Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Law by Refusing Blood Transfusions

Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Law by Refusing Blood Transfusions

Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Law by Refusing Blood Transfusions

If the Supreme Court rules in April that this group is "extremist" it would mark the first time that Russian Federation legally has banned a centrally-administered religious organization and would effectively criminalize all Jehovah's Witnesses' activity nationwide.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Bible prohibits the ingesting of blood and so refuse to allow blood transfusions or donations.

There are about 175,000 Jehovah's Witnesses members in Russian Federation.

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"USCIRF calls on the Russian government to stop its harassment of this peaceful religious group". At a session of the Supreme Court Thursday, a spokesperson for the Justice Ministry argued that the stance meant the organization violated the anti-extremism law that was passed following Russia's second war in Chechnya in 1999 and 2000 and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The condemnation of the Russian action follows a lawsuit lodged at the country's Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Center "extremist", to liquidate it, and to ban its activity.

In its lawsuit the Justice Ministry mentions a variety of violations, including those of the the federal law on resistance to extremist activities.

"In view of the threat posed by the organisation Jehovah's Witnesses, the Justice Ministry asks for declaring it extremist and banning its activity", the Justice Ministry's official said.

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"The court ruled to reject the counterclaim taking into account the fact that the party violated the jurisdiction rules", the judge announced.

The Moscow City Court on January 16 upheld the warning over extremist activities.

"My family and I have participated in this campaign because we want the Russian authorities to see that Jehovah's Witnesses are non-violent, law-abiding citizens, who should not be prosecuted", states William Kyei, one of Jehovah's Witnesses in Accra.

This has already led to the dissolution of several local Jehovah's Witness organizations, raids against their premises and literature being confiscated. Since 2004 sever branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russian Federation.

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