International Christian Concern
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Christian Family Stabbed at Home by Armed Group in Baghdad
Magazine of I.C.C.
Good insights into persecution in Vietnam and China.
Not sure what is going on here but government seem bent on controlling or closing churches.
The pastors were alleged to have held “illegal meetings with bad intentions”, the BBC reported.
The churches in the central province of Kigali were ordered to halt operations until they meet building regulations, safety and hygiene standards, and pollution laws, according to South Africa-based News24.
Rwanda National Police spokesperson Theos Badage told journalists on Monday, 5 March, that the six “ring leaders” were aiming to mobilise other clergy against the authorities. It is not clear when the arrested clergymen will appear in court.
Other church representatives have criticised the government’s order. Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, president of the Churches Forum in Kigali’s Nyarugenge district, said: “Those that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised.”
Rwandan president Paul Kagame said last week that he was surprised at how many churches there were in Kigali.
“Seven hundred churches in Kigali? Are these boreholes that give people water? I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? But 700 churches, which you even had to close? This has been a mess!” he was quoted as saying by Kenya-based Nairobi News.
Churches in other provinces are also expected to be affected by the crackdown in the coming months, according to News24.
Rwanda is deeply Christian – 44 per cent Catholic and 38 per cent Protestant – but the government strictly regulates all public events, including church services. In 2014, several Pentecostal church leaders were arrested for forming an unauthorised branch of the Church.
The country is now preparing a new law on faith-based organisations, which will require preachers to undertake theological courses. The law is expected to allow the authorities to control preachers more closely.
Mar. 02, 2018 | Nepal
Pray for a Mother and Daughter Staying in a VOM Safe House
via Death and destruction as Boko Haram launches fresh attacks in Cameroon
A Christian family in northern Cameroon look through what is left of their home after it was burned down on 23 February by Boko Haram militants (World Watch Monitor)
(World Watch Monitor) Boko Haram insurgents continue to carry out attacks outside the borders of Nigeria, where the group began.
The Islamists recently attacked two villages in northern Cameroon, close to the north-eastern border with Nigeria, leaving one person dead and many homes destroyed by fire.
The 23 February attack on Virkaza and nearby Tchebechebe was the fourth time Boko Haram has raided villages in Cameroon this year.
During the latest attack, militias set fire to more than 100 huts, a Catholic church and school. The fires claimed the life of one person, who has not yet been named.
A survivor of the attack told World Watch Monitor what happened.
“They attacked Virkaza and Tchebechebe at about 8pm. We…
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The United States’ rejection of the asylum applications of around 100 Iranian Christian refugees is an insult to the country’s Christian and humanitarian heritage.
The Christian refugees, many of whom can recount stories of the discrimination and persecution they have experienced at the hands of Iranian authorities, now have less than a week to leave Austria, where they have been stranded for more than a year. They had expected to be given entry to the US under the Lautenberg humanitarian programme, but now face potential deportation back to Iran.
The decision by the Trump administration to reject the applicants – and to seemingly shut down the entire programme – is a betrayal of Iranian Christian refugees, which has been slammed by US law makers. A group of Democrat and Republican Congressmen have written to Vice President Mike Pence “on behalf of a small group of suffering Middle Eastern religious minorities seeking refuge from Iran’s repressive regime”.
Their letter states:
“This sudden change in policy – from almost a hundred percent acceptance rate [under the Lautenberg programme] to nearly complete rejection – makes no sense, even on security grounds. Some applicants are reported to be elderly and/or disabled, making it hard to imagine they represent a security threat … there is no evidence that others admitted through this program have ever been a threat to the U.S. … The law is clear: these applicants should be presumed eligible for refugee status.”
The decision has also been denounced by representatives of humanitarian organisations, who have accused the US Government of “hypocrisy” for criticising the Iranian regime and encouraging protests in the country, but refusing “to provide safety to those who flee and are not safe from the Iranian government.”
The Lautenberg programme under which the refugees were to have been given asylum in the US was established in 1990 by US Senator Frank Lautenberg. He served five terms in the Senate and campaigned for legislation to create a programme to resettle persecuted religious minorities, initially from the Former Soviet Union. In 2003, Congress voted to expand the Lautenberg Amendment to establish a legal presumption of eligibility for refugee status for Iranian religious minorities. Since then, about 30,000 Iranians have been resettled in the US under the Lautenberg programme. These include members of Jewish, Mandaean, Zoroastrian and Bahai religious minorities, as well as Christians.
All of the 100 Iranian refugees in Austria were financially supported by a sponsor in the US and had been granted prospective refugee transit visas by the Austrian embassy. They had already been interviewed by the Department for Homeland Security and, in one case, family members had been informed their relative would receive a US visa in early 2017. But while President Trump has previously stated that Christian refugees who have faced persecution would get priority, under his administration, the Lautenberg programme has effectively been shut down.
The rejection of these 100, mainly Christian, Iranian refugees is an insult to American’s Christian and humanitarian heritage, which the Lautenberg programme was set up to defend, and a betrayal by the Trump administration.
