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viernes, 27 de julio de 2012

Jehovah's Witness qualifies for coverage, but too late for transplant

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/07/24/3721699/jehovahs-witness-qualifies-for.html

 

24/7/12

 

Mary Stinemetz beat the state in a precedent-setting religious freedom case, but she’s losing the battle against a chronic liver disease.

Stinemetz is terminally ill after she was unable to get a liver transplant even though she won a legal battle that forced the state to honor her faith and pay for an out-of-state liver transplant.

No one can say for sure how much time she has left.

“Anything can happen at any minute,” Stinemetz’s husband, Merlyn, said Tuesday. “Her condition deteriorates regardless of what you do. You can’t stop it.”

A Jehovah’s Witness from the western Kansas town of Hill City, Stinemetz got a Kansas appeals court to find that the state violated her constitutional right to exercise her religious faith when it denied Medicaid coverage for an out-of-state liver transplant.

Stinemetz, 65, refused to undergo a liver transplant at the University of Kansas Hospital because she would need a blood transfusion — something she couldn’t accept as a Jehovah’s Witness. She wanted to receive a special bloodless transplant in Nebraska instead.

The state agreed to cover the procedure but by the time she could get on a transplant list, her condition had worsened to a point where she was no longer eligible for a new liver.

“The only thing I had going for me was the liver transplant and that’s out of the picture.” Stinemetz said. “There’s just no cure for it. I’m going to get progressively worse.”

Maybe if the state had more readily agreed to fund the transplant instead of battling the case in court, she said, the outcome would be different.

“To be honest with you, they dragged their feet too long,” she said. “That’s OK, because it sets precedent for others who are Jehovah’s people so they won’t have the problems I had.”

State officials had argued in court that there was no medical necessity for a bloodless transplant, and that her religious preference shouldn’t determine insurance coverage.

For 20 years, Stinemetz has suffered from primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic disease that causes the liver to deteriorate and malfunction over time.

Even now, it’s not easy getting treatment locally because there are few physicians willing to treat her condition without the ability to give her a blood transfusion.

Merlyn Stinemetz said he even has trouble getting his wife admitted to local hospitals so she can have fluid drained from her lungs and abdomen.

The Stinemetzes are planning to go to Denver where they can be closer to their daughter and to doctors who are willing to treat her condition without blood transfusions.

“We wouldn’t be traveling all these miles,” he said, “if we had doctors that would conform to your worship wishes.”

Stinemetz said she has no idea how much time she has left. But she’s more focused on eternity than the here and now.

“I am just thankful I have the hope of the Resurrection. That means a lot to me,” she said. “I look forward to the Resurrection if I do die.”

Newly Listed: Jehovah's Witnesses' 10-Story Residential 67 Remsen Street

http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/44739

 

July 25, 2012

 

Another Brooklyn Heights property in the Jehovah’s Witnesses real estate portfolio has hit the marketplace. A five-story, 5,088-square-foot residential building at 67 Remsen Street—ironically, abutting the back of organization’s recently sold Bossert Hotel—is asking $3.4M. It features 10 units, a private garden and will be delivered vacant, according to David Schechtman of marketing firm Eastern Consolidated. He adds it could be converted to a single-family home.

 

The Real Deal reports that the building previously housed students and volunteers associated with the religious group’s Watchtower Society. As the Jehovah’s Witnesses move forward with their planned relocation upstate to Warwick, N.Y., and Patterson, N.Y., the residences were no longer necessary, Schechtman says.

 

The group’s mammoth portfolio of buildings have been marketed variously by Massey Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield’s Nat Rockett, and now, Eastern. “Engaging a third firm is a sign that the religious group has decided now is the time to divest from their properties,” a source told The Real Deal. The group owned 25 Brooklyn buildings before they began selling them off two years ago.

 

If left a multi-family dwelling, the net operating income at the building would be about $140,000 a year, documents obtained by The Real Deal show, although “a well-maintained single-family home might be a bigger draw” in the Heights. A 3-bedroom townhouse down the street at 12 College Place recently went into contract for $4.85M, Streeteasy cites.

 

“Inside of a million [in construction costs], you could easily have one of the nicest townhouses you will ever see,” Schechtman told the newspaper.

 

 

KConcluyó asamblea de Testigos de Jehová

http://www.nuevodiarioweb.com.ar/notas/2012/7/26/concluyo-asamblea-testigos-jehova-406822.asp

 

jueves, 26 de julio de 2012

 

Las Termas de Río Hondo. Días pasados, se desarrolló en el Centro Cultural y Artesanal Gral. San Martín de Las Termas, la Asamblea de Circuito de los Testigos de Jehová, a la cual asistieron unas 2.000 personas de Tucumán y Santiago del Estero.

