempted murder and conspiracy charges were filed Thursday against Antonio Salgado, 41; Antonio Garcia, 61; and Ricardo Valencia, 46. Both Garcia and Valencia pleaded not guilty Monday, and Salgado hasn’t been arraigned.
      Contreras’ attorneys say an eyewitness inaccurately identified him as the gunman, although he’d been at home sleeping at the time. It’s an example of the unreliability of witness misidentification, said Adam Grant, another Contreras attorney.
      “This is a huge problem,” he said. “It’s a thorny problem because the public considers it reliable.”
      Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent began looking into the case in 2012 after Perez put them in touch with Contreras’ family. During their investigation, lawyers and students found new evidence, including a striking physical similarity between Contreras and Salgado. The team of attorneys then presented its findings to the district attorney’s conviction review unit — a crew of prosecutors and investigators dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions — which conducted its own investigation, along with sheriff’s investigators, into the shooting.
      In a letter to the judge made public this week, prosecutors laid out the facts of the case, which they say point to Contreras’ innocence.
      At a Mepco gas station on a September morning in 1996, a man fired several shots at Jose Garcia, who was wounded but survived after a month-long hospital stay. While stopped at a red light nearby, Alicia Valladolid, an intern for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, saw the gunman run into a getaway car – a blue and beige Bronco.
      She jotted down the license plate number and investigators tracked the car to Contreras. When his brother, Miguel, told police he owned the Bronco, he was charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery, as well as being an accessory after the fact. At Miguel’s preliminary hearing, Valladolid spotted Marco in the audience and told a detective he was the shooter she’d seen. Marco was arrested and charged as the gunman.
      At his trial, the victim expressed some doubt in identifying him as the shooter, saying, “I’m not sure about the face.” And defense witnesses testified that Marco was home at the time of the shooting. But jurors found him guilty.
      Miguel pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to a 16-month prison sentence. His other charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.
      After his release, he told Compton police that his brother — who had a clean criminal record — wasn’t the gunman. Around that time, a detective had been trying to interview Salgado, a documented gang member the detective believed was the true gunman. Salgado fled to Missouri, records show, after realizing police were looking for him.
      Although Miguel had long resisted being viewed as “a rat,” according to court records, he eventually told his family that Salgado was the gunman and agreed to help authorities with an undercover sting operation.
      During a secretly recorded conversation with Valencia, Miguel brought up the shooting. Valencia told him it was an orchestrated hit likely tied to a drug dispute and said Salgado had admitted to being the gunman.
      During a 2014 interview with prosecutors and Loyola attorneys, Miguel said he and Salgado had been hired by Antonio Garcia, another co-worker, to carry out a murder-for-hire plot. Miguel — who described his role in the crime as merely assisting a friend — said he believed Antonio Garcia had promised to pay Salgado $10,000.
      Contreras’ release is the second big reversal handled by the district attorney’s conviction review unit since its creation in 2015. Last year, prosecutors asked the same judge to throw out the murder conviction of a man charged in the 2000 slaying of a college student in a Palmdale parking lot. Earlier this year, Ryan tossed the conviction and declared Raymond Lee Jennings factually innocent.
      In the other Loyola case from two weeks ago, a different judge threw out the murder conviction of Andrew Leander Wilson, who served 32 years behind bars after being convicted of a 1984 stabbing.
      As Marco Contreras was escorted into court Tuesday, he turned to look at his family in the audience. He nodded at them several times, and tears welled in his eyes. Perez patted him on the back.
      At the end of the hearing, Contreras — dressed in a black suit — stood to address the judge.
      “I’d like to thank you for allowing me to be here,” he said. “Also the D.A. — I’d like to say thank you to everybody.”
      The judge smiled and told Contreras he hoped he had a good support system to help him adjust to life outside of custody. The world, the judge warned him, had changed a lot in 20 years.
      “This is a new chapter,” Ryan said. “Good luck to you, sir.”
      The audience of Loyola students and Contreras’ family burst into applause, shouting, “Woo! Woo! Woo!” Contreras threw his fist in the air in celebration, and the courtroom bailiff smiled. Perez said a single word — surreal — was running through his mind.
      During a news conference after the hearing, Contreras’ mother, Maria, walked slowly toward her son. She embraced him in a tight hug and congratulated him in Spanish.
      “¡Felicidades, hijo!” she told him. “¡Felicidades, mi hijo!”
      She told reporters she’d always known he was innocent, saying before his arrest that he’d never gotten in trouble — not even a traffic ticket, she said.
      Asked whether he felt any rancor, Contreras shook his head: “No, none. There’s no reason.”
      For now, he said, he was looking forward to two things: good Mexican food and April 11. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and that’s the day his denomination will remember the anniversary of Jesus’ death.
      His faith, he said, had kept him from spiraling into depression.

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    • By ARchiv@L
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.     7 MARCA 2017

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Korea Południowa niesprawiedliwie traktuje Dong-hyuk Shina
      Władze Korei Południowej wtrącają do więzienia setki osób odmawiających służby wojskowej ze względu na sumienie. Karze podlegają również mężczyźni, którzy odmawiają stawienia się na ćwiczenia wojskowe po odbyciu zasadniczej służby wojskowej i przeniesieniu do rezerwy.
      Dorastając w Korei Południowej, Dong-hyuk Shin wiedział, że pewnego dnia otrzyma powołanie do wojska. Stawił się do odbycia służby wojskowej, a w 2005 roku został automatycznie przeniesiony do rezerwy. Rezerwiści są przez kolejne osiem lat regularnie wzywani do odbycia ćwiczeń wojskowych.
      Krótko po zwolnieniu ze służby Dong-hyuk Shin zaczął studiować Biblię. Jej pokojowe przesłanie poruszyło jego sumienie i pobudziło go do zmiany stosunku do służby wojskowej. Gdy w marcu 2006 roku został wezwany na ćwiczenia dla rezerwistów, poinformował władze wojskowe, że nie może zgodzić się na szkolenie, ponieważ byłoby to sprzeczne z jego sumieniem.
      Brak poszanowania wolności sumienia
      Korea Południowa nie uznaje prawa do podyktowanej sumieniem odmowy pełnienia służby wojskowej. Obecnie wzywa na ćwiczenia dla rezerwistów ponad 40 Świadków Jehowy, którzy odmawiają służby wojskowej ze względu na sumienie.
      Wojsko zignorowało przyczyny, dla których Dong-hyuk Shin odmawiał wzięcia udziału w ćwiczeniach rezerwistów, i w ciągu roku kalendarzowego 2006 skierowało do niego w sumie 30 wezwań. Dong-hyuk Shin otrzymywał wezwania przez kolejne siedem lat. Od marca 2006 do grudnia 2013 roku odebrał ich łącznie 118 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . Ponieważ za każdym razem z szacunkiem odmawiał stawienia się na ćwiczenia, 49 razy był sądzony i uznany za winnego, 69 razy stawał przed sądami pierwszej i drugiej instancji oraz otrzymał w sumie 35 wyroków. „Nie miał innego wyjścia”
      Sądy nie miały wątpliwości, że Dong-hyuk Shin szczerze trzymał się głosu swojego sumienia. W swojej decyzji z 7 października 2014 roku Sąd Rejonowy w Ulsan orzekł: „To zrozumiałe, że gdy [Dong-hyuk Shin] został Świadkiem Jehowy, w tej sytuacji nie miał innego wyjścia, jak tylko złamać prawo, ponieważ nie mógł pogodzić służby wojskowej ze swoim wewnętrznym sumieniem i przekonaniami religijnymi”.
      Chociaż Sąd Rejonowy ze zrozumieniem odniósł się do trudnego położenia Dong-hyuk Shina, możliwości sądów południowokoreańskich są ograniczone przepisami prawa o służbie wojskowej. Dong-hyuk Shin został ukarany przez sądy grzywnami w wysokości ponad 16 milionów wonów (około 55 000 złotych) i sześć razy skazany w zawieszeniu na pozbawienie wolności na okres przynajmniej sześciu miesięcy. W jednej sprawie sąd skazał go na 200 godzin prac społecznych.
      Dong-hyuk Shin mówi: „Byłem tym strasznie udręczony. Miałem wrażenie, że ta próba nigdy się nie skończy. Moje częste wizyty w sądzie martwiły też moją rodzinę. Myślę, że przez te dziewięć lat tak samo jak ja cierpiała moja mama, a cały ten stres wpłynął niekorzystnie na jej zdrowie. Serce mi pękało, gdy widziałem, jak zadręcza się ona z powodu mojej sytuacji. Ucierpiałem też pod względem finansowym. Ciągłe wezwania, późniejsze postępowania sądowe i wyroki zmusiły mnie siedem razy do zmiany miejsca zatrudnienia, ponieważ z powodu obowiązku stawiania się w sądzie rosła moja absencja w pracy”.
      Naruszenie umów międzynarodowych
      Dong-hyuk Shin bezskutecznie odwoływał się od każdego z wyroków do sądów południowokoreańskich — Sąd Najwyższy czterokrotnie odrzucił jego skargi. Po wyczerpaniu środków prawnych w Korei Południowej w czerwcu 2016 roku Dong-hyuk Shin wniósł skargę do Komitetu Praw Człowieka ONZ. Stwierdził w niej, że poprzez ciągłe wezwania, postępowania sądowe i wyroki skazujące Korea Południowa nie wywiązała się z obowiązku przestrzegania Międzynarodowego Paktu Praw Obywatelskich i Politycznych. Skarga dotyczy trzech zagadnień:
      Wielokrotne powoływanie do wojska osób odmawiających służby wojskowej ze względu na sumienie i ponownie karanie ich za tę odmowę jest jednoznacznie uznane w prawie międzynarodowym za pogwałcenie prawa do rzetelnego procesu.
      Wielokrotne wezwania do odbycia ćwiczeń wojskowych i idące za tym procesy karne potwierdzają oczywisty cel działania urzędników państwowych, którym jest przymuszenie do służby wojskowej. Życie Dong-hyuk Shina wypełniły nękające oskarżenia i przewody sądowe, a lekceważenie i uznawanie trzymania się swoich przekonań religijnych za przestępstwo stanowiło upokarzającą karę.
      Ponieważ Dong-hyuk Shin sprzeciwia się odbyciu służby wojskowej z powodu mocnych przekonań religijnych, uważa on, że naruszono jego prawo do wolności sumienia i wyznania.
      Oczekiwanie na ulgę
      Dong-hyuk Shin jest pełen optymizmu, że jego skarga zostanie rozpatrzona pozytywnie, ponieważ Komitet wielokrotnie orzekał, iż Korea Południowa powinna przestrzegać podyktowanego sumieniem prawa do odmowy służby wojskowej 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . Z nadzieją oczekuje na decyzję, która uwzględni szczególną sytuację osób przeniesionych do rezerwy. Dong-hyuk Shin mówi: „Nie żałuję, że muszę bronić moich przekonań religijnych i sumienia, ale sprzeciwiam się temu, jak byłem traktowany. Mam nadzieję, że władze Korei Południowej uznają to, że ludzie mają prawo odmówić wypełnienia obowiązku nałożonego przez państwo, jeśli jest on sprzeczny z nakazami sumienia”. Podobne stanowisko zajmują Świadkowie Jehowy w Korei Południowej i na całym świecie. „Wielokrotne karanie osób odmawiających służby wojskowej z powodów sumienia za niezastosowanie się do ponownego wezwania do służby oznacza powtórne karanie za ten sam czyn, jeśli kolejna odmowa wynika z tych samych niezmiennych przyczyn opartych na sumieniu” (Orzeczenie Komitetu Praw Człowieka, Zafar Abdullayev v. Turkmenistan, Communication No. 2218/2012, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/113/D/2218/2012, 25 marca 2015)
       

