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    • By Isabella
      f 21 Jehovah's Witnesses convicted of "extremism" charges since late July 2020, six were given jail terms and 13 suspended sentences. Receiving a suspended sentence means a convicted person must live under restrictions specified by the judge, regularly register with probation authorities, and avoid conviction for any other offence during the probationary period or risk being sent to prison. "A suspended sentence means that you need to live under stress for many years," Jehovah's Witnesses note.
      A total of 21 Jehovah's Witnesses have been convicted of "extremism" charges since late July 2020. They include the oldest Jehovah's Witness yet to be found guilty of alleged extremism offences (at the age of 73). Among the punishments imposed are both the largest fine and the longest suspended sentences since prosecutions began following the 2017 liquidation of the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre.
       
      Six of the 21 have received jail terms. The four defendants in one case in Bryansk Region will not be imprisoned as they had already served the time in pre-trial detention. Two men in another case in Kemerovo Region, however, will spend more than a year in jail if their appeal is unsuccessful.

      Thirteen of the 21 have received suspended sentences, most recently Sergey Ledenyov in Kamchatka on 24 November. The two others were given large fines (see below).

      Although not enough cases have ended to draw any definitive conclusions, it appears that, in 2020, courts have been moving towards suspended sentences for Jehovah's Witnesses, although prosecutors continue to request real prison terms in most cases. It remains unclear why this might be.

      Receiving a suspended sentence means that a convicted person is not imprisoned, but must live under a set of restrictions specified by the judge, regularly register with probation authorities, and avoid conviction for any other offence during the probationary period or risk being sent to prison (see below).

      The 21 individuals convicted since July are among more than 400 Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslim readers of theologian Said Nursi's works who have been convicted, are on trial, or remain under investigation across Russia, mostly on accusations of "organising" or "participating in the activities of a banned extremist organisation".

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    • By Isabella
      Moscow — Russian authorities have carried out dozens of raids and detained several people as they pursue a new criminal case accusing the country's Jehovah's Witnesses of extremism, the national Investigative Committee said Tuesday. The Christian denomination is suspected of illegally resuming its work in Russia despite an official ban.
      The country's Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the group, founded in the United States and claiming almost 9 million followers globally, was an "extremist" organization and ordered it to disband. The decision led to the conviction of scores of followers across the country.
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    • By Isabella
      Prisoners of conscience Jehovah's Witnesses Sergei Filatov and Artyom Gerasimov are being denied letters sent to them. Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov is being denied letters sent in his own language of Crimean Tatar. He has been held for ten months in Kamenka Labour Camp's closed zone, in a cell holding 10 prisoners, but may be released in December. All were transferred illegally to jails in Russia.
      One of the three Crimean prisoners of conscience jailed in Russian labour camps for exercising freedom of religion and belief in Crimea is expected to complete his prison term at the end of December, more than three years after his October 2017 arrest. Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov has spent the ten months since January 2020 in the closed zone ("strict detention conditions") of Kamenka Labour Camp in Russia's Kabardino-Balkariya Republic.
       
      "If the labour camp has about 1,000 prisoners, the closed zone has about 10, and they are held all in one cell," relatives of Suleimanov told Forum 18. "It's like a prison within a prison." A labour camp official would not explain why Suleimanov is held in the closed zone (see below).

      Visits from relatives and friends is made difficult by the Russian authorities having moved Suleimanov so far from his home, against the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules – A/C.3/70/L.3) (see below).

      Letters from relatives have been handed on after being censored, but only if they are in Russian. Letters in the Crimean Tatar language are not given to Suleimanov, but he does have access to a copy of the Koran and can pray openly (see below).

      One of the two cases Suleimanov's lawyer lodged to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is about the illegal transfer to a Russian prison (see below).

      Even once he completes his prison term, Suleimanov will have to live under restrictions for another year, while his bank accounts will remain blocked for many more years (see below).

      "It is difficult for Renat's mother, who is in her eighties," one of Suleimanov's relatives told Forum 18. "She survived the deportation of all the Crimean Tatars [in 1944] and then to have this at the end of her life." She last met her son in a meeting in the Investigator's office in the Crimean capital Simferopol in summer 2018 (see below).

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    • By Isabella
      More than 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been charged or convicted in Russia since the country banned the religious group as an “extremist” organization three years ago, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia has said.
      Since the April 2017 ban by Russia’s Supreme Court, law enforcement officers raided the homes of 1,166 worshippers’ families, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said
      Authorities have opened 175 criminal cases into “extremism” against worshippers as of late October 2020, with 148 of them still in progress, the Christian denomination said on its website. 
      More than half of the 400 worshippers spent between several days to three years in detention while awaiting trial. Some 310 have lost their jobs, businesses, pensions and bank accounts as a result of the “extremist” label.
      Four Jehovah’s Witnesses have died while under investigation.