 

El programa de instrucción bíblica bajo el lema “Santificado sea el nombre de Dios”, se llevó adelante durante la mañana y la tarde. Se realizaron una serie de discursos sobre no ensuciar el nombre de Jehová, las redes sociales, la pornografía, el chisme y las malas compañías.

 

La asamblea concluyó con un breve discurso de los organizadores, quienes expresaron: “Estamos aquí porque la gente es cálida y tenemos un buen recibimiento, además de una buena convocatoria”.

Prairieville resident to speak at Jehovah's Witnesses convention

http://www.weeklycitizen.com/newsnow/x766289809/Prairieville-resident-to-speak-at-Jehovah-s-Witnesses-convention

 

Los testigos de Jehová este verano llevará a cabo 385 convenios en 103 ciudades en todo Estados Unidos.  A nivel mundial, hay más, 7.600.000 testigos en más de 109.000 congregaciones.  El tema de la convención "Proteja su corazón!", Se centra en las referencias de la Biblia al corazón figurativo.  El Burton Memorial Coliseum, la Universidad Estatal de McNeese, en Lake Charles, será el sitio original para una de las convenciones.  Alrededor de 4.600 delegados de Luisiana y Texas van a asistir.  La convención se llevará a cabo 3 a 5 agosto.  Curtis Bueche, de la congregación Prairieville, pronunciará el discurso público la Biblia el domingo a las 11:10 de la mañana, titulado "Las cosas anteriores no serán ... Vamos hacia el corazón". Todas las sesiones de la convención están abiertos al público y son gratuitos .

Testigos de Jehová se pararán para iniciar sus asambleas de Distrito 2012

http://www.latribuna.hn/2012/07/23/testigos-de-jehova-se-pararan-para-iniciar-sus-asambleas-de-distrito-2012/

 

TEGUCIGALPA.- Los Testigos de Jehová están convencidos de que el mensaje positivo y las sugerencias prácticas, que se presentarán en la Asamblea de Distrito de 2012 “Protejamos el corazón”, serán de provecho para todos. Dicha asamblea se llevará a cabo en el Coliseo Nacional de Ingenieros los días 27 al 29 de julio y del 3 al 5 de agosto próximo.

 

Durante el programa se analizarán, desde un interesante punto de vista, las alusiones al corazón que aparecen en la Biblia. Por medio de discursos, presentaciones, lecturas bíblicas dramatizadas y hasta una obra teatral en la cual se mostrará cómo proteger el corazón, lo que sin duda puede profundizar la espiritualidad, mejorar la vida familiar y traer la felicidad.

 

A partir de este fin de semana y durante las próximas dos semanas, los Testigos de Jehová harán un esfuerzo especial por entregar una invitación a todos los residentes de Francisco Morazán, Danlí, El Paraíso y Olancho para que los acompañen en su asamblea de tres días.

 

La primera de las dos asambleas que se celebrarán en Tegucigalpa comenzará el viernes 27 de julio a las 9:20 de la mañana. Cada día llevará por tema las palabras de un pasaje bíblico, entre ellos 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Crónicas 28:9 y Mateo 12:34.

 

Los títulos de los discursos también están basados en textos bíblicos, y el tema de la asamblea, “Protejamos el corazón”, está tomado de Proverbios 4:23. Se espera que la asamblea logre fortalecer la espiritualidad de los asistentes.

 

La entrada será gratis, pues las asambleas de los Testigos se sufragan enteramente mediante contribuciones voluntarias.

 

Las congregaciones de los Testigos de Jehová de esta zona participarán en distribuir las invitaciones impresas. Se calcula que unas doce mil personas acudirán al Coliseo Nacional de Ingenieros durante dos fines de semana consecutivos para asistir al programa de enseñanza bíblica.

 

En Tegucigalpa se celebrarán 11 asambleas de distrito. En todo el mundo hay más de 7.6 millones Testigos organizados en más de 109,000 congregaciones.

 

 

Más de 3.000 Testigos de Jehová se reúnen en León

http://www.diariodeleon.es/noticias/leon/mas-de-3-000-testigos-de-jehova-se-reunen-en-leon_710582.html

 

león 25/07/2012

 

Alrededor de 3.000 personas asistirán durante todo el fin de semana a la asamblea de los testigos de Jehová, que se iniciará el viernes en el Palacio Municipal de deportes de la ciudad, hasta el próximo domingo, bajo el epígrafe «Un examen del corazón».

