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FEBRUARY 4, 2022

UN Human Rights Committee Upholds the Rights of Sisters Arrested for Preaching in Azerbaijan

UN Human Rights Committee Upholds the Rights of Sisters Arrested for Preaching in Azerbaijan

The United Nations Human Rights Committee (CCPR) made two rulings in November and December 2021 that upheld the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to share their faith. Both cases involved sisters who were arrested by authorities in Azerbaijan for sharing the Bible’s message with others.

On November 5, 2021, the CCPR upheld the rights of Sisters Matanat Gurbanova and Saadat Muradhasilova to preach. The sisters were arrested after authorities received an anonymous complaint in November 2014. The sisters were each fined 1,500 Azerbaijani Manats ($880 U.S.). The CCPR ruled that the arrest was unlawful and demanded that Azerbaijan prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Matanat and Saadat, who are also biological sisters, said: “Although police officers and the judge wanted to intimidate us, the incident only strengthened our faith. Jehovah has proved once again that his hand is not too short and that he knows when and how to protect his servants.”

In a similar ruling on December 21, 2021, the CCPR determined that police officers in Azerbaijan broke the law when they detained Sisters Jeyran Azizova and Gulnaz Israfilova for “carrying out religious activities outside of their legal address.” In its decision, the CCPR confirmed that the sisters did nothing illegal by sharing their faith.

While visiting friends in the Goranboy Region of Azerbaijan in November 2016, Jeyran and Gulnaz shared the Bible’s message with others. A local official complained to the police, and the sisters were arrested. At the subsequent trial, a judge accused the sisters of being spies and fined them 2,000 Azerbaijani Manats ($1,176 U.S.). An appeals court upheld the conviction. The sisters then appealed to the CCPR.

Positive legal decisions assist us in freely sharing in our most important activity. We rejoice with our sisters who set a fine example in boldly preaching the good news.—Matthew 10:18.