(World Watch Monitor) A pastor was one of at least 27 people who lost their lives following fresh attacks carried out by Fulani militants on five predominantly Christian communities in northeast Nigeria in recent days. Many of them drowned as they attempted to escape via the local river.
Various sources contacted by World Watch Monitor confirmed that the attacks took place between 13 to 16 September, and affected the villages of Gon, Bolki, Ndumusu, Yotti and Yanga, in Numan local government area (LGA), Adamawa state.
This is the same area where 3,000 homes were destroyed in December 2017, after fighter jets sent by the Nigerian Air Force were alleged to have fired rockets at villages where Fulani herdsmen were attacking Christian residents, according to a February report by Amnesty International.
A local pastor, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, said 27 people had been buried following the latest attacks, which targeted communities along the Benue River. He added that, on hearing sounds of guns, many were scared and fled into the bush, or drowned attempting to escape via the river as they could not swim. He said that ten people are still missing, four from Yanga and six from Bolki.
“Nobody knows the whereabouts of these people missing. Since their dead bodies are not found, it is too early to declare them dead. We will give them the benefit of doubt; maybe some of them may return home to their families,” the pastor said.
Rev. Gerison Ezekiel Killa, 43, of the Boiki Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, was one of those who drowned. He is survived by his wife and six children.
More than 45 others were injured. The assailants also looted and burned down many homes, and stole cattle.
Rahab Solomon, a survivor from Bolki village, said the attackers stormed their community at about 3pm and began shooting indiscriminately.
“My husband and I went to Numan to my pick up our children around 2pm. At about 3pm, while we were on our way back home, we heard that our village was under attack and that three persons were killed,” she recalled.
“We couldn’t go back home because we were told that our house was burnt. So we came to stay in this camp.
“The next day [14 September] we called my husband’s brother and he told us that the Fulani chased our people and killed so many of them. Those who tried to run through the river were shot and many who tried to escape through the river, but could not swim, died as well; those who could swim were able to survive. We heard that over 25 bodies were recovered from the river. The exact number of people who died in the attack is yet to be known as the place is still under attack.
“We were told that the Fulani militants burnt down all our houses, and some women and children who hid in the farms were abducted by the Fulani. We no longer have a place to call home. Right now we are helpless.”
Jidauna Igiya, the head of Gon village, who survived the attack, recalled the moment his village was attacked:
“On Sunday [16 September], we were home with our families; we did not know that the Fulani were coming to attack us. Although we heard rumours earlier that there was a planned attack by the Fulani on Pasham and Lau villages, so we did not think they will attack us since we did not receive such messages, but at about 4pm, we heard gunshot sounds. Everybody in the village sought cover and began to run for safety, as the Fulani were shooting and burning houses.
“The Fulani burnt all our houses. No house is standing right now and we cannot go back to our villages. The Fulani also moved from our village to Ndumusu, from Ndumusu to Yanga, from Yanga to Bolki, and continued their attack, killing more people and burning more houses. They took away our cattle and looted our foodstuff and property and burnt the remaining things they could not take away. Twenty-six people were killed in our village, Gon, while two others were wounded.
“During the attack, we tried to call security forces but none came to our rescue. We managed to put our families, children, women and old people through the bush and that is how we were able to be saved. Right now we are all scattered. Some of us are still in the bush, taking shelter around Gon north, while some of our families are in Numan and others in other villages.
“Most people who tried to escape through the river during the attack lost their lives as the Fulani chased them because they could not swim. It is not easy for us right now to find food to eat. We have to go to nearby villages to get food for our survival.”
Responding to the attack, the state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Stephen Mamza, lamented that innocent Christians were being “killed by these so-called herdsmen on a daily basis, without security forces responding appropriately to stop them from hurting Christians”.
He said the “incessant attacks on Christians has led to hunger and starvation, adding that if these Christians are not aided many will die of starvation”.
Mamza said some them who fled to Numan are taking refuge in a local primary school, while others are staying with relatives.
Solomon Faider, an eyewitness who fled from Ndumusu and took refuge in a relative’s house in Numan, said the herdsmen attacks on Christian farmers in southern Adamawa state have “gone on for three or four years now, without the government or anybody else finding a solution”.