 

Los más de 3.000 participantes provienen de Zamora, Valladolid, Palencia y León. En esta asamblea se explicará el significado de las alusiones al corazón que aparecen en la Biblia. Además, el programa pretende «mover a los presentes» a realizarse un «autoexamen» para evaluar lo que hay en su corazón.

 

Los testigos de Jehová invitan a todos a «asistir y a aprender» más sobre el tema de proteger y escuchar al corazón.

 

La asamblea comenzará los tres días a las 10:50 de la mañana. La entrada será gratuita, ya que estas reuniones de los Testigos se sufragan mediante contribuciones voluntarias.

 

 

Pourquoi la France se voit condamnée à rembourser les Témoins de Jéhovah

http://www.la-croix.com/Actualite/S-informer/France/Pourquoi-la-France-se-voit-condamnee-a-rembourser-les-Temoins-de-Jehovah-_EP_-2012-07-26-835623/(CRX_ARTICLE_ACCESS)/ACCESS_CONTENT

 

 

Le litige qui oppose depuis plus de quinze ans l'État français aux Témoins de Jéhovah (TJ) concernant la taxation des dons vient de connaître un nouveau rebondissement. Dans un arrêt du 5 juillet, la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme (CEDH) a jugé que la France devait rembourser à l'association la somme de 4,5 millions d'euros, « indûment payée au Trésor public »,  ainsi que 55 000 € « pour frais et dépenses » .

 

Cette décision est la suite logique d' un précédent arrêt du 30 juin 2011, qui pour la première fois, avait statué que la France, en taxant les dons (hors immobilier) reçus par les Témoins, s'était rendue coupable d'une violation de la liberté de religion. L'État a trois mois pour faire appel.

Dès 1997, l'administration s'intéresse aux « offrandes »

 

Retour en arrière. Fin 1995, au moment de la publication du rapport parlementaire sur « les sectes en France »,  qui cible entre autres les Témoins de Jéhovah, ceux-ci font l'objet d'un contrôle fiscal. S'il conclut au caractère non lucratif des activités des TJ, ce contrôle n'en marque pas moins le début d'investigations plus poussées.

 

Début 1997, l'administration fiscale s'intéresse aux « offrandes »  reçues par la communauté entre 1993 et 1996 et met celle-ci en demeure de déclarer ces dons, soumis à une taxation de 60 %. Refus des TJ, qui font valoir qu'ils bénéficient des exonérations reconnues aux associations cultuelles et aux congrégations religieuses. Mais le fisc ne l'entend pas de cette oreille. Dès l'année suivante, il leur réclame la somme de 45 millions d'euros.

 

C'est le début d'une longue bataille judiciaire. En 1999, les Témoins saisissent les tribunaux. Par trois fois, ceux-ci vont leur donner tort. Définitivement déboutés par la Cour de cassation, ils se résolvent à régler au fisc une première ardoise de 4,5 millions d'euros. Puis plus rien. Dès lors, la direction des impôts va réclamer chaque année à ce contribuable peu zélé les sommes dues. Qui se monteront en 2011, avec les pénalités de retard, à 59 millions d'euros.

Un redressement fiscal jugé "imprévisible"

 

Mais les Témoins de Jéhovah ne désarment pas. Ils ont introduit une requête devant la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme (CEDH), invoquant l'article 9 de la Convention européenne, qui protège la liberté de religion (1). La taxation des dons manuels qui frappe la communauté porte atteinte, argue-t-elle, à son droit d'exercer sa liberté de religion, garantie par cet article.

 

En juin 2011, la CEDH donne raison à l'association. Motif principal : le redressement fiscal qui lui a été appliqué était « imprévisible »,  car s'appuyant sur une loi mal rédigée. Or si le libre exercice d'une religion peut faire l'objet de restrictions, encore faut-il que celles-ci aient été « prévues par la loi » . Et de conclure à la violation, par la France, de l'article 9.

 

À ce moment-là, la France n'est pas encore condamnée. Une transaction amiable est encore possible. Le gouvernement accepte de renoncer aux pénalités de retard, soit 40 millions d'euros. Les Témoins refusent. La Cour reprend donc la main et le 5 juillet dernier, condamne la France à rembourser aux Témoins de Jéhovah la somme qui avait déjà été recouvrée par l'impôt, soit 4,5 millions d'euros.

