Washington, D.C.’s United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Website expresses deep concern over the Russian government’s treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Underway since April 5, Russia’s Ministry Of Justice is asking its Supreme Court to outlaw Jehovah’s Witnesses, allowing their arrest and imprisonment and the confiscation of their property used in worship. Holocaust Museum Director Sara Bloomfield does not equate Russia’s crimes against humanity to Nazi Germany’s, but she draws a clear parallel: What ended up as the shamefully heinous murder of at least 1,400 Jehovah’s Witnesses in prisons and concentration camps all began when the Nazi Party declared Jehovah’s Witnesses a threat to Germany’s security and viciously persecuted them.

That is what Russia is doing today.

Heavy-handed history

Dr. Mark Elliott, founding editor of “East-West Church and Ministry Report,” of Kentucky’s Asbury University, says that in 1951-52 the Soviet Union exiled some 7,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses to Central Asia and Siberia. Picture the scene: You’re at home, asleep, and suddenly waken with a jolt. It’s 2:00 a.m. Someone’s pounding on your door. Wide awake, your whole family watches armed officials push their way into your home and order you to pack—you have two hours. You throw a few possessions and clothing into a suitcase and are escorted to a waiting train, which transports you thousands of miles from home.

State apologizes, then attacks

Decades later you and your family are allowed to return to your hometown.

In the 1990s, you are exonerated as innocent victims of repression and receive a certificate as an apology. Now, 20 years later, armed officials again invade and search your home, scaring you and your children out of your wits. Finding a children’s Bible storybook that you forgot to discard, the officials bark that you are in possession of extremist literature and take you to police headquarters.

Police harshly interrogate you, accuse you of extremism, criminally book you and even lead you to jail. The government had added that storybook in 2009 to a list of prohibited “extremist” publications. A children’s Bible stories book with extremist content!

Anti-extremist legislation misapplied

You now see just how flimsy those certificates of exoneration are.

You are again maligned as a danger to the nation and its citizens. This time you and your family are extremists, even terrorists. Russia’s anti-extremist legislation—drafted vaguely and imprecisely several years ago—is being misapplied to your family’s worship of God, which now supposedly is a criminal act.

Church invasions

YouTube has many security-camera videos that catch Russian officials red-handed, in the act of entering Kingdom Halls (Jehovah’s Witnesses’ places of worship) in the deep of the night, holding “banned” publications like that Bible stories book. They plant them on the premises and leave. The next day armed, masked officials invade your Kingdom Hall, interrupt religious services, mistreat and threaten you and other congregation members, and search the premises.

Lo and behold! They discover “illegal” publications—Bible-based books or brochures about how to live a clean, respectable life—that supposedly violate legislation intended to prevent terrorism. They find no bomb-making kits, no explosives, no weapons stockpile, no secret plans of attack … Yet the officials confiscate the building, and the next week your place of worship is now a government-“owned” parking lot.

Website tells all

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official Website (jw.org) contains much video proof, video testimonials of abused worshippers, even interviews with non-Witness experts like Dr. Elliott, who decry what Russia’s government is doing to this religious group—fooling no one. Moscow’s criminal case against Jehovah’s Witnesses resumes April 12.