“There seems to be collusion between the military and the killer herdsmen group,” he said.
“Where the suspected killer herdsmen are reported to be attacking from is called Abbare. This place is just a 30 minutes’ drive from Numan, and the military have been informed of the impending attack four hours before it happened.”
The member representing Numan at the Adamawa state House of Assembly, Sodom Tayedi, also lamented the failure of the security forces to prevent the attacks.
“There are soldiers camped in Abbare, yet these attackers will always mobilise from that Abbare”, she told World Watch Monitor. “There is never a time they’ll attack and I don’t call security forces as member representing the constituency.
“I just called the Brigade Commander again and he assured me that troops are on their way to the area.
“We had intelligence report of the attack and reported to the paramount ruler [local chief], who always passes the same information to the security forces, but they [the Fulani] will always come and destroy our community,” she lamented.
Tayedi also said that even if the soldiers were able to mobilise, they may not be able to reach the affected villages due to flooding problems at this time.
At the time of writing, the police spokesman in the state, Habibu Musa, was yet to comment on the attack.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Following disclosure of a video by Boko Haram Islamic extremists threatening to kill Christian high school student Leah Sharibu within one month, Christian leaders in Nigeria have declared three days of prayer and fasting.
In the video disclosed last week, the terrorists are shown killing an aid worker. In a comment to Morning Star News, the 15-year-old Leah’s father, Nathan Sharibu, pleaded with the terrorists to have mercy on his daughter, who was not released with more than 100 kidnapped high school girls earlier this year because she refused to convert to Islam.
“I plead that the leaders of the group have mercy on my daughter and spare her life,” Sharibu told Morning Star News by phone on Monday (Sept. 24). “I also want to plead with the Nigerian government to do all they can to secure the release of my daughter, Leah. She does not deserve to die in this cruel way.”
Leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Sharibu’s church, directed all its congregations within and outside Nigeria to observe three days of fasting and prayers (Sept. 24-26).
Signed by the Rev. Yunusa Nmadu Jr., ECWA general secretary, the letter, entitled “URGENT PRAYER CONCERN,” calls for prayer and fasting for Leah’s release and that of other Boko Haram abductees. Two aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross,
Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha Ngaddah, remain hostage following the terrorists’ killing of Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, 25, a mother of two who worked as midwife with the ICRC.
Dated Sept. 19, the letter calls on Christians across the world to join the church in praying for their release.
“We urge other churches worldwide to join us,” it reads. “Thank you for standing in the gap.”
The head of Nigeria’s Anglican Communion also voiced his concern. The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), said in a statement after the church’s synod met in Minna, north-central Nigeria, that the Nigerian government must undertake all means possible to secure the release of Leah and others.
“No sacrifice is too much to get these girls released,” Okoh said. “In the interest of democracy, freedom of religion and national cohesion, sufficient effort should be made to bring their ordeal and that of their parents and families to an end.”
The late Khorsa and the two other health workers were abducted on March 1 in a Boko Haram attack on Rann, on Nigeria’s far northeastern border.
In the Boko Haram video, made available to Nigerian online outlet The Cable, the insurgents assert they made contact with the government about the hostages but received no response.
“We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages, but the government have ignored us,” a spokesman of the group says. “So, here is a message of blood. The other nurse and midwife will be executed in similar manner in one month, including Leah Sharibu.”
The Nigerian government last week confirmed that the group sent the video to officials in which the terrorists threaten to kill Leah and the aid workers. Garba Shehu, a media aide to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said in a statement that the video showed the killing of Khorsa, kidnapped with the two other aid workers in Borno state.
“The government of Nigeria strongly condemns this reprehensible and inhuman act,” Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement. “No religion permits the killing of the innocent.”
He appealed to the United Nations and other international agencies to prevail on Boko Haram “to stop these acts of extreme barbarism” and said his government will make efforts to secure the release of Leah, the two Red Cross workers and all other Nigerian citizens held captive by Boko Haram.
In an audio recording released by a local journalist on Aug. 27, Leah says in her native Hausa that she wants the Nigerian government and “people of goodwill” to rescue her.
She and the other girls were kidnapped on Feb. 19 from Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria’s Yobe state. All were released in March except Leah.
Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, according to CNN.