      The Jehovah's Witnesses religious group has been banned in Russia as an "extremist" organization since April 2017

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    • By Isabella
      The St. Petersburg prosecutor's office filed a lawsuit demanding that the JW Library application of Jehovah's Witnesses be declared extremist on Google Play and the App Store. This was reported by the press service of city courts.
      The claim was accepted for production by the Oktyabrsky District Court.
      As indicated in the lawsuit, the JW Library publishes literature recognized as extremist in Russia. This application is copyrighted by the Pennsylvania Watchtower and Tract Society. The Russian court considered this organization to be the leading one in relation to Jehovah's Witnesses.
      Application developer - Jehovah's Witnesses ("Jehovah's Witnesses"). The lawsuit noted that the developer's website www.jw.org was banned in Russia and recognized as extremist.
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    • By Isabella
      A Russian judge on Friday imposed an eight-year suspended prison sentence for a 24-year-old Jehovah’s Witness and a seven-year suspended sentence for his 27-year-old wife, capping a week that marked some relief amid continued persecution for the faith in Russia.
      An international spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses expressed gratitude that “this young couple will not need to be separated by prison bars” after the judge’s decision in Kostroma, 200 miles northeast of Moscow. The conviction comes a day after another judge in Ulyanovsk, on the Volga River, convicted six members of the persecuted faith. Those sentences were also suspended.
      “We are pleased that they were not imprisoned. Yet it remains a gross injustice for them to be convicted simply for their peaceful Christian worship,” said Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, in a statement.

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    • By Isabella
      (RNS) — A day after a Jehovah’s Witness became the first to be acquitted in Russia since a 2017 ruling declared his faith group “extremist,” six Russian members received suspended sentences for gathering for worship.
      The developments come a week after dozens of scholars from across the globe called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      The pacifist faith organization said six men and women were given suspended sentences ranging from 2 ½ to four years; in addition, they were given orders of “restricted freedom” from seven to 10 months in a court in the western city of Ulyanovsk. Freedom restrictions can include limitations on where they can travel and with whom they can associate.
      “We are pleased that they were not imprisoned, yet it remains a gross injustice for them to be convicted simply for their peaceful Christian worship,” said Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in a Thursday (Oct. 😎 statement.

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    • By Isabella
      When the knock came at the door at six in the morning, Sergei and Maria Silaev feared the worst.
      The couple first thought it was the Russian police, coming to arrest them for being Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      But it was the upstairs neighbour, telling them there was a water leak above their apartment.
      They were relieved, but after that had many anxious nights. "I couldn’t sleep," said Maria. From that moment on they knew they needed to leave Russia.
      The Silaevs life changed in 2017 when the Russian Supreme Court labelled their church an extremist organization and banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations and gatherings in that country — a ruling that forced them, and other members, to go underground and meet in secret in their homes.
      Although no official reasons have been given for the persecution, it could be because members of the church are pacifist, refuse to serve in the military, don’t vote, and won’t salute the flag or take part in other nationalistic displays of loyalty.
      According to Human Rights Watch, Russian authorities have carried out at least 780 house raids since 2017 in more than 70 towns and cities across Russia.
      Altogether, more than 300 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been charged, are on trial, or have been convicted of criminal "extremism" for practising their faith. At least 32 are in prison, with sentences ranging from two to six years for leading or participating in church meetings. There are allegations of torture.
      "For Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, practising their faith means risking their freedom," said Rachel Denber, deputy director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central.
      The Silaevs decided not to wait to see if they would be added to the list of the accused and arrested.
      In January they came to Canada as tourists, seeking refugee status after arriving. Soon after, they moved to Winnipeg to await a verdict on their claim. Speaking through a translator over Zoom, they shared their story with me.
      The Silaevs who have no children, lived in Tver, a city of about 400,000 people 200 kilometres north of Moscow. Sergei, 29, worked as a maintenance supervisor; Maria, 27, was a hairdresser and also helped her husband in his work.
      The effects of the persecution were felt gradually, they said, starting with a ban on the New World Translation, the version of the Bible used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The couple got rid of their printed version, but kept a copy on their computer.
      This made Maria sad. "I enjoyed turning the pages and reading it," she said of her physical copy of the Bible.
      Then there was a ban on door-to-door and street witnessing — a hallmark of the church, in that country and around the world.
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    • By Isabella
      A day after the Russian FSB carried out armed searches in occupied Sevastopol, four Jehovah’s Witnesses have been arrested and remanded in custody for two months.  Although Yevhen Zhukov; Volodymyr Maladyka; Volodymyr Sakada and Ihor Schmidt are accused of ‘organizing the work of an extremist organization’ (under Article 282.2 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code), the charges pertain solely to their peaceful practising of their faith, and all are undoubtedly political prisoners.
      Early on 1 October, the FSB and other enforcement officers burst into the homes of nine Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sevastopol.  Five people were detained – the men now in custody and Volodymyr Maladyka’s wife, Natalya.  She was later released, and for the moment has ‘witness status’. She later told Graty that her husband rejects the charges and calls the search of their home unlawful.  She is planning to appeal against her husband’s detention.  Zhukov was identified on Russian official documents in 2015 as the head of the ‘local Christian religious organization the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sevastopol’.  This was one of two Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations in occupied Sevastopol that were forcibly dissolved after Russia reverted to Soviet repressive ways and banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses on 20 April 2017. 
      A similar ‘operation’ took place in the evening of 4 June 2019, with at least nine homes targeted then also.  On that occasion, 52-year-old Viktor Stashevsky was arrested.  He was released from custody the following day, but charged under Article 282.2, part 1 – organizing what Russia calls an ‘extremist organization’.
      His ‘case’ was passed to a Russian-controlled court in Crimea on 23 February 2020.  The indictment claims that Stashevsky was “the ideological force behind an extremist organization” and that he “deliberately undertook active measures of an organizational nature in order to continue the unlawful actives of an extremist organization banned by a court.”
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    • By Isabella
      A group of 50 religion scholars from around the world is calling on President Vladimir Putin and his administration to end the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.
      The scholars' statement, released Thursday, follows the Center for Studies on New Religions’ one-day conference, “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Opponents: Russia, the West, and Beyond,” held online from Vilnius, Lithuania, in early September.
      “As institutions and individuals concerned with religious freedom, we have followed the events in Russia with increasing alarm,” the CESNUR statement reads.
      Among those events is a reported armed raid of 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’s Voronezh region in July that the scholars call the “largest number of coordinated raids on Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern Russia” and an “escalation” in the persecution of Witnesses in the country.
      More than 170 Jehovah’s Witnesses have reportedly been imprisoned or put in pre-trial detention in Russia since 2017 for practicing their faith.

