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‘It’s time to be real: what happens in Iraq is ethnic cleansing’ – UK analyst

What Iraq’s Christians want from the West is to say the plain truth: that there is ethnic cleansing of Christians in the region and it is ongoing, Dr Tim Stanley told a meeting at the UK’s parliament last Tuesday, 9 July.

The historian and columnist, working for UK daily newspaper The Telegraph, just returned from a visit to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains.

“If we don’t say what is really happening in the region, which is ethnic cleansing of both Christians and Yazidis, we allow Islamic State and other perpetrators to get away with it,” Stanley told the audience at the event, ‘The Global Persecution of Christian Minorities’, organised by the Henry Jackson Society, a British foreign-policy think tank.

Since Islamic State was pushed out of the region, displaced Iraqis have slowly started to return to their communities but continue to live in fear and they continue to be vulnerable. Pockets of IS fighters are still active and the group has said it started the fires that in recent weeks torched hundreds of acres of land and crops, “owned by infidels”, in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed militias have moved into areas previously under IS-control, discouraging people to trade with Christians, Stanley said.

In January, a UN team started investigations in the country to collect evidence of genocide and war crimes committed by Islamic State fighters, in order to take the perpetrators to court in Iraq. The UN has been reluctant to recognise the violence against Christians and Yazidis as genocide, despite pressure from civil society groups and some of its own member states such as the Netherlands.

‘Instruments of the West’

Those who have returned to their communities and want to leave, face challenges such as the western visa application processes, according to Stanley.

The US, under the Trump administration, has taken fewer Iraqi refugees in than it did during the Obama administration. Instead, it sent an aid package of US$35 million to the region to support Iraqi Christians and Yazidis who had suffered under IS occupation. The UK also has been slow on the uptake.

Stanley acknowledged that it’s not always a simple matter of putting pressure on governments to treat Christians fairly. Christians often are considered to be instruments of Western governments, and as such are regarded as a threat to national identity or security. The challenge, then, is to help Christians without exposing them to undue risk, he said.

For the UK government, this could mean including the topic of religious freedom in future trade negotiations, said Dr Matthew Rees, Head of Advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland. It is one of the policy recommendations the Christian religious-freedom charity has made to the country’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the back of an independent review of how the government department supports persecuted Christians.

“Just like climate change, the topic of religious freedom is not a one-party or single-leader issue but something to grow consensus around”, Rees said.

Pregnant Mother among Five Christians Slain in North-Central Nigeria

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have become heavily armed in recent years. (File photo)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A pregnant mother of two children was among three Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria the night of July 14 and morning of July 15, sources said.

Margaret Wakili, a 27-year-old member of the Baptist Church in Ancha village, Plateau state, was slain on her farm at about 10 a.m. on July 15, area residents told Morning Star News.

The herdsmen attacked the Christian communities of Ancha, Tafigana, Kperie, Hukke and Rikwechongu, killing the three Christians and burning down 75 houses and two church buildings, according to area residents Patience Moses, Zongo Lawrence and Chinge Dodo Ayuba.

Ancha village was the scene of an attack two years ago, when Fulani herdsmen killed 22 Christians, all members of the Baptist Church in the village.

Moses told Morning Star News by phone that Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked the villages on the night of July 14 and the early hours of July 15. In Tafigana village, Bassa County, she said, they killed Thomas Wollo, 46, and his son, Ngwe Thomas Wollo, 7.

“Both of them were ambushed and killed in Tafigana village as they were returning to their home after attending a church program at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Tafigana, at about 8:30 pm,” she said.

Lawrence, of Miango town, told Morning Star News that the herdsmen beheaded the elder Wallo after killing him. He said attacks on Christian communities in the area have heightened, with one village or another attacked nearly every day.

“We have been experiencing daily attacks by these Fulani herdsmen in our communities, most especially on Sundays during worship hours or Thursdays when church activities are held,” he said.

Lawrence said that 75 houses with food stores and two church buildings were burned down.

“The herdsmen destroyed farm produce worth millions of naira, and a lot of domestic animals were killed in the two villages,” he said.

The attacks on the farms occurred on July 14 as Christians were in worship services in the villages, he said.

Ayuba, another resident of the area, confirmed that Wollo and his son were killed on July 14.

“The attacks by the herdsmen continued on Monday morning with another village, Ancha, attacked, and a woman killed,” Ayuba said. “As a people, we are continuously under attack, and nobody seems to be hearing our cries for help, while killing of our people has now become a routine.”

Two other area Christians were killed in prior attacks. On July 7 in Kperie village of Kwall District, also in Bassa County, the herdsmen ambushed and killed a Christian identified as Ezekiel Audu, 25, at about 9 pm., Moses said.

“Christian residents said Audu was riding his motorcycle in company of his friends when they were ambushed and shot by the herdsmen,” she said. “He was a member of ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] church in Kperie village.”

Prior to the July14-15 assaults, the herdsmen also attacked Hukke and Rikwechongu villages, destroying crops on farms belonging to Christians.

On May 3 at about 10 p.m., the herdsmen had attacked the same two villages, killing a Christian identified as 63-year-old Di Zere. Zere was killed in his room when the herdsmen broke into his house as he and his family were sleeping. His corpse was burnt, and his 10-year-old daughter sustained gunshot wounds.

Lawrence said Fulani herdsmen have killed 17 area Christians this year.

“We are left without rescue,” he said. “Houses were burnt and razed down, alongside many churches. Farm produce has been destroyed, while many with gunshot wounds are currently in hospitals. Hundreds of our people have been killed by the Fulani herdsmen in the past three years.”