In the UK, the British government has also been guilty of hypocrisy in its approach to Christian refugees, while claiming to uphold religious liberty. The British government has discriminated against Christian refugees from Syria. Western governments seem to be making political capital by condemning persecution of Christians, while deliberately rejecting those who are persecuted – be it Iranian Christians rejected by the US, Syrian Christians rejected by the UK, Eritrean Christians rejected by the Israeli government, or Christian converts rejected in Sweden and Austria.
An Indonesian court has found Jakarta’s Christian governor guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison, in a trial that was widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment”, the head judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told the court.
“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.”
Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant didn’t feel guilt, the defendant’s act has caused anxiety and hurt Muslims”.
After the verdict, the five-judge panel ordered Ahok’s immediate arrest. Ahok has said he will appeal.
The blasphemy charge related to Ahok’s use of a passage of the Qur’an during campaigning for his re-election in September, which hardline Islamist groups said amounted to insulting the holy book.
He insinuated that his opponents had used a Qur’anic verse to trick people into voting against him. An edited version of his speech went viral online, sparking outrage.
Ahok, a Christian with ethnic Chinese roots, is a double minority. His trial came after large protests against him in the capital that drew hundreds of thousands on to the streets.
On Tuesday, hundreds of members of hardline Islamist groups gathered outside the south Jakarta courtroom amid a heavy security presence, calling for Ahok to be given the maximum penalty.
As news of the sentence emerged members of the crowd shouted “God is greatest”.
The government has been criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities, but President Joko Widodo, an ally of Ahok’s, has urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process.
Thousands of police have been deployed in the capital to prevent clashes between Ahok supporters and opponents. “Both groups will have the opportunity to demonstrate, but we are taking steps to prevent clashes,” said the national police spokesman, Setyo Wasisto.
Ahok lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.
He will hand over to Baswedan in October. The vote was the most divisive and religiously charged in recent years.
Prosecutors had called for a suspended one-year jail sentence for Ahok on charges of hate speech. His opponents believe that is too light. The maximum sentence is five years in prison.
Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”.
“Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” he said.
Harsono said more than 100 Indonesians have been convicted of blasphemy in the past decade, and acquittals in such cases were extremely rare.
Todung Mulya Lubis, a human rights lawyer who also defended the Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, said it was worrying that one judge cited the leader of a hardline Islamic group known as the Islamic Defender’s Front as an expert in the judgment.
“Rizieq Shihab cannot be considered as an expert because he openly, publicly accused Ahok of blasphemy, so he is not an independent, neutral expert anymore. But the judges mentioned his name in their judgment and I thought this is not correct.”
“The judges also talked about experts from [the Islamic organisation] Majelis Ulama Indonesia. With all respect, I don’t think they can be considered as experts because they had taken sides already, long before the trial.
Lubis said the verdict set a “bad precedent”, adding: “Religion is a private matter … so when you put it in the criminal code it can be used by people to discredit and suppress others. This is the problem with the blasphemy law. This is a very sad moment for us.”
More Muslim wickedness following normal patterns.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim residents of Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria yesterday killed 12 Christians after an attempt to rescue two Christian teenage girls from Muslims who had kidnapped them and coerced them to convert, area residents told Morning Star News.
James Madaki, a 50-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said another 20 Christians were injured, and that Muslims set homes and shops on fire in the predominantly Christian area of the town in Kaduna state, 31 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the city of Kaduna.
“The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town,” Madaki told Morning Star News.
In comments corroborated by another area Christian, Madaki said two Christian teenage girls were abducted and forcefully converted to Islam…
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An Iranian convert to Christianity arrested more than two months ago remains in prison in the conservative north-western city of Tabriz, according to rights group Article 18.
Ali Amini, known by his friends as Philip, was arrested by revolutionary guards at his workshop in the city on 10 December. His mobile phone and laptop were also confiscated.
His elderly father was present during the raid, and watched as his son was taken away. Amini is married and has two young children, aged one and three.
“Every year, pressure on Christians increases ahead of Christmas,” Article 18 reported, adding that four other Christians were arrested over the Christmas period in 2017 – in Karaj , a city just to the west of the capital Tehran.
Four UN officials recently expressed concern over three other Christians sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in prison last year. Their appeals were due to take place on 4 February, but were postponed. A fourth Christian, Kaviyan Fallah-Mohammadi, was also sentenced alongside them.
“We are deeply concerned by the long jail sentences imposed at a previous hearing on Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari for allegedly ‘conducting evangelism’ and ‘illegal house church activities’, and similar charges that, according to the authorities, amount to acting against national security, completely contrary to Iran’s international obligations,” said a statement by the four officials, including Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Asma Jahangir, who was Special Rapporteur on Iran until her death on Sunday (11 February).
“We are additionally concerned about the lack of healthcare made available to them while in detention and, in particular, about the current health condition of Mr. Asgari, who remains in prison,” they added.
Asma Jahangir previously expressed her concern about the treatment of Iranian prisoners, referencing a prison in Karaj, where at least one Christian – Ebrahim Firouzi – is currently being held and last year went on hunger strike to protest against Iran’s treatment of Christians.
Amnesty International has also spoken out about the mistreatment of Iranian Christians in prison, referencing the case of Maryam Naghash Zargaran when it accused Iran of “cruel” denial of medical care in its prisons.