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      Więcej
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. NAJCZĘŚCIEJ ZADAWANE PYTANIA
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.
      Świadkowie Jehowy są znani z tego, że nie uczestniczą w wojnach. Dowiedz się dlaczego.
    • By ARchiv@L
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. download PDF
      South Korea’s Unjust Treatment of Dong-hyuk Shin.pdf
    • By The Librarian
      Hi brothers!!! Really need your help to send these pictures to Bethelite couple in Korea. Don't know how to send it because I forgot their names, I think the name of the name of the sister is Cendy/Cindy? I want to thank them for their hospitality when I was touring the branch. Hope you can help me. Thank you and regards. - Clifford Abalos, Philippines
       


    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Courts have sentenced five Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors in 2016 to two-year suspended prison terms for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. A sixth received a one-year corrective labour sentence. Turkmenistan ignored OSCE calls for the new Constitution to recognise conscientious objection.
      Six conscientious objectors – all of them Jehovah's Witnesses – are now known to have been convicted and sentenced in Turkmenistan so far in 2016 to punish them for refusing to perform compulsory military service on religious grounds. Five received two-year suspended sentences. The sixth received a one-year corrective labour sentence, where he lives at home under restrictions and a fifth of his wages are seized.

      All six young men were sentenced under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. This punishes refusal to serve in the armed forces in peacetime with a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment or two years' corrective labour.

      No conscientious objectors to military service are known currently to be imprisoned. Over many years, Jehovah's Witness young men have routinely been convicted for refusing compulsory military service on religious grounds. Although in earlier years some were given non-custodial sentences, most were imprisoned. The last known imprisoned conscientious objector, Ruslan Narkuliyev, was freed under amnesty in February 2015 (see F18News 18 February 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2039).

      Five young Jehovah's Witnesses are known to have been convicted for refusing compulsory military service and given corrective labour sentences in 2014 and 2015 (see F18News 5 July 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2196).

      Turkmenistan offers no alternative to its compulsory military service. Article 58 of the new Constitution describes defence as a "sacred duty" of everyone and states that military service is compulsory for men. Turkmenistan ignored a call from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to recognise the right in the Constitution (see below).

      Military service for men between the ages of 18 and 27 is generally two years. A proposed Alternative Service Law was reportedly drafted in 2013, but officials have been unable to tell Forum 18 if and when it might be adopted (see F18News 29 September 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2002).

      No comment

      No official was prepared to discuss with Forum 18 why young men continue to be convicted for refusing military service on religious grounds and why Turkmenistan has ignored calls by the United Nations (UN) and OSCE for a civilian alternative to compulsory military service to be introduced.

      Following his usual response, Pirnazar Hudainazarov, Chair of the Mejlis (Parliament) Legislative Committee, refused absolutely to discuss anything. "Don't call here," he told Forum 18 from the capital Ashgabad [Ashgabat] on 3 October. "Ring the Foreign Ministry." He then put the phone down.

      Telephones at the Foreign Ministry went unanswered on 3 October. Forum 18 was unable to reach Shemshat Atajanova, a department head at the government's Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights in Ashgabad. A colleague refused to put Forum 18 through to her on 3 October and also refused to answer any questions himself.

      Dashoguz: two-year suspended sentence

      Jehovah's Witness Sanjarbek Saburov, from the northern city of Dashoguz, refused military service during the spring call-up. On 17 July he was placed in preventive detention while awaiting trial, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. A complaint regarding the detention was filed with the Presidential Administration, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Interior Ministry and the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

      On 10 August, Dashoguz Regional Prosecutor's Office responded to Saburov, stating that they would readdress his complaint to Dashoguz City Prosecutor's Office. The response from Dashoguz City Prosecutor's Office is still pending.

      Saburov was tried under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. On 9 August, a Judge handed him a two-year suspended sentence. He was released in the courtroom after more than three weeks' detention.

      Seydi: two-year suspended sentence

      Jehovah's Witness Artur Yangibayev, from Seydi in the eastern Lebap Region, refused military service during the spring call-up. On 2 and 11 May, he sent a written petition to the Military Conscription Office, explaining his conscientious objection to military service.

      On 16 June, two representatives of the Conscription Office, along with the local police officer, went to his home and took him to the Prosecutor's Office, where he was threatened with 15 years' imprisonment. "The officers applied severe psychological pressure and forced him to write a letter retracting his earlier written petition for alternative service as a conscientious objector," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18.

      A complaint about the coercion to which Yangibayev was subjected was filed with the Presidential Administration and the General Prosecutor's Office.

      Yangibayev was charged under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. On 8 August, he was placed in pre-trial preventive detention. On 30 August, a Judge handed Yangibayev a two-year suspended sentence. He was released in the courtroom after more than three weeks' detention.

      Ashgabad: Four sentences in 2016

      Four Jehovah's Witness young men from Ashgabad are known to have been convicted in 2016 under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1 for refusing military service on grounds of religious faith.

      The first was Dayanch Jumayev, sentenced in Ashgabad in February to one year of corrective labour. He was ordered to live at home under restrictions, with one fifth of his wages being seized by the state (see F18News 5 July 2016http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2196).

      Three others were subsequently sentenced on the same charges between February and August. Merdan Ochanov, Konstantin Sivkov and Ruslan Rahmetulov each received two-year suspended sentences, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      An official of the chancellery of Ashgabad City Court refused to say if any of the four appealed against their sentences. "We don't give any information by telephone," she told Forum 18 before putting the phone down.

      Further United Nations findings against Turkmenistan

      The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee has found that Turkmenistan violated the rights of five further Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The five latest decisions – issued on 15 and 16 July – bring to 9 the number of such findings by the Committee against Turkmenistan in conscientious objection-related cases.

      In the July decisions, the Committee found violations in the cases of Navruz Nasyrlayev, Matkarim Aminov, Dovran Matyakubov and Shadurdy Uchetov (all of whom had served prison terms), as well as Akmurad Nurjanov (who had received a suspended prison term). All five had lodged their appeals to the UN Human Rights Committee on 7 September 2012.

      In March and October 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee found that Turkmenistan had violated the rights of four further Jehovah's Witness young men by imprisoning them for refusing compulsory military service on religious grounds. The Committee also ruled that beatings and other maltreatment (such as a head being repeatedly bashed against a wall) of Zafar Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov and Sunnet Japparov is torture and the government needs to provide reparations (see F18News 5 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2164).

      In all nine decisions, the Committee found the convictions and sentences for refusal of compulsory military service to be an infringement of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, in breach of ICCPR Article 18, Part 1. In each case, the Committee also determined that the authorities' treatment of the men violated the ICCPR Article 7 guarantee that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

      In addition, the Committee concluded that what Jehovah's Witnesses describe as the "deplorable living conditions" violated the right of detainees to be treated "with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person," under ICCPR Article 10. 