Enugu State Shooting

In southeastern Nigeria’s Enugu state, Fulani herdsmen shot and wounded a Catholic priest and one of his parishioners on Wednesday (July 17), sources said.

The Rev. Ikechukwu Ilo of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, in Numeh, was shot as he and Chika Egbo drove along the Numeh-Nenwe Highway in Nkanu East County at about 7 p.m., according to a church press statement.

The statement from the Catholic Church quotes the priest as saying that those who attacked them were armed herdsmen.

“As we drove towards the village, the Fulani killer herdsmen, who spoke both in English and Fulani languages, opened fire, trying to force us to stop,” Ilo said. “Seeing that we were not ready to cave in to their intimidation, they started raining bullets on our vehicle at close range, and in the process, shot me at my ankle and shoulder while the other victim was shot in her leg and waist.”

The Rev. Benjamin Achi, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, told Morning Star News by phone that the attack on the priest and parishioner was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.

“Fr. Ilo and the woman with him are currently receiving treatment at a Catholic Church health facility, the Annunciation Specialist Hospital, Emene, Enugu state,” Achi said.

Police also on Friday (July 19) confirmed the attack.

“The Enugu state command of the Nigeria Police Force through its operatives are investigating the attack on a priest identified as Rev. Fr. Ikechukwu Ilo of St. Patrick Parish, Numeh on Wednesday July 18, 2019, along the Numeh axis of Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State,” police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu said in a press statement.

There is a history of attacks on Catholics in the state. In October 2016, herdsmen kidnapped two priests as the clergymen carried out pastoral duties in their local parishes. One of the kidnapped priests, the Rev. Aniako Celestine of St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Ukana, Udi County, was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen while carrying out pastoral duties in the town of Ezeagu.

The second kidnapped priest, the Rev. Chijioke Amoke of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Onicha Enugu Ezike in Igboeze North County, was also kidnapped by armed herdsmen, diocesan officials reported.

Another Catholic priest, the Rev. Lazarus Nwafor, in August 2016 was killed by herdsmen when they attacked Attakwu town in Enugu state. The Rev. Callistus Onaga, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, stated then that Nwafor was cut several times in the attack by the herdsmen on the Attakwu Christian community in Nkanu West County.

Such attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen have adversely affected churches and crippled productive activities in the area, church leaders say.

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 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

KAZAKHSTAN: 104 administrative prosecutions in January-June 2019 – list

By Felix Corley, Forum 18—Administrative prosecutions to punish exercising freedom of religion or belief appear to be rising. At least 104 cases were brought between January and June to punish unapproved worship, sharing faith, selling religious literature and items in shops or online, or using “Amen” in mosque worship. In three cases, courts ordered seized religious literature to be destroyed.

Kazakhstan’s authorities are known to have brought at least 104 administrative prosecutions in the first six months of 2019 to punish 102 individuals, one religious community and one company for their exercise of freedom of religion or belief. Of these, 92 ended with convictions, with 86 individuals and one company being fined.
The 104 administrative cases in the first six months of 2019 represent an increase in the rate of prosecutions. In the whole of 2018, 169 such prosecutions are known to have been brought.

Punishments included not only fines but temporary bans on activity, a permanent ban on a meeting place for worship, and seizures and destruction of religious literature, according to a review of the known January to June 2019 cases compiled by Forum 18 (see full list below).

Muslims, Protestants (especially Council of Churches Baptists), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and commercial and private sellers were many of the targets of these prosecutions.

Fines were the equivalent of between three weeks’ and four months’ average wages for those in formal work (35 to 200 Monthly Financial Indicators, MFIs, 88,375 Tenge to 505,000 Tenge in 2019).

Many of the prosecutions were to punish meetings for worship without state permission. Bolat Isabayev was fined for leading a home worship meeting in Kandyagash on the most sacred day annually for Jehovah’s Witnesses. A court fined two ethnic Azeri imams in Zhambyl Region for maintaining funeral prayer rooms without state approval. Police fined or tried to fine up to 20 members of Karaganda’s Revival Protestant Church after raiding a birthday party.

In three cases, courts ordered seized religious literature to be destroyed: 29 Muslim books seized from a commercial seller in Kyzylorda; 18 Islamic books seized from another commercial seller also in Kyzylorda; and 2 Islamic books a visitor from Kyrgyzstan had in her luggage.

Administrative prosecutions are known to have been brought in January to June 2019 (with comparisons to the full 2018 and 2017calendar years) to punish:

– 28 (26 individuals, 1 community and 1 company) for meeting for worship, hosting such meetings or maintaining places for such meetings (39 in 2018, 88 in 2017).

– 7 individuals for offering religious literature to others for free (10 in 2018, 39 in 2017).

– 22 individuals for offering religious literature, icons or other items for sale (33 in 2018, 58 in 2017).

– 20 individuals for offering religious items for sale online (18 in 2018, 10 in 2017).

– 16 individuals for posting religious materials online (23 in 2018, 12 in 2017).

– 2 individuals for trying to import religious literature (0 in 2018, 4 in 2017).

– 3 individuals for sharing faith with others (17 in 2018, 31 in 2017).

– 4 Muslims for praying in mosques in ways that the state-controlled Muslim Board has banned, for example by using the word “Amen” (21 in 2018, 22 in 2017, the first year such punishments were imposed).

– 2 individuals for teaching their faith (3 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

No religious leaders are known to have been prosecuted for allowing children to be present or conducting religious rites against the wishes of one parent (1 in 2018, 9 in 2017).

No religious communities are known to have been prosecuted for “inadequate” security or security measures for their places of worship, for example not having enough video cameras (2 in 2018, 5 in 2017).