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    • By Isabella
      The report details human rights violations in Crimea by the Russian occupying power against Crimean Tatars, including torture, forced confessions and the suppression of religious practice for several groups, including Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Messianic groups.
      Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Emine Dzhaparova corroborates the U.N. report. As a Crimean Tartar herself, she is particularly critical of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and of its alleged repressive actions to shut down the voices of dissent.

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    • By Isabella
      September 17, 2020 (Family Research Council) — When Seo Jin Wook met with a small group in a private home in Izhevsk, Russia to share the gospel with them, he had no idea it would lead to his deportation and an approximately $400 fine by the Russian government. Yet, under a so-called "anti-extremism" law passed in 2016, this is the new normal for religious people in Russia looking to share their faith.
      The vague nature of the law means anyone is at risk of violating it.
      Earlier this month, Nikita Glazunov was fined by a court in Kazan, Russia for organizing a Catholic Mass in a hotel conference hall. He was charged in part for inviting what the court called a "foreign preacher" to celebrate Mass without written authorization to engage in missionary activity.
      Glazunov is one of at least 42 people who have been prosecuted for missionary activity in Russia in the first half of 2020 alone.
      Russia's consistent violations of religious freedom drew the attention of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a hearing on Wednesday. USCIRF has recommended that Russia be designated a Country of Particular Concern by the State Department this year due to the country's repressive policies.
      Unfortunately, the legacy of the Soviet Union's attitude toward religious groups lingers in contemporary Russia. At the hearing, Elizabeth Clark described the Russian government's attitude toward religions by saying the "Soviet-era view of religion as permissible so long as it supports the state continues..."
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    • By Srecko Sostar
      3) We do not lobby, vote in political elections, run for government office, or try to change governments. …Otherwise, how could we have a clean conscience when we preach the good news that only God’s Kingdom can solve mankind’s problems? source: 
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      lobby verb [ I or T ]  UK  /ˈlɒb.i/ US  /ˈlɑː.bi/
      C2 to try to persuade a politician, the government, or an official group that a particular thing should or should not happen, or that a law should be changed:

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      Recent example how WT Company and JW members participated in "lobbying" was writing letters to Russian Government and their politicians. 
    • By ARchiv@L
      The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants to heighten attention to this critical situation,” states David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters
       
    • By Isabella
      Acourt in Russia has convicted and fined a Jehovah's Witnesses follower amid growing global concern over a campaign of persecution in the country against adherents of the religion.
      Russia's Supreme Court ruled the religion as an extremist organization in April 2017 and since then, the group has complained that authorities have raided more than 1,000 properties of its followers. There are 372 believers under criminal investigation and 43 people are in prison—including 10 who have been convicted of extremism.
      Yevgeniy Spirin, 34, had spent 160 days in pretrial detention and had been under house arrest from July 5, 2019, before his sentence was handed down on Tuesday on charges of organizing the activities of an extremist organization.
      The Furmanovsky City Court in the Ivanovo Region convicted Spirin and fined him 500,000 Russian rubles ($6,920). Spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses, Jarrod Lopes, said the conviction was "in complete disregard for the religious freedom enshrined in Russia's Constitution."

