Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yearbook Experience - Janez Novak


(experience of Janez Novak pgs 249 & 250 / 2009 Yearbook)

"In December 1984, the military authorities repeatedly issued orders for me to report to the army. When they stuck the call-up notice on my door and threatened that the military police would come for me, I decided to report to the barracks to explain my position to them. This was not successful, and they decided to do everything in their power to make a soldier out of me. They shaved my head, took away my civilian clothes, and offered me a soldier's uniform. When I refused the uniform, they put it on me by force, and then they put a pen in my hand and tried to force me to sign up for the army. I refused. I also refused to take part in such activities as morning exercise and saluting the flag. When four soldiers took me to the yard and ordered me to do the exercises, I would not lift up my hands. They tried to lift my hands until they realized how ridiculous the situation was. They aimed a rifle at me and threatened to kill me. Sometimes they tried to bribe me by offering me coffee and cakes.
My determination made some of them cry. Others became furious when I refused to spit on the picture of Marshal Tito that they held in front of my face. After a couple of days, they tried to make me carry weapons, which I also refused to do. This was classified as a military offense, and I was confined to the barracks for one month. Then I spent several weeks in a prison cell in Zagreb, Croatia, awaiting the verdict. A red light was left on in the cell the whole night, and only if the person in charge was in a good mood was I allowed to go to the restroom.
Finally, I was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on an Adriatic island called Goli Otok, where they sent the worst convicts. They took me to this prison, notorious for violence among the inmates, with my hands bound in chains because I refused to fight. There I met four other Witnesses who had been imprisoned because of their neutral stand.
We were not allowed to bring in a Bible or any other literature. However, one Bible was there already. My relatives mailed me The Watchtower in a box with a false bottom. The guards never discovered our literature and never found out that we were holding Christian meetings. Sometimes when guards came in, literature that had been left out was lying right in front of them, but it seemed that Jehovah blocked their sight because they did not notice anything.
After a year I was moved to Slovenia to complete my sentence. I got married to Rahela while I was still in prison. When I was finally released, I started pioneering with my wife, and since 1993 we have been serving at Slovenia Bethel."