VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

United with the Persecuted

You can help change lives!

The ministry of Voice of the Persecuted is made possible through the generosity of friends like you. Thank you for your gift today.

Archives

Advertisements

Nigeria’s herder-farmer conflict escalates due to government inaction – Amnesty International


(World Watch Monitor) Almost 4,000 people have been killed and thousands displaced in fighting between herders and farmers in Nigeria’s middle belt in the past three years, Amnesty International says in a new report.

Amnesty, who started documenting clashes in January 2016, said yesterday (17 December) violence was increasing with more than half (57%) of the 3,641 recorded deaths in the past three years occurring in 2018, and that the government’s failure to curb the violence and prosecute the perpetrators, was exacerbating the situation.

“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Clashes between predominantly Christian farmers and mainly Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria have a long history, including raids and counter raids, but both groups testify that they mostly lived together in peace.

Since 2017 the conflicts have become increasingly violent and deadly, said Amnesty, attributing it to competition of resources due to climate change and the influx of refugees on the run from the Islamic Boko Haram insurgency. Attackers appear well organised and armed with sophisticated weapons.

“The killings are becoming no longer herder-and-farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Plateau State in June, after suspected Fulani gunmen went on a killing spree in the state leaving scores dead.

As World Watch Monitor has reported, the attacks are concentrated in the states in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” which straddles the precolonial line dividing the predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

Although Ojigho denied the conflict had anything to do with religion or ethnicity, others have said conflicts over land have taken on an ethnic and religious character and that without acknowledging this, politicians will not be able to properly address the conflict.

report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in July said the conflict had evolved “from spontaneous reactions to provocations to become premeditated scorched-earth campaigns in which marauders often take villages by surprise at night”, claiming six times more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency.

(Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Advertisements

China Cracks Down on Unofficial Church, Arresting Pastor and 100 Members

Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi poses with sign that reads, ‘Pray for the nation on June 4,’ the date of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings. (China Aid)

Chinese Christians in dire need of our prayers. (Morning Star News) – Authorities in China have detained the pastor and more than 100 members of a prominent, unofficial church since Sunday (Dec. 9), according to media and advocacy agencies.

Security authorities raided the 800-member Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province at about 6 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 9) and also took some church leaders and members from their homes or off the streets, according to the South China Morning Post. Pastor Wang Yi was reportedly detained on Sunday night for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power,” and officials also seized his wife, Jiang Rong, from her mother-in-law’s home; her whereabouts were unknown at this writing.

Chen Yaxue, Wang’s 73-year-old mother, told the SCMP that the couple’s 11-year-old son remains with her while security personnel maintain 24-hour surveillance outside her home.

The charge against Pastor Wang calls for a sentence of up to five years, or 15 years in extreme cases. Wang has reportedly yet to be allowed to meet with lawyers or family members.

Advocacy group China Aid said in a statement that Chinese Christians are often charged with “inciting subversion of state power.”

“The Communist Party views religion as a threat to their ideological control and, as such, their rule,” the group noted. “However, China’s Christians practice their religion peacefully and never intend to threaten government power.”

Church members released an open letter Pastor Wang wrote in September in which he said he would use non-violent methods to stand in faith and oppose laws that contradicted the Bible and God, according to the SCMP. The pastor had given instructions that the letter be publicized if he went missing for more than 48 hours, the newspaper reported.

“My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws,” Pastor Wang wrote, according to SCMP.

He had been a human rights activist and a constitutional scholar before becoming a pastor, SCMP reported. In 2006, he met with then-U.S. President George W. Bush in the White House.

“The round-up in Chengdu is part of a broader crack-down on unofficial or underground churches that Beijing has escalated this year,” SCMP reported. “The moves were bolstered by amendments to the Religious Affairs Regulation that gave grass-roots officials more power to act against churches and impose tougher penalties for ‘unauthorized religious gatherings.’”

