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AsiaINDIA - Bomb attempt against Jehovah’s Witnesses’ gathering, three dead and...

INDIA – Bomb attempt against Jehovah’s Witnesses’ gathering, three dead and dozens injured

Willy Fautre
Willy Fautrehttps://www.hrwf.eu
Willy Fautré, former chargé de mission at the Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry of Education and at the Belgian Parliament. He is the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), an NGO based in Brussels that he founded in December 1988. His organization defends human rights in general with a special focus on ethnic and religious minorities, freedom of expression, women’s rights and LGBT people. HRWF is independent from any political movement and any religion. Fautré has carried out fact-finding missions on human rights in more than 25 countries, including in perilous regions such as in Iraq, in Sandinist Nicaragua or in Maoist held territories of Nepal. He is a lecturer in universities in the field of human rights. He has published many articles in university journals about relations between state and religions. He is a member of the Press Club in Brussels. He is a human rights advocate at the UN, the European Parliament and the OSCE.

A former Jehovah’s Witness claims responsibility. After Germany (March 2023) and Italy (April 2023), Jehovah’s Witnesses are now killed in a bomb attack in another democracy, India

An explosive device blew up at a convention center in southern India killing three persons and wounding dozens of others on Sunday 29 October.

About 2,300 Jehovah’s Witnesses were gathered for a three-day gathering at the Zamra International Convention Center in the town of Kalamassery in Kerala state when the explosion took place.

The state’s top police officer, Sheik Darvesh Saheb, said an initial investigation has revealed an improvised explosive device was used.

The wounded, many of them with burn injuries, were transported to hospital for treatment, he said.

Videos filmed right after the blast and shared online showed fire inside the convention center and rescuers helping people evacuate the building.

Dominic Martin, a former Jehovah’s Witness, claimed in a six-minute Facebook video, subsequently removed that he was behind Sunday’s deadly massive blasts at a gathering of the Christian group.

He surrendered to cops after posting the footage online saying he was responsible for the explosions at the Zamra International Convention Center in Kerala. He was put in custody.

He said in a social media posting claimed Jehovah’s Witnesses were “anti-national”, refusing to sing the national anthem, and said he tried to convince the group to change its views on a number of its teachings.

Hindu nationalism is responsible for many acts of violence against Muslims and Christians in India.

About 2,300 Jehovah’s Witnesses were attending the three-day event at the convention center and Martin was not registered to attend.

The movement has about 60,000 followers in India which has a population of over 1.4 billion inhabitants. It is apolitical and non-violent. In all the countries where they are established, their members are conscientious objectors to military service.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a global religious minority in over 200 countries and territories.

Media coverage

International media outlets largely and fairly covered the bomb blast.

The Hindu was however virulent about the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, voicing the hate speech of the perpetrator of the bomb attempt.

As to the French-language media outlets of France and Belgium, two democratic states known for their hostility towards Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious movements, they have ignored the incident as if it had never happened.

On 29 October, the Agence France Presse (AFP) issued a press release titled “India: two dead and 35 injured in an explosion at a Christian gathering.” Noteworthy is that AFP avoided mentioning Jehovah’s Witnesses as victims in the title. In a biased and useless way, AFP said Jehovah’s Witnesses were “regularly accused of being a cult.”

The bad practice of qualifying a religious or belief movement as a “cult” was condemned in 2022 by the European Court of Human Rights in its decision concerning the case Tonchev and Others v. Bulgaria. The Court then stated that terms such as “cults” or those deriving from the Latin “secta” in languages other than English are “likely to have negative consequences on the exercise of religious freedom” of the members of the groups so stigmatized and should not be used in official documents. The derogatory statement of AFP contributes to the climate of hostility against a non-violent and law-abiding religious group.

Moreover, AFP wrongly links the movement of Jehovah’s Witnesses dating back to the 1870s in the US with the American Evangelical movement. Both movements have always been totally unrelated.

Kerala attacks: India police investigate deadly blasts targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses – BBC

India police detain man as suspect in explosion that killed 3 people at Jehovah’s Witness gathering – AP News

Suspect detained in an explosion that killed 3 at Jehovah’s Witness event in India – ABC News

Bomb blast at Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting in India kills 3, wounds dozens – South China Morning Post

India police probe bomb blasts that killed two in Kerala – Reuters

Explosion hits Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer meeting in India’s Kerala – Al Jazeera

Kochi convention centre blast: 2 killed, dozens injured in blasts during prayer meet; Shah calls for NIA, NSG probe – Indian Express

Thousands of members of Jehovah’s Witnesses had gathered for a meeting on Sunday.

Enraged by ‘teachings’ of Jehovah’s Witnesses, planted bombs, says suspect – The Hindu

Bomb blast at Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting in India kills 2, wounds dozens | South China Morning Post (scmp.com) – South China Morning Post

Ex-Jehovah’s Witness claims responsibility in Facebook video for deadly blasts in India – New York Post

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