Archive for the 'Persecution' Category

Feb 08 2019

Ingo Breuer

Nigeria’s Middle Belt Report: Attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani Militants Increase Sharply in 2018

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02/06/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – Bloodshed in 2018 spiked dramatically in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, with the heaviest attacks taking place in Plateau State. ACLED reported that approximately 1,930 brutal deaths were attributed to Fulani militants in 2018 alone, nearly six times the death toll caused by the notorious terrorist group Boko Haram. This was a sharp increase over the 1,900 total people killed in 2017 by both Boko Haram, which was the main perpetrator, and Fulani militants.

Due to ethnic tensions, religious differences, and a lack of economic resources, Fulani attacks against defenseless farmers in largely Christian areas claimed many lives and displaced tens of thousands. The Global Terrorism Index reported, “At its core, the herder-farmer violence occurring in Nigeria revolves around the economic plight resulting from the worsening drought and land degradation in Nigeria’s northern regions. The livelihood of Nigeria’s Fulani population is threatened as desertification of their land pushes them south.” This, however, does not account for the dozens of villages that were completely razed and the more than 30 churches that were destroyed in Plateau State alone, as reported by Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria.

Despite these violent attacks, there have been no major attempts by the Nigerian government to hold the Fulani accountable or disarm them. Both of these steps must happen if this violence is to be stopped. The Middle Belt conflict should be a cause of great concern for President Buhari and all interested in Nigeria’s growth and stability.

Below are the largest attacks that took place in 2018.

1. April 23, 2018: Fulani militants attack in Benue State, killing 19 worshippers. 
2. June 23, 2018: Fulani militants attack in Plateau State, killing approximately 238.
3. July 10, 2018: Fulani militants attack in Adamawa and Taraba States, killing 50.

According to Global Terrorism Index’s 2018 ranking, Nigeria remains the third ‘Most Terrorized Country’ for the fourth consecutive year, making the Fulani militants and Boko Haram top-tier threats to Nigeria and its Christian population. Boko Haram and Fulani militants have claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions more in recent years. The Nigerian government and the rest of the world must remember and pray for those affected by the deadly violence taking place in the Middle Belt. 

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Feb 07 2019

Ingo Breuer

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Confirms Asia Bibi’s Acquitted

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01/29/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has confirmed the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman formally sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. The decision to confirm the acquittal was announced by a new three judge bench led by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.  

Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009 and was the only woman in Pakistan’s history to be sentenced to death under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws. In announcing the decision to uphold Bibi’s acquittal, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, “Based on merit, this petition is dismissed.”

“Justice and truth has prevailed,” Sajid Christopher, President of Human Friends Organization, told ICC. “Our hats are off to the judges. Asia is completely free now.”

“The review was not a rehearing of the case,” Saif-Ul-Malook, Bibi’s Supreme Court Advocate, told the media after the decision was announced. “The court allowed the review just to make them satisfied that nothing on the record could be turned against the judgement.” 

On October 31, 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court announced that they had acquitted Bibi of the blasphemy charges that had kept her on death row for nearly a decade. In explaining its decision, the court said that there was ultimately not enough evidence to convict Bibi. 

Following the announcement of the acquittal, thousands of religious hardliners took to the streets in protest. These protesters demanded the court review its decision and not allow Bibi to leave Pakistan until that review had taken place.

Since her acquittal, Bibi has remained in the custody of Pakistani authorities at a secure location inside the country. According to those in contact with Bibi, her conditions at this secure location remain eerily similar to prison. Friends of Bibi’s family explained that Bibi was not even able to open a window in her hideout.

Bibi was on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Sessions Court in Sheikhupura in 2010. The blasphemy accusation against Bibi was based on flimsy evidence following a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim coworkers with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim coworkers became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslims. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim women ensued and later the Muslim coworkers reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad. 

ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “We here at ICC are excited to see that Asia’s acquittal has been upheld. Our prayers now are with Asia and her family as they are in extreme danger until they are safely out of Pakistan. We are also very concerned for the safety of Pakistan’s Christian community at large. Asia’s case remains highly sensitive and the ignition point for many acts of religious hatred. It is our hope that Pakistan’s security forces will be able to protect all Pakistani Christians as extremists will likely seek revenge against their community.”

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Feb 07 2019

Ingo Breuer

Kidnapped Pastor Killed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

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Pastor Is Survived by Wife and Three Young Children

02/05/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on February 1, Pastor Tun Nu, who was kidnapped at gunpoint in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on January 19, has died. According to Gospel for Asia (GFA), the mission organization Pastor Tun is a part of, the 41-year-old pastor was killed along with several others who had been kidnapped by a rebel army in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, an area affected by the Rohingya conflict. He leaves behind his wife, three young children, and a church of more than 50 believers.

During the nearly two weeks that Pastor Tun was missing, the local police and government forces were unable to locate him. A local pastor also recently told ICC that no one knew Pastor Tun’s whereabouts, and they received little help in searching for him. His comment expressing little hope for the pastor became a painful reality days later.

“We are heartbroken to learn of Pastor Tun’s death, and we ask you to join us in praying for his wife and family, and his church at this time, that they may know God’s comfort, peace and strength,” shared Dr. KP Yohannan, the founder of GFA. “All of our brothers and sisters on the field know that, as Jesus said, they go out as ‘sheep among wolves.’ Like Pastor Tun, they are willing to lay down their lives, if need be, to share God’s great love with those who have not yet heard the Good News.”

Since learning of Pastor Tun’s death, a GFA-supported network of churches across Myanmar has taken up an offering for the grieving family. The regional leaders of the church have been visiting and comforting the family during this difficult time.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Our hearts sank at the devastating news of Pastor Tun Nu’s death. We urge the authorities to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators who think they can get away even if they shed the blood of the innocent. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Pastor Tun Nu’s loved ones, especially to his wife and three young children.”

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Jan 17 2019

Ingo Breuer

Residents Rally to Demand Church Closure in Indonesia

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Mob Denounces Bethel Indonesia Church’s Gathering as “Illegal”
01/17/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) http://www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 13, 2019, masses from the Griya Martubung Complex, Medan Labuhan Subdistrict in Indonesia’s North Sumatra held a protest against a house that was allegedly converted into a place of worship for Bethel Indonesia Church. In a video obtained by ICC, local residents surrounded Pastor Jans Fransman Saragih’s residence as Sunday service was about to commence. They pushed and shouted at church members, before demanding them to shut down.

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