The ban would mark the first time that the country has taken an official stance against the religious group.
(RNS) — Kyrgyzstan is expected to ban 13 Jehovah’s Witnesses publications on Thursday (Dec. 2) for extremism, marking the first time the country has taken an official stance against the religious group since the former Soviet republic granted the church national registration in 1998.
Jarrod Lopes, spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, said the move echoes the tactics employed against the group in Russia, Kyrgyzstan’s historic ally. According to Lopes, the Russian government, which has put several dozen Jehovah’s Witnesses on trial for proselytizing, often takes a first step of declaring any religious group’s literature as extremist before declaring group members extremist themselves.
“Kyrgyzstan is simply following Russia’s model of repression — ban the Witnesses’ literature with the ultimate goal of banning their organization,” said Lopes, who noted that Russia has more than 60 cases pending at the European Court of Human Rights concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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