In their recent statement, the UN experts added: “We are aware of several other reported cases in which members of the Christian minority have received heavy sentences after being charged with ‘threatening national security’, either for converting people or for attending house churches.
“This shows a disturbing pattern of individuals being targeted because of their religion or beliefs, in this case a religious minority in the country.
“Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.
“The authorities must ensure fair trials for all, including the religious minorities in the country. We also urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been arrested and detained for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.”
Al-Shabaab slaughter Kenyan Christian teachers in night attack
Al-Shabaab militants murdered three Christians in an attack on a primary school compound in the village of Qarsa, north-east Kenya on 16 February.
Armed men forced their way into a house within the compound of Qarsa Primary School before dawn. Two Christian teachers, Kevin Shari and Seth Oluoch Odada, were shot dead. Seth’s wife Caroline was also brutally murdered – local sources reported, “her head was nearly cut off from the body”. The couple had only recently married.
Al-Shabaab have repeatedly targeted Christian teachers. According to local sources, such attacks are part of a deliberate effort to reduce school attendance, which makes children vulnerable to recruitment by the Somali-based Islamist group. Al-Shabaab are known to make extensive use of child soldiers and the group is reported to have recruited children as young as nine.
On 20 February, the headless body of a man was brought to a hospital in Wajir, the nearest main town, 70km (43 miles) from Qarsa. The man’s identity has not been confirmed, but he is thought to be a Christian.
A source told Barnabas Fund, “Again Lent has begun for us with high drama, pain, and agony from the cruel hands of Al-Shabaab … people, especially Christians, are living in terror”.
I am sharing this because I believe their cause is right!
You are not going to believe this!
The ‘Halal Food Authority’ is suing Britain First for hundreds of thousands of pounds in the High Court!
Please, allow me to explain:
Halal slaughter is unnecessarily brutal and savage.
Animals have their throats cut like a Jack the Ripper victim, then they bleed out inagony whilst a Muslim recites a prayer to Allah.
The animals are not stunned before they are brutally slaughtered.
It is savage, medieval and not welcome in our Western, Christian country.
The authority that ‘certifies’ all halal products in the UK is called the Halal Food Authority (HFA) and they have objected to the anti-Halal campaigns and videos that Britain First are known for!
The HFA are trying to financially bully any criticism of this sick medieval practise by dragging our movement into the High Court.
They are demanding over £43,000 ‘loss of income’ and hundreds of thousands of pounds in ‘aggravated damages’ for ‘suffering considerable distress, hurt and embarrassment’, all because we have opposed and exposed the evils of Halal slaughter!
Specifically, the paperwork states that the HFA ‘expect to recover more than £100,000’.
Underneath this section, where they were asked to state the ‘Amount claimed’, the HFA stated ‘up to £500,000’.
Yes, you read that right, half a million pounds!
In brief, the HFA is claiming general damages for defamation, aggravated damages for defamation, an injunction to restrain further publication along with special damages for defamation and interest on the above!
In the High Court application, the HFA describe Britain First as a ‘violent and racist’ organisation, clearly demonstrating this is nothing but a politically-motivated witch-hunt!
The ‘injunction to restrain further publication’ is clearly designed to strangle any further exposure of the brutality of Halal slaughter, something I know millions of Britons are against.
The application to sue Britain First in the High Court in London has already been submitted, along with a £10,000 issue fee.
By hook or by crook, we are going to the High Court to fight this, very soon!
Our civil litigation solicitors have examined the HFA application and have advised us of the following facts:
If we lose this case, we will have to pay our own legal fees, plus the £43,000 in ‘loss of income’ and anywhere up to half a million pounds in ‘damages’.
If we win this case, the HFA won’t get a penny, but will also have to pay our legal costs.
There are other factors to consider too, like the fact that deputy leader Jayda Fransen owns her own house which, if we lose, will be seized and sold at auction and the proceeds given to the HFA, leaving Jayda homeless.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Britain First.
Our activities have been reduced to a minimum because Jayda and I have been forced to ‘sign on’ every Saturday as part of our ongoing bail conditions.
We have just endured a show trial in Kent which cost us a fortune, for the ‘Ramsgate Rapists’ campaign we ran last Summer (sentencing is passed on 7th March).
We have two separate show trials coming up in Belfast which is going to cost around £30,000 to defend ourselves against.
Now on top, and almost certainly deliberately timed, we have a High Court battle against the Halal Food Authority to deal with.
If you combine these factors with recent events whereby several of our trust-worthy activists have been approached by ‘S015 Counter Terrorism Command’ to ask them to ‘provide information about future activities’, then it seems the State and the Muslim authorities are waging a joint Satanic war to destroy Britain’s last remaining hope of survival.
Yes, that’s how serious this situation is.
Our movement stands at the cross roads: Either we stand and fight or we sink and Britain’s last hope is destroyed.
Sadly, UKIP is finished, the Tories are traitors, every other group or organisation or political party has collapsed or vanished – only Britain First remains standing.
For this reason, if Britain First is destroyed, our country is lost.
That’s why our enemies have declared ‘Total War’ on us – they recognise it’s either now or never to stop Britain First before we get too big and strong to bully or punish.