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    • By Isabella
      The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned about the situation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian Federation. As we said on 12 March, the ruling of the Russian Supreme Court in July 2017, which rejected the appeal against the decision to categorise Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremists”, criminalised the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens and contravened the right to religious freedom that is enshrined in the Russian Constitution, and in multiple OSCE commitments.
      It is with deep regret that we learned that on 13 July, 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were simultaneously searched by Russian authorities in the cities of Voronezh and Stary Oskol. Thirteen Jehovah’s Witnesses were detained at the time and two individuals were reportedly beaten during a home search.
      The total number of homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses that have been searched by Russian law enforcement authorities now stands at over 1,000. As we noted in March, home raids are often conducted in the early hours of the morning by large numbers of masked and armed police.
      We repeat our concern that the increasing number of searches, as well as use of simultaneous large-scale home raids, creates the impression of an organised campaign of persecution against Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      So-called “evidence” used against those investigated and prosecuted includes regular aspects of communal religious life. We again remind the Russian Federation of our extensive commitments on freedom of religion or belief, including from Vienna 1989, as well as Kyiv 2013, where States committed to:
      Fully implement their commitments to ensure the right of all individuals to profess and practice religion or belief, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, and to manifest their religion or belief through teaching, practice, worship and observance, including through transparent and non-discriminatory laws, regulations, practices and policies;
      For three years now, the delegation of the Russian Federation has assured the Permanent Council that individual Jehovah’s Witnesses are able to practice their religion at home, as no permission is required to pray in Russia. However, we have witnessed time and again that any manifestation of their faith by Jehovah’s Witnesses can result in the search of their homes, lengthy detention, criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
      We again call on the Russian Federation to end the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and to uphold the commitments on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief for all individuals across the Russian Federation.

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      #uk
       
    • By Isabella
      The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom publishes a document against Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin and his organization FECRIS, both supporters of religious persecution in China.
      On July 17, 2020, the USCIRF, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, unveiled a new document, whose title is “The  Anti-cult  Movement  and Religious  Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.” The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its Commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties. 
      The title may indicate that the document does not concern China, and in fact its main focus is Russia. However, there are three important connections between the new USCIRF report and China.
      First, the report offers a detailed and accurate analysis of the activities of Alexander Dvorkin, a Russian activist who has led for almost thirty years campaigns against religious movements he has labeled as “cults.” As the report documents, he has been instrumental in preparing the repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, and has attacked many other religious minorities. The USCIRF asks the government of the United States to “publicly censure Alexander Dvorkin and [his organization], the Saint Irenaeus of Lyon Information-Consultation Center (SILIC), for their ongoing disinformation campaign against religious minorities.”
      The report mentions Dvorkin’s activities outside of Russia. Although this part of his “disinformation campaigns” is not mentioned by the USCIRF, Dvorkin has regularly supported the CCP in its repression of movements labeled as xie jiao. Dvorkin went repeatedly to China and Hong Kong to offer his support to the persecution of Falun Gong, to deny that the CCP is harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, and to applaud the repression of The Church of Almighty God. In turn, the CCP has supported Dvorkin’s campaigns against the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, and “imported” them to China. While the CCP has introduced Dvorkin as an authoritative “Russian expert in sect studies,” the USCIRF report exposes him as a pseudo-expert “relying on discredited theories” and promoting religious intolerance and discrimination.
      Second, Dvorkin, as the USCIRF report notes, has been active internationally as vice-president of a transnational anti-cult organization known as FECRIS, the European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sectarianism. FECRIS is also notorious for the support several of its members, in addition to Dvorkin, have offered to the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong in China. In turn, the CCP’s Anti-xie-jiao association has advertised and republished reports by the FECRIS against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups. The more one investigates, the more one discovers a two-way relationship between FECRIS (and Dvorkin) and Chinese organizations who promote and justify the bloody persecution of Falun Gong, The Church of Almighty God, and other religious movements.
       