About 100 of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok, in Borno state, in 2014 are still missing.
Boko Haram, whose name is loosely translated as, “Western education is a sin,” has fought for nine years to impose sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing more than 2 million. Boko Haram militants reportedly warned parents of the returned Dapchi girls not to send their daughters back to school.
In 2015 the Nigerian military began taking back most of the territory Boko Haram had controlled, but many areas remain, and the terrorists are still mounting isolated attacks. Jubilee Campaign reports that, according to figures from the Stefanos Foundation, Boko Haram in 2017 took responsibility for attacks that claimed more than 650 lives.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
VOP note: It’s not to late to pray for Leah Sharibu’s release. Please join us in praying for her along with others held captive (thousands since the insurgency), our Nigerian brothers and sisters and the nation of Nigeria.
(Intersociety Nigeria: Sunday, 16th September 2018)-The agonies of Christians in Nigeria have uncontrollably continued and escalated with possibility of same being adopted as a reelection strategy by the Muslim led central Government in the country. It must be stated clearly here again that anti Christian attacks including killings and destruction of properties and sacred places and symbols of worship by Fulani jihadists are solely perpetrated or targeted against members, properties and sacred places of worship of members of the Christian faith in industrial scale as well as members of other non Muslim population in Nigeria. It is still on record that no single Muslim or Mosque has been targeted for death or destruction by the Jihadist terrorists in the country or any part thereof.
Statistically, a total of no fewer than 2000 Christian lives have been lost to Fulani jihadists alone since January 2018 with no fewer than 250 killed between 15th July and 15th September 2018. No fewer than 120 were killed in less than ten days in July or between 2nd and 11th July 2018. The killings briefly went down between 15th July and first week of August 2018 with about 30 killings before their resurged increase since the last week of August to 15th September 2018; leading to death of over 100 Christians. Totality of these brings the total number of innocent and defenseless Christians slaughtered by Fulani jihadists in the past eight and half months or between 1st January and 15th September 2018 to over 2000. The figure did not include the number of Christians killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria since January 2018 or “battle-field related” deaths.
The anti Christian killings have gone so bad that they are now being celebrated by many members of the Nigerian northern Muslim population especially on social media. A clear case in point was the barrage of social media attacks, aspersions and vituperations cast at or poured on a Pentecostal pastor who went on social media to appeal for western intervention and assistance over the incessancy of anti Christian butcheries in Nigeria including the recent massacre by Fulani jihadists of Pastor Adamu Gyang Wurim, his wife and three children in Plateau State.
From the look of things, these killings have not only raised the “popularity” of President Muhammadu Buhari among teeming and crudely uneducated young Muslim population in northern Nigeria, but also appeared to have made him to be seen among them as “pure Muslim/defender of Allah”; an unholy edge he appears to have over his fellow northern Muslim presidential hopefuls in the coming 2019 presidential poll.
The President’s caliphate style of administration or governance in the country is also believed in some social quarters to have gone down well with many of the educated and uneducated Muslim population in northern part of the country particularly his Fulani kinsmen and women; culminating in recent issuance of threats of violence against his fellow Muslim presidential hopefuls to back off from the race to allow the President as “the only man standing”.
A clear case in point was recent threats of violence including death made by one of the leaders of the mother body of Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria called “the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN)”. The open threats of violence were issued against the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who is of a Yoruba-Fulani Muslim root.
Another fellow Muslim Presidential hopeful in the coming 2019 presidential poll, Alhaji Atikur Abubakar had also recently cried out over threats to his life and that of his wife and children by unnamed group of persons strongly believed to link to the Fulani jihadists. These emergent threats to lives and properties of political opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Fulani jihadists are a clear pointer to the midwifery, aiding and abetting of the atrocities and impunity of the Fulani jihadists by the Administration of the President.
There are also reports of sustained state actor and non state actor threats against members of Christian faith in Northern Nigeria particularly in Kaduna State where the State Government recently on 28th May 2018 issued a proclamation Islamizing the State traditional stools and institutions by changing them to “Emirate Council or Caliphate” including those located in Christian dominated Southern Kaduna. In some places, holy bibles are reportedly burnt or destroyed while in others Christian prayers are no longer said in the open. Open Christian evangelism is becoming life threatening in such areas except in areas populated in large numbers by members of the Christian faith.