This battle will shape the future of Britain and our children.
It is a battle between good and evil, between Britannia and her enemies.
I am reminded of Churchill’s famous quote during Britain’s darkest hour:
‘We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’
For Britain First, this bulldog fighting spirit is the core foundation of everything we endeavour to achieve.
The words ‘No surrender’ run through our movement like a stick of rock.
Even if just one of us is left standing, with air in our lungs, we will not give up or stop fighting for the British nation, not now, not ever.
I know there is some unease out there at the amount of fundraising Britain First is organising, but ask yourself: What choice do we have?
Do we stop, and lose everything?
Or do we keep going and win?
As leader of this honourable movement – that was built from nothing – I will not stand by and watch as everything is destroyed by the PC fascist fanatics and their animal-throat-slitting friends in the Halal Food Authority!
Over my dead body will I see them dismantle everything we have built and on top, leave our deputy leader homeless!
If we are going to continue the struggle to save our country, please ‘close ranks’ and get behind our urgent ‘Patriots Against Halal’ fighting fund, before it’s too late!
Every penny counts, please chip in here:
Leader, Britain First
HOTLINE 0203 409 6216
To un-subscribe click here: Unsubscribe
Britain First, PO Box 119, Swanley, BR8 9DY
Kurdish militia mark Christian properties in Syria for confiscation
In scenes chillingly reminiscent of the 2014 targeting of Christians in Iraq by Islamic State, Kurdish militia in north-east Syria are spraying graffiti on to Christian properties to mark them for confiscation.
A recently released video shows Arabic writing spray-painted on the wall of the house of an Armenian Christian family in Qamishli. The inscription reads: “Seized by the Executive Committee of Qamishli” – the Committee is the self-proclaimed administration of the Kurdish YPG militia, who control the region.
Christian men from Qamishli have already been abducted for use as conscripts in the Kurds fight against Turkish forces, part of what Christian community representatives have stated is a programme of intimidation.
The homes and businesses of believers in Mosul in northern Iraq were similarly graffitied with slogans and signs, before the Islamic State militants ordered the Christian population to leave or face execution when they seized the city in 2014.
The Australian who filmed and publicised the video, which has been corroborated by the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs), stated, “What the YPG does is reminiscent of what ISIS did to the Christians in northern Iraq.
“It has confiscated many more buildings like this … They are confiscating rather than protecting our homes in the Qamishli and Hassake areas and they are even occupying entire villages … They are treating us like second-class citizens … employing various tactics to frighten and subject our people with the aim of taking possession of our final remaining properties and lands, thereby transforming our ancestral homeland into an autonomous Kurdish region.”
Most reliable and Biblical mission to Muslims-read their latest informative newsletter
- Pray for 5 Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) leaders west of Omdurman arrested after refusing to stop worship and charged with a public order offence.
- Rafat Obid and Rev. Daniel William of Sudanese Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SPEC) unjustly convicted in October on charges after their denomination resisted government attempts to take over its leadership and sell off church property.
A determined government offensive by the Islamic government under president Al-Bashir is set on wiping out the church in Sudan (north.
Pray God’s people may rejoice in the gift of suffering for their Saviour. “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). WHAT AN ATTITUDE TO HAVE!
Feb. 08, 2018 | Myanmar
|“Than,” a 37-year-old Christian father of five, was brutally murdered by unknown attackers recently. His wife, Aung, discovered his body on the side of the road, covered in blood, as she returned from collecting firewood for cooking. Than’s killers had slit his wrists, stabbed him in the chest and beat him severely. In early 2017, a villager known to hate Christians told Than’s family that it wasn’t wise for them to live in the animist village. And about a month before his murder, several members of the Palaung Army had visited the village several times and questioned villagers. The soldiers tried to get Than to buy drugs for them, but he refused. The family has been shunned ever since Than and Aung accepted Christ and were baptized in 2008. Pray that God will meet the needs of Than’s family and that they will remain firm in their faith. Also pray that members of the community will witness their faith as Christ sustains them during this time.
These mass killings NEVER reach world news!
|Muslim Fulani herdsmen have long sought to remove Christians from grazing lands, but in recent years their close ties with Boko Haram have worsened attacks.|
Feb. 08, 2018 | Nigeria
|On Jan. 16, Fulani herdsmen attacked the village of Kitibu, Taraba state, in northern Nigeria, killing more than 100 people. They burned more than 1,000 homes, some with people still inside, and many people are still missing. Most of the village’s 7,000 residents are now scattered throughout Taraba state in camps for internally displaced people. This is the latest attack in a wave of similar raids carried out recently by Fulani herdsmen and members of Boko Haram. Pray for the comfort of those who lost family members and friends. Pray that those who lost homes and businesses will find permanent shelter and sources of income. Pray that those who carried out these attacks will repent of their sin and follow Jesus.|
Feb. 08, 2018 | China
|On Jan. 16, a court in Lincang, located in China’s southern Yunnan province, sentenced Ju Dianhong and Liang Qin to 13 years and 10 years in prison, respectively. The two believers, along with others who received shorter sentences, were convicted of participating in cult activity. These brothers and sisters are just the latest to be falsely linked to Three Grades of Servants, an organization that is viewed as a dangerous cult. In a recent government crackdown, about 200 Christians have been falsely accused of following the cult. Pray that Ju, Liang and the other believers will rest in the peace of Christ as they begin serving their sentences. Pray that their families will be cared for and will remember that their hope is in Jesus. Pray that the gospel will continue changing lives, even as the government seeks to intimidate believers.