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    • By Isabella
      Russian authorities have detained a man in western Siberia “on suspicion of setting up a cell” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group, considered an “extremist” organization under Russian law, state-run news agency TASS reported on Wednesday.
      Police detained the man recently in Seversk, a town in western Siberia’s Tomsk region. Investigators say the man and others affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses “organized meetings in 2017-2020, disseminated ‘extremist’ literature, and recruited new members” to the organization.
      In a statement released on Wednesday, the Russian Investigative Committee’s press service said:
      Investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee in the Tomsk Region based on the case files of the Federal Security Service and the Internal Affairs Ministry in the Tomsk Region opened a criminal case into … the activities of an extremist organization in the city of Seversk… The alleged organizer of the extremist organization’s activities was detained. He has been charged, the issue of choosing a restriction measure against him is being decided.
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    • By Isabella
      As part of the case, ten people are suspected of running a local religious organization affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses
      VORONEZH, July 15. /TASS/. The Leninsky District Court in the Central Russian city of Voronezh ruled to place in custody until September members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, outlawed in Russia, the court’s press service said on Tuesday.
      "The court has chosen a pretrial custody for 1 month and 22 days, or until 03.09.2020 <...> as a measure of pretrial restraint for the individuals suspected of extremist activity," the statement says.
      As part of the case, ten people are suspected of running a local religious organization headlined ‘Tsentralnaya, Voronezh.’ The organization, active in Voronezh and surrounding districts, is a part of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses, earlier deemed extremist and outlawed by the Russian Supreme Court.
      The suspects are aged between 24 and 56. They were detained after more than 110 searches, during which large amounts of books and other prohibited printing works were seized.
      On April 20, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses and all affiliated regional organizations an extremist organization. The organization’s activities are outlawed in Russia.

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    • By Isabella
      Russian authorities armed with assault rifles raided 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Voronezh Region on July 13, 2020, according to an official press release by the Voronezh Region Investigative Committee. This is the largest series of raids conducted in one day on Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern Russia. Preliminary reports from my colleagues indicates that at least two Witnesses were beaten.
      Some Witnesses reported that when the officers stormed into their houses to conduct the searches, they would force people to the ground and press their faces to the floor. Additionally, the law enforcement officers did not wear masks or take any precautions against the spread of COVID-19.
      Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, states: “This month, the total number of Witnesses’ homes raided has surged to over 1,000 since 2017. For reasons passing understanding, heavily armed officers—as if being deployed for combat—are storming into the homes of peaceful Christians, many of whom are elderly. Human rights advocates and international judicial bodies continue to publicly condemn Russia for targetting Jehovah’s Witnesses. We hope Russian leaders will halt the persecution and uphold the freedom of religion and belief that is enshrined in its Constitution.”
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    • By Isabella
      Article 6 of the Russian Constitution states that individuals cannot be stripped of their citizenship. Kim (and, more recently, two jailed Jehovah's Witnesses), however, was deprived of his Russian citizenship on the basis of an amendment to Article 22 of the 2002 Citizenship Law which entered legal force on 1 September 2017.
       
      Article 22 states that citizenship can be annulled if it was awarded on the basis of forged documents or "false information". The 2017 amendment added that conviction under particular articles of the Criminal Code, including Article 282.2 ("Organising" or "Participating in the activities of a banned extremist organisation", with which Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslim readers of Nursi's works are most commonly charged) and Article 282.3 ("Financing extremist activity", with which many Jehovah's Witnesses have also been charged), is taken as equivalent to knowingly presenting false information in a citizenship application.

      As a result, therefore, authorities may annul the citizenship of a person who has been found guilty of one of these offences, and who acquired Russian citizenship by naturalisation (rather than by birth).

      "This law on the annulment of citizenship is vicious," Alexander Verkhovsky, Director of the SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis, commented to Forum 18 from Moscow on 8 July. "It assumes that the person, when applying for citizenship, was already going to undermine the constitutional order, and in this sense gave false information about themselves, and therefore the decision to grant citizenship is invalid."

      Verkhovsky pointed out that a person then could change their views over time. "They might not even have imagined that their views imply a change to the constitutional order," he added.
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    • By Isabella
      In the third jailing in Russian-occupied Crimea on "extremism" charges to punish the exercise of freedom of religion and belief, Jehovah's Witness Artyom Gerasimov was jailed for six years after a prosecutor appealed against an earlier fine. Jailed earlier were Muslim Renat Suleimanov for four years and Jehovah's Witness Sergei Filatov for six years. Like Suleimanov and Filatov, Gerasimov expects to be sent to a prison in Russia.
      For the third time, a court in Russian-occupied Crimea has jailed an individual on "extremism" charges to punish the exercise of freedom of religion or belief. After an appeal by the prosecutor, on 4 June Crimea's Supreme Court changed the punishment imposed on 35-year-old Artyom Gerasimov from a fine of two years' average wages to a six-year jail term. He was arrested in the courtroom. He was the second Crimean Jehovah's Witness to be jailed.
       
      The decision to make prisoner of conscience Gerasimov's punishment harsher without sending the case for a retrial is the first such instance in any Jehovah's Witness case in Crimea, or in Russia within its internationally recognised borders.

