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Russia: Jehovah’s Witness Convicted

Rogue Valley

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Human Rights Watch | Russia: Jehovah’s Witness Convicted

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Dennis Christensen - Beginning the journey to prison in Russia.

Human Rights Watch
2/6/19

(Moscow) – A Russian court on February 6, 2019 convicted Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah’s Witness adherent and Danish citizen, on extremism charges for practicing his faith, Human Rights Watch said today. The court sentenced Christensen to six years in prison. The conviction is a blatant violation of the rights to religious freedom and expression. The verdict comes amid Russian law enforcement’s nationwide campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Authorities throughout Russia have filed criminal extremism charges against more than 100 Jehovah’s Witnesses since Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witness organization in 2017. “The verdict against Denis Christensen is a disgrace,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s shocking that in post-Soviet Russia authorities are putting people through the ordeal of a criminal investigation and prison for nothing more than peacefully practicing their faith.” Christensen, 47, had been in pretrial custody for 20 months, since his arrest in May 2017. His lawyer told Human Rights Watch that he will appeal.

Each of us should reflect on the system that both allows and encourages such persecutions.

Related: Danish Jehovah's Witness Found Guilty Of Extremism In Russian Court, Given Six Years
 

Elora

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Stay strong, Brother...Jehovah is with you...
 

Rogue Valley

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After Jailing of Jehovah’s Witness, Human Rights Activists Warn of 'Wave' of Arrests

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2/8/19
Two days after a Russian court sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to six years in jail, human rights activists have warned the case will trigger a crackdown on other religious minorities. On Wednesday, Dennis Christensen became the first Jehovah’s Witness convicted for extremism after Russia’s Supreme Court blacklisted the religious group in April 2017. "This is a precedent that will give [the authorities] a push for the other cases being heard and for them to go after other religious groups," Valery Borshchev of the Moscow Helsinki Group said Friday at a press conference in Moscow in support of Christensen. "We will see a wave that will target not only Jehovah’s Witnesses after this," he added.

At the press conference on Friday, Alexander Verkhovsky, the head of the Moscow-based SOVA Center which tracks extremism, noted that six additional Jehovah’s Witnesses had been charged with extremism since Putin made the comments. “[Christensen] was convicted for his faith,” Yaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, said. Sivulsky added that there are 24 Witnesses currently in jail awaiting trial in Russia. Another 5,000 people have fled the country for fear of persecution, he said. Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, who was sentenced to 25 days in prison over a Facebook post in December, said at the conference that Russia was in a state of human rights “chaos.” “Putin wants an authoritarian regime,” he said. “But who is listening to him?”

Crickets on these religious persecutions from the pro-Putin Trump administration.
 
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