Belarus church told to vacate by Monday

A prominent church in an ongoing struggle with the authorities in Belarus has been told by city authorities that they must legally transfer the property to the government and vacate the building before Monday.

New Life Church, which has become an emblematic case in the battle for religious freedom in Belarus, was notified by the Property Maintenance and Repair Department (PMRD) of the Moscow District of the City of Minsk that if they did not comply by 1 June, the city will "undertake necessary measures to settle the case" including the use of state security officers to enforce their decision.

Belarusian legislation demands that all religious groups must be registered, but in practice, it is almost impossible for most non-Orthodox churches to do so. Since its inception, New Life Church has repeatedly attempted to register but has been refused on each occasion.

The building continues to appear on city plans as authorised only for use as a "cow shed", although it is illegal to keep cattle within city limits

Rev Stuart Windsor, CSW's National Director said: "The events of next week are likely to have a major impact on religious freedom throughout Belarus. If New Life Church is forced to shut its doors, the hundreds of other churches across the country who have been denied the right to register will have real reason to fear the same fate.

"It is essential that the international community, in particular the European Union, having just launched its Eastern Partnership initiative which is meant to promote respect for human rights in countries including Belarus, makes it absolutely clear that the religious liberty of the members of New Life Church must be defended and upheld."



Partners: Social Network