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To Russia With Love

To Russia With Love
Jehovah’s Witnesses David Raniga posting his letter to the Office of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Samisoni Pareti
April 05
11:34 2017

Jehovah’s Witnesses members write to Putin to give church members there, their freedom to worship

Members of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Fiji yesterday appealed for clemency for church members in Russia who could be banned from holding their service and activities.

They joined church members around the world in writing letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin appealing for his intervention.

The Russian Ministry of Justice has sought to ban the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.

Suva member David Raniga doesn’t know anyone in Russia.

But when invited to write a letter in support of his church members there, he did not hesitate and happily agree.

“I put myself in the situation of my brothers and sisters in Russia, the prospects of losing their freedom to worship freely and after praying about it, I wasted no time in writing a letter and posting it to the office of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin,” Mr Raniga said.

“I humbly ask the Russian leader to intervene into the attempts by the country’s Ministry of Justice to ban the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, and for my fellow brothers and sisters to be allowed to gather peacefully for Christian meetings without interference. I want my fellow brothers and sisters to be allowed to gather peacefully.”

He joined over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world who wrote letters to the Russian authorities.

According to the church’s official website, jw.org, Russia’s Ministry of Justice filed a claim with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on March 15, 2017, to label the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia as extremist and liquidate it.

The claim also seeks to ban the activities of the church’s Administrative Centre.

If the Supreme Court upholds this claim, the Jehovah’s Witnesses national headquarters near St Petersburg will be shut down, some 400 registered Local Religious Organisations would be liquidated, outlawing the services of over 2300 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.

The branch property, as well as the places of worship used by Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country, could be seized by the State.

Additionally, the more than 175,000 individual Jehovah’s Witnesses would become subject to criminal prosecution for merely carrying out their worship activities.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the claim today (April 5, 2017).

“Prosecuting non-violent, law-abiding citizens as if they were terrorists is clearly a misapplication of anti-extremist laws. Such prosecution is based on completely false grounds,” says David A. Semonian, a spokesperson at the Witnesses’ world headquarters.

“We hope that our global letter-writing campaign will motivate Russian officials to stop this unjustifiable action against our fellow worshippers.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are law abiding citizen and they promote love for God and neighbours. They are in no way extremist.”

Mark Sleger, Minister in the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church based in Suva said: “As JW We are united with our brothers and sisters around the world, and so our concern and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Russia as they are under the threat of having their religious freedom taken away.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  mere.satakala@fijisun.com.fj

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