      Turkmenistan has not yet implemented the Committee's views, Jehovah's Witnesses lamented to Forum 18.

      The UN Human Rights Committee is still considering the appeals by five more Jehovah's Witness former imprisoned conscientious objectors: Akmurat Egendurdiev, Arslan Dovletov, Juma Nazarov, Yadgarbek Sharipov and Atamurat Suvkhanov. Also awaiting a decision is Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Danatar Durdyyev, who was fined. These appeals were lodged in 2012 and 2013 (see F18News 5 July 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2196).

      UN Human Rights Committee questions

      At its July session in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted a list of issues for the consideration of Turkmenistan's record under the ICCPR (CCPR/C/TKM/Q/2). The full review is due to take place in Geneva in March 2017.

      In its list of issues, the Committee reminded Turkmenistan's government that it had already called on it in 2012 to introduce a civilian alternative service (CCPR/C/TKM/CO/1). It told the government "please indicate what steps have been taken to: (a) amend the relevant legislation to recognize the right to conscientious objection to compulsory military service and introduce alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors; and (b) halt all prosecutions of individuals who refuse to perform military service on grounds of conscience and release those individuals who are currently serving prison sentences for such a refusal".

      The UN Human Rights Committee also asked Turkmenistan's government to "explain how the restrictions imposed on the exercise of freedom of religion, particularly by the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations Act, including mandatory registration of religious organizations and prohibition of activities of unregistered religious organizations, prohibition of worship in private homes, restrictions on religious education and the importing, publication and distribution of religious literature, and the administrative penalties for violations of the legislation in question are compatible with the State party's obligations under article 18 of the Covenant [ICCPR]".

      Turkmenistan ignores OSCE on lack of alternative service in new Constitution

      President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed into law a new Constitution on 14 September. Despite government claims, it ignored recommendations prepared by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that the text should make explicit mention of the right to opt for an alternative to military service.

      Article 58 of the new Constitution declares: "The defence of Turkmenistan is the sacred duty of every citizen. For male citizens of Turkmenistan, universal military obligation has been established." The wording of this Article was identical to the wording of Article 38 of the previous Constitution.

      The OSCE comments on the then draft Constitution were completed on 21 July and published on 1 September (http://legislationline.org/download/action/download/id/6321/file/288_CONST-TKM_21Jul2016_en.pdf). The OSCE recommended Turkmenistan "to include in Article 58 of the Draft Constitution an exception to the compulsory character of military service where such service cannot be reconciled with an individual's religion or beliefs (and to include references to possible alternatives of a non-combatant or civilian nature)".

      Other OSCE concerns on new Constitution ignored

      In its review the OSCE also recommended that the new Constitution make explicit reference "to the right of each individual to give and receive religious education in the language of their choice, and to the right to cultural expression in the field of religion, with specific reference to the rights of members of registered and unregistered religious groups to freely exercise their religion and culture, while ensuring that religious organizations are not precluded from taking part in public affairs". Turkmenistan ignored these recommendations.

      "Under international human rights law," the OSCE review noted, "religious or belief communities should not be obliged to acquire legal personality if they do not wish to do so; the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief must not depend on whether a group has sought and acquired legal personality status."

      In Article 18, which bans religious organisations from interfering in the affairs of state, the OSCE recommended that this be "re-considered or clarified", otherwise it could "misinterpreted" to prevent religious organisations from getting involved in public affairs. The OSCE also questioned why a similar ban on the interference by the state in the affairs of religious organisations was not included. These recommendations were ignored.

      Similarly ignored was the OSCE recommendation for the ban on religious-based political parties to be removed from Article 44 of the new Constitution.

      2010 OSCE review of Religion Law similarly ignored

      The OSCE had earlier urged Turkmenistan to introduce a civilian alternative to military service, including in a review of the then Religion Law made public in December 2010 (see F18News 20 December 2010 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1523). (END)

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Radical hate preacher Anjem Choudary has renounced his Muslim faith after being forced to share a cell with a particularly persistent Jehovah’s Witness.
      Choudary’s cellmate, Dave Smith, is a devout Witness and has spent the entire week teaching Choudary about the ways of his one true faith.
      As one prison officer explained, “The Witnesses in here prey on the weak and feeble minded, but there’s very little we can do about it.
      “They get you in a locked room and make you think about all the things wrong with the world, and before you know it you’re reading The Watchtower finding answers on every page.
      “In the outside world you can close the door on them when they come knocking, and can easily go back to your evening, but when you’re in prison, there is no escape from them.
      “The British prison system is rife with radicalised Jehovah’s Witnesses going round refusing blood transfusions and criticising Christmas.
      “The people locked up in here are often disenfranchised and feel left behind by the ‘system’, so, of course they’re going to feel welcomed by a group offering eternity in paradise in return for ignoring Easter. Anjem really didn’t stand a chance.
      “Plus it didn’t hurt that the Witnesses also hate the gays.”

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      By Kim Se-jeong 
       
      An Jung-hyun, 23, is a Jehovah's Witness on trial for refusing to fulfill his compulsory military service. He was found guilty twice in lower courts, and appealed to the Supreme Court in July. Lawyers told him his chances of winning were low given the highest court's precedents, but he is cautiously hopeful.

      This year alone, district courts acquitted nine fellow Jehovah's Witnesses of violations of the Military Law. The most recent ruling came one week ago from the Cheongju District Court which stated, "There are many ways to contribute to the nation without violating a person's basic rights such as social service or alternate work. It is unjust to punish military objectors by criminal law without even making efforts to provide alternatives."

      Another hopeful sign comes from Kim Jae-hyung, a Supreme Court justice nominee who recently expressed his support for such objectors and alternative ways to serve the country. His confirmation hearing will begin in September, and if confirmed, he is expected to add a different opinion on the 13-justice court.

      Ahn Se-young from Amnesty International Korea also showed cautious optimism.

      "These developments certainly reflect growing public support for conscientious objectors," Ahn said.

      While the government has claimed that conscientious objectors do not enjoy public support, Amnesty International Korea and Gallup recently conducted a survey in which more than 70 percent of respondents expressed support for conscientious objectors, according to Ahn. 

      "But, the appeals court and highest court are still conservative," Ahn said. She also doubts Kim will be influential enough to change the opinion of the entire top court.

      Kim Dong-in, another Jehovah's Witness, claimed it's time for the Korean government to take a stance.

      "If you look at the world, fewer countries refuse to recognize conscious objectors. It will eventually happen in Korea. It's time for Korea to voluntarily recognize them instead of being coerced to do so under pressure," he said.

      But those against conscientious objectors claim if they are recognized, many people will abuse the system. "If Jehovah's Witnesses are found not guilty and are allowed alternative services, many young men will join the religious group only to avoid military duty," a blogger said. "There will be no way to sort out whether they are really believers or just misusing the system."

      Now, eyes are on the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule on an appeal by a conscientious objector later this year. Two previous rulings found it unconstitutional to skip military service because of personal beliefs.

      Between 1950 and 2011, more than 16,000 conscientious objectors have been imprisoned in Korea, according to Amnesty International Korea. Every year, hundreds of objectors, mostly Jehovah's Witnesses, are put on trial for their rejection of military service based on their beliefs. Those convicted are sentenced to imprisonment for up to 18 months.

      "There will be so much I won't be able to do if I have a criminal record," An said. "I am not saying that I will avoid my service to the country altogether. I would like to serve my country, but in a different form." 

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Twisted Sutcliffe has been in Broadmoor since 1981 but has now been deemed "sane enough" to return to a normal prison.
      He was jailed for brutally killing 13 women and attacking seven others – some of the prostitutes – across Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
      Sickening Sutcliffe he claimed was at the will of God to "cleanse the streets" of prostitutes.
      His fixation with God inside jail has continued, as Daily Star Online recently revealed how hedepicts himself as Jesus Christ in a painting in his cell and how he has become a Jehovah's Witness.
      But now the disgusting killer will have to swap the luxury lag life of Broadmoor for a squalid prison cell.
      Sutcliffe, 70, told hospital pals he would rather take his own life than leave his Broadmoor boudoir.
      He said: “If they send me back to prison, I’d have no reason to live,” the Sun reports.
      “I feel like I’ve lost all hope.
      “Category A prisons are a pit of black despair and hopelessness.
      “I’ll spend the rest of my days there.
      “Why should I carry on? There is a higher risk of attack in prison but the people in charge don’t give a damn.
      “It’s all violence, weapons and drugs. It will be so depressing.”
      It is thought Sutcliffe could be jailed alongside notorious British criminals, such as Soham murderer Ian Huntley and evil Levi Bellfield.
      When he moves to a regular jail, Sutcliffe will have to give up his luxury taxpayer-funded lifestyle – which allows him to watch telly, send letters to his sick legion of fans and enjoy multiple weekly visits.
      The move still has to be rubber-stamped by the Ministry of Justice and Sutcliffe is likely to face a tough time of it – having already been blinded in one of the three attacks while on the inside.
      Last week Daily Star Online exclusively shed light on the relationship between the Yorkshire Ripper and Jimmy Savile, as the pair used to get cosy over a cup of tea in vile Sutcliffe's cell.
      He attempted in 2010 to gain release which prompted outrage from MPs and the public.
      A decision at the Court of Appeal determined that he would never be released.