Church members have practiced their faith openly, posting sermons online and evangelizing on the streets, RCMP reported. Weekly gatherings across more than a dozen meetings in Chengdu draw more than 800 regulars, the newspaper reported, adding that the church also has about 100 seminary students and an elementary school with about 40 children.

The crack-down on the Early Rain church came as the U.S. State Department announced on Monday (Dec. 10) that it had included China among 10 countries designated as Countries of Particular Concern for severe religious rights violations.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday (Dec. 12) released a statement condemning the arrest of Pastor Wang and the other church members.

“These actions, in addition to the continued systematic repression of Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners, continue a pattern of escalating violations of religious freedom and other human rights under President Xi Jinping,” USCIRF stated. “USCIRF strongly condemns these actions by Chinese authorities and calls for the immediate release of Pastor Wang and all of his fellow church members.”

China ranked 43rd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

VOP note: Please pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters as they prepare to celebrate the precious birth of Christ. Pray they will stand strong as the government puts more an more pressure on them. In the name of Jesus, Lord have mercy on these dear ones.

Christian Mother, Pastor Face Death Threats in Uganda

“Please, we need prayer from God to give us direction on how to handle this delicate situation and the support for the young family of Kawanguzi, especially the young innocent children.”

Kenya (Morning Star News) – Shakira Wanyenze, a 31-year-old Muslim woman, had no idea that missing a ride back to her town in eastern Uganda from Kampala would change her life.

That day, June 17, Wanyenze decided to stay the night at the home of a relative in Kampala. She thought the relative, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons, was a Muslim. The relative told her she had put her trust in Christ for her salvation, and after a discussion that lasted late into the night, Wanyenze decided to do the same.

“After many hours of resisting the Christian faith, something convicted me that my life was heading for destruction, and therefore I need to put my faith in Jesus,” Wanyenze told Morning Star News by phone. “I was prayed for that night and had an overwhelming peace after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior.”

Mother of four children between the ages of 5 and 9, for months Wanyenze managed to keep her faith a secret from her husband, Ismail Kawanguzi, when she returned home to Buyaga town council, Bulambuli District nearly six hours by car from Kampala.

Her husband began to become suspicious on Nov. 30 when he came home to find her praying with her children.

“My husband arrived home at around 8 p.m. on the 30th and heard me concluding the prayers using the name of Jesus,” she said. “When he interrogated me to give reasons why I was using the name of Jesus, I kept quiet.”

He was very tired and went to bed, she said.

“The following morning around 10 a.m., he repeated the same words of the previous night, and I still kept quiet,” Wanyenze said.

Her husband began slapping her, she said. After he had slapped her several times, she began screaming for help, and he took a large wooden board and struck her hand, causing two fingers to bleed, she said.

“I fell down, and he started to strangle me,” Wanyenze told Morning Star News. “Fortunately, neighbors arrived and rescued me and took me to a clinic at Buyaga town council for treatment, and I was discharged after two days.”

The neighbor who took her to the hospital then took her to a church pastor (name undisclosed for security reasons). The neighbor was later shocked to hear that Wanyenze’s husband had purchased a coffin, and rumors spread that he was planning to kill his wife. The neighbor took their four children to the church site.

The pastor has since received threatening messages from Kawanguzi, such as, “If you continue housing my wife in your house, then let it be known to you that soon I will be coming for your head,” the church leader told Morning Star News.

“Apart from such threats to my life, I am also concerned about my church,” the pastor added. “Please, we need prayer from God to give us direction on how to handle this delicate situation and the support for the young family of Kawanguzi, especially the young innocent children.”

The assault was the latest of many in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented in the past six years.

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.

Indonesian Christian governor Ahok set for early release from prison

(World Watch Monitor) Jakarta’s former governor, known as “Ahok”, who was sentenced last year to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam, is to be released from prison next month, four months ahead of schedule.