Some Christians in some northern parts of the country are also reported to have been so threatened that they no longer worship or meet in clusters or in their church buildings except use of teleconferencing and other online points of contact. The negative effects of Fulani jihadists’ killings or untamed violence against northern Christians have further made some Christian faithful to undergo post traumatic stress disorder (PTSDs); as well as raising, emboldening and radicalizing other fanatical Muslim groups and individuals to further let loose on their Christian neighbors including threatening and shutting them off with reckless abandon from their religious beliefs and practices. In all these, Governments at the State and Federal levels including their security agencies either watch and do nothing or collude, aid and abet the crimes and protect their perpetrators.
The Christian agonies in Nigeria include killing of Christian children and busting, using machetes and guns, of pregnancies of the heavily pregnant Christian women leading to their death and that of their unborn children; killing of other Christians (i.e. women, children, the physically challenged, young men and women, the aged and the sick) in their sleep, sick and retirement apartments, farms and other work places as well as sacred places of worship. The agonies also involve property destruction involving land seizure and forceful occupation as well as attacks, burning and destruction of sacred places and symbols of Christian worship including churches, altars, monasteries, seminaries, chapels, schools, cassocks, holy bibles, chaplets, statutes, crucifixes, etc.
Going by our updates following recent general evaluation of various reports and investigative findings on killing of Christians and destruction of their sacred places of worship in Nigeria particularly since January 2018, no fewer than 2000 Christian lives have been lost in the hands of the Fulani jihadists hiding under the cover of “Fulani Herdsmen”. The said Jihadists carry out their untamed atrocities using the existing primitive pastoralist cattle herding network manned by cattle pastoralists called “Fulani Herdsmen”.
The primitive network involves downward movements of herds of cattle and their herders into the rain forest region of Nigeria with associated makeshift settlements inside bushes and forests; now heavily guarded by the lopsidedly composed and Muslim led Nigerian military formations. The attacks highlighted above are easily launched and coordinated by the jihadists especially at night using the said primitive cattle herding routes and settlements as attack bases and for intelligence gathering; in addition to military and police guard or protection.
Breakdown of Updated Statistics: We had on 2nd July 2018, released the statistics of the anti Christian butcheries in Nigeria, showing that the Fulani jihadists killed no fewer than 1,750 Christians in the first six months of 2018 or January to June. In our follow-up statement of 11th July 2018, the number of Christian victims of the Fulani jihadists’ attacks increased to 1,870, indicating the killing of additional 120 Christians in less than ten days or between 2nd and 11th July 2018. The killings associated with the 120 Christian deaths specifically took place in Adamawa and Taraba villages and communities.
The said general evaluation of the killings by terror Fulani Militia (a.k.a. Fulani Herdsmen), as contained in our special statement of 2nd July 2018, clearly indicated that Benue State recorded the highest number of rural Christian and other non Muslim deaths with no fewer than 600, followed by Plateau State with 400; Taraba 250; Nasarawa 200; Southern Kaduna 100, Adamawa 100 and Kogi State 100. Presently, no fewer than 620 Christian lives have been lost in the past eight and half months (1st January-15th September 2018) in Benue, 450 in Plateau while Adamawa and Taraba States recorded no fewer than 550.
The anti Christian killings later went down especially between 15th July and first week of August 2018 following international media attentions and diplomatic concerns in some western countries, prompting the Nigeria’s Minister of Information to embark on globetrotting and image laundering in selected western countries tagged “killings arising from Farmers-Herdsmen clashes have stopped”. The said few western concerns followed the three days of unstoppable massacre of rural Christians in eleven villages of Plateau State which began on 24th June 2018 leading to death of no fewer than 250 defenseless Christian citizens including pregnant women, children, other women and men.
The said reduction resulted in fewer death of about 30 Christians between July 15and first week of August 2018, compared to alarming number of deaths recorded in the previous months. The sudden reduction was also strongly believed to have been unconnected with directive of the political and military patrons of the jihadists to cease a momentary fire to possibly douse the said selected western media and diplomatic pressure on political leadership in Nigeria.