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    • By Jack Ryan
      Crisis of Conscience is a book written by a former member of the Governing Body, Raymond Franz
       
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
    • By The Librarian
      70 happy JW's who survived imprisonment for being conscientious objectors

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    • Guest Kurt
      By Guest Kurt
      Song In-ho, 25, is waiting for a court ruling on his decision to refuse military service in South Korea, and will be jailed once his claim is rejected. To mark the International Day of Conscientious Objectors on 15 May, he tells Amnesty how his religious beliefs have shaped his life.
      Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, my conscience was shaped by the Bible. We are taught to love even our enemies, and that we should not repay violence with violence. This is why I made a conscientious objection to military service. I was found guilty at my initial trial and, if my appeal is rejected, I will be put behind bars for 18 months. But that is not where my story ends or even begins.
      Branded a criminal at birth
      In Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , those who conscientiously object to military service are stigmatized, almost as if we are branded at birth. It is like people know that a child is predestined to be in jail, so they decide to treat them like criminals-to-be.
      My mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, but my father was initially very opposed to my religion. He knew his beloved son would eventually go to jail for refusing military service, and no father wants that.Because of this, I have always tried my hardest to be a good, diligent son. As a result, my father gradually changed his mind. He was the first to support my appeal. 
      When I was a primary school student, I was asked during class to write about my future aspirations, but I left it blank as I knew it was not achievable. Since I was destined to go to jail anyway, what use is a dream? Yet I could not tell that to my mother because she would be heartbroken.
      I remember a traumatic experience when some classmates approached me and asked: “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? My mother said that you would be sent to jail.” It was many years later that I realized this experience was merely the prologue to what was to unfold in my life.
      Marked out at school
      At the start of each school term, teachers and friends would ask me the same question:“Are you really going to jail? Are you sure you want to be a Jehovah's Witness?” My answer was always the same. It isn't a matter of compromise, because it is about creed, something I would trade my life for. It is a burden I need to carry to the end.
      Friends would ask, "Do you even know how much negative gossip there is about you?" Such moments are very bitter to stomach, and those painful memories are far too many.
      The discrimination at college was particularly harsh. My friends once mocked me: “Song In-ho, you can't use profanity, you can't fight, you don't pass as a man, and you’re not living up to anything.” There was a lot of ridicule, and it was quite frankly unpleasant. I felt angry. I spent a lot of time thinking: “Is this the right thing to do? Is it unmanly?”
      Ever since I was born, I have felt like I’m on a runaway train rushing toward an inevitable station called jail and feeling utterly helpless, unable to escape. 
      After graduation, I wanted to find a good job but couldn’t. As a conscientious objector, getting a job in a reputable company is nearly impossible because of the discrimination and prejudice. I’m currently helping my parents in their cleaning business.
      “As a conscientious objector, getting a job in a reputable company is nearly impossible because of the discrimination and prejudice.” Only asking for alternatives
      To prepare for my trial, I went to court on the same day each week and I saw petty thieves, burglars, crooks, and rapists – criminals of all variety, all appealing that their sentences were unreasonable. I felt that if anyone should make an appeal, it ought to be me.
      I made up my mind then. If given a chance, no matter what it took, I would do all I can to plead my innocence, even if it meant certain incarceration.
      I am willing and ready to dedicate myself to any form of alternative service for my country, no matter how difficult. My conscientious objection to military service is nothing to do with avoiding service.
      I am a grateful citizen, and it is my wish that I would be allowed to contribute to the nation in some way other than military service. Whatever that alternative may be, I am willing to take it on, as long as it does not go against my conscience.
      That's all we are really asking for.
      In South Korea, a majority of conscientious objectors are Jehovah’s Witnesses. The country imprisons more people for their conscientious objection to military service than the rest of the world put together – with at least 600 men mostly aged between 20 and 24 currently in jail. 

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      Living by a Bible-Trained Conscience, Part 3 Korea (1961-1979)
       
       
      Living by a Bible-Trained Conscience, Part 2 Korea (1946-1960)
       
      Living by a Bible-Trained Conscience, Part 1 Korea (1939-1945)




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    • Eric Ouellet

      Nous ne pouvons rien cacher à Dieu, Droite est la vision de Justice de Jéhovah 
      Louez Yah !
      Remerciez Jéhovah, car il est bon ;
      son amour fidèle est éternel.
      Qui peut proclamer tous les actes puissants de Jéhovah
      ou annoncer toutes ses actions dignes de louanges ?
      Heureux ceux qui agissent avec droiture,
      qui se comportent toujours avec justice.
      Souviens-toi de moi, ô Jéhovah, quand tu accordes ta faveur à ton peuple.
      Occupe-toi de moi par tes actes sauveurs,
      pour que je savoure le bien que tu fais à ceux que tu as choisi ;
      Pour que je me réjouisse aux côtés de ta nation,
      pour que je te loue fièrement aux côtés de ton héritage.
      Nous avons péché, comme nos ancêtres;
      nous avons mal agi, nous nous sommes conduits méchamment.
      Nos ancêtres, en Égypte, ne comprirent pas le sens de tes œuvres prodigieuses.
      Ils ne se souvinrent pas de ton immense amour fidèle,
      et ils se rebellèrent près de la mer, la mer Rouge.
      Mais par égard pour son nom, il les sauva,
      afin de faire connaître sa puissance.
      Il réprimanda la mer Rouge, et elle s’assécha ;
      il les conduisit à travers ses profondeurs comme à travers un désert;
      il les sauva de la main de leur adversaire,
      il les racheta de la main de l’ennemi.
      Les eaux recouvrirent leurs adversaires ;
      aucun d’eux ne survécut.
      Alors ils eurent foi en sa promesse ;
      ils se mirent à chanter sa louange.
      Mais ils oublièrent vite ce qu’il avait fait ;
      ils n’attendirent pas son conseil.
      Ils cédèrent à leurs désirs égoïstes dans le désert;
      ils mirent Dieu à l’épreuve dans les solitudes.
      Il leur accorda ce qu’ils demandaient,
      mais il les frappa ensuite d’un mal qui les fit dépérir.
      Dans le camp, ils devinrent jaloux de Moïse
      et d’Aaron, le saint de Jéhovah.
      Alors la terre s’ouvrit et engloutit Dathan,
      et elle recouvrit ceux qui s’étaient rassemblés avec Abiram.
      Un feu flamba parmi leur groupe,
      une flamme consuma les méchants.
      Ils firent un veau en Horeb
      et se prosternèrent devant une statue en métal;
      ils échangèrent ma gloire
      contre la représentation d’un taureau, d’un mangeur d’herbe.
      Ils oublièrent Dieu, leur Sauveur,
      qui avait fait de grandes choses en Égypte,
      des œuvres prodigieuses au pays de Cham,
      des actes redoutables à la mer Rouge.
      Il allait ordonner leur anéantissement,
      mais Moïse, celui qu’il avait choisi, intercéda auprès de lui
      pour détourner sa colère destructrice.
      Puis ils méprisèrent le pays désirable ;
      ils n’eurent pas foi dans sa promesse.
      Ils n’arrêtèrent pas de grogner dans leurs tentes ;
      ils n’écoutèrent pas la voix de Jéhovah.
      Alors, levant la main, il jura
      de les faire tomber dans le désert,
      de faire tomber leurs descendants parmi les nations
      et de les disperser dans tous les pays.
      Puis ils prirent part au culte du Baal de Péor
      et mangèrent des sacrifices offerts aux morts.
      Ils provoquèrent sa colère par leurs actions,
      et un fléau éclata parmi eux.
      Mais Phinéas se leva pour intervenir,
      et le fléau s’arrêta.
      Et cela fut porté à son compte comme justice,
      de génération en génération, pour toujours.
      Ils provoquèrent sa colère aux eaux de Meriba,
      et, à cause d’eux, les choses tournèrent mal pour Moïse.
      Ils aigrirent son esprit,
      si bien qu’il parla avec ses lèvres sans réfléchir.
      Ils n’anéantirent pas les peuples,
      contrairement à l’ordre de Jéhovah.
      Mais ils se mêlèrent aux nations
      et adoptèrent leurs manières d’agir.
      Ils servirent leurs idoles,
      et celles-ci devinrent un piège pour eux.
      Ils sacrifièrent leurs fils
      et leurs filles aux démons.
      Ils firent couler le sang d’innocents,
      le sang de leurs propres fils et de leurs propres filles
      qu’ils sacrifiaient aux idoles de Canaan;
      et le pays fut profané par le sang versé.
      Par leurs œuvres, ils se rendirent impurs ;
      par leurs actes, ils pratiquèrent la prostitution spirituelle.
      Alors la colère de Jéhovah éclata contre son peuple,
      et il en vint à détester son héritage.
      Maintes fois il les livra aux nations,
      pour que ceux qui les haïssaient dominent sur eux.
      Leurs ennemis les opprimèrent,
      et ils furent soumis à leur pouvoir.
      Bien des fois il les secourut,
      mais ils se rebellaient et désobéissaient,
      et ils étaient abaissés à cause de leur faute.
      Cependant il voyait leur détresse
      et entendait leur appel à l’aide.
      Pour eux, il se souvenait de son alliance ;
      dans son grand amour fidèle, il avait pitié.
      Il éveillait envers eux la pitié
      de tous ceux qui les tenaient captifs.
      Sauve-nous, ô Jéhovah notre Dieu,
      et rassemble-nous du milieu des nations
      pour que nous puissions glorifier ton saint nom
      et te louer dans la joie.
      Que Jéhovah, le Dieu d’Israël, soit loué
      pour toute l’éternité.
      Et que tout le peuple dise : « Amen ! »
      Louez Yah !