The ethnic Chinese Christian, whose real name is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was due to be released in May but has been granted early release, scheduled for 24 January, for good behaviour, according to Sri Puguh Budi Utami, Director General for Prison Affairs, as reported by AsiaNews.

Ahok had refused parole in July as he hoped for early release after serving almost two-thirds of his sentence.

Widespread condemnation

Ahok, the first Christian and ethnic Chinese to govern Indonesia’s capital since the 1960s, was charged with blasphemy in December 2016 after accusing his political opponents of using Quranic verses to dissuade Muslims from voting for him in his bid for re-election as Jakarta governor.

In April last year, one day after he lost the election to his Muslim contender, Anies Rasiyd Baswedan, prosecutors downgraded the blasphemy charges against him and recommended he serve no prison time if found guilty. They suggested two years’ probation with a possible one-year jail term if he committed a crime during that period. The judge, however, decided a harsher punishment was called for, telling the court: “Mr. Purnama was found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment.”

His sentence received widespread condemnation globally as politicians, academics and rights groups expressed their concerns about the growing threat to religious pluralism in Indonesia.

During the trial, Ahok’s supporters clashed repeatedly with extremist Islamist groups and it was for this reason that the former governor initially decided not to appeal his sentence – “for the sake of our people and nation”.

Politics and fake news

However in February Ahok filed an appealafter a court found a communications professor from Jakarta, Buni Yani, guilty of hate speech for editing the viral video that formed the basis for the allegations against Ahok. But the Supreme Court rejected Ahok’s appeal.

Before Ahok’s trial, in November 2016, Catholic news agency UCAN reported that according to Syafi’i Ma’arif, the former chairman of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic group in Indonesia, there was “no blasphemy” in Yani’s video, and the charges against the Christian governor had been fabricated for political purposes.

During his trial, Ahok told the court he had been the target of racist and religious attacks since he was elected to public office in 2005.

In March it was reported that Ahok may also have been a victim of a sophisticated anti-government campaign of “fake news” and malicious bots. An online jihadist network known as the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA) posted “inflammatory content and messages designed to amplify social and religious division, and push a hardline Islamist and anti-government line”, authorities said.

An Indonesian musician is currently facing a two-year prison sentence for allegedly committing hate speech against Ahok during his bid for re-election in 2017, as World Watch Monitor reported.

Earlier this year, Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission announced plans to publish guidelines to avoid sectarian clashes in the run-up to next year’s national elections as some hard-line Islamic leaders had called on Indonesians to vote only for Muslim candidates.

Unimaginable Loss for Christians Displaced by Violence in Nigeria

The displaced Gado family lives in the open air in room destroyed by rains. (Morning Star News)

Displaced family lives in the open air in room destroyed by rains. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A grandmother whose 35-year-old son, 21-year-old daughter-in-law and 5-year-old granddaughter were shot dead by Muslim Fulani herdsmen is now homeless after she and other relatives fled the attack in August.

“We were taken in by a family in Jebbu Miango village, but unfortunately the room we were given has been destroyed as a result of torrential rains,” Talatu Gado told Morning Star News as tears ran down her cheeks. “You can see that we now sleep in the open.”

Members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Zanwra village, in Bassa county of Plateau state, Gado and her relatives were at their home in Angwan Kauna village when the herdsmen attacked on Aug. 3. Slain were her son, Emmanuel Gado, his sister-in-law Ladi Monday and the latter’s daughter, Mary Monday. A fourth relative, 7-year-old Gado Monday, was wounded by gunshot. Talatu told Morning Star News, 

“Prior to the herdsmen attack on us, they had while grazing their cattle around homes and farms threatened us severally. One of them once told me that a day would come that I will weep, that is if I’m still alive to cry. I never knew they’ll carry out their threat. Now my heart bleeds.” 
Photo: Morning Star News

The matriarch and her relatives have not been able to return to their village due to the threat of further attacks, she said.