      The first such jailing for exercising freedom of religion and belief was Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov. In January 2019 a Simferopol court jailed him for four years on "extremism"-related charges for meeting openly in mosques with three friends to discuss their faith.
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    • By Isabella
      Today the Crimean Supreme Court sentenced Artem Gerasimov to six years in prison for his peaceful Christian worship as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
      He was seeking acquittal from his original sentence by the Yalta City Court, which was a fine for 400,000 rubles.
      Today's ruling immediately came into force and Artem was taken into custody.
      Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, states: "Today's ruling by the Crimean Supreme Court brings religious persecution to a new level of cruelty.
      Since the 2017 Russian Supreme Court's ruling that effectively banned Jehovah's Witnesses, this is the first time an appeal has resulted in a more severe punishment.
      This bleak development in Crimea is the latest example of Russia exporting its patently extreme religious intolerance.
      Human rights advocates across the globe have publicly criticized Russia for its baseless attack on Jehovah's Witnesses, internationally recognized as peaceful, societally responsible Christians.
      We hope that senior officials in Russia will soon correct the injustice being doled out in their local courts and that judges in Crimea will follow suit.
      " Artem is the second one of Jehovah's Witnesses to be imprisoned in Crimea under Russian law.
      Artem's new sentence now matches the sentence of Sergey Filatov, who was likewise convicted on March 5, 2020, but by the Dzhankoysky District Court.

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    • By Isabella
      A Russian-controlled ‘court’ in occupied Crimea has rejected the appeal brought by Serhiy Filatov, a 47-year-old Jehovah’s Witness from Dzhankoy, against his six-year prison sentence for practising his faith.  Russia has now not only reinstated Soviet persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but is breaching international law by applying such repressive measures on illegally occupied territory.
      The hearing before ‘judge’ Edward Belousov, of the Crimean High Court, was held on 26 May behind closed doors.  This was due to restrictions over the pandemic but did mean that Filatov, who took part by video link from the SIZO [remand prison] was deprived of the chance to see his family and all those who would have wished to show their support.  
      The closed hearing also makes it unclear whether Belousov made any pretence of examining the appeal.  This seems unlikely since he upheld the manifestly wrongful six-year sentence in a medium security prison colony handed down on 5 March 2020 by ‘judge’ Maria Yermakova, from the Dzhankoy District Court.  The sentence also includes a five-year ban on engaging in educational work involving public addresses or publications in the media or posting information in the media or Internet, as well as a one-year term of restricted liberty after the prison term.  
      Filatov was found to have prayed, together with others, in his own home, which the Russian-controlled prosecutor and court chose to view as “undermining constitutional order and state security”.  He was charged under Article 282.2 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code which punishes for something termed ‘organization of the activities of an extremist organization.”   Russia treats the presumption of innocence with the same contempt it shows religious freedom, and Filatov was swiftly added to Russia’s notorious ‘list of extremists and terrorists’, with this bringing serious economic restrictions.  He was not, however, held in detention, and was taken into custody after the sentence was announced on 5 March.  He has been held at the Simferopol SIZO [remand prison], where the overcrowding, filth and unsanitary conditions are a danger to life and health.  Now that the appeal has failed, he may be moved, in violation this time also of the European Court of Human Rights, to Russia.

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    • By Isabella
      On May 6, 2020, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention prepared a decision concerning 18 believers in Russia. The Group considers the cases brought against them to be unlawful, urges authorities to immediately release those arrested, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, and to “take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of their rights.”
      The authoritative UN body considered the complaint of eighteen Russian believers from Volgograd, Kemerovo, Smolensk, Penza, Perm and Novozybkov. Ten of them were arrested and detained in the pre-trial detention center: Andrey Magliv, Igor Yegozaryan, Ruslan Korolev, Vladimir Kulyasov, Valery Rogozin, Valery Shalev, Tatiana Shamsheva, Olga Silayeva, Alexander Solovyov and Denis Timoshin.
      According to 15-page decision No. 10/2020, none of the cases examined had a basis for criminal prosecution and they should all be closed immediately. The cases were brought "only because [the accused] peacefully practised their religious beliefs, including carrying religious texts and the Bible, gathered together in worship services with fellow believers" (para. 67).
      Paragraph 71 of the document states: "All 18 people ... were accused of various forms of 'extremist activity. However, in the Working Group's opinion, none of the activities described can be interpreted as such. Furthermore, no information has been submitted to the Working Group and the Working Group itself cannot establish any reasons that might justify restricting the rights of the 18 individuals concerned under article 18 of the [International] Covenant [on Civil and Political Rights]. The Working Group considers that all the activities in which they participated were a peaceful way of exercising the right to freedom of religion in accordance with article 18 of the Covenant. Such activities were the only basis for the detention and trial of all 18 individuals".
      Paragraph 80 stresses that "the actions of the 18 named individuals were peaceful, and there is no evidence that any of them, or any of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia at all, have ever resorted to violence or called others to violence".
      The decision repeats that there is a "systematic and institutionalized persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses" in Russia (clause 78). The same wording was used in the decision of 1 October 2019 concerning Vladimir Alushkin of Penza and in the decision of 3 May 2019 concerning Dmitry Mikhailov of Shuia (Ivanovo Region). Thus, this is the third opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in relation to Russian Jehovah's Witnesses. In all cases the UN representatives rejected the connection of Jehovah's Witnesses with extremism.
      The Working Group also calls for the release from detention of those detained in pretrial detention facilities, as there is a high risk of COVID-19 contamination with limited medical assistance (para. 84).
      In paragraph 85, the Working Group calls for "a full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the arbitrary deprivation of liberty" of believers and "to take appropriate action against those responsible".
      The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the body designed to investigate cases of detention that are not in conformity with the international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. The Working Group is entitled to receive information from the authorities and non-governmental organizations and to meet with detainees and their families in order to establish the facts. The Working Group presents its findings and recommendations to Governments as well as to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Although the decisions of the Working Group are not binding on States, they may contribute to weakening the position of the authorities in a context of wide international publicity.
      According to the legal position of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation as expressed in Decision No. 1276-O of 9 June 2015, the Russian Federation, as a State governed by the rule of law, cannot ignore, without avoiding the legal consequences, the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention containing conclusions on the arbitrary detention and criminal prosecution of citizens.

