The earthly part of Jehovah’s organization is irresistibly on the move! We invite you to read about exciting developments that have taken place over the past months.
Properties Bought and Sold
A New Location for World Headquarters
In July 2009, Jehovah’s Witnesses purchased a plot of land in the state of New York, U.S.A., with plans to relocate their world headquarters. The 253-acre [102 ha] property is located about 50 miles [80 km] northwest of the existing facilities, which have been in Brooklyn, New York, since 1909.
Some 800 Bethelites will live and work at the new facility, which will include an office building, a services building, maintenance buildings, and four residence buildings. A modest museum documenting the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses is also planned for the site.
The facility will take up 45 acres [18 ha] of the purchased property, leaving the surrounding forest and wetlands undeveloped. The landscaping will not include any large lawn areas. Instead, the buildings will harmonize with the site’s wooded location. To conserve resources, architects have designed the buildings to be energy efficient, which will result in minimal environmental impact and low operating costs. For example, the roofs of the buildings will be covered with hardy, low-maintenance plants, both to decrease the runoff of rain and to stabilize temperatures inside the buildings. The office design takes advantage of natural light for illumination. Water conservation is also a priority.
What prompted the planned move? Branch offices in other parts of the world now share in the printing of Bibles and Bible-based literature, which was once exclusively done in Brooklyn. In 2004, printing and shipping operations in the United States were moved to Wallkill, New York, about 90 miles [145 km] northwest of Brooklyn. Cost too is a consideration. It is expensive to operate and maintain the aging and scattered facilities in Brooklyn. By relocating to a compact facility, we can make better use of donated funds.
Branch Offices Consolidated
As of September 2012, the oversight of more than two dozen branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been transferred to larger branches. There are two main reasons for the changes:
1. Technology has simplified the work. In recent years, improvements in communications and printing technology have reduced the number of personnel needed at larger branches. With fewer people serving at larger branches, room became available to house some who were working in smaller branches in other countries.
Now, from key locations, a pool of experienced Witnesses cares for the work of Bible education. For example, the preaching work in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama has come under the supervision of the Mexico branch. Consequently, the branch offices in those six countries were closed. Forty Bethel family members from those branches were reassigned to the Mexico branch. About 95 others remained in their native countries, where they took up the full-time ministry.
Others in those Central American countries continued work in translation offices under the supervision of the Mexico branch. For example, about 20 translators in Panama translate Bible publications into indigenous languages. In Guatemala, 16 Witnesses translate publications into four local languages. The reorganization efforts in Central America have reduced the number of Bethelites from 300 to about 75.
2. More full-time workers available for preaching. Because of the mergers, brothers who had been serving in small branches can now concentrate on preaching the good news. One brother in Africa, who was reassigned to the preaching activity, wrote: “Adjusting my lifestyle to suit the new circumstances was a challenge during the first few months. However, being in the ministry daily has brought me joy and blessings beyond measure. Presently, I am conducting Bible studies with 20 people, and some of them now attend congregation meetings.”
A Longtime Brooklyn Landmark
Day and night for more than 40 years, the 15-foot-tall [4.6 m] red letters atop the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been a familiar sight to residents of New York City, many of whom depend on the sign’s useful display of the time and temperature.
A sign was originally installed more than 70 years ago by the previous owner of the building. Jehovah’s Witnesses changed the sign to its present form after purchasing the building in 1969.
To make it more efficient and accurate, the sign has been modified several times. In the mid-1980’s, a display of the temperature in Celsius was added to the alternating display of the time and temperature in Fahrenheit.
Eboni, who can see the sign from her apartment in Brooklyn, said: “It’s nice just to look out the window to see the time and temperature before I go to work. It keeps me on time and helps me dress for the weather.”
Will the sign remain there for another 40 years? With the planned relocation of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ world headquarters, that decision will rest with the future owners of the building.
Spreading the Word
Something New for Manhattan
In November 2011, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses began to acquaint people in Manhattan with the Bible’s message by means of attractive display tables and carts. This initiative is taking place in the southern part of Manhattan, the busiest and oldest borough of New York City. The area was divided into four zones. Each zone has several locations where those passing by can stop at a well-arranged table or cart stocked with Bible literature and attended by a local pioneer. Most displays can be found in or near transportation hubs, through which tens of thousands of people pass each day.
