Two monasteries of Georgian Orthodox monks and nuns in the Upper KodoriGorge, captured by Abkhaz forces from Georgian forces in mid-August, arebeing pressured by the Abkhaz Orthodox Church to change their jurisdiction."They must submit to the authority of our Church or leave Abkhazia," thehead of the Abkhaz Orthodox Church, Fr Vissarion Aplia, who visited themonks and nuns within days of the fighting, told Forum 18 News Service.Asked who had given him the right to pressure members of a differentreligious jurisdiction to submit to his authority, Fr Aplia responded angrily: "It's not your business. It's our territory." Abkhaz DeputyForeign Minister Maxim Gvinjia backs the right of the Abkhaz Church toenforce its will on the monks and nuns. "Of course we won't defend theirrights, given the context of current developments," he told Forum 18."Abkhazia is a Christian Orthodox country and the Abkhaz Orthodox Church is the main church." Since the expulsion of a Georgian Orthodox priest inApril, the two monasteries are the only remaining Georgian Orthodoxinstitutions left in Abkhazia.It is a mistake to think that freedom of speech and of religion and human rights in general are issues that can be separated from political and economic relations between countries. Eventually, I trust, we shall learn this lesson and realize that it is true not just in individual cases but in all of them.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Who says religion and politics don't mix?
Forum 18, so far as I know the only organization that pays attention to religious persecution in the former Soviet territory, including Russia, reports from the newly "liberated" Abkhazia (in the same way as numerous countries were "liberated" after the Second World War by the benign Soviet Union).