Hate speech and hate crimes against Jehovah’s Witnesses
HRWF (28.05.2011) – On Monday, December 27, 2010, at around 13:30, two Jehovah’s Witnesses (Daniela Petrova and Siriel Comb) were peacefully carrying out their Christian ministry in the town of Montana. After a friendly conversation with an interested lady, her son, Mr. Bogomil Nikolov Atanasov, went after them and physically attacked them in front of the apartment building. Daniela Petrova was severely beaten by him and even lost her conscience. Three police cars and an ambulance arrived shortly after the incident. Mr. Bogomil Nikolov Atanasov was taken to the police station. Daniela Petrova was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with commotion. On February 7, 2011, Daniela Petrova filed a complaint with the Prosecutor of Montana against the attacker.
On Monday night, January 24, 2011, unidentified persons bent the massive metal front door latch of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Burgas. Gaining access to the yard of the Kingdom Hall they broke one of the windows of the small hall. In the morning of January 25, 2011, some members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Burgas called the Police. Because of the relative small amount of the damage and the fact that the perpetrator has not been identified, no proceeding was initiated by the Burgas Regional Prosecutor.
On Sunday, January 30, 2011, in Pleven, members and supporters of the political party VMRO, Section Pleven, protested against Jehovah’s Witnesses. At about 10:00, about 25 persons gathered in front of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pleven. With them there was the Orthodox priest Petko Pandov. The chairman of VMRO – Pleven, Ivan Kioldjijski, declared that the party intends to continue their campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses until this kind of sects will have disappeared from Pleven. Besides this, in newspaper articles VMRO members made slanderous comments about Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On Thursday, February 3, 2011, at 10:30,the first court hearing against the newspaper Borba was held in the Veliko Turnovo Regional Court. On September 20, 2010, the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses had filed a lawsuit under the civil code against newspaper Borba for slanderous they had published about them in 2009.
On Sunday, March 27, 2011, in Pleven, members and supporters of the political party VMRO, Section Pleven, protested against Jehovah’s Witnesses. At about 10:00, a few supporters of VMRO gathered in front of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pleven. In connection with the protest VMRO distributed leaflets against Jehovah’s Witnesses on the streets of Pleven. In their leaflet the VMRO warns parents to protect their children from Jehovah’s Witnesses, which according to their view are a very dangerous sect. The leaflet evidently contains slanderous lies about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On Wednesday night, March 30, 2011, unidentified persons bent the front door latch and entered the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asenovgrad. At around 11:00, on March 30, one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asenovgrad called the Police. The Police confirmed that there are acts of vandalism outside the Kingdom Hall. A complaint was filed with the Prosecutor.
On Monday, April 4, 2011, at 11.00, members and supporters of the political party VMRO Youth Organization, Section Veliko Turnovo, protested against Jehovah’s Witnesses. At about 11:00, around 20 supporters of VMRO gathered in front of the Regional Court in Veliko Turnovo. They waved VMRO flags and posters and expressed their discontent with the up-coming court hearing inside the building between Jehovah’s Witnesses and the newspaper Borba. On the posters it was written: »Throw the sects out! », « The jehovists ruin families » and « You are not wanted in Turnovo ». Besides this, VMRO members made slanderous comments about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the media. For example, the regional coordinator of VMRO for the district of Veliko Turnovo, Boris Vangelov, claimed wrongly in the media that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a dangerous sect, alienate people from their families and do not respecting the Bulgarian national symbols. He stated that he wants the authorities to cancel the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bulgaria.******
On Tuesday, April 5, 2011, newspaper Borba in Veliko Turnovo published a statement made by Mr. Borislav Stoyanov, a member of the Parliament from the ATAKA political party. Mr. Stoyanov, who is also a member of the Commission of Human Rights and Denominations, claimed that ATAKA will propose in the Parliament, right after Easter, his bill for re-registration of the presently registered denominations in the country, which could eventually lead to a ban or to a refusal to register denominations that pose a real threat to the life and health of its’ followers. He referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses as being such a Denomination. Since year 2009, Mr. Stoyanov has talked about a re-registration of the presently registered denominations in the country, so far without any results.