Pakistan government unveils historic fatwa against Islamic extremism and vigilante “blasphemy” attacks
The Pakistan government has unveiled an historic fatwa (religious ruling) condemning Islamic extremism and vigilante “blasphemy” attacks, in a potentially positive development for the country’s minority Christian community.
By issuing the fatwa with the support of 1,829 religious leaders – who are signatories to the document officially released on 16 January – the Pakistani government is addressing extremism from a religious perspective.
The fatwa declares that terrorist activity against the state, and in particular suicide bombings, are haram (forbidden under Islamic law). It also states: “We believe that spreading sectarian hatred, armed sectarian conflict and imposition of one’s religious ideologies by force are contrary to the Shariah/teachings of Islam”, adding that there is a “religious obligation” to confront “evil” extremist ideology. It should be noted however that “extremism” in the context of the ruling is defined as views deemed to be outside the body of mainstream Islam – this differs from typical Western definitions, which define “extremism” in relation to issues such as democracy, human rights and freedom of religion.
The document also says it is “unacceptable in Islam” that any group “takes [the] law into its own hands, [and] declares people infidels” – a statement which is understood to refer to the country’s controversial “blasphemy” laws. Instead, the fatwa asserts that “only the State has right to implement punishments on citizens.”
Some of the most vocal opponents of politicians who have proposed changes to the “blasphemy” laws are among the signatories to the fatwa. But it remains to be seen whether their support of the religious ruling will result in real and lasting change to the treatment of Christians and others accused of “blasphemy”, or reduce the number of spurious allegations.
In recent months, more than one hundred Christians have been sent to “re-education” camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In these camps, also known as “study centres” or “mind-transformation centres”, they are taught how to be loyal to the communist ideology. Bob Fu of China Aid describes the camps as “black jails (intensive brainwash camp)”.
Most of the detained Christians are ethnic Uighur converts from Islam who, in recent years, have been caught up in the government’s anti-terrorism crackdown on violent Uighur separatism and militant Islam. Security in the region has become even more important to the government in the context of President Xi’s aim of reopening trade routes through Xinjiang.
On 22 January, Radio Free Asia reported that approximately 120,000 Uighurs were being held in “political re-education camps” in Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture. They were detained for offences including using Western social media apps, travelling abroad in Muslim countries, having a relative who had travelled abroad, having a relative convicted of a crime, having the wrong content on a mobile phone and appearing too religious.
A source told World Watch Monitor that members of his church were sent to a “re-education” camp without knowing when they would come back. Some were detained for a month but some for six months or even longer. One or both parents were taken from some Christian families.
A woman married to a leader of a community with many Christian converts from Islam told World Watch Monitor, “I don’t know where my husband is right now, but I believe that God still uses him in prisons or camps. Sometimes I am worried that he doesn’t have enough clothes to keep warm in the prison.”
Another woman whose husband was taken for “re-education” and who now supports other women in her situation said, “I am afraid it will affect my children too. The teacher in the school is paying special attention to my children after the authorities told the school about my husband.”
The Wall Street Journal says that Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi (pictured), “may be one of the most closely surveilled places on earth. Security checkpoints with identification scanners guard the train station and roads in and out of town. Facial scanners track comings and goings at hotels, shopping malls and banks. Police use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps, politically charged videos and other suspect content. To fill up with gas, drivers must first swipe their ID cards and stare into a camera… There are armoured cars on the street, police stations on every corner and tons of surveillance cameras.”
Anyone entering a large building encounters airport-style security, those entering shops must pass security guards armed with batons, and security cameras and microphones are everywhere. People who live in Xinjiang are checked many times a day as they go about their business, and Uighurs have become reluctant to go out because of the risk of being picked up by the police. The authorities collect personal information from Uighurs and rate them as “persons of interest”, designating each one “safe,” “average” or “unsafe”. (The photo shows police on patrol in Kashgar.)
Government-registered churches are required to scan everyone entering Sunday services. As they enter, they must show their ID cards and an alarm sounds if they work for the government or a public institution. For this reason, many Christians have stopped going to registered churches and now meet in smaller groups.
A World Watch Monitor source said, “I feel like I live in a big prison.”
Alimujiang Yimiti (43) is a Uighur Christian from Xinjiang province who has been in prison since January 2008 and is serving a 15-year sentence for “illegally providing state secrets to foreigners”. The charge relates to his meeting Christians visiting from the US. A former Muslim, Alimujiang became a Christian in 1995, and prior to his arrest he worked as an orchard manager and led a house church in Kashgar.
When Xinjiang became part of China in 1949, Uighurs made up the majority of the region’s population; only six percent were Han Chinese. As Xinjiang developed, the Chinese government encouraged Han emigration into the region, and now approximately forty percent of Xinjiang’s population of 23 million are Han Chinese (almost nine million) and about 44 percent are Uighur (about ten million, mostly Muslims). The third biggest population group is ethnic Kazakh.
In September 2017, Radio Free Asia reported that almost no Han Chinese are being held in the Xinjiang “re-education” camps, and that the number of detainees in the region’s south – where the Uighurs are concentrated – far surpasses that in the north.
In 2017, President Xi installed a new Xinjiang party leader, Chen Quanguo, who previously managed a five-year crackdown on ethnic dissent in Tibet. Mr Chen pioneered the use of “convenience police stations” in Tibet and, under him, Xinjiang’s police force has grown enormously.
Arrests in 2017
In late January 2017, over eighty Christians were arrested in Xinjiang province for attending house church meetings. They were Han Chinese, not Uighur. Public security bureaus raided a network of house churches and accused at least eighty Christians of “engaging in religious activities at non-religious sites”. The house churches had refused to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the organisation through which the Chinese Communist Party controls Protestant churches. After interrogation, the Christians were released.
Earlier in January 2017, police officers in Wusu in Xinjiang province raided a house church prayer meeting, said the gathering was illegal and took away ten Han Chinese Christians. The authorities released those who were elderly or sick, but six women were detained for 15 days and fined 1,000 Yuan each (€137) for “gathering and praying under the name of Christianity”.
(BBC/China Aid/Christian Solidarity Worldwide/Guardian/Radio Free Asia/Reuters/Wall Street Journal/World Watch Monitor)
Sombre reading of atrocities in Nigeria and elsewhere with families devastated, houses destroyed, land seized and virtually no government intervention or justice.
Caroline Riziki witnessed the brutal murder of her husband, brother-in-law and neighbour’s 17 year old son in her home by al-Shabaab terrorists. She is severely traumatized. Pary that God will comfort her and heal the awful memories she is experiencing.
Church in Chains has published a new report titled “OFFICIAL INDIA: ON THE SIDE OF THE MILITANTS” in response to the dramatic upsurge in attacks on Christians in India by Hindu militants in the past two years – attacks that have the tacit approval of local police and government officials.
The report documents a representative sample of 57 serious incidents of persecution of Christians during the period July – December 2017. This is almost certainly a gross understatement of the actual number of incidents during the period. In 2016, Indian Christian organisations reported 441 incidents, while 410 were reported in just the first six months of 2017.
No effective government action has been taken to combat the attackers, protect the victims or promote religious freedom. This government inaction (at local, state and national level) has led to a climate of impunity. Local police and government officials often “turn a blind eye” – not only do they refuse to prosecute the perpetrators in many cases, but they often arrest the victims on spurious charges of “forced conversion”.
The upsurge in persecution was predicted by Dr Joseph D’Souza (All India Christian Council) when he spoke at the Church in Chains national conference in 2014. He foresaw that the next five to ten years would be difficult for Indian Christians as Hindu extremists had been emboldened by the landslide election victory of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and were confident of pursuing their Hindutva(Hindus only) agenda.
The report, which contains recommendations for action, has been sent to the Indian Ambassador to Ireland, to Simon Coveney (Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs) and to the members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence.
The report concludes with recommendations to the Indian government, to the Irish government and to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence.
It recommends to the Indian government that Prime Minister Modi speak clearly and consistently in support of full religious freedom; that the BJP abandon its call for a national anti-conversion law; that state governors make clear that religiously motivated violence will not be tolerated; and that police stop arresting victims and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
The report recommends to the Irish government that the Minister for Foreign Affairs publicly express concern at the upsurge of violence against Christians in India; that he raise the matter with the Indian ambassador to Ireland; and that he raise the issue as a priority for the next session of the EU-India Human Rights dialogue.
It recommends that the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence arrange a meeting to discuss the upsurge of violence; and that it invite the Indian ambassador to Ireland to attend a meeting to respond to the serious situation outlined in the report.
Cases documented in the report
Among the cases documented is that of Pastor Khel Prasad Kurre (pictured on the report cover) who was attacked by Hindu extremists in Chhattisgarh state in October 2017 while on his way home from visiting a member of his church. He was hospitalised and needed twelve stitches to his head. Police threatened Pastor Kurre with arrest on charges of luring people into Christianity.
Another pastor, Harjot Singh Sethi (pictured), suffered head and leg injuries after a beating from Hindu extremists in Rajasthan in August 2017. About fifty extremists attacked a group of 150 Christians holding a prayer meeting in one of their homes and injured several of them, including the pastor’s wife, whom they beat with sticks. Though Pastor Sethi was badly injured, he was taken to a police station where the attackers filed a complaint against him for “forceful conversion”.
Another of the cases documented occurred in Madhya Pradesh in October, when seven children were detained for a week and two adults for ten days – police charged the adults with kidnapping and forcible conversion. The Christians had been on their way to a youth Bible conference, with parental permission for the children, when a mob of Hindu extremists forced them off the train at Indore station. The extremists beat parents who tried to regain custody of their children. Parents were not told where their children had been taken and were not allowed to see or speak with them in the week that followed.