      · 0 replies
    • folens  »  Eric Ouellet

      Hello Eric merci pour tes sujets et partages. Bonne journée Michel
      12 SECRETS POUR MAINTENIR LA JOIE DANS l organisation de Jéhovah.pdf memoire_vivante56.pdf Un athée.pdf
      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Que nos sacrifices de paix venant du coeur soit pur aux services de Dieu
      Le Lévitique a été écrit il y a 3 500 ans, mais Jéhovah l’a préservé pour nous instruire  (Rom. 15:4). Ce livre nous aide à comprendre ce que Jéhovah pense et ressent. Nous devrions donc nous y intéresser de près. En fait, nous pouvons tirer beaucoup de leçons de ce livre inspiré de Dieu. Examinons-en quatre.
      COMMENT OBTENIR L’APPROBATION DE JÉHOVAH
      Première leçon : nous devons avoir l’approbation de Jéhovah si nous voulons qu’il accepte nos sacrifices. Chaque année, le jour de la Réconciliation, la nation d’Israël se rassemblait et des sacrifices d’animaux étaient offerts. Ces sacrifices rappelaient aux Israélites qu’ils avaient besoin d’être purifiés de leurs péchés. Mais avant d’entrer dans le Très-Saint avec du sang provenant des sacrifices, le grand prêtre devait d’abord accomplir une autre tâche, une tâche dont l’objectif était bien plus important que le pardon des péchés de la nation.
      (Lire Lévitique 16:12, 13.) Imagine la scène : Nous sommes le jour de la Réconciliation. Le grand prêtre entre dans le tabernacle. C’est la première des trois fois où il va entrer dans le Très-Saint ce jour-là. Dans une main, il tient un récipient contenant de l’encens parfumé, et dans l’autre un récipient à feu en or rempli de braises. Il s’arrête un instant devant le rideau du Très-Saint. Puis, avec un profond respect, il entre et va se placer devant l’arche de l’Alliance. De façon figurée, il se trouve en présence de Jéhovah lui-même ! Puis il verse avec soin l’encens sacré sur les braises, et la pièce se remplit d’un parfum délicat. Plus tard, il va de nouveau entrer dans le Très-Saint avec du sang provenant des sacrifices pour le péché. Remarque qu’il brûle l’encens avant de présenter le sang des sacrifices pour le péché
      Qu’apprenons-nous de ce que le grand prêtre devait faire avec l’encens le jour de la Réconciliation ? La Bible montre que, pour Jéhovah, les prières de ses fidèles adorateurs sont comparables à de l’encens (Ps. 141:2 ; Rév. 5:8). Comme nous venons de le voir, c’était avec un profond respect que le grand prêtre apportait l’encens jusque devant l’arche de l’Alliance, qui symbolisait la présence de Jéhovah. De la même façon, quand nous nous approchons de Jéhovah par la prière, nous le faisons avec beaucoup de respect. Nous sommes très reconnaissants au Créateur de l’univers de nous permettre de nous approcher de lui comme un enfant le fait avec son père (Jacq. 4:8). Il accepte que nous soyons ses amis ! (Ps. 25:14). Nous apprécions tellement cet honneur que nous ne voudrions jamais le décevoir.
      Souviens-toi que le grand prêtre devait brûler l’encens avant de pouvoir offrir les sacrifices. Ainsi, il faisait le nécessaire pour avoir l’approbation de Dieu au moment où il les offrirait. Qu’est-ce que cela nous apprend au sujet de Jésus ? Avant de pouvoir offrir sa vie en sacrifice, il a fallu qu’il fasse quelque chose d’essentiel, dont l’objectif était bien plus important que le salut des humains. Qu’a-t-il dû faire ? Il a dû rester fidèle à Dieu et obéir à ses commandements durant toute sa vie sur terre, ce qui permettrait à Jéhovah d’accepter son sacrifice. En restant intègre, Jésus prouverait qu’accomplir la volonté de Jéhovah est la meilleure façon de vivre. Et il justifierait la souveraineté de son Père : il apporterait la preuve que sa façon de gouverner est bonne et juste.
      Durant sa vie sur la terre, Jésus a toujours obéi parfaitement aux normes de Jéhovah. Aucune tentation ni aucune épreuve, ni même la mort atroce qui l’attendait, n’a pu affaiblir son désir de défendre la façon de gouverner de son Père (Phil. 2:8). Dans l’épreuve, Jésus priait « avec des cris puissants et des larmes » (Héb. 5:7). Ses prières intenses venaient d’un cœur fidèle à Dieu, et elles renforçaient son désir de lui rester obéissant. Pour Jéhovah, les prières de Jésus étaient comme le parfum délicat de l’encens. Par sa façon de vivre, Jésus a grandement réjoui le cœur de son Père et a justifié sa souveraineté.
      Nous imiterons Jésus en faisant le maximum pour rester fidèles à Jéhovah et obéir à ses lois. Et dans l’épreuve, comme nous voulons lui plaire, nous le supplierons de nous aider. Nous montrerons alors que nous soutenons sa souveraineté. Nous savons qu’il ne répondra pas à nos prières si nous avons une conduite qu’il n’approuve pas. Cependant, si nous respectons ses normes, nous pouvons être sûrs que nos prières sincères seront pour lui comme de l’encens au parfum délicat. Nous pouvons également être certains que notre fidélité et notre obéissance réjouiront notre Père céleste (Prov. 27:11).
      NOUS SERVONS DIEU PAR RECONNAISSANCE ET PAR AMOUR
      Deuxième leçon : nous servons Jéhovah parce que nous éprouvons pour lui de la reconnaissance. Pour développer cette idée, parlons des sacrifices de paix, un autre aspect important du vrai culte dans l’ancien Israël. Dans le livre du Lévitique, nous apprenons qu’un Israélite pouvait offrir un sacrifice de paix « pour exprimer sa reconnaissance » à Dieu (Lév. 7:11-13, 16-18). Il offrait ce sacrifice, non pas parce qu’il était obligé de le faire, mais parce qu’il le voulait. Il s’agissait donc d’un sacrifice qu’une personne faisait volontairement parce qu’elle aimait son Dieu, Jéhovah. Cette personne ainsi que sa famille et les prêtres mangeaient ensuite la viande de l’animal sacrifié. Mais certaines parties de l’animal étaient réservées exclusivement à Jéhovah. Lesquelles ?
      Troisième leçon : par amour pour Jéhovah, nous lui donnons ce que nous avons de meilleur. Jéhovah considérait la graisse comme la meilleure partie de l’animal. Il a aussi fait savoir que d’autres parties de l’animal, comme les rognons, étaient particulièrement précieuses pour lui (lire Lévitique 3:6, 12, 14-16). Cela lui faisait donc très plaisir quand un Israélite lui offrait volontairement ces parties de l’animal et la graisse. Cet Israélite montrait qu’il désirait vraiment lui offrir le meilleur. De la même façon, Jésus a offert à Jéhovah ce qu’il avait de meilleur en le servant de toute son âme et par amour (Jean 14:31). Pour Jésus, faire la volonté de son Père était un plaisir ; il avait un amour profond pour la loi de Dieu (Ps. 40:8). Comme cela a dû réjouir Jéhovah de voir son Fils le servir avec autant d’enthousiasme !
      Comme ces sacrifices de paix, notre service pour Jéhovah est une façon de lui montrer ce que nous ressentons pour lui. Nous lui donnons ce que nous avons de meilleur, et nous le faisons parce que nous l’aimons de tout notre cœur. Comme cela doit le réjouir de voir des millions de personnes le servir avec plaisir parce qu’elles ont un profond amour pour lui et pour ses normes ! Cela nous réconforte de savoir que Jéhovah voit non seulement nos actions, mais aussi nos mobiles, et qu’il y accorde de la valeur. Par exemple, si tu es âgé et que tu ne peux plus en faire autant qu’avant, sois certain que Jéhovah comprend tes limites. Tu penses peut-être que tu n’as pas grand-chose à lui offrir. Mais lui, il voit que ton profond amour pour lui te pousse à faire ce que tu peux. Il accepte avec plaisir ce que tu as de mieux à lui donner.
      Que nous apprennent les sacrifices de paix ? Alors que le feu consumait les meilleures parties de l’animal, la fumée s’élevait vers le ciel et cela faisait très plaisir à Jéhovah. Tu peux donc être sûr que Jéhovah est vraiment content de toi quand tu fais tout ce que tu peux pour le servir (Col. 3:23). Imagine son sourire d’approbation. Il considère comme très précieux les efforts que tu fournis à son service, qu’ils soient grands ou petits, et il ne les oubliera jamais (Mat. 6:20 ; Héb. 6:10).
      JÉHOVAH BÉNIT SON ORGANISATION
      Quatrième leçon : Jéhovah bénit la partie terrestre de son organisation. Rappelle-toi ce qui est arrivé en 1512 avant notre ère, quand le tabernacle a été dressé au pied du mont Sinaï (Ex. 40:17). Moïse a présidé une cérémonie durant laquelle Aaron et ses fils ont été établis prêtres. La nation d’Israël s’était rassemblée pour voir les prêtres présenter leurs premiers sacrifices (Lév. 9:1-5). Comment Jéhovah a-t-il montré qu’il approuvait cette nouvelle prêtrise ? Alors qu’Aaron et Moïse bénissaient le peuple, Jéhovah a fait descendre du ciel un feu qui a complètement consumé le sacrifice sur l’autel (Lévitique 9:23,24)
      Dans quel objectif Jéhovah a-t-il provoqué ce spectacle impressionnant à la fin de la cérémonie durant laquelle Aaron a été établi grand prêtre ? Il voulait montrer par là qu’il soutenait pleinement la prêtrise aaronique. Et les Israélites ont clairement vu qu’elle avait son approbation. Ils avaient donc toutes les raisons de la soutenir eux aussi. Est-ce important pour nous de savoir cela ? Oui ! La prêtrise en Israël n’était qu’une « ombre » d’une prêtrise bien meilleure. Le Christ est le Grand Prêtre par excellence et 144 000 humains seront prêtres et rois à ses côtés au ciel (Héb. 4:14 ; 8:3-5 ; 10:1).
      En 1919, Jésus a choisi un petit groupe de frères oints pour former l’« esclave fidèle et avisé ». Cet esclave dirige la prédication et donne aux disciples du Christ « leur nourriture au bon moment » (Mat. 24:45). Avons-nous des preuves que Dieu l’approuve
      Satan et son monde font tout ce qu’ils peuvent pour empêcher cet esclave d’assumer ses responsabilités, à tel point que, sans l’aide de Dieu, il n’y arriverait pas. Toutefois, malgré deux guerres mondiales, des persécutions incessantes, des crises économiques mondiales et des traitements injustes, il continue de fournir de la nourriture spirituelle aux disciples du Christ sur la terre. Pense à toute la nourriture spirituelle qui est aujourd’hui disponible gratuitement dans plus de 900 langues ! C’est une preuve incontestable du soutien de Dieu. Et voici une autre preuve encore : la prédication. La bonne nouvelle est prêchée « sur toute la terre » ! (Mat. 24:14). Il n’y a pas de doute, Jéhovah guide et bénit abondamment son organisation.
      Demandons-nous : « Suis-je reconnaissant à Dieu de pouvoir collaborer avec la partie terrestre de son organisation ? » Jéhovah nous donne des preuves qu’il la soutient, des preuves aussi convaincantes que le feu qui est descendu du ciel à l’époque de Moïse et d’Aaron. Nous avons de nombreuses raisons d’être reconnaissants à notre Dieu (1 Thess. 5:18, 19). Comment pouvons-nous soutenir l’organisation qu’il utilise ? En suivant les conseils basés sur la Bible qui nous sont donnés dans nos publications, aux réunions et aux assemblées, ainsi qu’en participant le plus possible à l’activité de prédication et d’enseignement (1 Cor. 15:58).
      Soyons déterminés à appliquer les leçons que nous avons tirées du livre du Lévitique. Cherchons à obtenir l’approbation de Jéhovah pour qu’il accepte nos sacrifices. Servons-le par reconnaissance. Continuons de lui donner par amour ce que nous avons de meilleur. Et soutenons de tout notre cœur l’organisation qu’il bénit. Nous lui montrerons alors que nous chérissons l’honneur de le servir et d’être ses Témoins !
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    • Eric Ouellet

