Georgia: Jehovah’s Witnesses cancel convention after raids against them

Source: BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union – Political
Publication date: 2002-08-16
http://– BROKEN URL -/pages/newsreal/Story.nsp?story_id=32206131
Text of report by Georgian TV station Rustavi-2 on 16 August

[Presenter] A ruthless raid against Jehovah’s Witnesses took place last night in the village of Ortasheni in Gori District, where a group of people attacked a house of one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have beaten up the owner of the house, burnt a lot of literature and pillaged the place. According to eyewitnesses, some 100 people took part in the raid. They were wearing black clothes with white crosses on them. Jehovah’s Witnesses suspect members of the Jvari [The Cross] organization from the town of Rustavi.

[First uncaptioned local resident, in the courtyard of the house with cinders in front of it] A mob charged at it. There were 100- 120 of them. They immediately took to crashing and breaking, without warning. You see the broken fence. Then they opened the gate, went to the courtyard and started to rummage through everything, everything they saw.

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[Second uncaptioned local resident] I came out and saw people running and shouting. You could hear crashing and clattering. They were breaking everything. I could see it.

[Correspondent] How many of those with white crosses, the members of Jvari, did you see?

[Second uncaptioned local resident] Well, they had crosses on their clothes. They were about 50 or 60. I could not count them, could I?

[Third uncaptioned local resident] There are 15 households of locals [presumably Jehovah’s Witnesses], and these [presumably Jvari members] were many.

[Correspondent] So the Orthodox Christians did not take part in the raid?

[Third uncaptioned local resident] Not at all. Those guys came here and we did sign a letter [presumably against the Jehovah’s Witnesses], but now it looks as if we are like them. They were bellowing and bothering the people they said they were defending [presumably from Jehovah’s Witnesses]. There are three or four Orthodox Christian families living there.

[Presenter] Last night, the house of a Jehovah’s Witness residing in the town of Kaspi, [Ushangi] Bunturi, was raided for the second time in the last two days. A major convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses was scheduled today at that household. Several dozen people broke into the house last night and burnt the sheds and literature. Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying that members of the Jvari organization took part in the raid in Kaspi.

A stage and seats installed for the convention were burnt in the same house the day before yesterday. Because of these incidents, Jehovah’s Witnesses have cancelled the convention. Some 3,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses were expected to start arriving in Kaspi from this morning on, but Basil Mkalavishvili’s [defrocked Georgian Orthodox priest campaigning against Jehovah’s Witnesses] parishioners took control of the entrances to Kaspi and would not let Jehovah’s Witnesses into the town. The Jvari members were with them.

Guram Sharadze [MP campaigning against religious sects] arrived in Kaspi, too. His meeting with local people began about an hour ago in the round hall of the Kaspi stadium. The house in which the convention was to be held is now guarded by the police.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 16, 2002.
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