Trois mois pour saisir la Grande Chambre

 

Le gouvernement a encore la possibilité de saisir le degré de juridiction supérieur, la Grande Chambre de la CEDH, dans un délai de trois mois. Va-t-il le faire ? « À ce stade, nous n'avons pas de position arrêtée,  indique le porte-parole du Quai d'Orsay, Bernard Valéro. Nous allons analyser l'arrêt, étudier de près la formulation utilisée par la cour, puis nous verrons. » 

 

Selon un connaisseur du dossier, la Grande Chambre pourrait « faire une analyse différente »  de celle de la chambre. Mais rien ne le garantit. Les conséquences de l'arrêt seraient alors non négligeables. Car dans sa décision, la Cour consacre un paragraphe aux 59 millions qui constituent l'objet principal du litige. « La renonciation à la recouvrer  (cette somme, NDLR) constituerait une forme appropriée de réparation »,  indique le jugement à l'adresse du gouvernement.

 

(1)    Selon l'article 9, « toute personne a droit à la liberté de pensée, de conscience et de religion » .

RV: I TESTIMONI DI GEOVA VALSASSINESI

Un caloroso applauso di benvenuto ha accompagnato i 56 nuovi testimoni di Geova, di cui tre lecchesi, mentre si recavano verso la piscina appositamente preparata nell'area adiacente al Forum per il loro battesimo. I correligionari del lecchese, qui confluiti per il consueto raduno estivo già dal giorno prima, attendevano con emozione questo momento. L'emozione più grande, però, è stata quella dei nuovi credenti. Molti i giovani, il più anziano di 71 anni e qualche straniero, proveniente anche dalle isole Mauritius.

 

"Si diventa testimoni di Geova - spiega Giuseppe Cianci loro portavoce - in maniera libera e consapevole, dopo un percorso iniziale basato sulla conoscenza della Bibbia e portato avanti praticando nella propria vita gli insegnamenti di Cristo".

 

La kermesse si è chiusa domenica con i discorsi finali, una considerazione di un articolo della Torre di Guardia e una rappresentazione teatrale.

 

Quella dei Testimoni è una confessione religiosa in continua crescita. Basti pensare che al congresso estivo di quest'anno assisteranno complessivamente in Italia circa 300.000 persone e che il programma verrà presentato, oltre che in italiano, in altre 16 lingue. In tutto il mondo i fedeli sono arrivati a quota 7.600.000 in 236 paesi e territori.

 

 

Alcuni dati sul battesimo di questa assemblea :

 

·         56 Nuovi Battezzati

 

·         28 maschi – età da 14 a 71

 

·         28 femmine – età da 14 a 64

 

·         Età media 27 anni

 

·         Due nuovi provenienti dall’estero MAURITIUS e SIRIA

 

.

Más de 10.000 testigos de Jehová celebran asamblea en Madrid

 

http://www.que.es/ultimas-noticias/sociedad/201207261112-10000-testigos-jehova-celebran-asamblea-efe.html

 

 

El corazón entendido como conciencia "necesita guiarse por una serie de principios y valores de los que hoy, lamentablemente, estamos muy carentes", pero que ayudan a mejorar las relaciones con el prójimo, sea o no creyente, según ha explicado a Efe el portavoz de la sede nacional de Testigos de Jehová, Aníbal Matos.

 

En tiempos de crisis, comenta, las comunidades locales procuran prestar toda la asistencia posible a los miembros que pasan estrecheces.

 

No siempre puede ser económica porque se carece de recursos, pero hay apoyo "moral y emocional", comenta Matos, para tratar de conseguir trabajo a los desempleados, o se dan consejos para el ahorro familiar en un especie de red de socorro mutuo.

 

El domingo habrá una representación dramática sobre la trascendencia del amor, subraya, como un vínculo que une, que cohesiona en las relaciones de pareja y en la familia.

 

Para el sábado se ha programado en el mismo lugar (Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid) una ceremonia de bautismo de unos 50 nuevos fieles, a los que se instará a que "entreguen el corazón a Jehová".

 

La asamblea es de carácter nacional, pero se celebra en 25 convocatorias de fechas diferentes en varias localidades de toda España por la imposibilidad de congregar simultáneamente a todos los fieles en un mismo lugar.

 

En Madrid se convocan este año dos reuniones, este fin de semana y el siguiente, al igual que en Barcelona.

