Brutal Suppression of Freedom of Worship in Mozambique
A CURTAIN of darkness is falling in a sizable area of Africa. Yet for decades the cry there has been for the light of “Freedom!”
The peoples of many African countries for long years, even centuries, were under the yoke of conquering nations of other continents. They have sought and recently gained liberation from the political and economic subjection accompanying that yoke. But now, within some of those liberated lands, there is an attempt to wipe out a basic freedom of the people: Freedom of worship.
Once the colonial powers were accused of using raw power and military might to force native inhabitants into rigid conformity, with no allowance for difference of viewpoint or of conscience. Now the same raw power and military force are wielded in a brutal attack on the right to worship according to one’s conscience.
However, this time the attack is by Africans against fellow Africans, people of their own land! Awake! has recently reported on such assault on freedom of worship in Malawi.a Now a similar attack is taking place in neighboring Mozambique.
If a man wins out in a long struggle against a formidable opponent, onlookers—whether sympathetic to his struggle or not may be impressed with his courage and endurance. But would their esteem rise or fall if afterward they should see him turn upon a small child, beat and tie up the child, claiming it was a “dangerous threat” to him? In effect, this is what has happened in the East African country of Mozambique. Consider:
For three centuries Mozambique lay under Portuguese rule. But in the last ten years a determined struggle was waged by revolutionary forces to make the country independent. Finally, in the summer of 1975, Portugal turned over full control of the country to the principal revolutionary party, the “Front for the Liberation of Mozambique” (generally shortened to Frelimo). The long struggle had ended. A new era had begun for Mozambique.
Yet, within four months after the changeover of authority, a campaign was mounted to crush a small minority in the country—Jehovah’s witnesses. They number only about 7,000 among the 8,000,000 inhabitants of Mozambique. Compared to the nation as a whole, this minority is like a small child, defenseless from the physical standpoint and now robbed of all legal protection of their basic freedoms.
Reports received from Mozambique, beginning in the latter part of October 1975, show that massive arrests have been made. Almost all of the 7,000 witnesses of Jehovah in Mozambique have been imprisoned. A house-to-house hunt was made to find and arrest men, women and children. Men were arrested at their places of work without being able to contact their families. In many cases the arrests were accompanied by brutal beatings. The ultimate goal seems to be the complete elimination of Jehovah’s witnesses and their worship in all of Mozambique. The accomplishment of this can mean but one thing: The denial of freedom of worship, a principle firmly embodied in the constitution of the now independent country of Mozambique.
But why? Why seek to obliterate a people known around the earth as being peaceful and politically harmless? What had Jehovah’s witnesses done? What does their record in Mozambique show? When brought out from under the obscurity caused by clouds of propaganda, the facts reveal a remarkable scene, particularly in this so-called “Age of Enlightenment.”
a See Awake! December 8, 1975, and December 22, 1975, for detailed reports.
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