However, the killings have returned at alarming rate especially since the last week of August 2018, leading to killing of no fewer than 250 more Christians as at 15th September 2018. The figure included no fewer than 120 Christians killed between 3rd and 11th July 2018 most of which took place in Adamawa and Taraba States. Between 15th July and first week of August 2018, no fewer than 30 more Christians were killed in the old Middle Belt; and between last week of August and 15th September 2018, over 100 more Christians have died in the hands of Fulani jihadists who hide under the cover of “Fulani Herdsmen”.
Christians in Nigeria are also most likely to have lost not less than 500 churches and other church related facilities since January 2018. The Government of Benue State has just on Thursday, 13th September 2018 disclosed that “over 560 Christians have been killed in the Fulani Herdsmen attacks in the State between January and August 2018” during which half of five Christian Local Government Areas of the State were sacked. The State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom named the affected five LGAs as Makurdi, Gwer West, Guma, Logo and Kwande Local Government Areas.
In the latest round of killings, Adamawa and Plateau States are worst hit while Benue, Kaduna and Taraba States are not left out. By the Punch Newspaper account of 15th September 2018, no fewer than 51 Christians including a Pastor of the Lutheran Church lost their lives to Fulani jihadists in coordinated attacks launched on Thursday night in villages of Gon, Nzumosu, Bolki, Nyanga and Bukuto Numan Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
The Adamawa Christian villages above mentioned have also lost hundreds of Christians and dozens of churches in the hands of the Nigerian security forces and armed Fulani jihadists since December 2017 including over 80 Christians killed on 4th December 2017 in simultaneous air raids and ground attacks simultaneously launched by Nigerian war jets and armed Fulani jihadists. The Government of Nigeria initially denied it but later claimed “they were armed bandits terrorizing the area being chased away by Government forces”.
The Fulani jihadists who were reported to have stormed the Adamawa villages on Thursday night, 13th September 2018 from neighboring Abbare in Taraba State in large numbers also burnt three villages and churches after slaughtering no less than 15 Christians and a Pastor. The Punch Newspaper report further quoted a resident of Bolki village, Mr. James Nzonzo as saying that “the boat escaping with 40 endangered (Christian) women escaping the attacks got capsized killing 35 and leaving only five rescued alive”. The attacks and killings were independently confirmed by our local contact who is also a Christian Pastor in the area. The Punch Newspaper also quoted a Member representing the Numan State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mrs. Sodom Tayedi as further confirming and condemning the attacks.
Plateau State has lost no fewer than 30 Christians since last week of August 2018 and 50 since 15th July. The renewed anti Christian killings in the State included not less than eight Christians killed by the Fulani jihadists on 28th August 2018 also reported by the Punch Newspaper of 30th August 2018, among other media reports. The attacks launched at churches and houses in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the State claimed the lives of no fewer than eight Christians including Pastor Adamu Gyang Wurim, his wife and three children.
On Sunday night of 2nd September 2018, no fewer than 13 Christians were killed by Fulani jihadists in Latya Village, Du District of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State. The Telegraph Newspaper report of 3rd September 2018 said that the attacks came late night of Sunday, 2nd September 2018 when the Fulani jihadists stormed the Village and opened fire killing 13 Christians. Not less than five Christians were also killed on Saturday, 18th and Sunday, 19th of August 2018 in Shonong and Kwi villages of Riyom Local Government as well as in Ndin and Haipang villages at Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. While two Christians were killed in the former on Saturday night, three others were killed on Sunday night in the latter. The instances above are just to mention but few.
A new government censorship has further been introduced into such anti Christian killings whereby security forces now refer to Fulani jihadists as “unknown gunmen” or “suspected rival cultists”. Some independent media practitioners have also been forced by the country’s undercover security establishments to adopt and use same in their media reports.
It is recalled that during our special interview with the Washington D.C., USA based Christian Post Online, granted on 2nd August and published on 25thAugust 2018, one of the nine questions asked over the raging anti Christian butcheries in Nigeria was premised on “false position and influence by the Federal Government of Nigeria in many western media and diplomatic circles to the effect that killings in Nigeria have no iota of religious undertone but merely arising from herders-farmers clashes”. Findings also showed that a fortune is spent internationally by the Nigerian Government to sustain this falsehood and misinformation through “international media and diplomatic lobbying”.
