APRIL 20, 2022 marked five years since Russia’s systematic persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses began.
Since then, some 400 of the Witnesses’ legal entities, including houses of worship, have been shut down. More than 1,740 homes have been raided. Despite a persistent international outcry from human rights bodies, Russia has imprisoned over 320 Witnesses, with over 80 still in custody.
Over 600 Jehovah’s Witnesses, including 40 men and women over the age of 70, have been charged criminally. During the 2017 Supreme Court hearing, the Russian government claimed that although it was liquidating the legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, individual Witnesses would be free to practice their faith. However, the government’s claim of allowing freedom to worship has been inconsistent with its actions.
Andrew Wood, former British ambassador to Russia, said of the Witnesses in a statement: “Their arrest, ill treatment, and confinement are a breach of elementary human rights together with the infringement of the freedom of all souls to seek their path to the truths of religion as best they may. The targeting of particularly vulnerable people of whatever gender or age adds to the injustice.”