In July, a Punjab pastor was shot dead in front of his church premises in Ludhiana city. Two attackers on a motorbike shot Pastor Sultan Masih – whose coffin is pictured – while he talked on his phone. In the previous couple of months, Hindu extremists had accused him of paying people to convert to Christianity, and had threatened to kill him. After the murder, hundreds of Christians held a protest blocking a major national highway for three hours, only leaving when they received police assurance that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. In the days that followed, police questioned at least 17 suspects.
The conditions for Pakistani refugees in Bangkok are awful.
Christian child arrested with mother who holds a UNHCR asylum certificate in Bangkok. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted
(Voice of the Persecuted) 2018 is here and many have started the year with resolutions to do well. We live in a society where we have the freedom to think, speak, pursue our dreams of what we’d like to be and most importantly, believe in our God without fear of persecution. On the other side of the world, there are many who don’t have these freedoms.
Thailand, a country famous for it’s glitzy tourist destination has been at the forefront of persecuting Christians. Thousands of Christians from Pakistan escaped severe persecution to Thailand and have ended up in a whirlpool of crisis. According to World Watch List 2018, Pakistan Is The 6th most difficult country to live as a Christian.
Many Pakistani Christians are living in Bangkok are in a…
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VIETNAM Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton are both still in custody in Hanoi since their arrests in December 2015 and July 2017 respectively – because they have called for greater religious freedom. They have been barred from meeting their lawyers.
Last month, Christian activist Maria Tran Thị Nga, a mother of two young children from Ha Nam province, was found guilty of ‘propaganda against the state’ and sentenced to nine years in prison and five years under house arrest. Her harsh sentence and irregularities relating to her trial have prompted an international outcry.
Christian bloggers have also been targeted: last week, a court in Nghe An province upheld a five-year prison sentence against Nguyen Van Oai for his pro-democracy campaigns.
- Thank God for the way that relations between the Government in Hanoi and religious groups have improved slightly in recent years. Pray that the new law will not threaten this progress.
- Pray that God will use His people who have spoken out about religious rights and about Him to draw many in Vietnam into a close personal relationship with Him.
– Nationalist gangs terrorise Christian community
Gangs of nationalist youths have terrorised a Christian community in Song Ngoc, north-east Vietnam, attacking a church and homes and targeting Christian business owners. Local Christian leaders have appealed to the authorities to act, noting that “we see that the attacks have been carried out in an orchestrated manner, and the police know well what is occurring, but are ignoring what is going on”. The acts of intimidation and violence have taken place throughout June. Some of the perpetrators have called for the expulsion of two church leaders who are helping impoverished local fisherman in a legal case against the government following a marine pollution disaster in April last year (2016).
Vietnam’s communist government ruthlessly cracks down on dissent and Christians are viewed as enemies of the one-party state. All churches are required to be officially registered with the authorities. In November 2016, the government passed a new religion law which was hailed by state media as guaranteeing religious freedom, although the vague legislation banning any religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity” seems likely to give authorities leeway to crack down on religious freedom, where it is deemed against the interests of the state.
From UCA news here
Andrea Minichello of Christian Concern had this good response at the Synod of the Church of England:
Published: January 26th, 2018
Iranian Christians strong in their faith
Praise God that despite being under pressure to convert back to Islam, Iranian believers Amin Nader Afshar and Hadi Askary, who both have long prison sentences, are reported to be firm in their faith! Pray that their appeals will succeed.
Pastor Victor Bet Tamarz (10 year sentence), Amin (15 years), Hadi (10 years) bail £46,000 each. Lawyer will appeal.
IRAN – Two Christian converts have finally been charged by the authorities, seven months after being abducted by armed men as they picnicked with their families. Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Askari, both converts from Islam, have been incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison since September. Both men have been convicted for ” acting against national security” and “organizing house churches”. They have filed appeals. Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz is on bail.
May the two men recover from hunger strike and their sentences be repealed.
The Iranian government brutally represses Farsi-speaking (i.e. Muslim background) churches, often called house churches. The persecution of Iranian Christians worsened in 2016.
From Mohabat news here
Imprisoned Christians end hunger strike in Iran
Earlier this week, two Christian converts who have been in prison since August 2016 ended their hunger strike after being promised medical care and progress in their case.
On 5 February, Amin Afshar Naderi (on left of image) and Hadi Askari (on right) went on hunger strike to demand medical care and to protest about delays in their case. No charges have been brought against either man.
On Tuesday (14 February), the Head of the Attorney General’s office Ali Akbar Bakhtiari and his deputy visited Naderi and Askari in Evin Prison in Tehran. They promised to investigate their case and that of others imprisoned for their religious beliefs, so Naderi and Askari ended their hunger strike.+
Prisoners of Faith Alert
Further updates reveal that Christian convert prisoner, Amin Afshar Naderi is still being held in Evin prison, despite earlier reports about his release.
Mohabat News – On October 19, 2016, a report came out of Iran that three of the five Christians arrested earlier in Firouz-kouh county, had been released. However, follow-up efforts have revealed that one of the three Christians previously thought to have been released, Amin Afshar Naderi, is still being held in prison.
Knowledgeable sources told Mohabat News that the other two Christians, Mohammad Dehnavi and Ramil Bet-Tamraz, son of Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz were in fact released on bail, while their fellow believer, Amin Afshar Naderi still remains in prison.
