Ralph Hinman Jr., editor
Argentina jailings of sect told
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - A local official of Jehovah's Witnesses said Friday that the Argentine military government has arrested at least 91 members of the banned sect over the past month.
"We don't really know why all these arrests are being made," Charles Eisenhower said, "But there is an increase in repression, and Witnesses are also being fired from their government jobs."
The 58-year-old branch coordinator for the sect, who said he is a distant relative of the late President Eisenhower, also said he learned this week that his appeal to stay out of jail on a 1977 conviction for his religious activities has been turned down. He faces up to three years in prison.
The Witnesses, with more than 30,000 followers nationwide, are one of three religious groups banned front operating in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country by a 1977 decree. The organization, whose members refuse to join the army or salute the flag, was accused of being opposed to the principles of nationhood.
The other banned groups are the Eastern sects Divine Light Mission and Hare Krishna.
Eisenhower, who has worked in Argentina since 1948, said the 91 arrests were made in 12 roundups since March 18 throughout Argentina, mostly in cities in the interior. He said those arrested were jailed for between 24 hours and 14 days. Some were released without charges being filed and others are free on bail, he said.