 

Algunas de las reuniones son en rumano, inglés, alemán, incluso en chino o ruso, según el origen de creyentes de otros países.

 

Matos ha calculado que son unos 113.000 testigos en España, aparte de unos 47.0000 simpatizantes; el 15 por ciento serían inmigrantes, principalmente hispanoamericanos y rumanos.

 

El culto, otras actividades y la compra o alquiler de locales se financian con donaciones voluntarias, según Matos, pues la confesión religiosa es responsabilidad del creyente, "no del erario publico".

 

 

 

"Pacientes tienen derecho a elegir tratamiento médico"

http://eltiempo.com.ve/locales/regionales/salud/pacientes-tienen-derecho-a-elegir-tratamiento-medico/59505

 

24.07.2012

 

Puerto La Cruz.- El médico Carlos Salaverría y el abogado Antonio Rodríguez, como voceros del Comité de Enlace para los Testigos de Jehová de Barcelona, exigieron su derecho a réplica a propósito del artículo titulado: “Entes difunden sentencia sobre transfusiones”, publicado en este diario el pasado 18 de junio.

 

Rodríguez refirió que de acuerdo con el ordenamiento jurídico vigente “tanto en la Constitución Nacional, como en las leyes Orgánicas y Ordinarias, así  como en el Código de Deontología Médica, artículos 72 numeral 4 y  8 y Ley de Ejercicio de la Medicina (artículo 25 numeral 22) entre otros, se garantizan los derechos del paciente a elegir el tratamiento médico, previamente informado de los riesgos y beneficios de los mismos”.

 

Agrega que si bien estas normativas no se circunscriben a las transfusiones de sangre, la ley “establece que el paciente tiene derecho a rechazar cualquier tratamiento médico”.

 

En cuanto a la sentencia de la Sala Constitucional del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, expediente 07-1121 del 14 de agosto  de 2008, dijeron que esta establece que “el  paciente tiene derecho a ser informado por el médico tratante previamente a la aplicación de cualquier tratamiento terapéutico; que el médico está en el deber de informar al paciente de los tratamientos alternativos que existan en el país y que el médico debe hacer uso de estas alternativas a solicitud del paciente”.

 

Rodríguez y Salaverría sostienen que la Sala Constitucional consideró que para poder administrar una transfusión de sangre, no debe existir en el país tratamiento alternativo alguno. “En ningún momento, los Testigos de Jehová han rebatido la sentencia antes señalada, ni legal ni científicamente”.

 

Agregan que no están en contra de la ley. “Más bien, esta sentencia es muy clara cuando establece que los galenos  tienen el deber ético de hacer uso de los tratamientos médicos  alternativos a las transfusiones de sangre respetando así la decisión del paciente objetor”.

 

Subrayan que con la sentencia los médicos tendrán que ser más cuidadosos a la hora de transfundir sangre, ya que si hay  complicaciones y el paciente no autorizó la misma, son ellos los que tienen “la carga de la prueba”, es decir, tendrán que demostrar que era la única opción en el país, cosa que se evitan con el consentimiento informado.

 

Culto respetuoso

 

Salaverría añadió que los Testigos de Jehová son respetuosos de las leyes y de la vida porque precisamente  está dentro de los postulados religiosos y éticos que están consagrados en las escrituras (Salmos 36:9; Romanos  13:1). Acota que por eso, los Testigos buscan atención médica de calidad y aceptan la inmensa mayoría de los tratamientos médicos.

 

“Sin embargo, por razones religiosas (Hechos 15:20) no admiten transfusiones de sangre, y en su lugar, solicitan alternativas a la misma, las cuales existen en el país (como lo expone la sentencia del Tribunal Supremo) y están siendo utilizadas con éxito”.

 

Salaverría destacó que la tendencia mundial es hacia la medicina no transfusional de hemoderivados, por lo que en el futuro este tipo de polémicas quedarán  en el pasado.

Latest Witnesses-owned property in Brooklyn Heights hits the market

http://therealdeal.com/blog/2012/07/24/next-jehovahs-witnesses-owned-property-hits-the-market/

 

July 24, 2012 06:00PM

 

Another Brooklyn Heights property in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ vast portfolio, has hit the market, David Schechtman of Eastern Consolidated, who is marketing the building, told The Real Deal today.

 

The 10-unit, five-story residential building, has a $3.4 million ask, and it could easily be converted to a single-family home – an approach taken at some other multi-family buildings mainly on the Upper East Side, recently. The 5,088-square-foot building, located at 67 Remsen Street, features a private garden and will be delivered vacant, Schechtman said.