On the day of the attack at about 6:30 p.m., her daughter-in-law and other women were cooking the evening meal when the herdsmen attacked their village, she said. Her granddaughter was taking a bath. She and her husband, Gado Andra, were seated as they waited for dinner. Suddenly they heard her son, 25-year-old Friday Gado, shouting outside the house that Fulani herdsmen were attacking the village from all sides.

“We all scattered in different directions, rushing out of the house through available exit points,” Talatu Gado said. “Other family members who were too scared to run out rushed into bedrooms to hide.”

The four family members who remained inside were shot, with the three dying and Gado Monday wounded.

“Those of us who were able to escape from the house survived the shooting, but we were displaced as we have been forced to flee the village,” she said. “Many in the community who also survived have fled to other areas. Some are living with relations in Miango town, while others are living in Internally Displaced People’s camps in the city of Jos.”

The Rev. Sunday Birih, pastor in charge of the ECWA congregation in Zanwra, told Morning Star News that Emmanuel Gado tried to rescue Mary, his niece, during the attack.

Emmanuel Lado was brother-in-law to Ladi Monday. Pastor Birih said she served as choir mistress and was a one-time leader of the Women’s Fellowship Group at Angwan Kauna.

Their story is repeated in the hundreds of thousands throughout Nigeria. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates violence in the country is responsible for more than 1.9 million people still internally displaced.

Previous Attack

Pastor Birih said the herdsmen had first attacked Zanwra and Angwan Kauna in late January. Killed were church members James Ninweh, 60, Monday Njweh, 49, and 50-year-old Saku Jerih, he said.

“It was during this first attack that my house was burnt down,” Pastor Birih said. “The herdsmen after this attack thought they had killed me and my family as they went round and proudly spread the news that the pastor and his family were burnt alive. But unknown to them, me and my family escaped during the attack before the house was burnt down.”

He credited Morning Star News’s coverage for the outpouring of support he received to rebuild his house after the attack. But the assaults displaced about half of the church’s former membership of about 400 worshippers, he said.

“When we returned after the attack in August, we set aside three days for fasting and prayers, and this has helped to ignite the revival fires in our hearts,” Pastor Birih said. “Other members are scattered in the town of Miango and in the city of Jos. Unfortunately, most houses of my members who survived these two attacks have been destroyed by rains because their owners have been displaced. Truly, my surviving members urgently need help to get back on their feet.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Pastors in Nigeria Say Military Complicit in Attacks on Christians

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Christian leaders meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria this month delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the military is complicit in attacks on Christians.

With the governor of Plateau state in attendance, the Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), delivered a report to Buhari at the presidential villa on Nov. 6 stating that 646 Christians in Plateau state alone were killed from March through October.

“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in the report, obtained by Morning Star News. “All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”

The truth, he said, is that Muslim Fulani militias heavily armed with sophisticated guns, including AK47s, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades have attacked and killed Christians.

“After the attacks, it is the Fulani herders that settle and graze their cattle on the farms of the victims,” Datiri said in the report to the president. “The proficiency and mode of operation in all of these attacks, as testified by the surviving victims, leaves us in no doubt of the complicity of the military being used as hired mercenaries by the Fulani militias. On this, we are disappointed, and sadly so, that the government has not delivered on her constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.”

Datiri said the herdsmen in collaboration with Boko Haram jihadists and other Muslim militants in the areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa and Bokkos destroyed 30 church buildings and 4,436 Christian homes, sending 38,000 Christians into 10 camps for displaced persons from March through October.

“Are we to believe that the armed forces sent to keep peace go with the instructions to protect them?” Datiri said. “The implication is that they protect the aggressors and leave the victims mercilessly helpless.”

Datiri pointed out that as the figures pertain only to Plateau state, they do not include those killed by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

For his part, Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong reportedly faulted Muslim and other community leaders for compounding the crisis of violence in the state by hiding criminals.

Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, responded to the Christian leaders by saying he did not doubt COCIN’s report on the atrocities committed against their communities.

“The communities (in Plateau) have lived long enough to know that there is nothing they can do without each other than to live together in harmony,” Buhari said. “As leaders, we must persuade the upcoming generation using every channel, particularly the educational institutions, to live together with our neighbors.”

Christian and Muslim leaders have to work harder to convince the upcoming generation that they must live together in the same country, Buhari said.

“It is not all Muslims that are against Christians, and neither are all Christians against Muslims,” he said. “In our security arrangement, the police is in the frontline in making sure that communities irrespective of ethnic or religious bias live together in peace.”

Church Under Siege

Datiri told Buhari the church in Plateau state has been under siege for 18 years, bringing the 3 million COCIN members of the 104-year-old church to their knees across central and northern Nigeria.

“We are here to tell you the truth with the hope that it will help you to make adjustments and take appropriate action,” he said. “We are aware that you might have received several false and misleading information regarding the perennial crises. It is our hope that you will oblige us to tell you our concerns and pains affecting us and make suggestions that will bring about positive impacts on your government.”

With about 65 percent of the population of Plateau state belonging to the COCIN, the church leaders have first-hand knowledge of the true facts on the ground, he said.

“Your excellency, in the last 18 years, COCIN as a denomination has suffered destruction of lives and property more than any church or any community,” Datiri said. “The devastation in terms of massacre of lives and destruction of property is unimaginable. Pastors and members in their thousands have been killed in cold blood, either shot dead or slaughtered like animals or burned to death. Houses and businesses have been burned or looted and farmlands have been destroyed.”

COCIN has also suffered in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno (in Maiduguri, Gwoza and Chibok, for example) and Adamawa states, he said.

“And yet, despite the huge government intervention in that area, very little relief has come to COCIN and her members, if any,” he said. “We are aware that a lot of government intervention in terms of relief material has gone to the northeast. Unfortunately, our members in that zone have been left out of the distribution.”

In the Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro counties of Bauchi state, where more than 90 percent of the population belongs to the COCIN, thousands of lives have been lost and billions of naira in property destroyed, Datiri said.

“We have also suffered heavy losses in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna states,” he said.

In Plateau state, where thousands of lives and billions of naira in property have also been lost, the devastation this year has been incredible, he said.

“Even on the day you visited Jos in March and launched the Peace Roadmap, your excellency, lives were being massacred in Bokkos and Bassa Local Government Areas,” Datiri said. “And in June, over 300 people (about 350) were massacred, slaughtered in cold blood over a period of three days in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas. Since then, almost on a daily basis, people are either ambushed and shot dead or attacked in their homes and killed in cold blood or killed on their farms.”

The COCIN leaders sought the meeting with Buhari to correct misinformation about the nature of the violence, he said. They urged Buhari to take urgent measures to end the carnage and to rehabilitate and resettle displaced Christians.

“We have a lot of our members in the IDP camps and others living with relatives in other communities,” Datiri said. “There is an urgent need for them to return back to their homes to continue their farming activities, which is their main source of livelihood. Their lands and homes need to be recovered and rebuilt.”

The Internally Displaced People are depressed and broken and need rehabilitation, he said.

“They need to be reassured that the government is concerned of their welfare. Economically, they need to be re-equipped with farming tools, fertilizers and seeds,” he said. “The church has always been the last hope for the poor, downtrodden, depressed and broken. It is the first place for rehabilitation. If the IDPs are resettled in their various communities, their usual meeting points are their churches, schools and hospitals established by the same church. The church buildings and institutions should be rebuilt.”

Finally, he called on the government to secure the release of kidnapped Christians, including Leah Sharibu, a high school Christian abducted along with more than 100 other girls from Dapchi in February but not released with the others because she refused to recant her faith.

“We call on the federal government to take every adequate measure in ensuring their safe release from their abductors,” Datiri said.