No individuals are known to have been prosecuted for failing to pay earlier fines to punish them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief (2 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

No foreign citizens are known to have been ordered deported (1 in 2018, 2 in 2017).

A total of 88 of the 104 January to June 2019 cases were heard in court, but 16 fines are known to have been summarily handed down by police (the total number could be higher). All the known police fines were in Karaganda, Kyzylorda or Taraz.

Of the 102 administrative cases known to have been brought against individuals in 2019, 68 were against men and 34 against women. Women represented more than half of individuals prosecuted to punish offering religious literature and other items for sale in shops and online.

Of the 102 known administrative prosecutions against individuals in 2019, at least 3 began as cases under Criminal Code Article 174 (“Incitement of social, national, clan, racial, or religious discord, insult to the national honour and dignity or religious feelings of citizens, as well as propaganda of exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on grounds of their religion, class, national, generic or racial identity, committed publicly or with the use of mass media or information and communication networks, as well as by production or distribution of literature or other information media, promoting social, national, clan, racial, or religious discord”).

The administrative cases in these 3 cases were launched when prosecutors decided not to pursue the Criminal Code Article 174 cases.

Full list of known January to June 2019 administrative prosecutions

The list of 103 known January to June 2019 administrative prosecutions below is based on court decisions and other information reaching Forum 18. It includes the date of initial decision by lower court/police, name of defendant, affiliation, court/police issuing decision, Administrative Code Article, reason for prosecution, outcome:

– Punishing unapproved meetings, rituals

Known administrative cases: 28
Known convictions: 22
200 MFI fines (4 months’ average wage): 1
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 4
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 1
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 13
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 2
Verbal warning: 1
3-month bans: 2
Permanent bans: 1

Muslims: 5
Protestants: 18 (all Council of Churches Baptists)
Jehovah’s Witnesses: 3
Hare Krishna community: 1
Companies: 1

Article 489, Part 9 punishes “Leadership of an unregistered, halted, or banned religious community or social organisation” with a fine of 100 MFIs.

Article 489, Part 10 punishes “Participation in an unregistered, halted, or banned religious community or social organisation” with a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 1 punishes “violation of procedures established in law for conducting rites, ceremonies and meetings”. Punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs, and for organisations a fine of 200 MFIs and a three-month ban on activity.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 1, Point 4 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. building places of worship (facilities), or changing the usage (altering the functional designation) of buildings (facilities) into ritual buildings (facilities)”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 5 January 2019, Bakyt Sattarova, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (reduced to 35 MFI fine on second appeal)

2) 5 January 2019, Aleksandr Shartner, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

3) 5 January 2019, Sergei Bogovenko, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

4) 5 January 2019, Aleksei Bykov, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine

5) 5 January 2019, Olga Shartner, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

6) 5 January 2019, Nadezhda Bogovenko, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

7) 5 January 2019, Larisa Chachanidze, Protestant, Karaganda Police, Article 489, Part 10, meeting in home, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

8) 30 January 2019, Vera Pastukhova, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

9) 30 January 2019, Aleksandr Belyayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

10) 31 January 2019, Aleksei Li, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

11) 15 February 2019, Yakov Fot, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

12) 15 February 2019, Viktor Fot, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine (changed on appeal to verbal warning)

13) 16 February 2019, Valery Skorobogaty, Council of Churches Baptist, Kyzylorda police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

14) 28 February 2019, Eduard Neifeld, Council of Churches Baptist, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3 (Article 490, Part 1, Point 1 excluded), participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

15) 3 March 2019, Vitaly Ryzhkov, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

16) 3 March 2019, Yuliya Ivanova, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 10, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 50 MFI fine

17) 3 March 2019, Petr Skornyakov, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz police, Article 489, Part 9, leading unregistered meeting for worship, 100 MFI fine

18) 7 March 2019, Atyrau Hare Krishna Community, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, meeting for worship, case sent back

19) 18 March 2019, Otabek Khaldarov, Muslim, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, opening prayer room in cafeteria, 50 MFI fine

20) 15 April 2019, Sanzharbek Abuvakhidov, Muslim, Sairam District Court, Article 490, Part 1, operating an unregistered prayer room, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

21) 19 April 2019, Sergei Merkulov, Jehovah’s Witness, Glubokoe District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, hosting unregistered meetings for worship, 50 MFI fine (overturned on appeal)

22) 24 April 2019, Svetlana Demina, Protestant, Karaganda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, praying before husband’s birthday meal at home, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired (fined in November 2018 for same event, but fine annulled on appeal)

23) 2 May 2019, Sergei Nurmanov, Jehovah’s Witness, Taranovsky District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, participating in unregistered meeting for worship, 35 MFI fine

24) 14 May 2019, Sarvaz Dzhamalov, Muslim, Merke District Court, Article 490, Part 3, operating an unregistered funeral prayer room, 70 MFI fine

25) 16 May 2019, Fakhradin Ismailov, Muslim, Merke District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, operating an unregistered funeral prayer room (registration application rejected), 50 MFI fine

26) 16 May 2019, Mak Group Shopping Centre, company, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, operating an unregistered prayer room, 200 MFI fine plus ban on prayer room

27) 6 June 2019, Bolat Isabayev, Jehovah’s Witness, Mugalzhar District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 1, participating in unregistered meeting for worship on Memorial of Christ’s Death, 35 MFI fine

28) 11 June 2019, Gulammakhambet Taumanuly, Muslim, Zhetysai District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 4, opening unapproved prayer room, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing offering free religious literature

Known administrative cases: 7
Known convictions: 7
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 5
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 2
3-month bans: 2

