DECEMBER 23, 2021
Human Rights Committee Says Kyrgyzstan Violated Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Rights
The 15 members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (CCPR) unanimously condemned Kyrgyzstan for violating Jehovah’s Witnesses’ fundamental right to practice their religion in three regions of the country. The CCPR’s seven-page decision ordered Kyrgyzstan to provide the Witnesses “adequate compensation” and “to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.” This is the second time the CCPR has condemned Kyrgyzstan for violating the rights of the Witnesses.
The first local community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kyrgyzstan was registered in 1993, and they have been nationally registered since 1998. Thus, for decades, the Witnesses have enjoyed freedom to worship across the country. However, for over ten years, the State Committee on Religious Affairs (SCRA) has refused to register three new local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the southern regions of Osh, Naryn, and Jalal-Abad. This has occurred despite the local brothers’ repeated applications. The SCRA’s position has restricted the brothers and sisters in those regions from practicing their religious beliefs, conducting religious meetings and assemblies, and owning or using property as a place of worship. Therefore, the CCPR found that Kyrgyzstan discriminated against Jehovah’s Witnesses in those three regions on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The CCPR expects the Kyrgyz authorities to “take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.” Kyrgyzstan has 180 days to inform the CCPR about its efforts to comply with the decision.
It has yet to be seen if Kyrgyz officials will implement the CCPR’s decision and allow our brothers and sisters in those regions to practice their religious beliefs. However, human rights experts at Forum 18 have been closely following the situation and have reported that the SCRA has “ignored a similar 2019 UN decision.”
Whether or not Kyrgyzstan complies with the UN’s direction, we are assured that Jehovah is aware of what our brothers and sisters in Kyrgyzstan are facing. (Psalm 37:18) Our loving heavenly Father will continue to bless their loyalty and courage.—Psalm 37:28.