      Soyons remplis de gratitude envers autrui 
       
      AVEZ-VOUS déjà reçu un petit mot de reconnaissance auquel vous ne vous attendiez pas ? Si c’est le cas, cela vous a certainement fait chaud au cœur. Après tout, il est naturel de vouloir être apprécié. — Matthieu 25:19-23.
      Toute expression de gratitude tend à renforcer les liens entre celui qui en est l’auteur et celui qui en est le destinataire. En outre, quiconque manifeste de la gratitude suit les traces de Jésus Christ, qui n’a jamais manqué de remarquer les belles œuvres des autres. — Marc 14:3-9 ; Luc 21:1-4.
      Malheureusement, exprimer sa gratitude, de vive voix ou par écrit, semble se faire de plus en plus rare. La Bible avait annoncé que, durant “ les derniers jours ”, les hommes seraient “ ingrats ”. (2 Timothée 3:1, 2.) Si nous n’y prenons pas garde, cette tendance si répandue aujourd’hui risque d’étouffer en nous tout sentiment de reconnaissance.
      Quelles mesures concrètes les parents peuvent-ils adopter pour enseigner à leurs enfants à manifester de la reconnaissance ? À qui devrions-nous exprimer notre gratitude ? Et pourquoi devrions-nous être reconnaissants, même si ceux qui nous entourent se révèlent ingrats ?
      Dans le cercle familial
      Les parents ne ménagent pas leurs efforts pour subvenir aux besoins de leurs enfants. Mais il leur arrive d’avoir le sentiment que ces efforts ne sont pas appréciés à leur juste valeur. Que faire pour remédier à cette situation ? Trois paramètres sont à prendre en compte.
      1) L’exemple. Comme cela se vérifie souvent en matière d’éducation, la réussite passe par l’exemple. La Bible disait jadis d’une Israélite travailleuse : “ Ses fils ont voulu la féliciter. ” Où ces enfants avaient-ils appris à exprimer leur reconnaissance ? La suite du verset nous éclaire : “ Son mari est le premier à la louer. ” (Proverbes 31:28, Bible des Peuples). Les parents qui s’expriment de la reconnaissance montrent à leurs enfants que ce genre de témoignage procure du plaisir à celui qui en est l’objet, améliore les relations familiales et constitue un signe de maturité.
      Stephen, un père de famille, déclare : “ Je me suis efforcé de donner l’exemple à mes enfants en remerciant ma femme pour le dîner. ” Qu’en est-il résulté ? “ Mes deux filles l’ont remarqué, et cela leur a fait prendre conscience de l’importance de se montrer reconnaissant ”, dit-il. Si vous êtes marié, remerciez-vous régulièrement votre conjoint pour les tâches quotidiennes qu’il accomplit et qui auraient vite fait de passer inaperçues ? Dites-vous merci à vos enfants, même lorsqu’ils font ce qu’on attend d’eux ?
      2) L’éducation. Le sentiment de reconnaissance est comme une fleur. Il a besoin d’être cultivé pour produire les meilleurs résultats possibles. Comment les parents peuvent-ils aider leurs enfants à cultiver et à exprimer de la reconnaissance ? Le sage roi Salomon a mis en évidence un principe clé lorsqu’il a écrit : “ Le cœur du juste médite pour répondre. ” — Proverbes 15:28.
      Pouvez-vous apprendre à vos enfants à songer aux efforts et à la générosité qui ont précédé chaque cadeau qu’ils reçoivent ? Ce genre de réflexion constitue le sol dans lequel la gratitude s’enracine. Maria, qui a élevé trois enfants, constate : “ Cela prend du temps d’expliquer à ses enfants tout ce que signifie recevoir un cadeau : qu’une personne a pensé à eux en particulier et qu’elle a souhaité leur montrer à quel point elle s’intéresse à eux. Mais je suis convaincue que ça en vaut la peine. ” Grâce à de tels échanges, les enfants apprennent non seulement quoi dire pour exprimer leur reconnaissance, mais aussi pourquoi ils doivent le faire.
      Il est sage, pour des parents, de faire en sorte que leurs enfants n’aient pas le sentiment que tout ce qu’ils reçoivent de bon leur revient, finalement, de droit. L’avertissement figurant en Proverbes 29:21 à propos de la manière de traiter son serviteur s’applique tout autant aux enfants : “ Si l’on gâte son serviteur dès sa jeunesse, par la suite dans sa vie il deviendra un ingrat. ”
      Comment aider de très jeunes enfants à témoigner de la reconnaissance ? Linda, mère de trois enfants, explique : “ Mon mari et moi avons encouragé nos enfants à s’associer à nous quand nous écrivions des cartes de remerciement, en y joignant un dessin ou en les signant. ” Naturellement, le dessin sera peut-être simple, et l’écriture approximative, mais la leçon que les enfants tireront de ce geste restera gravée en eux.
      3) La persévérance. Nous avons tous une tendance innée à l’égoïsme, qui risque d’étouffer en nous tout élan de gratitude (Genèse 8:21 ; Matthieu 15:19). Mais la Bible adresse aux serviteurs de Dieu cette exhortation : “ Vous devez être renouvelés dans la force qui anime votre intelligence et revêtir la personnalité nouvelle qui a été créée selon la volonté de Dieu. ” — Éphésiens 4:23, 24.
      Les parents expérimentés savent, toutefois, qu’aider les enfants à “ revêtir la personnalité nouvelle ” est plus facile à dire qu’à faire. Stephen, cité plus haut, déclare : “ Il nous semblait que nos filles mettaient du temps à dire spontanément merci, sans qu’on ait besoin de le leur rappeler. ” Mais lui et sa femme n’ont pas abandonné. “ Notre persévérance a payé, poursuit Stephen : nos filles ont retenu la leçon. Aujourd’hui, nous sommes fiers de la manière dont elles manifestent leur gratitude aux autres. ”
      Envers les amis et le prochain
      Lorsque nous oublions de dire merci, ce n’est pas forcément par manque de reconnaissance, mais parfois simplement par négligence. En définitive, du moment que nous éprouvons de la gratitude, est-il si important que cela de l’exprimer ? Pour répondre à cette question, considérons ce qui s’est passé un jour où Jésus a guéri des lépreux.
      Alors qu’il se rendait à Jérusalem, Jésus a rencontré dix hommes atteints de lèpre. La Bible relate : “ Ils élevèrent la voix et dirent : ‘ Jésus, Instructeur, aie pitié de nous ! ’ Et lorsqu’il les vit, il leur dit : ‘ Allez vous montrer aux prêtres. ’ Or, comme ils s’en allaient, leur purification eut lieu. L’un d’eux, quand il vit qu’il était guéri, revint sur ses pas, glorifiant Dieu d’une voix forte. Et il tomba sur sa face aux pieds de Jésus, en le remerciant ; or, c’était un Samaritain. ” — Luc 17:11-16.
      Jésus n’a-t-il accordé aucune importance au fait que les autres n’aient pas exprimé de gratitude ? Le récit poursuit : “ En réponse Jésus dit : ‘ Les dix ont été purifiés, n’est-ce pas ? Où sont donc les neuf autres ? Ne s’est-il trouvé personne pour revenir rendre gloire à Dieu, que cet homme d’une autre nation ? ’ ” — Luc 17:17, 18.
      Les neuf autres lépreux n’étaient pas des hommes méchants. Auparavant, ils avaient ouvertement exprimé leur foi en Jésus et avaient suivi de bon gré ses instructions, qui exigeaient qu’ils se rendent à Jérusalem pour se montrer aux prêtres. Or, même s’ils ont indéniablement éprouvé une profonde gratitude pour ce que Jésus avait fait, ils ne la lui ont pas exprimée. Leur comportement a déçu Christ. Et nous ? Quand quelqu’un se montre bon à notre égard, sommes-nous prompts à dire merci et, si cela s’y prête, à lui montrer notre reconnaissance en lui envoyant une petite carte ?
      La Bible dit que l’amour “ ne fait rien d’inconvenant. Il ne cherche pas son propre intérêt ”. (1 Corinthiens 13:5, Bible du Semeur.) Par conséquent, un témoignage de reconnaissance donné avec sincérité non seulement traduit un respect des convenances, mais aussi est une preuve d’amour. Comme nous l’apprend l’exemple des lépreux, ceux qui souhaitent plaire à Christ doivent exprimer un tel amour et une telle reconnaissance à tous, indépendamment de leur nationalité, de leur race ou de leur religion.
      Posez-vous la question : ‘ Quand ai-je pour la dernière fois remercié un voisin, un collègue de travail, un camarade de classe, un membre du personnel hospitalier, un commerçant ou qui que ce soit d’autre qui me soit venu en aide ? ’ Pourquoi ne pas noter pendant un jour ou deux le nombre de fois où vous dites effectivement merci ou exprimez votre reconnaissance d’une façon ou d’une autre  ? Peut-être verrez-vous la nécessité de vous améliorer dans certains domaines.
      Bien entendu, celui qui mérite le plus de remerciements de notre part, c’est Jéhovah Dieu. De lui vient “ tout beau don et tout présent parfait ”. (Jacques 1:17.) À quand remonte la dernière fois où vous avez sincèrement remercié Dieu pour avoir fait quelque chose de particulier en votre faveur ? — 1 Thessaloniciens 5:17, 18.
      Pourquoi se montrer reconnaissant même quand les autres sont ingrats ?
      Nos témoignages de reconnaissance ne seront pas forcément payés de retour. Par conséquent, pourquoi manifester notre gratitude si nous sommes les seuls à le faire ? Arrêtons-nous simplement sur une bonne raison d’agir ainsi.
      Faire du bien à ceux qui ne sont pas enclins à la gratitude, c’est imiter notre Créateur bienveillant, Jéhovah Dieu. Que beaucoup ne soient pas sensibles à l’amour que Jéhovah leur témoigne ne l’empêche pas de leur faire du bien (Romains 5:8 ; 1 Jean 4:9, 10). Il fait “ lever son soleil sur les méchants et sur les bons et [...] fait pleuvoir sur les justes et sur les injustes ”. Si, bien que vivant dans un monde ingrat, nous nous efforçons d’éprouver et d’exprimer de la gratitude, nous nous montrerons “ fils de [notre] Père qui est dans les cieux ”. — Matthieu 5:45.

