TBILISI, DFWatch–Jehovah’s Witnesses in Georgia continue to be under pressure as another community denies the establishment of a prayer house.
This time, it is locals in Terjola, a town in Imereti, western Georgia, who refuse to allow another community of believers to set root.
Though the city council allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses to build a Kingdom Hall in order to gather there and pray, the construction process has stopped on June 3.
At first, locals were against building a prayer house for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and protested against it.
In a video sent to the neoliberal magazine Tabula by David Bluashvili, the Orthodox cleric Spiridon Tskipurishvili was leading the protesters. He says they are against any other religious prayer houses.
“You don’t have a right to build prayer a house here, because 85% of Georgians are Orthodox Christians,” the cleric says in the video.
Head of Terjola municipality Malkhaz Gurgenidze told journalists on June 3 that the brunt of locals’ demands would be considered.
Later, one of the protesters complained to the city council, claiming that the area is seismically unstable, and that that was the reason the construction work was suspended.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) visited Terjola about a week ago and claims the local government showed an unscrupulous loyalty toward majority, who was against the construction, as other local governments solved the religious conflicts in other regions.
Though the government satisfied unfair demand of the majority, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still pressured, threatened, verbally and physically abused and police do not react effectively,” EMC write.
EMC called on the local government in Terjola to stop its discriminatory policy toward Jehovah’s Witnesses, and asked the Interior Ministry to react adequately to such cases.
The group also asked the agency for religious issues to develop an information policy for locals in Terjola about the Jehovah’s Witnesses case.