Finnish TV interviews UUT before JW leaders meet with Minister of Justice

Further information from our colleagues in Finland.

Finnish TV interviews UUT

before JW leaders meet with

Minister of Justice

Branch Office officials meet with Finnish MinistersYLE UUTISET reported on 15 May 2014, that two former JW’s, Eeva-Liisa Pirttinen and Joni Valkila were interviewed on Finnish YLE TV just hours before three JW Branch Office officials met with Finland’s Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior.

The Branch Office officials were called to address concerns raised by a UUT (Uskontojen Uhrien Tuki – Support for Victims of Religion) report that asks questions about the policies and tactics of JW Judicial Committees. These are internal committees set up to investigate and hand down decisions that are in effect punishments for what Jehovah’s Witnesses consider is wrong doing. The report is said to highlight the treatment and loss of family and friends when a person is disfellowshipped or disassociated.

At the meeting on Thursday 15th May 2014, in Helsinki, Jukka Ropponen, Jouni Palmu and spokesman Veikko Leinonen from the JW Finnish Branch Office were asked to hand over the secret elders manual to the Ministers. This manual is said to explain to elders how they should deal with some “criminal” and non criminal situations. Other publications and letters to elders go further in explaining what actions should be taken. It is not known if these will be handed over as well.

On Finnish YLE TV that morning, Eeva-Liisa Pirttinen and Joni Valkila explained the detrimental effect of Jehovah’s Witness policies that damage families and friendships.

Eeva-Liisa Pirttinen on YLE TV

Eeva-Liisa Pirttinen said that she began to question the beliefs when her sister stopped being a JW. Her sister’s departure meant that she would have to shun her if she was going to be considered in good standing with her congregation.

But it was the birth of her child that sealed her decision to stop being a Jehovah’s Witness. When faced with the decision whether to have a blood transfusion she refused and gave birth to a premature and sick child. As she later reflected on this decision and what her own death might have meant to her family she decided this was not “the kind of God or organisation” with which she wanted to mix.

Joni Valkila was disfellowshipped at 20 for dating a non-JW girl and overnight he lost all his friends and family. He said “It was like all the people he knew had died on the same day.” Joni Valkila is an Executive Director of UUT (Uskontojen Uhrien Tuki – Support for Victims of Religion) who produced the report that was sent to the Minister of Justice. He told Finnish YLE TV, it was not easy at first “but I got help from former Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Joni Valkila on YLE TV

He said concerning JW Judicial Committees and their decisions: “They are really cruel. They do not have anything to do with love.”

In the TV interview he talked about the meeting that was to be held later that day between Branch Office officials and the Finnish Ministers and said he did not think that the JW representatives would admit the seriousness and reality of the situation. He said:

The leaders have for many years given misleading information.”

He went further “there needs to be an external force for Jehovah’s Witnesses to change these inhuman practices. They will not do it voluntarily.”

I hope this time something will be done. Finland could be a model for other countries.

JW Reporter has been advised that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior in Finland have been sent a lot of mail/emails by people wanting to share personal experiences of “sexual crimes” that were investigated by Judicial Committees. We have also been told that a more detailed “investigation” is going to be undertaken.

More information

Interview with Eeva-Liisa Pirttinen and Joni Valkila on Finnish TV Link

YLE UUTISET article Jehovah’s Witnesses to hand over top-secret manual Link

Original YLE UUTISET article Link

Justice Minister’s immediate response Link

Helsinki Times report – Päivi Räsänen “people must not be punished for leaving a religious community” Link

Helsinki Times – story of Jussi K who dissociated from Jehovah’s Witnesses Link

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Shunning and Human Rights

Two videos from JWSurvey – John Cedars

Part one

Part two

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