      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Enracinons nous dans la foi comme un arbre luxuriant.
      EN ISRAËL pousse un arbre presque indestructible. Même lorsqu’on l’abat, sa souche ne tarde pas à produire de nouvelles pousses. Par ailleurs, ses fruits fournissent une grande quantité d’huile utile tant pour la cuisine et l’éclairage que pour l’hygiène et les soins de beauté.
      Selon une parabole des temps bibliques consignée dans le livre des Juges, “ un jour les arbres s’en allèrent pour oindre un roi sur eux ”. Quel arbre choisirent-ils ? Le résistant et fertile olivier. — Juges 9:8.
      Il y a plus de 3 500 ans, le prophète Moïse décrivait Israël comme “ un bon pays, [...] un pays d’olives ”. (Deutéronome 8:7, 8.) Aujourd’hui encore, du pied du mont Hermôn à la campagne de Béershéba en passant par la plaine côtière du Sharôn, les pentes rocailleuses de la Samarie et les vallées fertiles de la Galilée, le paysage est parsemé d’oliveraies du nord au sud.
      Les rédacteurs de la Bible ont souvent parlé de l’olivier dans un sens figuré pour illustrer, par exemple, la miséricorde de Dieu, la promesse de la résurrection ou encore le bonheur familial. L’examen de quelques-unes de ses caractéristiques nous aidera à mieux comprendre ces références et à apprécier cet arbre exceptionnel qui fait honneur au Créateur. — Psaume 148:7, 9.
      Un arbre robuste
      L’olivier n’est pas spécialement impressionnant à première vue. Il n’a pas la majesté des vertigineux cèdres du Liban, son bois n’a pas la qualité du genévrier ni ses fleurs la beauté de celles de l’amandier (Chant de Salomon 1:17 ; Amos 2:9). En fait, sa partie la plus importante demeure invisible, puisque le secret de sa résistance et de sa grande prolificité réside dans ses longues racines, qui peuvent s’enfoncer jusqu’à six mètres sous terre et rayonner plus loin encore.
      Ses racines permettent à l’olivier poussant sur des versants rocailleux de survivre à la sécheresse quand d’autres arbres situés au fond de la vallée sont déjà morts de soif. Elles lui permettent également de produire des olives des siècles durant, même lorsque son tronc noueux ne semble plus bon qu’à servir de bois de chauffage. Tout ce dont cet arbre rustique a besoin, c’est de place pour pousser et d’un sol aéré pour respirer, loin des mauvaises herbes et autres plantes qui peuvent abriter des parasites. Si ces conditions simples sont réunies, un seul arbre peut fournir jusqu’à 60 litres d’huile par an.
      Cette huile était manifestement appréciée des Israélites. Ils s’en servaient pour éclairer leur intérieur à l’aide de lampes à mèches, pour cuisiner, pour protéger leur peau du soleil et pour fabriquer du savon (Lévitique 24:2). Étant donné que le blé, le vin et l’olive constituaient les principales productions de la région, une mauvaise récolte d’olives était une catastrophe pour une famille israélite. — Deutéronome 7:13 ; Habaqouq 3:17.
      Cependant, en général, l’huile d’olive ne manquait pas. Sans doute Moïse a-t-il décrit la Terre promise comme “ un pays d’olives ” parce que l’olivier y était l’arbre le plus cultivé. Au XIXe siècle, le naturaliste Henry Tristram a d’ailleurs qualifié l’olivier d’arbre emblématique de la région ”. En raison de sa valeur et de sa profusion, l’huile d’olive servait même de moyen de paiement dans tout le bassin méditerranéen. De là, l’allusion de Jésus Christ à une dette de “ cent baths d’huile d’olive ”. — Luc 16:5, 6.
      “ Comme des plants d’olivier ”
      L’olivier illustre de façon appropriée les bénédictions divines. Comment l’homme qui craint Dieu serait-il récompensé ? “ Ta femme sera comme une vigne qui porte du fruit tout au fond de ta maison, a chanté un psalmiste. Tes fils seront comme des plants d’olivier autour de ta table. ” (Psaume 128:3). Que sont ces “ plants d’olivier ”, et pourquoi le psalmiste les comparait-il à des fils ?
      L’olivier a ceci de particulier que de nouvelles pousses sortent continuellement de la base de son tronc. Lorsque, en raison de son âge, le tronc principal ne produit plus autant qu’auparavant, les cultivateurs peuvent laisser plusieurs plants, ou nouvelles pousses, se développer jusqu’à devenir partie intégrante de l’arbre. Au bout d’un certain temps, trois ou quatre nouveaux troncs vigoureux entoureront celui d’origine, comme des fils autour d’une table. Ces plants issus de la même souche produisent ensemble une grande quantité d’olives.
      Cette caractéristique de l’olivier illustre bien la façon dont les fils et les filles peuvent devenir fermes dans la foi, grâce aux robustes racines spirituelles de leurs parents. En grandissant, eux aussi portent du fruit et épaulent leurs parents, qui se réjouissent de les voir servir Jéhovah à leurs côtés. — Proverbes 15:20.
      “ Il existe un espoir même pour un arbre ”
      Un père âgé qui sert Jéhovah se réjouit que ses enfants adorent Dieu. Mais quelle tristesse quand ce père finit par ‘ s’en aller par le chemin de toute la terre ’ ! (1 Rois 2:2.) La Bible nous aide à surmonter pareille douleur en nous donnant l’assurance qu’il y aura une résurrection. — Jean 5:28, 29 ; 11:25.
      Job, père de nombreux enfants, était très conscient de la brièveté de la vie, qu’il a comparée à une fleur qui se flétrit rapidement (Job 1:2 ; 14:1, 2). Job désirait la mort pour se soustraire à ses souffrances, considérant la tombe comme une cachette d’où il pourrait revenir. “ Si un homme robuste meurt, peut-il revivre ? ” a-t-il demandé. Et d’exprimer sa confiance : “ Tous les jours de ma corvée, j’attendrai, jusqu’à ce que vienne ma relève. Tu [Jéhovah] appelleras, et moi je te répondrai. Tu languiras après l’œuvre de tes mains. ” — Job 14:13-15.
      Comment Job a-t-il illustré sa conviction que Dieu le rappellerait de la tombe ? Au moyen d’un arbre, dont la description correspond apparemment à celle de l’olivier. “ Il existe un espoir même pour un arbre. Si on le coupe, il bourgeonnera encore. ” (Job 14:7). Pour peu qu’il ne soit pas déraciné, l’olivier peut effectivement être coupé sans que cela le fasse mourir. Si ses racines demeurent intactes, il repoussera avec une vigueur renouvelée.