At these locations, people can learn the Bible’s answer to many questions. People who do not wish to linger can pick up a publication to read later. Literature is available in many languages. If a publication is not available in a desired language, it may be ordered and picked up a few days later.
The public as well as the authorities have welcomed this initiative. One police officer said: “What took you so long? You really have what people need.” One man stopped abruptly when he saw the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? He said that he noticed people on the subway reading the book and wondered where they had obtained it. Now he knows.
One young man walked past one of the tables every day for six weeks on his way to work. Eventually he stopped and said, “I need help.” Those manning the table were happy to assist. They gave him a Bible and showed him how to benefit from it. Enthusiastic passersby have stopped to discuss spiritual matters, and in eight months’ time, 1,748 expressed a desire to study the Bible. By June 2012, this initiative had allowed the public to obtain 27,934 magazines and 61,019 books.
Our Magazines—Fewer Pages, More Languages
Beginning with the January 2013 issues, Awake! and the public edition of The Watchtower were reduced from 32 pages to 16 pages. Because the magazines contain less material, translation teams will be able to make them available in more languages. Presently, Awake! is translated into 98 languages and The Watchtower into 204. The study edition of The Watchtower will continue to be a 32-page magazine.
Some of the content previously featured in the magazines now appears only on the www.jw.org Web site. This includes “For Young People,” “My Bible Lessons,” and the Gilead graduation report from the public edition of The Watchtower and “For Family Review” and “Young People Ask” from Awake!
In addition, a series of online articles available only on the Web site provides clear, concise answers to questions about the Bible and about Jehovah’s Witnesses. The printed material is also available for download online. With a computer or mobile device, users can quickly access our publications at www.jw.org in over 440 languages.
Our Web Site Gets a Face-Lift
During the past few months, dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses at world headquarters in New York have been working to make www.jw.org more attractive and easier to navigate from either a computer or a mobile device. In addition, they have revamped the Web site, with two goals in mind:
1. To merge our Web sites. Three Web sites managed by Jehovah’s Witnesses have been consolidated into one official Web site—www.jw.org. The other two, www.watchtower.org and www.jw-media.org, have been discontinued. Consolidation of Web content provides a one-stop source for those who look for information from or about Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, you can read, listen to, or print pages of the Bible and related publications in many languages.
On August 27, 2012, the redesigned www.jw.org Web site was launched
2. To add information. The updated Web site has answers to Bible questions and information about the preaching work, branch offices, Kingdom Halls, and conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A “News” section reports on events affecting our brothers worldwide. There are also interactive features for families, teens, and children.
On a typical day, several hundred thousand people read our publications online. They download close to half a million audio, EPUB, PDF, or sign-language video files. Daily, a hundred people request that someone study the Bible with them.
Help for People of All Sorts
The Six-Foot Bible
The complete New World Translation—available in English, Spanish, and Italian Braille—ranges from 20 to 28 volumes and requires a minimum of six feet five inches [2 m] of shelf space! Other Braille formats require less room than a Bible on embossed paper. For example, Braille notetakers enable the blind to take notes and to access electronically stored information by means of a portable device that raises and lowers pins to produce Braille symbols. The blind can also locate and listen to publications with the help of screen readers, which convert written text into the spoken word.
For more than 100 years, the Witnesses have produced Bible-based publications for the blind, and these are now available in 19 languages. Though interested blind people can have these publications without charge, many make a voluntary donation.
The Witnesses have developed a computer program that is capable of transcribing text into Braille in many languages. After a conversion table is set up containing both the vernacular print and the Braille characters, the program is able to convert text into Braille. It also formats the publication in a way that makes it easy for the blind to read. This automation will make it possible to produce Braille publications, including the Braille Bible, in virtually any language that has Braille characters, including those that use nonroman scripts.
