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UN demands Tajikistan free detained Jehovah’s Witness

Daniil Islamov. Photo courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses

(RNS) — A United Nations committee is calling for the immediate release of an 18-year-old Jehovah’s Witness the panel says is being unlawfully detained in Tajikistan because of his faith.

The U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Daniil Islamov is imprisoned in Tajikistan for conscientiously objecting to the country’s mandatory military service. Though Jehovah’s Witnesses pay taxes, Islamov’s faith precludes him from reciting patriotic pledges, singing nationalistic songs or joining the military.

The right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to adhere to their faith’s rejection of military service — they believe their allegiance is only to God — is recognized in the U.S. and other Western countries. But Tajikistan has no law concerning conscientious objectors.

Islamov sought permission for alternative civilian service but was denied, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, which oversees the Working Group.

“The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Islamov immediately and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law,” a resolution passed by WGAD on Islamov’s case reads.

Islamov, who turned 18 in January, was forcibly conscripted into Tajikistan’s military in April and promptly arrested for refusing to wear a military uniform and take the oath of service.

From the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New York world headquarters, spokesman David A. Semonian said it’s encouraging that the Working Group declared Islamov’s pretrial detention arbitrary.

But “we are very concerned that the Working Group’s opinion had no effect on the court’s subsequent decision to convict and imprison him for conscientiously refusing to serve in the military,” Semonian said. “We will update the Working Group on this disturbing development, and we expect that they will issue an even stronger directive to release Daniil.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses have recently suffered crackdowns in Russia and other former Soviet republics, including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. In April, Russia declared Jehovah’s Witnesses “extremists” and formally banned them.

In May, the Witnesses, who number about 8 million worldwide, released a report documenting 50 cases of persecution, including harassment, beatings, the closing of churches and arson attacks.

Increasingly, the crackdowns are focused on the young, including children.

Among them was the case of an 8-year-old Russian girl forced by her principal to sing patriotic songs before her classmates.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have appealed Russia’s decision to ban them, but that appeal was denied. A second and final appeal is in process.

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

8 Comments

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  • The Jehovah’s Witnesses may “update the Working Group on this disturbing development” until the cows come home, which is likely to happen sooner than any appeal from the U.N. to the government of Tajikistan. While the imprisonment of Mr. Islamov may rightly be considered unjust and an infringement on his most cherished beliefs and values, such is not unusual in the more despotic regions of the world, and there is, sadly, little the U.N. can do to change that.

  • Thank you Kimberly for your clear reporting on this subject. Countries that allow alternative
    civilian service benefit greatly from young Jehovah’s Witnesses who are most willing to help their fellow citizens. There are a number of countries that provide excellent model programs.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) predicted the end of the world, IN WRITING, numerous times. Not once did they come true. They truly are known for their ‘False Predictions’ the world over.

    JWs are taught that they alone are TRUE Christians and that all other people not JW will soon be destroyed. This is no exaggeration.

    JWs will allow their own children TO DIE rather than accept a life saving blood transfusion even in severe medical emergencies. It has already happened THOUSANDS of times!

    Just like this mother died unnecessarily! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/shropshire/7078455.stm

    Now her husband has NO wife and twins have NO mother. And all for what?

    Or this teenager that also DIED: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/8690785.stm

    This pregnant JW and her baby died.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3027599/Jehovah-s-Witness-baby-die-refuses-blood-transfusion-seven-months-pregnant-cancer-80-chance-surviving-treatment.html

    JW’s NEEDLESSLY die for this sorry blood policy today.

    From the same organization that has an entire 100 + year history of similar bad and embarrasing policies.

    As a 15 year active JW (and an elder) here is my own story: http://exjehovahswitnessforum.yuku.com/topic/922#.USEl4aWhDHh

    JWs used to forbid Vaccinations and Organ Transplants (calling a life saving transplant “Cannibalism”) for a combined 33 years.

    This JW elder refused a kidney transplant and DIED only to have JWs say transplants are now OK 2 years later. http://ajwrb.org/debbie-shards-story

    JWs enforce extreme shunning for any JW that decides to leave their religion or who commits a sin without showing enough repentance in front of the elders.

    I have literally seen parents cut off all ties with their children solely because the kid did not want to remain a JW but went in another direction.

    Even the ex-JWs who leave the religion on their own, who are 100 percent truthful, sincere, love God, pay taxes, help others and more are still SHUNNED by all current JWs and marked as godless, proud, sinning apostates. The Awake magazine recently called them “mentally diseased”.

    And MANY contemplate suicide because the penalties of losing everything are simply TOO MUCH TO TAKE.

    But an honest question is: Why do so many JWs leave after being one time followers?

    As I eventually found out, the JW religion did say, IN WRITING, that the end would come in 1914 and then again in 1925. Was Jehovah directing all that? 1914 and 1925 came and went! They were proven false predictions. Period.

    They also said the end very likely would happen in 1975 and even commended (in the watchtower) witnesses for selling their houses and pioneering because of it.

    But 1975 came and went!

    They also said (for many decades) that the end would come before the generation born in 1914 passed away. In fact up until 1995 it was written inside each Awake magazine cover. Only they then had to change that meaning as well (including the Awake masthead) because that generation CAME AND WENT TOO.

    I was an active JW (and elder) for 15 years before leaving because of the blood and fractions policy 10 yrs ago. Today I’m shunned by all JWs simply because I left the religion.

    Most JWs simply accept everything the Watchtower teaches and says as “food from God”. Just like I did.

    Most believe God has chosen the Watchtower Society as his “channel”, which provides food from God Himself to their religion and ONLY their religion.

    But an honest look at the facts of the JW religion shows God has not chosen the WT for anything!

    Take a LOOK: http://www.freeminds.org/history/part2.htm

    ALL FROM THEIR OWN LITERATURE WITH DATES & PAGES TO SEE FOR YOURSELVES!!!

    Pages and pages of mistakes, embarrassments, false predictions, medical disasters, weird science, doctrinal failures and more for over 100 years now!

    Obviously ‘GOD’ would not get things wrong like this. Obviously ‘GOD’ did not provide bad food like that for their entire history.

    But most JWs have no idea about these things. They’re told to stay away from anything critical of their religion.

    For example: Was God’s spirit with JWs when they said Organ Transplants were a “conscience matter” in 1961?

    OR,

    Was God”s spirit with WT when they THEN SAID Organ Transplants are same as “Cannibalism” in 1967 and forbid them?

    OR, was God’s spirit with the WT when they THEN SAID Organ Transplants are NOT the same as cannibalism in 1980 and now allow them?

    Was God behind all those changes each time? Did ((GOD)) get all those things wrong each time? How many JWs like that elder above DIED by refusing kidney transplants, only later on to be told they’re OK to have now?

    Which is why some end up taking their lives due to losing their family or feel compelled to speak out about it, like me right here and now.

    And now because I walked away JWs are demanded to shun you for life (including your very own family).

    Examine this religion and ask as many questions as you can!

    Vinny

  • Their beliefs are not the issue here. This young man’s right to believe what he chooses is the issue.

    You appear to have this boilerplate script ready to foist on every chance you see when the topic is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s sad Vinny. Walk away if you need to, but let it go. You will be the happier for it and so will we!

  • the image of the beast is not the wild beast. The image or 8th king is not the collective 7 kings, or 10 kings on 7 heads. As far as beasts go, the catholic church is a beast that devours, MicroSoft is a best that devours, ATT is a beast that devours. Any living entity whose human parts are just body cells of the WHOLE beast who doesnt care what they do to you, they are all horrid beasts beyond family raising of children, and sadly they all devour. And always some rep is saying SEE if we care!

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