Protestants: 7 (including 5 Council of Churches Baptists)

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 7 February 2019, Feruza Akynbekova, Council of Churches Baptist, Taraz Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, offering New Testament on the street, 50 MFI fine (reduced to 35 MFIs on appeal)

2) 26 March 2019, Pavlo Omelich, Council of Churches Baptist, Baizak District Court, Article 490, Part 3, offering Christian literature, 100 MFI fine, changed on appeal to Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, 50 MFI fine

3) 29 March 2019, Yury Kiryushkin, Council of Churches Baptist, Magzhan Zhumabayev District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian literature, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

4) 1 April 2019, Viktor Gizbrecht, Christian, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and other Christian books for free online, 50 MFI fine

5) 15 April 2019, Dmitry Mankov (aged 20), Council of Churches Baptist, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian books for free, 35 MFI fine

6) 17 April 2019, Valentina Rakhmanova, Protestant, Zyryanovsk District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and other Christian books for free, 50 MFI fine

7) 3 May 2019, Dmitry Isayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Berli District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian books on the street, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

– Punishing offering religious literature, items for sale

Known administrative cases: 22
Known convictions: 18
Initial criminal cases (Article 174): 1
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 4
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 13
Verbal warnings: 1
3-month bans: 13
Literature destruction orders: 2

Commercial traders: 21
Muslims: 1

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 22 January 2019, Sergei Belov, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items (including icons, Buddha figures) for sale, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

2) 24 January 2019, Yelena Makhracheva, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books and items for sale, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

3) 19 February 2019, Kairbek Tolegenuly, commercial seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1 investigation), offering Sunni and Sufi Islamic books and items for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on activity

4) 20 February 2019, Svetlana Titova, commercial seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian prayer books, icons and candles for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine

5) 13 March 2019, Farkhad Zhapparkulov, commercial seller, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Muslim books for sale on street, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

6) 15 March 2019, Zhenisbek Baitabynov, Muslim, Munaily District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale, 50 MFI fine

7) 28 March 2019, Murat Zhumaguliyev, commercial seller, Beineu District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at market, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

8) 1 April 2019, Murat Kabdullin, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on selling religious literature

9) 12 April 2019, Begzod Ismaildzhanov, Muslim, Turkistan Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at railway station, 50 MFI fine

10) 17 April 2019, Andrei Shelestov, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of section of shop

11) 24 April 2019, Sabit Kenzhegulov, Muslim, Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale at railway station, 35 MFI fine

12) 2 May 2019, Nursultan Rakhimgozhin, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of shop

13) 3 May 2019, Zauresh Kasymova, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on selling religious literature

14) 8 May 2019, Aruzhan Omirbai, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus destruction of 29 Muslim books

15) 29 May 2019, Togzhan Boken, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious literature and discs for sale, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired

16) 31 May 2019, Baurzhan Kudabayev, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items for sale, acquitted

17) 6 June 2019, Talgatbek Nazarov, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering items with Arabic inscriptions for sale, acquitted

18) 6 June 2019, Saltanat Zhakipova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious literature, prayer mats and other items for sale, case closed because time limit for launching case had expired

19) 11 June 2019, Saltanat Koszhanova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious items for sale, verbal warning

20) 12 June 2019, Gulmira Kulumbetova, commercial seller, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 18 Islamic books, a prayer mat and other items for sale, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus destruction of books

21) 12 June 2019, Shin Raisa Du-Se, commercial seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering one cross and one crescent jewellery items for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on functioning of shop

22) 26 June 2019, Marina Shirokova, commercial seller, Aktobe Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious books for sale in shop, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing offering religious literature, items for sale online

Known administrative cases: 20
Known convictions: 20
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 1
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 16
Verbal warnings: 3
3-month bans: 5 or 6
1-month bans: 3 or 4
Literature retention orders: 2

Private sellers: 20

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 11 January 2019, Dana Rakhimzhanova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering religious book for sale online, 35 MFI

2) 25 January 2019, Nurbergen Kunchekeyev, seller, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Muslim book by Elmir Kuliyev for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

3) 25 January 2019, Yelena Maslova, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible inherited from grandmother for sale online (“expert” analysis showed Bible did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

4) 13 February 2019, Gennady Vasilyev, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible and Christian booklet for sale online (“expert” analysis showed their content did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine

5) 20 February 2019, Yekaterina Kislitsyna, seller, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering icon of Jesus Christ for sale online (“expert” analysis showed icon’s content did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine

6) 6 March 2019, Oleg Lobanov, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Christian children’s book for sale online (“expert” analysis showed it did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

7) 12 March 2019, Natalya Alekseyeva, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering for sale online 1913 German-language Bible inherited from grandmother, 50 MFI fine plus Bible to be retained by Anti-Extremism Police

8) 18 March 2019, Yelena Glushchenko, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering for sale online 1905 issue of Russian Orthodox “Church News”, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

9) 27 March 2019, Dmitry Molozhenko, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online for 1,000 Tenge (“expert” analysis showed Bible did not violate Constitution), 35 MFI fine plus 1-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

10) 28 March 2019, Yelizaveta Volzhinina, seller, Oskemen Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering embroidered picture of mother and child for sale online, 35 MFI fine

11) 1 April 2019, Oksana Malkova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Koran for sale online, 35 MFI

12) 19 April 2019, Bayan Tusupova, seller, Pavlodar Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering children’s Bible in Russian and German for sale online, 35 MFI

13) 23 April 2019, Olga Savoskina, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering icon for sale online, verbal warning

14) 25 April 2019, Nadezhda Borovskikh, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online for 10,000 Tenge (5 days’ pension equivalent) to supplement pension (invalid husband), verbal warning

15) 30 April 2019, Galina Smirnykh, seller, Aksu City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Bible for sale online, 35 MFI fine

16) 13 May 2019, Zarina Kazbekova, seller, Shal Akyn District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering Koran for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

17) 16 May 2019, Madina Koisariyeva, seller, Atyrau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 4 Korans for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

18) 21 May 2019, Irina Buravinskaya, seller, Semei Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 2 icons for sale online for 8,000 Tenge (10 days’ invalid pension equivalent) (“expert” analysis showed icons’ content did not violate Constitution), verbal warning

19) 21 May 2019, Daniyar Murzabayev, seller, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 1907 Arabic-language Koran inherited from grandmother for sale online for 5 million Tenge (“expert” analysis was unable to review the Koran because they did not know Arabic), 35 MFI fine plus 1- or 3-month ban on distributing religious literature and items

20) 12 June 2019, Rano Tuzelova, seller, Nur-Sultan [Astana] Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, offering 3 Korans in Arabic for sale online, 35 MFI fine plus 3-month ban plus retention of 3 Korans

– Punishing posting religious materials online

Known administrative cases: 16
Known convictions: 15
Initial criminal cases (Article 174): 2
200 MFI fines (4 months’ average wage): 1
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 1
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 2
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 5
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 6
3-month bans: 5
Bans of unspecified duration: 1

Muslims: 16

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

Article 490, Part 8 punishes repeat violations of the Religion Law within one year, with fines on individuals of 200 MFIs.

1) 9 January 2019, Erlan Mukanov, Muslim, Taiynsha District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial investigation under Criminal Code Article 174, Part 1), posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

2) 15 January 2019, Azamat Orazly, Muslim, Satbayev District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 100 MFI fine

3) 30 January 2019, Duman Suleimenov, Muslim, Satbayev District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 100 MFI fine (reduced to 70 MFIs on appeal)

4) 11 February 2019, Zhalgas Nazyrbekov, Muslim, Zhezkazgan City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

5) 12 February 2019, Ardak Aubakirov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

6) 12 February 2019, Nurbol Baigenzhinov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1 or 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

7) 18 February 2019, Nurbol Ibraimov, Muslim, Zhezkazgan City Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

8) 4 April 2019, Azat Komutov, Muslim, Abai District Court, Article 490, Part 3, posting religious materials online, 70 MFI fine

9) 10 April 2019, Shingis Sabitov, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

10) 2 May 2019, Ernur Toleubekov, Muslim, Temirtau Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

11) 8 May 2019, Sairan Abdugaliyev, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 (initial Criminal Code Article 174 investigation), posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

12) 15 May 2019, Yerken Akanov, Muslim, Petropavl Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 8 (second “offence” within one year), sharing religious materials on WhatsApp, 200 MFI fine and ban on distributing religious literature

13) 27 May 2019, Abdurrakhim Termaliyev, Muslim, Mamlyut District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on distributing religious literature

14) 30 May 2019, Kaisar Serik, Muslim, Karkaraly District Court, Article 490, Part 1, posting religious materials online, 35 MFI fine

15) 11 June 2019, Adil Mendygaliyev, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, sent back for reclassification under different Article

16) 21 June 2019, Farkhad Zhauyrbekov, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, posting religious materials online, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban on social media account

– Punishing trying to import religious literature

Known administrative cases: 2
Known convictions: 2
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 2
Literature destruction orders: 1

Muslims: 1
Traders: 1

Article 490, Part 1, Point 3 punishes: “Violating the requirements of the Religion Law for .. import, manufacturing, production, publication and/or distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, and items for religious use”. The punishment for individuals is a fine of 50 MFIs.

1) 3 January 2019, Gulsanam Katkeldiyeva, Muslim (Kyrgyz citizen), Zhambyl District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, having 2 Islamic books in luggage entering Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan, 50 MFI fine plus book destruction

2) 20 June 2019, Makhmadgafuri Olimzoda, trader (Tajik citizen), Beineu District Court, Article 490, Part 1, Point 3, 36 of 490 books he brought through Kazakh border in transit to Russia for resale were religious, 50 MFI fine plus 3-month ban

– Punishing sharing faith

Known administrative cases: 3
Known convictions: 3
100 MFI fines (2 months’ average wage): 3

Protestants: 3 (all Council of Churches Baptist)

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 12 April 2019, Nikolai Novikov, Council of Churches Baptist (court decision wrongly describes him as Jehovah’s Witness), Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

2) 22 April 2019, Dmitry Isayev, Council of Churches Baptist, Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

3) 23 April 2019, Andrei Labinsky, Council of Churches Baptist, Oral Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 3, sharing faith, 100 MFI fine

– Punishing violating mosques’ internal rules

Known administrative cases: 4
Known convictions: 3
50 MFI fines (1 month’s average wage): 2
35 MFI fines (3 weeks’ average wage): 1

Muslims: 4

Article 490, Part 2 punishes: “Impeding lawful religious activity as well as violation of the civil rights of physical persons on grounds of their religious views or insulting their feelings or profanation of items, buildings and places revered by followers of any religion, unless there are signs of criminally punishable actions”. The punishment for individuals is 50 MFIs, and for legal entities 200 MFIs.