Previously, when a new publication was released at a convention, the audience was told that the releases in Braille could be ordered later. Last year, the United States branch office surveyed the congregations to find out which conventions blind individuals planned to attend and which format (embossed paper, electronic notetaker, or electronic screen reader) they preferred.
Embossed paper copies were shipped to the conventions that had blind individuals in attendance, which made it possible for them to receive the new releases at the same time as everyone else. A week after the convention, electronic formats were e-mailed to each person who desired them.
A blind sister said: “It was a wonderful privilege to receive the literature along with everyone else. Psalm 37:4 says that Jehovah will give us the requests of our heart. He did that this weekend!” Another blind Witness began to weep and said, “Thanks to Jehovah for caring for us so well!”
Thousands Learn to Read and Write
In 2011, Jehovah’s Witnesses helped more than 5,700 people to become literate. This is what has been happening in some countries:
Ghana: During the past 25 years, we have helped more than 9,000 learn to read and write.
Mozambique: More than 19,000 have learned to read over the past 15 years. A student named Felizarda said: “It makes me happy now that I can read Bible texts to others. That was very difficult for me before.”
Solomon Islands: The branch office writes: “In the past, many living in isolated areas did not have access to schools. Also, very few girls received a formal education. Therefore, women in particular have benefited from the literacy classes. After completing the course, many have more confidence in themselves.”
Zambia: Since 2002, nearly 12,000 have improved their literacy skills. Agnes, who is 82 years old, says: “When congregation literacy classes were announced, I was happy to enroll. At the first lesson, I learned to write my own name!”
Songs of Praise in Many Languages
Jehovah’s Witnesses are already translating Bible literature into some 600 languages. Translating an entire songbook of 135 songs is a particularly daunting task. Yet, within three years the entire new songbook, Sing to Jehovah, was translated into 116 languages. An additional 55 languages have a 55-song version of the songbook, and dozens of other language editions are on the way.
Translators of songs aim to produce lyrics that are meaningful, beautiful, and memorable. Additionally, the wording used in a song of praise should be simple enough for the singer to grasp the meaning and intent of each phrase. In every language, the words and music need to combine and flow naturally, as if they are the words of the singer.
How do the translators achieve that goal? Rather than produce phrases that are translated literally from the original English lyrics of Sing to Jehovah, they write new lyrics for the music that capture the essence of the original song. While striving to adhere closely to the Scriptural thought behind each song, translators use common expressions in their language that are easily understood and remembered.
The first step is to make a literal translation of the English song. Next, a Witness with skill in writing song lyrics works on turning the translated text into colorful yet meaningful lyrics in the new language. Always conscious of maintaining Scriptural accuracy, the translation team and proofreaders then examine the work of the lyricist. Although it takes a huge amount of work to translate our songbook, Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world have been overjoyed to sing songs of praise in their own language.
Remote Translation Offices
The book of Revelation prophesied that the anointed ones in our day would invite people to come and “take life’s water free.” (Rev. 22:17) This invitation would be extended to “all . . . peoples and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9) Until recently, most translators worked at their branch office, even if their language was spoken in other areas of the territory. It was a challenge for them to keep up with their language and to reach the hearts of those reading the translated publications. Now, though, many teams of translators are being relocated to offices in the areas where their language is spoken. This has proved to be a blessing in many ways, as is shown by the following comments from translators.
A Maya translator in Mexico stated: “I felt like a little plant that was put back into its own soil, its natural environment.” A translator in southern Russia said: “Having the office located in a place where people speak the language is paradise for the translators. How the language is used on television, in books, and on the Internet differs greatly from how people speak in everyday life. In our case, the only way to translate naturally is to hear live speech.”
“I felt like a little plant that was put back into its own soil, its natural environment”
A Tshiluba translator in Congo observed: “We speak our language every day—in our daily activities, such as shopping and conversing with our neighbors, in our preaching work, and at Christian meetings. We study what we have translated, and we use the Tshiluba publications in the ministry, so we can see firsthand whether people understand the language used by the translators.”
A Lhukonzo translator in Uganda said: “You cannot imagine how happy we are when we attend meetings conducted in the language we speak and translate. We also enjoy the field ministry more, since we now talk to people in the language of our heart.”