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 more than nine years to impose 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.

Blasphemy death sentence appeal hearing postoned

(Voice of the Persecuted) The November 27, 2018 appeal hearing of Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy, was postponed. Nasir Saeed, a spokesperson from CLAAS, Sawans’s defense counsel, told Voice of the Persecuted that they have yet to receive a rescheduled hearing date. It’s possible that the court avoided conducting the hearing deliberately because of the present situation in the country after Asia Bibi’s acquittal, he added. 

Sawan is at the center of a case that caused a mob of 3000 Muslim men to attack the Joseph Colony of Lahore, Pakistan in March of 2013. (View report and photos) After a local mosque announced the blasphemy charge over loudspeakers, the vigilantes stormed the Christian community where Masih lived. They burned or ransacked 180 Christian homes, 75 shops and at least two churches during the attack. Mob members threatened to burn the Christians alive if they tried to defend or hide in their homes. Hundreds of families were forced to flee for their lives as the angry mob destroyed their village. 

Masih was accused by his Muslim friend, Shahid Imran. A local bishop said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between the two men than blasphemy. He claimed the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback. Some claimed that Sawan was ‘winning’ their argument. They believe a Christian having the upper hand incensed Shahid Imran to falsely accuse Masih. Please keep praying for Masih and other victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Blasphemy: Christian death sentence appeal hearing on Nov. 27

Sawan Masih sentenced to death for blasphemy

PAKISTAN: Prayers are needed for Sawan Masih who has been on death row for blasphemy since 2014. Masih was accused by his Muslim friend, Shahid Imran, of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad in 2013. A case was registered against him under section 295-C of the Blasphemy Law which has a mandatory death penalty. Masih says the charge is false.

His case became internationally known when a large Muslim mob violently attacked Masih’s residential area, Joseph Colony, in Badami Bagh Lahore. The local mosque broadcasted the accusation via loudspeakers and a mob of more than 3,000 Muslims attacked Sawan’s home, looted and torched 180 Christian homes, 75 shops and at least two churches. Witnesses say the police stood and watched instead of stopping the attackers and protecting local Christians and their property.

Hundreds of families were displaced as the mob threatened to burn Christians alive in their homes unless they left. Sawan Masih was handed over to the police and has remained in custody ever since. See our March 2013 report and photos of the violent mob attack

Mob burns and destroys Christian neighborhood for blasphemy charge claimed to be false.

On March 27, 2014 the Lower Court sentenced Masih to death for committing blasphemy.  Soon after this verdict CLAAS filed an appeal against the conviction in the Lahore High Court, which is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

Sawan Masih’s wife and three children are very concerned and living in fear. CLAAS is providing free legal aid to Sawan Masih. Prayers have been requested and considered crucial for his safety and release.

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK said, “This is a very unfortunate situation as although Asia Bibi was acquitted on October 31 by the Pakistan Supreme Court, she is not allowed to leave Pakistan despite several western countries being willing to accept her and her family.”

He added, “This is because the leader of the Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan has threatened the government, saying if she leaves the country, there will be war. Unfortunately for the last several decades, Islamist groups in Pakistan have become more powerful than the state. Now the situation is that everyone, whether it is the prime minister or the chief justice of Pakistan, they have to proclaim publicly that they equally love the prophet and would sacrifice their life for the prophet.

A review petition and separately a petition to add her name in the exit control list (ECL) has been filed in the supreme court and keeping in view the present situation I don’t think the review petition will be heard very soon.”

Mr Saeed also said, “Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi’s statement that the government will not amend the blasphemy law is not very encouraging as we all know the blasphemy law is often used by Muslims to settle personal grudges and scores against their rivals, and Christians are the main target.  He said the blasphemy law needs change to stop its continuous misuse and the international community needs to remind Pakistan of this regularly.”

HEARING UPDATE HERE

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

PRAY UNITED FOR THE PERSECUTED

%d bloggers like this: