DECEMBER 5, 2023
From October 14 through December 16, 2023, a new exhibit entitled “Imprisoned for Their Conscience” is on display at the former La Modelo penitentiary, now a museum and cultural center, in Barcelona, Spain. The exhibit’s four sections are designed to educate the public, including government officials and academics, on the outstanding faith shown by young Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to compromise their Christian neutrality.
The exhibit tells the story of our brothers in Spain who, starting in the 1930’s, were imprisoned for making a personal choice not to participate in compulsory military service. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the number of imprisoned brothers reached nearly 1,000. Of these, over 40 were imprisoned at La Modelo.
Visual elements throughout the exhibit explain what it means to be a conscientious objector and what life in prison was like for these young Witnesses. The courageous stand these faithful brothers took over many decades culminated in Spain’s government officially recognizing the right to conscientious objection in 1984.
Professor of history Miguel Ángel Plaza was invited to speak at the exhibit’s opening ceremony. He had spoken to several of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been imprisoned in La Modelo. Speaking of their experience, he noted: “None of them had a critical comment or a negative thing to say about what they went through in La Modelo—not even toward the prison guards. Each of them had a smile on their face as they recounted their experience.” Among those present at the ceremony was Brother Fernando Trepat, who was one of the Witnesses imprisoned at La Modelo. He reflected: “Even now, more than 50 years later, I am still convinced Bible principles helped me make the right choice. I would make the same decision today.”
Brother David Báidez, who coordinated the event, commented: “While this exhibit highlights a historical event, the topic is very timely. Currently, there are about 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses in various countries who are in prison for their Bible-based beliefs.”
We deeply cherish the loyalty and endurance shown by our brothers in Spain over many decades, and we will continue to pray for those who are imprisoned for their faith today.—Hebrews 13:3.