1) 12 February 2019, Nariman Bagirov, Muslim, Almaty Specialised Inter-District Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 50 MFI fine

2) 19 March 2019, Erbolat Gazimov, Muslim, Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 50 MFI fine

3) 20 March 2019, Dauren Kaiyrov, Muslim (18 years old), Zhilioi District Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, 35 MFI fine

4) 22 April 2019, Abai Ospanov, Muslim, Taraz Specialised Administrative Court, Article 490, Part 2, Amen in mosque, acquitted

– Punishing religious teaching

Known administrative cases: 2
Known convictions: 2
70 MFI fines (6 weeks’ average wage): 2

Muslims: 2

Article 490, Part 3 punishes: “Carrying out missionary activity without state registration (or re-registration), as well as the use by missionaries of religious literature, information materials with religious content or religious items without a positive assessment from a religious studies expert analysis, and spreading the teachings of a religious group which is not registered in Kazakhstan”. The punishment is a fine of 100 MFIs, with deportation if the individual is a foreign citizen.

1) 10 April 2019, Mukhtar Gadzhiyev, Muslim, Article 490, Part 3, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, teaching religion to children in charity, 70 MFI fine

2) 10 April 2019, Darkhan Shilmanbetov, Muslim, Article 490, Part 3, Kyzylorda Specialised Administrative Court, teaching religion to children in charity, 70 MFI fine

(END)

The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion

The right to join together and express one’s belief

Officials in Cuba forbid church leaders to attend US religious freedom event

Cuban officials blocked the departure from Cuba of the Rev. Alain Toledano Valiente. (Facebook)

(Morning Star News) – Authorities in Cuba on Sunday (July 14) refused to allow the national presidents of two Christian denominations to board their flight to Washington, D.C., to attend a religious freedom event, sources said.

The Rev. Moises de Prada Esquivel and the Rev. Alida Leon Baez, both members of the Alliance of Evangelical Churches of Cuba (AECC, Alianza de Iglesias Evangélicas Cubana) were slated to represent the organization as members of its executive board at the event.

They were notified at Havana’s José Marti International Airport that they would not be allowed to travel to the U.S. capital because Cuban State Security had blocked their departure from the country, according to an AECC press statement.

Cuban authorities reportedly denied other evangelical leaders permission to travel to the United States. Officials earlier refused to renew the passport of the Rev. Dariel Llanes, president of the Western Convention Baptist Church of Cuba (Iglesia Convención Bautista de Cuba Occidental), reportedly to keep him from attending the meeting in Washington. Immigration officials also reportedly blocked the Rev. Alain Toledano Valiente of the Prophetic Apostolic Movement (Movimiento Apostólico Profético) from leaving the country.

The incidents were the latest in a campaign of repression against the evangelical Christian community in Cuba.

On Friday (July 12), State Security agents forcibly detained independent journalist Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre following his visit to the offices of human rights watchdog group Ladies in White in Havana.

The Camaguey-based reporter and advocate of religious freedom, who is married with an infant daughter, has since been held incommunicado by authorities, according to advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Fernandez Izaguirre, an active member of a network of unregistered charismatic Christian churches, has reportedly been working with the predominantly Roman Catholic Ladies in White to document violations of freedom of religion and belief, a right enshrined in the Cuban constitution.

The jailed journalist’s friends and family have been unable to contact him since his arbitrary detention, and his mobile phone appears to have been disconnected, according to CSW.

Anna-Lee Stangl, head of advocacy for CSW, appealed to authorities for Fernandez Izaguirre’s release.

“CSW holds the Cuban government responsible for the well-being of Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre,” Stangle said. “We call on the authorities to release him immediately.”

Evangelical leaders suspect mounting pressure on Christians – and on the AECC in particular – is rooted in their outspoken opposition to proposed constitutional changes aimed at legalizing homosexual marriage in Cuba. A new Cuban draft constitution approved in 2018 by the National Assembly of People’s Power replaced a clause defining the family as “a union between one man and one woman” with “a union between two persons…with absolutely equal responsibilities.”

Backlash from Cuba’s Christian community forced authorities to delete the new language, but constitutional framers specifically avoided re-inserting the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. That left the door open to approve homosexual marriage through the new Cuban Family Code, set to be ratified within two years.

Christians fear it also practically guarantees that the campaign of repression against outspoken Christians will continue.

“In Cuba, there is no real freedom of expression or of worship,” a veteran evangelical pastor who requested anonymity told Morning Star News. “Any person who openly opposes the established system is looking for problems.”

Were the government to listen to the voice of Protestant Christians on the issue and maintain the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, there would be a possibility for resolution, the pastor said.

“But given the fact that the daughter of Raul Castro, (LGBT activist Mariela Castro Espin) is the force behind the constitutional change, I think it very unlikely that the government will back down from its intentions,” he said.

The AECC, composed of Protestant churches choosing not to identify with the regime-friendly Cuban Council of Churches, counts 1 million members among its affiliate denominations, a number that represents nearly 10 percent of the country’s 11 million population.

Christians Forced to ‘Reconvert,’ Banished from Village in India

Christian is forced to undergo “reconversion” rite to tribal religion in Mahuatoli village, Jharkhand state, India on June 14, 2019. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – Christians who worshiped privately in their homes in a village in eastern India were dragged to local leaders last month and forced to bow to a goddess idol, sources said.

The mob action on June 14 followed an announcement two days earlier by the heads of Mahuatoli village, Gumla District in Jharkhand state, that 12 Christian families would be banished if they did not return to the tribal Sarna religion, they said.

Threatened with death, most of the Christian families have fled the village.

“Threats have always been there in this area in Gumla District, but it had never escalated to this point that the Sarna extremists vowed to take lives,” said area pastor Boyen Munda. “They are not in a right state of mind now. The Hindu extremist forces have joined hands with them and have been inciting them against the believers.”