The special interview, monitored in Dublin Ireland and published in Washington D.C., strongly found that “the anti Christian killings and killers have persisted and continued because the political authorities in Nigeria that ought to end them are mindlessly found working hand in glove with the killers or encouraging and emboldening them by misinforming the world and doing little or nothing to stop same”.
The present Nigerian military establishments are so partisan or Islamic and jihadist friendly that apart from holistic adoption of the country-wide establishment of “Fulani grazing routes and ranching”, military presence and patrols are maintained in all Fulani herding settlements in the rain forest region of Nigeria particularly those located in Southeast and South-south regions of the country.
Such settlements either have military or police “sedentary or pastoral formations” located around them or they are located in bushes and forests near the already existing ones. The location of Asa main and Ogwe satellite army checkpoints in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State is a clear case in point. It is further found that such settlements or protection of existing ones are routinely done by the military establishments using the cover of “army python dance” and “army crocodile dance” series in Southeast and South-south regions of Nigeria respectively.
We therefore renew our call for end of anti Christian butcheries in Nigeria and scrapping of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and founding of a new and more purposeful Christian body with capacity to rising to the occasion including congregation and aggregation of all Christian bodies and members in Nigeria into a formidable movement with unblemished legitimacy, integrity, courage, boldness, knowledge, means and contacts to secure and protect the lives and properties of Christians and churches in Nigeria. The present CAN is integrity challenged and incapable of leading a secured Christian population and their sacred places and symbols of worship.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Chinaza Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq.
Head, Int’l Justice & Human Rights Program
(Morning Star News) – The growing crack-down on unofficial churches in China deepened on Sunday (Sept. 9) when authorities closed one of the largest churches in Beijing, according to reports.
The Beijing Chaoyang District Civil Affairs Bureau informed Zion Church that it was “legally banned” for organizing events without registering as an official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church, Reuters reported. The church has faced growing threats from authorities, including eviction, since it refused to comply with a government order in April to install closed-circuit television cameras at its worship site.
Bob Fu, president of advocacy group China Aid, said authorities are enforcing rules requiring registration as a TSPM church in order to exercise increased control over ideologies. He called the church closure part of a larger crack-down on Christianity across China.
“The massive clampdown against thousands of churches in Henan [Province] and the forced closure and total shutdown of the largest house church in Beijing, Zion Church, represents a significant escalation on President Xi [Jinping]’s crack-down down against religious freedom in China,” Fu said in a statement. “Now that the Chinese Communist Party has started to burn Bibles and coerce millions of believers in the Christian faith and other religious minorities to even sign a written pledge to renounce their basic religious beliefs, the international community should be alarmed and outraged at this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief and demand the Chinese regime stop and remedy this dangerous course.”
Zion Church leaders have decided they will continue holding services outdoors, Fu said.
The Associated Press reported that about 60 government officials arrived at 4:30 p.m. accompanied by buses, police cars and fire trucks to close what is regarded as Beijing’s largest unofficial church. They reportedly sealed the church building and froze pastor Ezra Jin Mingri’s personnel assets, besides confiscating “illegal promotional materials.”
Reuters reported that the church had operated for years with relative freedom. China’s unofficial Christian institutions have faced increased harassment since new regulations took effect in February.
More than 30 of Beijing’s hundreds of unofficial Protestant churches released a statement in July lamenting interference, assaults and obstruction since the new regulations came into effect.
In Luohe, Henan Province, more than 50 officials stormed into Meisheng Church on Sept. 2, beat worshippers and confiscated most church property, China Aid reported.
“Uniformed and plainclothes police, as well as agents from the local religious affairs and cultural bureaus, invaded the service as the pastor, Chen Qi, was reading the Bible,” the organization reported.
One Christian told China Aid that officials grabbed the pastor’s microphone and forcibly stopped worship. The director of Luohe’s Yuanhui District Religious Affairs Bureau, identified only as Li, walked to the podium and announced that the fellowship was “illegitimate,” according to China Aid.
“After reading a document about the church’s supposed violation, he asked Chen to sign it, but Chen refused and was taken away,” the group reported. “An official said to him, ‘The document will be effective no matter if you sign it or not.’ During the ordeal, a woman stood in the hallway and photographed the situation. Police pulled her hair and slapped her face as they pushed her up against the wall. Once they were finished, they took her into custody.”
Several police officers also kicked another woman who disobeyed their orders to refrain from taking photos.
“She fell to the ground, and her cell phone was confiscated,” China Aid reported. “When her fiancé confronted one of the officers, saying ‘How can you bully a girl?’ he was punched and accused of assaulting the police.”
Also on Sept. 2, authorities in Xinyang, Henan Province, entered a church service without showing identification, expelled worshippers and welded the door shut, according to China Aid.
“Some of the congregants attempted to film evidence, but police took their phones,” the group reported. “Later on, the church rented a storage unit to hold their services in.”
Officials in the same area closed off the road leading to another church, prohibiting church members from entering, the advocacy group reported.
“Similar disturbances occurred in other areas of Henan, including Hua County, where Christians gathered in front of Baidaokou Church to prevent authorities from breaking in,” China Aid reported. “After a short confrontation, the authorities forced their way into the church and took chairs, desks, and a variety of other items. As they resisted, some of the Christians were injured and fell to the ground. After the authorities left, however, some of the congregants stayed and sang worship songs.”
Article 36 of China’s Constitution stipulates that all Chinese citizens have freedom of belief.
Last year the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the Henan Provincial China Christian Council issued an order forbidding churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing high temperatures as a possible health risk.
Also, the Nanyang Municipal Religious Affairs Bureau in Henan ordered all 20,000 house-church members in the province to join the Three-Self Church, according to China Aid. Many Chinese Christians disagree with the Three-Self Church based on theological discrepancies and rampant government censorship, making the forced merging of these two branches a violation of religious freedom, the advocacy group asserted.
According to (CIP) a young Pakistani Christian suffered life-changing injuries during an acid attack, a crime most often seen against women. Gujranwala’s Faraz Baddar was attacked by unknown men and details emerged that Faraz has been attacked previously and tortured by the attackers.
Faraz is employed at a local hospital in Gujranwala. He worked as manager in the hospital. Purportedly, the attack is a result of religion based dislike. Social media reports claim that the attack comes as a result of extreme emotional hatred due to his Christian faith. It is speculated that he was disliked, because his co-workers did not like being working under the authority of a Christian.
Please pray for his safety and healing.
“The defining question of the 21st century centers on the idea of religious freedom, the cornerstone of all human rights.”
The first is a short yet compelling video provides a narrative introduction to the importance of religious freedom worldwide.
Also, watch former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, discuss the importance of religious freedom.
Mohabat news_ On August 23, 2018, Amnesty International issued an appeal for urgent action to quash the sentences of the pastor “Victor Bet Tamraz” and his wife “Shamiram Isavi” and the Christian convert “Amin Afshar Naderi” and “Hadi Asghari”.
In the Amnesty International’s appeal, it was stressed that these sentences were issued only due to the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedoms of religion and belief, expression, and association, through their Christian faith.
Victor Bet-Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi, Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari, have been sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison on charges of acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the system through evangelism and the formation of house churches.
Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi, ethnic Assyrian Christians, and Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari, Christian converts, have been sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison.
Holding Christmas gatherings, organizing and conducting house churches, and travelling outside Iran to attend Christian seminars, all of them are known as “illegal church activities” which “threaten national security”, and security agencies including Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence, and the Islamic Republic’s judiciary attach these activities to the case, and the judge will issue a verdict based on this attachment.
The four Christian citizens who are all currently free on high bails, are awaiting the verdict of the appeal court.
This case was opened due to the incidents occurred on 26 December 2014, when Victor Bet-Tamraz was arrested with Amin Afshar-Naderi and one other individual after plain-clothed security forces raided his home in Tehran during a private Christmas gathering. They were taken to Tehran’s Evin prison where they had no access to their lawyers and little contact with their families. They were released on bail several months later.
On 21 May 2017, they were put on trial with Hadi Asgari, who had been arrested in a separate incident on 26 August 2016 in the city of Firuzkuh, Tehran Province. In July 2017, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced each of them to 10 years in prison on the charge of “forming a group composed of more than two people with the purpose of disrupting national security” in relation to their church activities.