There have also been benefits to the congregations to which translators have been assigned. Regarding the Maya translators, one sister said: “The translators encourage us by their fine words and example. It is like having a part of Bethel with us, and that is something very special.”
The interchange is mutually encouraging. A translator in Kenya said: “With very little published material in Luo, people here never imagined that they would see such high-quality publications in their own language. Therefore, many are thrilled to receive them. When I observe this reaction, it really encourages me and gives me more reason to continue in my assignment and to do my best.”
Many of these translators have served for years, even decades, at a branch office. Their fine spirit and willingness to put the interests of Jehovah’s sheep ahead of their own is greatly appreciated, and this spirit is being blessed. A Xhosa translator in South Africa summed up the feelings of many: “The decision to set up these translation offices is an excellent decision made by the Governing Body. We were happy at Bethel, but we are happier in the translation office.”
Dispatches—News From Around the World
“The Brothers Took Good Care of Us”
On Sunday, June 3, 2012, there was a tragic air disaster in Nigeria. A plane carrying 153 persons crashed in a crowded suburb of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, killing all on board and an unknown number on the ground.
Collins Eweh and his family lived on the top floor of the three-story apartment building that was hit by the plane. When the accident occurred, the family was attending a congregation meeting at the Kingdom Hall.
At about 3:35 p.m., during the Watchtower Study, Collins and his wife, Chinyere, noticed several calls on their cell phones, which they did not answer. As soon as the meeting finished, Chinyere answered her phone. Neighbors informed her that her apartment building was on fire. On arriving there, the Ewehs saw that the plane had crashed through their building and landed on a nearby building, where it burst into flames.
“If we had been at home,” said Chinyere, “we would surely have died. After the disaster, we were left with only our meeting clothes, but we have our lives. The circuit overseer immediately set up a relief committee, and the brothers took good care of us. We are very grateful.”
Collins said: “My relatives who had been opposed to my being a Witness have changed their minds. One of them told me: ‘Your Jehovah answers prayers. Hold on to your God because he helps you.’ Another person said: ‘Whatever you have been doing to serve God, continue to do it whole-souled.’ We have truly seen Jehovah’s hand in our case. I am very happy.”
Parliament Approves Church Registration
On February 27, 2012, the government of Hungary adopted an extension of the Church Law recognizing Jehovah’s Witnesses as a registered religious community. This legal status will be of further help in preaching the good news in Hungary. It also gives Jehovah’s Witnesses tax-free status and allows them to accept donations and to make pastoral visits in prisons and hospitals.
The Memorial in a Special Setting
A special pioneer from Rundu, Namibia, reported on the Memorial that he attended in a nearby village. Interest had been found there, so the brothers decided to hold the Memorial in the local language, Rumanyo, for the first time. He wrote: “The setting was beautiful, outdoors under the full moon, with paraffin lamps and two battery lights.” It made the group feel close to Jehovah. The only publisher in the area started preaching in March, but the Memorial was attended by 275!
Branch Dedications Honor Jehovah
The date November 19, 2011, holds a special place in the history of Jehovah’s organization in Central African Republic and Chad. On that day, 269 brothers and sisters assembled in front of the newly completed branch facilities. It was a pleasure to have Samuel Herd, a member of the Governing Body, present to dedicate the new Bethel complex to Jehovah for use in His service. During the program, the history of the preaching work in the two countries was recounted. It started in 1947 in Central African Republic and in Chad in 1959. The next talk gave details of the construction and all that was involved in completing the buildings. After greetings from numerous countries were conveyed, the audience enjoyed the dedication talk delivered by Brother Herd. The 42 members of the Bethel family appreciate having eight translation offices, a kitchen, a dining room, and a laundry that meet their needs. With 22 residence rooms and other facilities, such as a reception area, administrative offices, and a shipping area, the Bethel family can function very well.