 

Previously, the building housed students and volunteers associated with the religious group’s Watchtower Society, a non-profit organization. As the Jehovah’s Witnesses go forward with their planned move upstate, to Warwick, N.Y. and Patterson, N.Y., the residences were no longer necessary, Schechtman said.

 

The group’s large portfolio of buildings — in the Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo and East Village areas — have been marketed variously by Massey Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield’s Nat Rockett, and now, Eastern. Engaging a third firm is a sign that the religious group has decided now is the time to divest from their properties, one source said. The group owned 25 Brooklyn buildings, before they began selling them off two years ago.

 

If left a multi-family dwelling, the net operating income at the building would be about $140,000 a year, documents obtained by The Real Deal show.

 

But in the Brooklyn Heights area, where second quarter sales data shows the average price for a co-ops and condos at $890,000, a well-maintained single-family home might be a bigger draw. A three-bedroom townhouse just down the street, at 12 College Place, just went into contract for $4.85 million, Streeteasy.com shows.

 

“Inside of a million [in construction costs], and you could easily have one of the nicest townhouses you will ever see,” Schechtman said.

 

Testimoni di Geova in assemblea

 

http://www.ilmattino.it/articolo.php?id=210622&sez=CAMPANIA

 

26 Luglio 2012

 

FORCHIA. Spesso si sente dire: “Va dove ti porta il cuore”, ma raramente “Salvaguarda il tuo cuore”. Quest’ultima frase sarà ripetuta più volte durante l’assemblea di distretto dei testimoni di Geova dal tema “Salvaguarda il tuo cuore”, in programma questo fine settimana dal 27 al 29 luglio.

Al congresso dei Testimoni di Geova, che coinvolgerà la città di Napoli e diverse località della provincia di Napoli e Caserta, sono attesi circa 4000 congressisti. Il raduno in programma a Forchia sarà uno dei tanti organizzati quest’estate. In totale da giugno ad agosto i Testimoni di Geova terranno in Italia 87 assemblee di distretto in 21 città.

 

L’assemblea avrà inizio venerdì mattina presso la Sala delle Assemblee dei Testimoni di Geova -

Contrada Rella – 82011 Forchia (BN).

L’assemblea darà risalto ai riferimenti che la Bibbia fa al cuore. Le parti in programma incoraggeranno i presenti ad analizzare se stessi e a riflettere per tre giorni sulle condizioni del proprio cuore simbolico. L’uditorio sarà aiutato a capire in che modo proteggendo il cuore simbolico si possono prendere decisioni sagge, migliorare la vita familiare, rafforzare la propria relazione con Dio e provare vera felicità.

I testimoni di Geova invitano tutti ad assistere all’assemblea per saperne di più. Tutti e tre i

giorni le sessioni inizieranno la mattina alle 9:20. L’ingresso è libero. Le assemblee dei testimoni di

Geova sono sostenute interamente tramite offerte volontarie.

Uzbekistan: Two Women Deported For Exercising Religious Freedom

http://www.eurasiareview.com/26072012-uzbekistan-two-women-deported-for-exercising-religious-freedom/

 

Two long-term residents of Uzbekistan born in the country – both Jehovah’s Witnesses – have been deported to punish them for discussing their faith with others, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Kazakh citizen Oksana Shcherbeneva was deported on 16 June immediately after completing a 15-day prison term. The 30-year-old woman was born in the eastern Uzbek town of Chirchik and has lived continuously for the last ten years in Uzbekistan with a valid residence permit.

 

Russian citizen Yelena Tsyngalova was deported on an Uzbek Airlines evening flight from Tashkent to Moscow today (25 July), after being detained since 2 July. Accompanying her were her two teenage children, one a Russian citizen, the other an Uzbek citizen.

 

Russian citizen but Uzbek resident deported

 

 

The 37-year-old Tsyngalova was born in the Uzbek capital Tashkent and has lived all her life in Uzbekistan, with the exception of about two years in Russia, with a valid Uzbek residence permit. Her children were both born in Uzbekistan. Her mother Galina Poligenko-Aleshkina – an Uzbek citizen who is a pensioner with disabilities and who shared the family flat – is now left to fend for herself.

 

The 25 July deportation of Tsyngalova from Uzbekistan followed a series of court-imposed punishments for exercising her right to freedom of religion or belief. Visa Department officials began the process of deporting her and her children on 8 March, alleging that she had repeatedly broken the law.

The Year of the Strong Family?