The same court sentenced Amin Afshar-Naderi to a further five years in prison for “insulting Islamic sanctities” for a comical Facebook post he shared from someone else’s account that adopted a Quranic writing style about the sharp rise in the price of chicken in Iran.
Hadi Asgari was released on bail in April 2018.
On 19 June 2017, Shamiram Issavi was summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor in Evin prison and charged with offences related to her practicing her Christian faith. In January 2018, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced her to five years in prison for “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and another five years in prison for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.” / FARSI
Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A young Christian man in Karachi, Pakistan lost sight in one eye when armed, Muslim neighbors attacked his family, his father said.
Vikram John, 25, lost sight in his left eye after Muslim neighbors who had pressured his family to leave the neighborhood with months of harassment beat him and other family members on the night of Aug. 18, his father Alvin John told Morning Star News by phone.
“After exchanging a few hot words with the Muslim youths led by a political activist named Ihsan, Vikram came inside the house,” Alvin John said. “Moments later, bricks and stones came smashing through our window glass and hitting our gate. The attackers threatened us, saying to move out of the neighborhood if we wanted to stay alive as they hurled curses and abuses on us.”
Earlier in the evening, Vikram John was involved in a minor altercation with Muslim neighbors who had teased his 18-year-old sister, said his father, who 10 months ago moved the family to Karachi’s Mehmoodabad No-II neighborhood from Sahiwal District in Punjab Province.
“This wasn’t the first time they had harassed her,” he said. “For months we had been requesting the boys’ families to stop the hooliganism, but it seems that they had found this to be an effective tool to intimidate us, so the harassment continued unabated.”
The Muslims have been harassing and intimidating the family, who belong to an Assemblies of God church, since they moved into the rented house, he said – teasing his children when they stepped out the doorway and mocking them for being Christian.
Although there is a sizeable Christian population in the Mehmoodabad area, the John family is the only one on their street of 15 to 20 Muslim families, he said, adding that the neighbors tried various antics to force them out.
“Soon after the Muslims started harassing us, I had made up my mind that I would not let my children suffer in this environment,” he said. “I was waiting for the 12-month rental agreement to finish so that we could relocate to some other area or even go to Lahore and start afresh. I wish I had the financial means to leave that neighborhood earlier.”
Alvin John said that when a group of Muslims started pelting their home with stones the evening of Aug. 18, they broke window panes and damaged the gate.
He said that the Muslim leading the assailants, Ihsan, was affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a Karachi-based political party notorious for supporting gangs of assassins and extortionists in the financial hub of the country.
“After the attackers left the scene, I told some neighbors who had gathered there that we were going to launch legal action and sought their assistance in the matter,” he said. “However, around 11 p.m., some 30 armed Muslims attacked our house again, this time forcing their way into our home. Someone had informed them about our intention to approach the police, so they had come to ‘teach us a lesson.’”
He said that the assailants beat him and his two sons as his wife and daughter screamed in panic.
“They beat Vikram mercilessly while my younger [22-year-old] son Sunil and I made frantic efforts to save him,” he said. “The Muslims beat us too, but our injuries are not serious. The attackers also broke the furniture and ransacked our other belongings.”
Police and other security officers eventually arrived and took them to Jinnah Hospital, where they learned that Vikram John, a chemical engineering student, had lost sight in his left eye, besides serious injuries to other parts of his body, he said.
Alvin John said he suspects police have made no arrests because of the Muslim gang’s political backing.
“I was contacted by the brother of a senator belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, who assured us of support in registering the case and bringing the assailants to justice, but so far there has been no progress in the arrests,” he said.
Mehmoodabad Police Inspector Muhammad Sarwar told Morning Star News that police were making efforts to arrest the accused persons.
“No one, including MQM or any other political or religious group, can go scot-free after committing such crimes,” he said.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Sen. Saeed Ghani told Morning Star News by phone from Karachi that he had been informed about the incident by PPP Christian lawmaker Anthony Naveed.
“My brother Farhan Ghani, who is the chairman of the local municipality in Mehmoodabad, is already extending full cooperation to Naveed in helping the Christian family seek justice,” Ghani said. “It is against Islam’s preaching to target people belonging to minority communities, and PPP has always condemned religious extremism and persecution.”
Pakistan is ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 Word Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.