Jehovah's Witnesses defend right to build a Kingdom Hall in Moldova


GagauzInfo, 17 May 2016


Representatives of the religious cult of Jehovah's Witnesses of Chadyr-Lunga sent to city hall a preliminary application in which they ask for a review of an order of 23 March 2016 cancelling a permit for constructing a house of worship, dated 26 January 2016.


The Jehovah's Witnesses argue the case for their request by the fact that they are the owners of a parcel of land located at Tanasoglo Street, 52. In January 2016, city hall issued a permit for the construction on this parcel of a house of worship and then that decision was cancelled.


At the same time, the applicants write, other religious groups on the territory of the city have built and use worship facilities unhindered.


Ministers of the cult think that there are no legal bases for cancelling the permit and the public hearings that were held in city hall on this issue "bore the clearly expressed character of religious intolerance and discrimination."


"In accordance with articles 16, 27, and 31 of the constitution of the republic of Moldova and articles 4 and 39 of the Moldovan law 'On freedom of conscience, thought, and religious confession,' each person has the right to freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious confession," the application says.


Jehovah's Witnesses also maintain that the public hearings were not based on the law and cannot serve as the basis for any decisions, particularly for cancellation of the permit for construction.


The application says that in the event that the order cancelling the construction permit is not rescinded in the near future, the religious cult will be forced to inform representations of international organizations in the republic of Moldova about the above stated circumstances, the news portal reports, citing the official website of the residential area.


We recall that in March, public hearings were held in the Cadyr-Lunga city hall on the draft of a decision of the city council for changing the designation of the building located at Tanasoglo Street, 52, from residential to worship, for the purpose of accommodating the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses there.


The hearings were arranged because city hall received a petition signed by several hundred citizens that stated the demand to prohibit construction of said building. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 May 2016)



GagauzInfo, 30 March 2016


Public hearings were held in the city hall of Chadyr-Lunga on the draft of a decision of the city council for changing the designation of a building located at Tanasoglo Street, 52, from residence to house of worship in order to accommodate the religious association of Jehovah's Witnesses there.


The hearings were arranged after city hall received a petition signed by several thousand citizens demanding prohibition of the allocation of the premises of this church. The topic interested an enormous number of residents and the room was not able to accommodate all who wished to participate in the debates and many desired to express themselves.


Before the debates, Mayor Anatoly Topal urged citizens to be calm and wise in discussion of the question, which should be resolved in accordance with law.


"The topic is very important to citizens. Very many appeals and phone calls have been received. According to law, all such important questions should be discussed in public hearings. The decision of the city council will be made only after debates," Topal said.


The mayor declared that, regardless of the attitude of citizens on this question, city hall does not have the right not to receive the Jehovah's Witnesses' application.


"We are required to consider it. But in December we confirmed the city construction plan which had been worked out by the enterprise 'Urbanproject,' and cost a lot of money. There it was indicated how Chadyr-Lunga should develop and where and what kind of buildings may be built. The construction of this church was not foreseen. That is the first thing. Secondly, if it is proposed to build in a densely populated district, and Tanasoglo Street is such, then the procedure should proceed according to the regulation. As head of the city, I am obligated to guarantee calm in Chadyr-Lunga and not to permit strife on religious grounds. As a citizen and as an Orthodox Christian, I that that we have sufficiently legal arguments to not permit the construction of a Jehovah's Witnesses church on the territory of the city," the mayor added.


The mayor recalled that every person has the right to belong to any confession, the news portal reported, citing the newspaper Moldavskie Vedomosti.


But all speakers, without exception, expressed discontent and indignation with regard to the activity of what they called the "sectarian" church of Jehovah's Witnesses, saying that Jehovists are a totalitarian sect of an anti-Christian orientation, whose teaching is capable of inflicting enormous harm since it negatively affects people's consciousness, especially children and adolescents.


It was noted that this church is prohibited in many countries. Orthodox priests also participated in the debates.


The public demanded that city authorities prohibit the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses in Chadyr-Lunga and protect the interests of Orthodox believers. People assured the mayor of their support in the event of court proceedings. They even suggested holding a city referendum.


Council members supported the citizens. Thus, Nikolai Kiseev noted that the task of the city council is to protect voters' interests. "And if council members are not able to resolve some issues for financial or other reasons, then on such an issue it is necessary to devote all efforts so as to help Orthodox citizens. And if this is achieved, one can consider that it is not in vain that people trust us," Nikolai Kiseev said.


It was decided to send to the prosecutor's office a joint appeal of city hall and city residents for a review of the legality of the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses in Chadyr-Lunga. The Jehovists' application will be considered at a future session of the city council. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 May 2016)

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