It was the first branch dedication in Congo
Saturday, May 26, 2012, saw a momentous event for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Congo (Kinshasa). After eight years of construction and renovation, the branch facilities were dedicated. This occasion was special because, although a branch office has existed in Congo for almost 50 years, this was the first branch dedication program ever held in the country. Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body was present to give the dedication talk on the branch property before an audience of 2,422, the majority of whom had been baptized for more than 40 years. There were 117 guests from 23 countries. Some missionaries who had served in Congo many years earlier shared encouraging experiences with the audience. All were thrilled and pleased to resolve to use these buildings solely for the worship of Jehovah.
On June 30, 2011, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the government of France violated the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses when it imposed a 60 percent tax on all religious donations made to Jehovah’s Witnesses in France between 1993 and 1996. Although the Court invited the parties to settle the matter amicably, the government insisted that the excessive taxation was not illegal, so a friendly settlement was not possible. Thus, in a decision issued on July 5, 2012, the ECHR ordered the French government to remove “all consequences” of the tax. In addition to returning 4,590,295 euros ($5,749,440 U.S.) that were confiscated when the taxation was imposed (plus interest accrued since the money was confiscated), the government is to pay the Witnesses an additional 55,000 euros ($68,890 U.S.) for legal expenses.
Jehovah’s loyal servants in Eritrea have been stripped of their citizenship because of their faithful stand on neutrality. (Isa. 2:4) Over the past 17 years, many have been arrested, and at present about 50 brothers and sisters, including elderly women and children as young as two years old, are in prison. Sadly, in July 2011, Brother Misghina Gebretinsae became the first Witness to die in Eritrea’s prisons. Prior to his death, he was in solitary confinement in a sheet-metal container for a week; he is alleged to have died under “mysterious” circumstances. Our brothers continue to make efforts to meet with officials to help them understand that our peaceful nature and desire to remain neutral are not in conflict with our respect for the government of Eritrea.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in India continue to endure mob violence while engaging in their ministry. Men, women, minors, and even a 60-year-old grandmother and an 18-month-old baby have experienced verbal and physical assaults. Some have been stripped of their clothing and even threatened with death. Police inaction and prejudice have added to the victimization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instead of prosecuting the perpetrators, the police have incarcerated the Witnesses under falsely based criminal charges. Those arrested are often subjected to unreasonable bail conditions and verbal and physical assaults by the police and are refused medical attention, food, and water. Thereafter, they endure years of litigation as criminal defendants before they are exonerated. Several human rights complaints have been filed with the National Human Rights Commission in the hope that it will come to the aid of our brothers.
In November 2011, the ECHR unanimously concluded that Turkey had violated the right of freedom of conscience of Yunus Erçep, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was convicted and imprisoned for his conscientious objection to military service. Since March 1998, Brother Erçep has been called up for military duty 39 times and has been prosecuted over 30 times. Brother Erçep has been fined, imprisoned, and confined to a psychiatric hospital for “religious paranoia.”
In October 2004, Brother Erçep filed an application to the ECHR. In its judgment, the Court stated that “the applicant, as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, sought to be exempted from military service not for reasons of personal benefit or convenience but on the ground of his genuinely held religious convictions.”
Feti Demirtaş is another one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Turkey who refused military training when he was called up in 2005. He was arrested, beaten, prosecuted, and imprisoned for 554 days until his release in June 2007. Because Brother Demirtaş would not compromise his Bible-based beliefs, a report was prepared to classify him as having a mental illness. In its judgment against Turkey, the ECHR found that Brother Demirtaş suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of Turkish authorities and that his right to freedom of conscience had been violated.
The above two ECHR decisions closely follow the landmark judgment of July 2011 (Bayatyan v. Armenia) in which the Grand Chamber of the ECHR confirmed that the European Convention protects the rights of conscientious objectors. These rulings are binding on all member states of the Council of Europe, including Turkey.
The ECHR also issued judgments against Armenia in the cases Bukharatyan v. Armenia and Tsaturyan v. Armenia in January 2012, confirming the violation of religious freedom of two of Jehovah’s Witnesses who conscientiously objected to military service. In rendering its judgments, the Court cited its landmark Bayatyan v. Armenia judgment.