      Même si une sécheresse prolongée dessèche profondément un vieil olivier, la souche ratatinée peut repartir. “ Si sa racine vieillit dans la terre et si sa souche meurt dans la poussière, à l’odeur de l’eau, il bourgeonnera, oui il produira une branche comme une plante nouvelle. ” (Job 14:8, 9). Job vivait dans une région aride et poussiéreuse où il avait probablement dû observer beaucoup de vieux oliviers complètement desséchés qui semblaient morts. Cependant, dès qu’arrivaient les pluies, ils revenaient à la vie, et un nouveau tronc émergeait de leurs racines “ comme une plante nouvelle ”. Cette résistance hors du commun a conduit un horticulteur tunisien à déclarer : “ Il n’est pas exagéré de dire que les oliviers sont immortels. ”
      Tout comme un cultivateur espère voir renaître ses oliviers desséchés, Jéhovah languit de ressusciter ses serviteurs. Il attend avec patience l’époque où des fidèles comme Abraham et Sara, Isaac et Rébecca, et de nombreux autres seront ramenés à la vie (Matthieu 22:31, 32). Comme il sera merveilleux d’accueillir les ressuscités et de les voir mener de nouveau une vie productive !
      L’olivier symbolique
      La miséricorde de Dieu est manifeste dans son impartialité ainsi que dans la disposition qu’est la résurrection. L’apôtre Paul s’est servi de l’olivier pour illustrer comment la miséricorde de Jéhovah s’étend aux humains indifféremment de leur race ou de leur origine. Pendant des siècles, les Juifs se sont enorgueillis d’être le peuple choisi de Dieu, “ la descendance d’Abraham ”. — Jean 8:33 ; Luc 3:8.
      Il n’était pas nécessaire d’être né au sein de la nation juive pour obtenir la faveur divine. Les premiers disciples de Jésus, cependant, étaient tous Juifs et ils ont eu le privilège de figurer parmi les premiers humains choisis par Dieu pour constituer la semence promise d’Abraham (Genèse 22:18 ; Galates 3:29). Paul les a comparés aux branches d’un olivier.
      La majorité des Juifs de naissance ont rejeté Jésus, se privant ainsi de la possibilité de faire partie du “ petit troupeau ”, ou “ Israël de Dieu ”. (Luc 12:32 ; Galates 6:16.) Ils sont devenus comme des branches d’olivier qui auraient été coupées. Qui allait prendre leur place ? En 36 de notre ère, des Gentils ont été choisis pour faire partie de la semence d’Abraham, comme si Jéhovah avait greffé des branches d’olivier sauvage sur un olivier domestique. La semence promise d’Abraham inclurait donc des gens des nations qui pouvaient désormais devenir ‘ participants de la racine de graisse de l’olivier ’. — Romains 11:17.
      Pour un cultivateur, greffer une branche d’olivier sauvage sur un olivier domestique serait impensable et “ contre nature ”. (Romains 11:24.) On lit dans La terre et le Livre (angl.) : “ Greffe le bon sur le sauvage, ont coutume de dire les Arabes, et il dominera le sauvage, mais tu ne pourras pas revenir en arrière. ” Les chrétiens d’origine juive ont été surpris lorsque Jéhovah, “ pour la première fois, s’est occupé des nations pour tirer d’entre elles un peuple pour son nom ”. (Actes 10:44-48 ; 15:14.) C’était la preuve évidente, toutefois, que la réalisation du dessein de Dieu ne dépendait pas d’une nation particulière. En effet, “ en toute nation l’homme qui le craint et pratique la justice est agréé de lui ”. — Actes 10:35.
      Paul a souligné que puisque les “ branches ” juives infidèles de l’olivier avaient été coupées la même chose pourrait arriver à toute personne qui, par orgueil ou désobéissance, perdrait la faveur de Jéhovah (Romains 11:19, 20). Cela montre sans l’ombre d’un doute que la faveur imméritée de Dieu ne devrait jamais être considérée comme définitivement acquise. — 2 Corinthiens 6:1.
      Enduire d’huile
      Les Écritures mentionnent l’utilisation de l’huile d’olive non seulement au sens littéral, mais également au sens figuré. Dans les temps anciens, les blessures et les contusions étaient “ adoucies avec de l’huile ” pour accélérer la cicatrisation (Isaïe 1:6). D’après un exemple de Jésus, le bon Samaritain a versé de l’huile et du vin sur les blessures de l’homme qu’il avait trouvé sur la route de Jéricho. — Luc 10:34.
      L’application d’huile sur la tête est rafraîchissante et relaxante (Psaume 141:5). Lorsqu’ils ont à traiter un cas de faiblesse spirituelle, les anciens peuvent ‘ enduire d’huile un membre de la congrégation, au nom de Jéhovah ’. (Jacques 5:14.) Leurs conseils bibliques pleins d’amour et leurs prières sincères en faveur de leur compagnon sont comparables à de l’huile versée sur des plaies. Détail révélateur, en hébreu, “ huile d’olive pure ” est une expression imagée qui sert à désigner un homme bon.
      “ Un olivier luxuriant dans la maison de Dieu ”
      Compte tenu de ce qui précède, il n’est pas surprenant que les serviteurs de Dieu puissent être comparés à des oliviers. David désirait ressembler à “ un olivier luxuriant dans la maison de Dieu ”. (Psaume 52:8.) Tout comme les familles israélites avaient souvent des oliviers autour de leur maison, David souhaitait être proche de Jéhovah pour produire du fruit à sa louange. — Psaume 52:9.
      Tant qu’il est resté fidèle à Jéhovah, le royaume de Juda était comme un “ olivier luxuriant, beau par le fruit et par la forme ”. (Jérémie 11:15, 16.) Mais ses habitants ont perdu leur position privilégiée lorsqu’ils ‘ ont refusé d’obéir aux paroles de Jéhovah et ont marché à la suite d’autres dieux ’. — Jérémie 11:10.
      Pour devenir comme des oliviers luxuriants dans la maison de Dieu, nous devons obéir à Jéhovah et accepter de bon gré la discipline par laquelle il nous “ taille ”, afin que nous puissions porter davantage de fruit en œuvres chrétiennes (Hébreux 12:5, 6). En outre, tout comme un olivier doit avoir de longues racines pour survivre à une période de sécheresse, nous devons fortifier nos racines spirituelles pour endurer les épreuves et la persécution. — Matthieu 13:21 ; Colossiens 2:6, 7.
      L’olivier symbolise bien le chrétien fidèle, inconnu du monde mais connu de Dieu. S’il vient à mourir dans ce système, il reviendra à la vie dans le monde nouveau à venir. — 2 Corinthiens 6:9 ; 2 Pierre 3:13.
      L’olivier, presque indestructible, qui continue de donner du fruit année après année nous rappelle la promesse de Dieu : “ Les jours de mon peuple seront comme les jours d’un arbre ; et ceux que j’ai choisis profiteront pleinement de l’œuvre de leurs mains. ” (Isaïe 65:22). Cette promesse prophétique s’accomplira dans le monde nouveau de Dieu. — 2 Pierre 3:13.


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