 

After officials ordered her deportation and presented air tickets for a Moscow-bound flight on 12 June for herself and her children, Tsyngalova immediately lodged complaints to the Presidential Administration, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Religious Affairs Committee and other state agencies. She described the deportation order as “discrimination and religious persecution”.

 

“As you can understand, I absolutely cannot agree with these actions against me,” she told the Presidential Administration in her 8 June appeal, seen by Forum 18. “This means, in effect, that I would be sent to the middle of nowhere!” She pointed out that her family will now be divided. “How is it that in 2012 – a year declared in the Republic of Uzbekistan to be the Year of the Strong Family – some are not strengthening the family, but destroying it?” She complained she had not even been given a copy of her deportation order.

 

On 29 June, in a letter seen by Forum 18, Prosecutor A. Mullajanov of Tashkent’s Sergeli District rejected Tsyngalova’s complaint against the Visa Department’s deportation order. Mullajanov merely said that the decision had been taken “based on current legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan” without giving any reason.

 

Tsyngalova’s mother also appealed to the Presidential Administration, which passed her appeal to the General Prosecutor’s Office. In an 11 July response seen by Forum 18, the deputy head of the International Legal Department asked Tashkent City Prosecutor Mirzahid Obidov to investigate and report back by 5 August – which is now 11 days after the deportation.

Detained without warning for complaining

 

On 2 July, Tsyngalova was summoned by Prosecutor Mullajanov for questioning. She was told that this was in response to her complaint to the Prosecutor General’s office. On her arrival at the Prosecutor’s office, she was detained and placed in a facility for homeless persons. The authorities refused to tell Tsyngalova’s mother where her daughter was being held.

 

On 4 July the Visa Department Director told Tsyngalova’s mother that her daughter would be deported for a “new reason”. He stated that she would be deported because she did not remain in Tashkent while her case was under investigation (she had stayed for three weeks in June with relatives). However, at no time was Tsyngalova required to sign any document restricting her movement in Uzbekistan.

 

On 10 July, Tsyngalova’s mother was finally told the location of her daughter: she was being held at the Panelny Detention Facility in the Kuylyuk District of Tashkent. Tsyngalova’s mother was permitted to visit her daughter for 15 minutes that day at the detention facility. Tsyngalova told her mother that she had not been provided a lawyer, had not been informed for how long she would be detained, and had not been present for any court hearing that purported to authorise her detention or deportation. She added that officials had told her that on 17 July, they would receive a decision from the court authorising her detention and deportation from Uzbekistan.

Kazakh citizen but Uzbek resident deported

 

Trouble began for Kazakh citizen Shcherbenova, and two other Jehovah’s Witnesses Viktoria Gorshkova and Margarita Ten on 10 May. Police in the central city of Bukhara detained them for discussing their faith with others. They were then taken to the city Police Station, where they were searched and questioned. Police also searched Ten’s home, confiscating religious literature – including a Bible, a children’s Bible and personal notes – Jehovah’s Witnesses complained to Forum 18. The three were accused under three articles of the Code of Administrative Offences.

 

On the morning of 31 May police again detained Shcherbenova and Gorshkova, together with another local Jehovah’s Witness, Elnnora Maksutova, for distributing religious literature. Police searched the homes of the three women, confiscating nearly 100 books and brochures in Uzbek and Russian, together with DVDs and personal notes. Police also sent the literature for an “expert analysis”, the subsequent court verdict states. Also confiscated were mobile phones, an MP4 player and a camera.

12-day illegal detention of Maksutova

 

In contrast to the others, Maksutova was taken to a “rehabilitation” centre for homeless people in Bukhara. There she was held illegally, without the order of a court, until her trial on 12 June, Jehovah’s Witnesses complained to Forum 18.

Trial of Shcherbenova, Gorshkova and Ten

 

After detaining Shcherbenova, Gorshkova and Ten on 31 May, police took them to Bukhara City Criminal Court. Judge Shukhrat Yadgarov found them guilty of violating Administrative Code Article 184-2 when they were first detained on on 10 May. The verdict – seen by Forum 18 – states that all three women admitted their guilt and promised not to repeat the “offence”. Gorshkova was fined a total of 100 months’ minimum wage, 6,629,000 Soms (about 20,900 Norwegian Kroner, 2,830 Euros, or 3,440 US Dollars at the inflated official exchange rate). Ten was fined a total of 20 months’ minimum wage, 1,250,400 Soms (about 3,940 Norwegian Kroner, 535 Euros, or 650 US Dollars).