As previously reported, the two Christians who were in fact released, had to post very heavy bails. They will be released until the day of their trial. As of now, three of the five believers still in prison are Amin Afshar Naderi, Amir Saman Dashti and Hadi Asgari, none of whom are officially charged yet. There are no further updates on their case and how long they will be held in prison in uncertainty.
Keeping political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in prison without any official charge is a known tactic of the Iranian government in order to pressure such prisoners.
These five Christian prisoners had been arrested on August 26, 2016 in a raid on a family gathering in Firouz-kouh county.
Reports from that incident state the plain-clothed security authorities beat a number of those attending the family gathering and after arresting five of them, they left their families with no news on the whereabouts of their loved ones. Their families said they checked with many prisons across the country but they were told such names are not registered as official prisoners in their system.
As many Iranians have shown incredible interest in Christianity in recent years, the Iranian Islamic regime has ramped up its campaign to crack down on Iranian Christian converts and prevent the spread of house church gatherings. Iran falsely sees its citizens’ conversion to Christianity as a threat to its existence and national security.
Turkey and their president are exposed as intransigent liars thwarting due process and justice!
A photo of the Rev. Andrew Brunson during his time in prison. Photo courtesy of World Witness
(World Watch Monitor) As a high-level US delegation arrived in the Turkish capital [on 23 January], in an effort to resolve high-level tensions between the two NATO allies, discussions were slated to include what officials in Washington have termed the “wrongful detention” of US pastor Andrew Brunson for the past 15 months.
Led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Asian Affairs Jonathan Cohen, the bilateral meetings in Ankara are the first sessions of a Joint Coordination Committee recently established between Turkish and US diplomatic and justice officials.
With the visit coming right on the heels of the Turkish military’s “Operation Olive Branch”, launched over the past weekend in Syria’s Afrin province, the Turkish media stressed that the delegation included officials from the US Defense Ministry.
But according to a report in Hurriyet…
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Another apparent bold martyr for the Lord Jesus Christ. May his death prove fruitful and bring life to others and may the killers be convicted.
The body of Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church in Tamil Nadu, India. (Morning Star News)
India (Morning Star News) – The body of a pastor in southern India was found hung from the thatched roof of his house early Saturday morning (Jan. 20), a week after he complained to police about opposition from Hindu extremists, sources said.
Congregation members said they found the body of pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church hanging from a rope in his one-room house beside the church building in Adayachery village, Kanchipuram District, but that his knees were bent stiff, as if others had placed him in the noose after his death. He was 43.
A convert from Hinduism 25 years ago, Pastor Periyaswamy was single and served as pastor in Adayachery for more than 12 years, his close friend, pastor Azariah Reuben, told Morning Star News.
“The local Hindus were not…
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Latest MERF news Letter
Jan. 19, 2018 | Tanzania
|A young boy who is one of only two Christians at his school in Zanzibar has been punished by teachers and bullied by students because of his faith. One day a group of Muslim boys locked him in an outhouse for several hours, and another day they held him down and forced him to drink urine. The Muslim boys were never punished. This boy’s experience reflects a growing trend of persecution targeting Christian youth. All schools in Zanzibar, including private Christian schools, are required to teach Arabic and Islamic studies, and students cannot graduate without passing exams in those subjects. Teachers are encouraged to discipline Christian students harshly and rebuke their beliefs. Pray that this Christian boy and all Christian youth in Zanzibar will grow stronger in faith, and also pray for their protection.
The warring factions care only about themselves and power. They care not their country is devastated, impoverished and countless millions on brink of starvation-how can anything they do be justified? It can’t! Lord oppose them and give them what they deserve.
This potentially rich nation (diamonds) is impoverished by all kinds of violent anarchy and social evils-it badly needs our prayer. Click on slides to enlarge.
Please use this for prayer in 2018 regularly:
Two Christians in Iran
given eight-year prison sentences
Iranian Christians Eskandar Rezaei and Soroush Saraei (pictured, Eskandar on left) have each been sentenced to eight years in prison. Arrested in July 2017, they were both charged with “acting against national security”, while Soroush was also charged with “forgery” for issuing letters as pastor of the Church of Shiraz for students seeking exemption from Islamic studies classes.
On 28 December 2017, they were each sentenced to seven years in prison for “acting against national security” plus one year for proselytising and forming house meetings. They are appealing the sentences.
More mass murder with seeming impunity in Central Nigeria.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A mass burial on Sunday (Jan. 7) was announced for 49 of at least 65 Christians killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks in Benue state, Nigeria that began on New Year’s Day, sources said.
Benue Gov. Samuel Ortom announced on Saturday (Jan. 6) that coffins would be provided for the state-sponsored funeral as he visited Benue State University Teaching Hospital-Makurdi’s hospital morgue. Brandishing heavy weaponry as well as cutlasses, Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked several predominantly Christian villages in the Guma and Logo Local Government Areas (LGAs) on Jan. 1-2 and on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 5-6).
The governor of the Middle Belt, majority-Christian state told journalists that 49 corpses recovered from the Christian communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas had been kept in morgues across the state. He said a mass burial was necessary because the bodies were decomposing. The governor…
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