The mob of 20 villagers broke into the home of Jogiya Munda and pushed him and his widowed mother out of their house, the pastor said. Munda and his mother, who have been Christians for 17 years, were dragged to the village leaders and forced to sit and bow to the goddess idol, Pastor Munda said.

“They poured buckets of water on them [as a purification rite] and made them do a ritual which is believed to be a procedure to renounce Christ,” Pastor Munda said. “They fled to a safer place very far away. The village heads plotted to kill the mother and son if they find them praying any day after the ‘reconversion ritual.’”

The Sarna ritual is akin to a last chance for those who have left to return to their former tribal religion, he said. Two families who were also forced to undergo the ritual ostensibly renounced Christ and remain in the village, he said.

“But they shared with us that they have not done it on their will but because of the pressure they had been put through,” Pastor Munda said. “It has been a month since the Christians are scattered in neighboring villages seeking refuge. It is the monsoon season, so if they can’t return back to cultivate their land, they will have to go hungry for next one year.”

The Sarna villagers had refused to supply water for the Christian families’ farm fields, disconnected their electricity and threatened to stop all government benefits, he said.

“But they [10 Christian families] stood against the plots devised by the most powerful religious extremists,” Pastor Munda told Morning Star News.

He said the Christians never held group worship in Mahuatoli village, instead traveling to Dolaichi for more secure worship.

“They never had an open service or loudspeakers – it has always been a private family prayer at each individual’s house,” he said. “Even that few minutes of private prayer is being seen as crime.”

Banished

At the June 12 meeting of leaders in Mahuatoli, the 12 Christian families were summoned for the public announcement of their banishment from the village.

“The Sarna religious heads and village council were present,” area Christian Gangadhar Munda told Morning Star News. “In front of the villagers, they declared us as ‘polluted’ and that the village should be cleansed from Christianity.”

The leader read out orders for villagers to refrain from mingling with Christians, exclude them from family and social gatherings, and to refrain from speaking with them, buying from or selling to them, or having any communication with them, Gangadhar Munda said.

Distressed by the orders, Christians Mangra Munda Junior and Balveer Munda, along with Gangadhar Munda, raised their concern, he said.

“We told the village heads that we don’t approve their decision, and that it is a fundamental right, and that we are free to practice Christianity,” he said. “We said we belong to this village as rightfully as other Sarna villagers. We did not commit any crime to be humiliated and ostracized publicly like this. How can they pass rules convenient only to them?”

The village leaders rebuked them for objecting to their ruling, he said.

“It angered them that we raised a voice against them,” he said. “They said, ‘These Christians should be cleansed at the pandal [a raised platform for seating idols].’ But some of the village heads said that we should not be forced, and that if any Christian wants to return to Sarna faith, they should come to the pandal on their own. Nobody among our 12 families accepted this offer. We stood strong in faith and decided that no matter what happens, we will not give up our faith.”

In the early evening, however, a large mob showed up at Balveer Munda’s house, he said. They destroyed the entrance and demolished the walls, and when Balveer Munda tried to stop them, they shoved him away and stole food grain, clothes and chickens, Gangadhar Munda said.

“It was a robbery in broad daylight,” he said. “When we tried to stop them, the mob threatened us that we would be killed if we don’t vacate the village immediately. Their threats grew intense; they said they will not offer us even a drop of water, and that our lands will be snatched away if we don’t obey their orders and convert to Sarna.”

His wife, he added, was in her 39th week of pregnancy at the time.

“They terrorized the woman and children,” he said. “My wife was horrified watching them threatening me that they would kill me. She was panicked and under stress the past month.”

Anima Munda, who gave birth on July 10, told Morning Star News that the family immediately fled to Dolaichi, nearly four miles from Mahuatoli, on foot.

“I’m scared to go back to our home,” she said.

Her husband said leaving their home at that time was especially difficult, and his wife’s inability to eat well since then weakened her, contributing to a prolonged labor of 24 hours.

“We had no other option but to move from the comfort of our home to a believer’s house in neighboring village,” he said. “It was a sudden decision, and my wife had not fully adjusted herself here and had not been eating well. The doctors said she was too weak for labor.”

Police Inaction

On June 17, the Christian families went to Bharno police station to submit a complaint, but officers refused to register their pleas and advised them to arrange a “compromise” and not file a case.

They then filed a complaint online, thus getting a First Information Report (FIR) registered, met with the Gumla District superintendent and handed over copies of the complaint and FIR, sources said.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Hindu extremists influenced the villagers.

“We received information that the villagers received orders from Hindu Jagran Manch [Hindu Awakening Forum], an affiliate of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad [World Hindu Council] and its youth militant partner, Bajrang Dal,” the source said.

Aggrieved by police inaction, the Christians filed a private complaint under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Gumla District Court on June 26. A hearing was scheduled for Monday (July 15), attorney Makshud Alam said.

“An increasing number of incidents of mob violence are happening in Jharkhand,” Alam said. “The extremist forces are setting up [tribal] Advisasis against Muslims and Christians.”

Police officials at the Bharno police station denied that the Christians came for help.

“They never approached us, and we did not receive any complaint,” Jaswinder Choudhary, the officer in charge of the station, told Morning Star News. “There are no religious issues in Mahuatoli village, and everybody is living in peace. If there be any problem, they can always file a complaint, and we will take action.”

Local newspapers tending to sympathize with Hindu nationalism such as Dainik Bhaskar, Prabhat Khabar and OP India claimed that Christians underwent gharwapasi (“reconversion” or “homecoming”), and that they were lured into Christianity earlier for healing.

Jharkhand state has a recent history of anti-Christian violence. On April 10, Jharkhand police found four Christians lying in a pool of blood in Gumla District. A mob of 25 Hindu vigilantes trying to stop the slaughter of cows, which are considered sacred, had accused the Christians of killing cows and attacked them with swords and sickles.