Shcherbenova ordered to be jailed then deported

 

Shcherbenova was sentenced to 15 days’ imprisonment, to begin at 5.30 pm that day the verdict states. It adds that costs of the detention are to be collected from her.

 

The verdict also instructs Bukhara City Visa Office to annul Shcherbenova’s residence permit and deport her from Uzbekistan.

 

It also orders that the confiscated religious literature being held at Bukhara Police Station is to be destroyed as soon as the verdict enters into legal force. Judge Yadgarov had fined a group of Protestant Christians for their religious activity in February 2009.

Second trial of Shcherbenova and Gorshkova, first trial of Maksutova

 

On 12 June Shcherbenova was again tried by the same court, as she neared the end of her 15-day prison term. This prosecution related to the detentions on 31 May. Gorshkova was also accused, but did not appear for the trial. Maksutova also faced prosecution, according to the verdict seen by Forum 18.

 

The verdict states that Shcherbenova and Maksutova admitted violating the law on 31 May, and promised not to do so again.

 

Judge J. Murodov found all three women guilty. Gorshkova (in her absence) and Maksutova were each fined 100 months’ minimum wage, 6,629,000 Soms. This was the second time Gorshkova had been fined this amount within one month. Although Shcherbenova was found guilty, she was given an official warning in view of her impending deportation. The Judge ordered the mobile phones, MP4 player and camera to be confiscated. He ordered the confiscated religious literature – which included Bibles and New Testaments – to be destroyed as soon as the verdict had come into force.

Shcherbenova’s deportation

 

On 16 June, when she completed her 15-day imprisonment, Shcherbenova was deported. “She was immediately driven by the Uzbek authorities to the border with Kazakhstan where she was deported,” Jehovah’s Witnesses complained.

No answers

 

Reached on 25 July, no one at the police in Bukhara was prepared to discuss the detentions, literature confiscations, fines or deportation of Kazakh citizen Shcherbenova with Forum 18.

 

The telephone of the Visa office in Bukhara went unanswered the same day, as did telephones at Bukhara City Criminal Court.

 

Officials at Sergeli District Visa Office referred Forum 18 to its head, Utkir Buzakov, to discuss Russian citizen Tsyngalova’s case. However, his telephone went unanswered on 25 July.

 

No one at Sergeli District Prosecutor’s Office was prepared to discuss Tsyngalova’s deportation. Reached in the afternoon of 25 July, officials said Prosecutor Mullajanov was out at lunch. Called back later, the telephone went unanswered.

 

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many people found themselves to be citizens of a formerly Soviet state they had never lived in. Sometimes expelled individuals are formally deported, with “deported” stamped on their passports. On other such occasions they are pressured to leave with no record that they have been deported.

Russian Embassy “did everything possible”

 

Sergei Tkachenko, an official of the Russian Federation Embassy in Tashkent who had been involved in the case, insisted that the Embassy “did everything possible” in Tsyngalova’s case. He was speaking to Forum 18 from Tashkent on 25 July about five hours before her deportation. He refused to give any other information.

 

The telephones of Kazakhstan’s Embassy in Tashkent went unanswered each time Forum 18 called on 25 July.

 

Tsyngalova sent an appeal to the Office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Geneva on 11 July. This was followed by a further joint appeal on 17 July by all five women targeted by the authorities.

Administrative Code articles

 

The Jehovah’s Witnesses from Bukhara were accused on 10 May of breaking three Administrative Code articles:

 

Article 184-2 bans “Illegal production, storage, or import into Uzbekistan with a purpose to distribute or distribution of religious materials by physical persons”.

 

Punishments are a fine of between 50 and 150 time the minimum monthly wage, “with confiscation of the religious materials and the relevant means of their production and distribution”.

 

Article 240, Part 1 (“Violation of the Religion Law”) bans: “Carrying out of unauthorised religious activity, evasion by leaders of religious organisations of registration of the charter of the organisation, the organisation and conduct of worship by religious ministers and of special children’s and youth meetings, as well as vocational, literature and other study groups not relating to worship”.

 

Punishments range from fines of 50 to 100 times the minimum monthly salary to administrative arrest for up to 15 days.

 

Article 241 bans “Teaching religious beliefs without specialised religious education and without permission from the central organ of a [registered] religious organisation, as well as teaching religious beliefs privately”.

 

Punishments range from fines of 5 to 10 times the minimum monthly salary, or administrative arrest for up to 15 days.

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