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    • By Isabella
      Of the 87 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial in 39 cases for "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" for exercising freedom of religion or belief, 85-year-old Yelena Zayshchuk is the oldest. Five fellow defendants in her case are in their sixties or seventies. All face up to six years' imprisonment if convicted. Two defendants in their sixties died in April before trials began.
      At least 18 of the 87 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial on charges of "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief are in their sixties, seventies or eighties. Another defendant died in Kirov in April shortly before the first full hearing was due in his trial. Another man died in Smolensk in April after investigators submitted the case against him to prosecutors and before it reached court. Both those who died were in their sixties.
       
       
      The oldest defendant is 85-year-old Yelena Zayshchuk, whom the FSB security service took in for questioning after raiding her home in Vladivostok in April 2018. Her family "do not understand why they are persecuting an elderly and sick person who has done nothing wrong to anyone", Jehovah's Witnesses commented (see below).

      Among the other six on trial with Zayshchuk is Nina Purge, who is due to be 80 on 19 June. Four of the other defendants are women in their sixties or seventies. The Judge has sent the case back to prosecutors (see below).

      Yury Geraskov, who died in Kirov at the age of 64, had not spent any time in detention, but "stress connected with persecution for his faith had negatively affected Yury's health", Jehovah's Witnesses noted (see below).

      Viktor Malkov, who died in Smolensk at the age of 61, had spent eight months in detention and nearly four months under house arrest. He had suffered from coronary heart disease and kidney problems. "Viktor's health was largely influenced by poor conditions in pre-trial detention centres and the stress associated with criminal prosecution", Jehovah's Witnesses noted (see below).

      Sergey Mysin is on trial in Ulyanovsk despite serious health concerns. Jehovah's Witnesses say he was discharged early from intensive care in October 2019 after FSB security service officers went to the hospital to insist on his treatment being stopped. The Ulyanovsk Region FSB refused to answer any questions from Forum 18 on the incident (see below).

      Two of the other defendants are men who have already been convicted in another, overlapping trial (see below).

      Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there is no sign of early release, however, for those Jehovah's Witnesses currently in pre-trial detention. Several are worried about the danger of contracting the disease (see below).

      The Moscow-based Public Verdict human rights group warns of poor conditions in Russian prisons, such as "overcrowding, poor ventilation, lack of medical staff, poor medical care, and serious health problems, including chronic conditions and lowered immunity among inmates and staff alike" (see below).

      Nina Purge
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    • By Isabella
      Aleksandr is married, has two daughters and eight grandchildren. He has two accreditations. He mastered the trades of lathe worker, forging and manufacturing; worked as a lumberjack and as an engineer. Having become a Christian, Aleksandr Ivshin refused to participate in military training. Now he is under persecution as an ”extremist.”

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    • By Isabella
      More than 4,000 prisoners of concentration camps wore purple triangles on their chests. Because of their faith, they refused to salute Hitler, pick up weapons and fight. On the 75th anniversary of the liberation, the peace-loving Jehovah’s Witnesses are again in prison, this time in Russia. How did the liberating country become an oppressor?

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    • By Isabella
      According to data on May 4, 2020, Feliks Makhammadiyev, who had a damaged lung, is recovering in the prison hospital; the threat to life has passed. Believers Budenchuk, Miretskiy, Gridasov and German also report feeling better. They are forced to work ten hours a day.

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    • By Isabella
      According to tabulations April 20, 2020, three years after the liquidation of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ communities, 332 people became victims of criminal prosecution, 166 of these undergoing imprisonment. These are honest, non-drinking workers: teachers, builders, firefighters, accountants, lawyers. Authorities ruin their career, paralyze their life.