Despite these historic judgments against Armenia, though, the government continues to prosecute, convict, and imprison conscientious objectors. Amendments to the Law on Alternative Service, approved by the government of Armenia in March 2012, have yet to be considered by parliament. It is hoped that the Armenian government will implement the ECHR judgments by releasing brothers who are still imprisoned as conscientious objectors.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan continue to face governmental pressure: raids and arrests for attending religious meetings, censorship of religious literature, deportation of foreign members, physical and verbal abuse by the police, and the threat of deregistration. Since the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations turned down the Witnesses’ application for reregistration, police have increasingly disrupted the Witnesses’ peaceful meetings for worship, interfered with their ministry, and restricted the importation and distribution of their Bible literature. Courts have imposed heavy fines on Jehovah’s Witnesses for distributing religious literature and attending religious meetings. For example, one sister was fined $1,909 (U.S.) for attending a meeting in the city of Ganja. Because these punitive actions violate the right to worship freely as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, numerous applications have been filed with the ECHR in the hope of bringing an end to the harassment and persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan.
Law-enforcement officials in various parts of Russia continue to harass and persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses and press the courts to condemn the Witnesses for exercising their freedom to worship God. On the basis of a widely criticized law on extremism, the Russian courts have declared at least 64 publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be extremist. Recently, a prosecutor requested that Learn From the Great Teacher, a book that teaches children about Jesus Christ, be declared extremist. In many parts of Russia, the courts have also blocked access to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official Web site. They have granted law-enforcement officials permission to carry out covert surveillance of congregation members, including secret video surveillance and interception of mail. As a result, the police regularly interview opposing neighbors, search the homes of Witnesses, and confiscate religious literature and other personal items. Witnesses have been apprehended while walking on the street, driving their car, or getting off a train. Christian meetings have been disrupted by the police, and elders have been prosecuted for their spiritual shepherding activities in the congregation. In some regions, prosecutors are trying to get the courts to order the liquidation of Local Religious Organizations (LRO) of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In May 2012 in the city of Taganrog, 17 Witnesses were charged with organizing and participating in criminal activity merely for practicing their faith. It was in this region that the LRO of Jehovah’s Witnesses was liquidated in 2009 by court order and the Kingdom Hall was confiscated because of alleged extremism. Denied the use of their Kingdom Hall, the Witnesses met in private homes or rented halls, but now the authorities are trying to prevent all organized worship. In July 2012, a pioneer couple in the Siberian city of Chita was found guilty of incitement to hatred because they distributed the allegedly extremist Bible study book What Does the Bible Really Teach? while sharing their faith with others. They were each sentenced to 200 hours of compulsory labor, but they are appealing their conviction.
Although the ECHR has rendered two resounding victories for Jehovah’s Witnesses against Russia—Kuznetsov and Others v. Russia in 2007 and Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia in 2010—the Russian authorities continue to ignore these decisions from this prestigious Court. Consequently, Jehovah’s Witnesses have another 19 applications pending before the ECHR in the hope that further decisions from the ECHR will move Russian authorities to cease persecuting Jehovah’s people and to allow them to “go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.”—1 Tim. 2:2.
South Korea continues to imprison young brothers because of their Christian neutrality. Each month about 45 young brothers are convicted and sentenced to one and a half years in prison. As a result, about 750 brothers are currently suffering imprisonment in Korea. This is the largest number of Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned for their faith in any country of the world. Since 1950, some 17,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been sentenced to a total of more than 32,000 years of prison time.
In 2012, the authorities stepped up their repression of Witness conscientious objectors by sentencing to prison terms—for the first time—individuals who conscientiously objected to their call-up as reservists. In the past, these individuals were only fined for refusing reservist military training. Because there are several reservist call-ups over the years, those who object to reservist duty will face multiple trials. For example, in November 2011, Ho-jeong Son was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. Then, in June 2012, he was again tried and this time sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. He was detained immediately after the second trial and released on bail after 29 days, pending the outcome of his appeal. He now faces a prison sentence of 14 months.
In South Korea, each month about 45 young brothers are convicted and sentenced to one and a half years in prison
On several occasions, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has condemned South Korea for violating the right to freedom of conscience. New applications are currently pending before this Committee and before the South Korean Constitutional Court in an attempt to resolve the matter.