One of the four, Prakash Lakra, reportedly succumbed to his injuries.

“The state government and the ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] are complicit in targeting the church and the Christian community,” John Dayal of the United Christian Forum told Morning Star News. “They have ranged tribal Sarna who are not Hindus against their brethren who have accepted Christ.”

Hindu extremists are targeting the church with an eye to grabbing land allotted to or bought for Catholic and Protestant educational and medical institutions the past century, he said.

“And they are persecuting missionaries, including Catholic nuns,” Dayal said. “The chief minister himself is party to hate speech. It needs be remembered that a Christian has been lynched by ‘cow vigilantes’ in the recent past.”

Advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India has recorded close to 160 incidents of hostilities against Christians in the first half of 2019.

Anti-Christian sentiment has grown worse since the BJP’s rise to power in 2014, according to Andreas Thonhauser, director of external relations at ADF International. Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected earlier this year.

“Many Christians had hoped that voters would not grant him a second term as prime minister of the world’s largest democracy,” Thonhauser wrote in a recent issue of the Catholic Herald. “While Modi won his first elections primarily on economic and reform-oriented ideas, this time his party focused on Indian identity and the Hindu nation.”

The outcome of the elections is not good news for the country’s Christians, Thonhauser wrote.

“Although Christians comprise only 2.3 per cent of India’s population, they are known for running excellent schools and well-maintained hospitals,” he wrote. “Anti-Christian sentiment is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, the situation has grown worse since the current ruling party’s rise to power in 2014.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Modi came to power.

Attack on a Syrian-Orthodox church wounds 12 in Qamishli

Photo: Fides News

SYRIA: A car bomb detonated outside of the Virgin Mary Syriac Orthodox Church near the northeast border with Turkey in Qamishli. Up to 12 were wounded with at least 3 are in serious condition. According to preliminary reports, the jihadists group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The city of Qamishli, is currently controlled by Kurdish militias, has been the scene in recent years of various terrorist acts aimed at affecting Christian communities, reports Agenzia Fides. On June 19, 2016, Mar Ignatios Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrian-Orthodox survived a deadly attack in Qamishli. On that occasion a suicide terrorist had infiltrated a celebration organized to commemorate the “Assyrian genocide” of 1915 (Sayfo), perpetrated by the Ottoman army against Christian sire and Assyrian communities. The bomber had been blocked at the entrance of the place where the celebration was presided by the Patriarch, and it is there that he blew himself up, causing the death of three people.

Sharing of Thursday’s church attack, a Syrian Othrodox Christian posted on Twitter

 

 

Unable to Finish School for Becoming Christian, Young Man in Uganda Faces Bleak Future

(Morning Star News) – Asuman Kaire is missing his last year in high school in eastern Uganda for having become a Christian two years ago.

Homeless and without money to pay school fees since his Muslim stepfather disowned him earlier this year in Lelya-A village, Kabweri County in Kibuku District, the 20-year-old Kaire said he wouldn’t be able to finish high school even if he had the money.

“I fear my classmates who are Muslims, as they might plan something bad for my life,” Kaire told Morning Star News.

He spoke from experience. Having been informed that Kaire was living at a village church building, local Muslims with sticks and Somali swords on June 15 attacked, demanding his death as they tried to enter the church compound shouting the jihadist slogan, “Allah Akbar [God is greater],” sources said.

Christians and Muslim neighbors in the predominantly Muslim area with the help of a local official managed to repel the assailants, sources said. Kaire sought shelter at the home of a Christian at an undisclosed location.

After putting his faith in Christ in 2017 and secretly meeting with an undisclosed church, Kaire’s life began to crumble this year when Muslim relatives began monitoring his movements after his mosque attendance dropped. In March a Muslim classmate told his stepfather he attended a church, sources said.

On April 7, his stepfather, Abdu Talisuna, waited for him along with seven other radical area Muslims on a roadside as Kaire made his way home from a church service. Talisuna alone beat him with a blunt object, leaving him unconscious, his clothes bloodied, his left leg broken and his right hand injured, sources said.

“The Muslim stepfather caught hold of him close to the church and started beating him at around 7 p.m.,” a church elder told Morning Star News. “He cried for help. Several members of the church were still around who rushed to the scene. When the Muslims saw the big number from the church, they ran away, leaving the young man unconscious.”

Kaire was rushed to a Kibuku hospital and discharged after a week, the church leader said.

He has not been able to go home since then.

“My stepfather beat me saying I am a disgrace to the family,” Kaire told Morning Star News by phone. “After recovering, I feared going back home because I knew they were going to kill me.”

Kaire needs a long-term place to stay and an opportunity to attend school elsewhere, area Christians said.

The attack is the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Thailand arrests Pakistani Christian Asylum Seekers including children

Pakistani Christians taken to IDC in caged wagons

Voice of the PersecutedSources on the ground reported to (VOP) that approximately 50 Pakistani Christians were arrested from a building on the outskirts of Bangkok around 7 a.m., this morning (July 8). Immigration authorities raided and rounded up as many people as they could. They
broke through doors and violently took people out. Those who resisted were beaten as well.
.
The building had had a high occupancy rate among Pakistani Christians Asylum Seekers for many years. This is the first time it has been raided. It is also the first time we’ve heard of authorities beating those being apprehended. It was also shared that they were taken to the notorious Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) known for it’s inhumane condition.
.
VOP Note: Please pray for these families and the safety of those suffering and hiding. Pray doors will open to be approved asylum status and leave the nightmare of Thailand for a host nation.
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