      From left to right, top to bottom: Galina Dergacheva, Sergey Loginov, Igor Trifonov, Galina Parkova, Vitaliy Popov, Elena Nikulina, Dmitriy Vinogradov, Maksim Amosov

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    • Eric Ouellet

      Remerciez Jéhovah, louez son nom 
       
      Remerciez Jéhovah, louez son nom ;
      parmi les peuples, faites connaître ses actions grandioses !
      Chantez pour lui, chantez-lui des louanges,
      méditez sur tous ses actes prodigieux.
      Soyez fiers de son saint nom.
      Que le cœur de ceux qui recherchent Jéhovah se réjouisse.
      Recherchez Jéhovah et sa force.
      Cherchez constamment son visage.
      Souvenez-vous des actes prodigieux qu’il a accomplis,
      de ses miracles et des jugements qu’il a prononcés,
      vous, descendants de son serviteur Abraham,
      vous, fils de Jacob, ceux qu’il a choisis !
      Il est Jéhovah notre Dieu.
      Ses jugements s’appliquent sur toute la terre.
      Pour toujours, il se souvient de son alliance,
      pendant mille générations, de la promesse qu’il a faite,
      de l’alliance qu’il a conclue avec Abraham
      et du serment qu’il a fait à Isaac,
      serment qu’il a établi comme décret pour Jacob
      et comme alliance permanente pour Israël,
      en disant : « Je te donnerai le pays de Canaan ;
      ce sera ta part d’héritage. »
      C’était lorsqu’ils étaient en petit nombre,
      oui, peu nombreux, et qu’ils étaient étrangers dans le pays.
      Ils circulaient d’une nation à l’autre,
      d’un royaume vers un autre peuple.
      Il ne laissa aucun homme les opprimer;
      pour eux, il réprimanda des rois,
      en disant : « Ne touchez pas à mes oints
      et ne faites aucun mal à mes prophètes. »
      Il appela une famine sur le pays ;
      il les priva de pain.
      Il envoya en avant d’eux un homme,
      Joseph, qui fut vendu comme esclave.
      On lui lia les pieds par des entraves,
      on lui mit le cou dans les fers ;
      la déclaration de Jéhovah, c’est ce qui l’affina,
      jusqu’au moment où la parole de Dieu s’accomplit.
      Le roi ordonna de le libérer,
      le chef des peuples le relâcha.
      Il l’établit maître de son palais,
      chef sur tous ses biens,
      pour qu’il ait autorité sur ses princes comme il lui semblait bon
      et qu’il enseigne la sagesse aux aînés.
      Alors Israël vint en Égypte,
      et Jacob résida comme étranger au pays de Cham.
      Dieu rendit son peuple très fécond ;
      il le rendit plus fort que ses adversaires,
      dont il laissa le cœur changer pour qu’ils haïssent son peuple,
      pour qu’ils conspirent contre ses serviteurs.
      Il envoya son serviteur Moïse,
      et Aaron, qu’il avait choisi.
      Ils accomplirent ses signes parmi eux,
      ses miracles au pays de Cham.
      Il envoya l’obscurité, et le pays s’enténébra;
      ils ne se rebellèrent pas contre ses paroles.
      Il changea leurs eaux en sang
      et tua leurs poissons.
      Leur pays fut envahi de grenouilles,
      jusque dans les chambres royales.
      Il ordonna aux taons de les envahir
      et aux moustiques d’infester leurs territoires.
      Il changea leur pluie en grêle
      et envoya la foudre sur leur pays.
      Il frappa leurs vignes et leurs figuiers
      et brisa les arbres de leur territoire.
      Il ordonna que les criquets les envahissent,
      de jeunes criquets sans nombre.
      Ils dévorèrent toute la végétation du pays,
      et ils dévorèrent les produits du sol.
      Puis il abattit tout premier-né dans leur pays,
      le début de leur puissance procréatrice.
      Il fit sortir son peuple chargé d’argent et d’or;
      et parmi ses tribus, personne ne trébucha.
      Quand ils partirent, les Égyptiens se réjouirent,
      car la terreur qu’Israël inspirait s’était emparée d’eux.
      Il déploya un nuage pour dissimuler son peuple,
      et un feu pour l’éclairer la nuit.
      Ils demandèrent, et il fit venir des cailles ;
      il les rassasiait du pain du ciel.
      Il ouvrit un rocher, et les eaux coulèrent ;
      elles coulèrent dans le désert comme un fleuve.
      Car il se souvenait de la promesse sainte qu’il avait faite à son serviteur Abraham.
      Il fit donc sortir son peuple dans l’allégresse,
      ceux qu’il avait choisis, dans un cri de joie.
      Il leur donna les terres des nations ;
      ils héritèrent de ce que d’autres peuples avaient produit en peinant,
      afin qu’ils respectent ses décrets
      et obéissent à ses lois.
      Louez Yah !

      · 0 replies
    • 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 !
      · 0 replies
    • 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
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