Friday 12 December 2008

Armenia: "Jehovah's Witness" conscientious objectors thrown in jain: at least 80 currently, 15 more expected to be put behind bars

(Social Justice South Africa; c.f. Catholic Culture 11/12/2008 ; Forum 18 (Secular) 11/12/2008)

Article by Marc Aupiais

Armenia has arrested and imprisoned over 80 "conscientious objectors", with 15 more expected soon. The issue is because the "Jehovah's Witnesses" minor religious group's members refuse to serve under military authority, which is considered a religious and human right.

Forum 18, which is inter-religious: says this is a human Rights issue, the Armenian government denies all charges, despite a European Human Rights Commissioner's statement. The 47 member: Council of Europe has asked Armenia to release all conscientious objectors from prison. This request was not adhered to at time of the press release, having been asked of them in April already. Still arrests are made, and such religious prisoners not released.

The issue is of importance to those within religions, because the rights of the Jehovah's Witnesses to object have not been considered. While doctors often feel no guilt by doing a blood transfusion to a dying member of the oft controversial non-Catholic sect; it is more noticeable when countries set up regulations which will result in a population group risking prison on religious beliefs against violence. Catholics also would object to unjust war, therefore, again the forcing of military service by conscription, is an issue close to Catholics, who have a history of such objection, but not to service to military, only to service when atrocities, and abuses of power are used by such forces: or unjust oppression, or war is the use of such force.

Still, it is rightly considered a human rights situation, people have the right not to serve in conflict, but to object on religious grounds, and be told to serve elsewhere. The Council of Europe, a body with more members than the EU, has said that Armenia does not provide means of service outside of military control, this shows a view vastly different than that which the state claims to be true.

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