|For Immediate Release
August 7, 2007
Turkey registers Jehovah’s Witnesses’ association
ISTANBUL, TURKEY—On Tuesday, July 31, 2007, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Turkey received a letter of certification confirming that the “Association for the Support of Jehovah’s Witnesses” has been officially registered. Because they were able to register this religious legal entity, the Witnesses can now purchase and own property, rent meeting places for conventions, accept donations, and defend their legal interests in court when necessary. One European official characterized the development as “revolutionary.”
The international Christian religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses was granted this significantly improved status in Turkey despite some obstacles along the way. In 2004, the government passed a new law that allowed religious associations to be formed, in line with European standards. Jehovah’s Witnesses filed the charter for their Association to the Istanbul authorities on July 11, 2005. The constitutionality of the charter was challenged in court by government officials. Finally, on May 17, 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Sisli 3rd First Instance Court in Istanbul, confirming that the charter for the Association complied with the Turkish Constitution.
In recent years, freedom of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses has been improving in Turkey. However, some Jehovah’s Witnesses still face fines and imprisonment. There are, for example, no provisions in the law for conscientious objection and neither is there any opportunity for alternative civilian service.
The modern-day activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Turkey can be traced back to 1933, when 22 persons assembled together for the Memorial of Christ’s death and 5 were baptized. Today, some 3,500 members and active supporters make up 33 congregations and groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses there.
In Turkey: Ercument Kadim, telephone
In Belgium: Luca Toffoli, telephone
In the United States: James Andrik, telephone