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The Militant, 21 February 1949

Greek Govt. Kills Jehovah Witness

American Press, Politicians and Clergy Silent on Murder

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 8, 21 February 1949, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Greek monarchist government, armed, financed and controlled by Washington, on Feb. 11 executed John Tsoukaris, a devout member of the “Martyrs of Jehovah" a Christian sect known in this country as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Tsoukaris’ “crime” was refusing military service in accordance with his religious beliefs. He was tried and sentenced by a military court.

These are all the facts we have been permitted to know about the bestial murder of this religious dissenter by the U.S.-dominated Greek puppet regime. No thundering editorials have appeared in the American capitalist press about this atrocity against freedom of religion in Greece. Most newspapers didn’t even report it.

The N.Y. Times, whose motto is “All the News that’s Fit to Print,” thought the military trial and execution of a humble follower of the Jehovah’s Witnesses “fit” for a one-inch story at the very bottom of the last column on Page 4 (Feb. 12). The Times has filled page after page with reports and comment on the trial arid imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary, with furious editorial outcries about “freedom of religion.” The Feb. 11 N.Y. World-Telegram, anti-labor Scripps-Howard sheet, gave the Tsoukaris murder just four lines buried inside another article on Page 2. This paper has been unrestrained in frenzy and hysteria about the Mindszenty case and “freedom of religion” – in Hungary.

They Haven’t Found Time

Roman Catholic Cardinal Spellman has not found time, between his exhortations for a veritable lynch campaign against “communism" in the name of “freedom of religion,” to mumble a blessed word of “moral indignation” about the fate of John Tsoukaris, a disciple of Christ who took the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Pope Pius XII has not mentioned humble John Tsoukaris while denouncing the Hungarian government for daring to try a “Prince of the Church” in a civil court. With few exceptions, the clergy of all the other rich and powerful churches who joined in the chorus about the Mindszenty case have kept indecent silence about John Tsoukaris.

Truman and Acheson have not called Tsoukaris’s court martial a “kangaroo trial,” nor threatened diplomatic steps against the Greek government, as they did against the Hungarian regime. No capitalist politician has risen in Congress to enter his protest in the Congressional Record. The United Nations is not implementing its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that "“everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion ... freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Demolishes Hypocritical Claims

“Freedom of religion,” it is clear, does not extend to those who do not support the “cold war” against the Soviet Union. Even though John Tsoukaris was not a Stalinist, it was enough that he refused to bear arms against them or anyone else as a matter of religious principle.

It is no secret that the Stalinists are capable of framing up their political opponents, including Cardinals. But the case of John Tsoukaris at one blow demolishes the hypocritical claim of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Truman administration and the capitalist press that they are championing “religious freedom” in their propaganda campaign around the Mindszenty case. They are merely using the issue of “freedom of religion” and the Mindszenty affair as one more means to prepare public opinion for a Third World War and to justify and incite the witch-hunt in this country against any who dare to oppose the foreign and domestic policies of U.S. imperialism.

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