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Illegally Detained Christian Tortured to Death in Custody in Pakistan, Family Says

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Lahore, Pakistan tortured to death the Christian father of 14-day-old and 7-year-old sons, relatives said.

Officers on Aug. 28 illegally detained 28-year-old Amir Masih on a false charge of theft and tortured him for four days before he died in a hospital on Sept. 2, his brother Sunny Masih told Morning Star News.

Interrogating officers in the 96-percent Muslim country “urinated on Amir’s face and body and mocked his Christian faith” while trying to torture him into a false confession, Masih said.

After filing an application with police on Aug. 31 alleging forced disappearance of Amir Masih, a member of the Church of Pakistan, relatives were informed that he had been taken into custody by a sub-inspector identified only as Zeeshan in connection with a theft case. Their repeated attempts to meet Sub-Inspector Zeeshan were blocked. They did know of Amir Masih’s whereabouts until an officer phoned Sunny Masih on Sept. 2 to tell him that his brother was not well and that they should come and take him to the hospital, Masih said.

“We rushed to the police station, where we were handed a semi-conscious Amir,” he said. “He was beaten up mercilessly, and his body was full of bruises. While we were taking him to the hospital, Amir told us that Inspector Nasir Baig, Sub-Inspector Zeeshan and four unidentified constables had tortured him continuously for four days.”

Sunny Masih said that while police released without a scratch all other employees who worked with Amir Masih, a gardener, after they were summoned about the alleged theft, his brother was subjected to severe torture because he was a poor Christian whom police believed could be coerced into a false confession.

“He told us that the police officials had urinated on him while cursing him for being a Christian and tried to force him to confess to the crime,” he said. “But my brother was innocent, and he refused to admit to something that he had not done, which further infuriated his interrogators. They increased the intensity of the violence, also subjecting him to electric shocks.”

Doctors at Services Hospital tried to save his life, but he succumbed to his injuries after a couple of hours, Masih said.

Working as a gardener in PAF Colony, Amir Masih was summoned to North Cantt Police Station in a phone call from Zeeshan regarding a theft case registered by his employer, Rana Mohammad Hanif, Masih said.

“Amir was present at Hanif’s house when he received the inspector’s call,” he said. “The watchman of the house told him that all employees had been summoned by the police to record their statements, and he should do the same. My brother went to the police station of his own will, but when he reached there the cops seized his phone, bundled him into a vehicle and spirited him to some unknown place.”

When he did not return home that evening, Sunny Masih and other relatives went out to search for him, he said.

“When I reached Hanif’s house to inquire about Amir, the watchman told me that he had been summoned by Sub-Inspector Zeeshan to record his statement,” he said. “For the next two days, we continued to search for both Amir and the police officer but failed to find any trace of their whereabouts.”

Autopsy

A post-mortem report on the death states that torture marks were visible on his hands, feet, back and arms. His ribs were also broken.

After news of the killing in custody spread on mainstream and social media and drew public ire, Punjab Inspector General of Police Captain Arif Nawaz Khan ordered registration of a case against Inspector Nasir Baig, Zeeshan and four other police officers and ordered a detailed report on the case.

Police have taken Baig and Zeeshan into custody, but the four other officers accused are still at large as no serious efforts have been made to arrest them, Masih said. Police at the same station where his brother was tortured registered his complaint for murder, illegal detention and torture.

Both Punjab Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Aijaz Alam Augustine and Shunila Ruth, a member of the National Assembly, said that they were making efforts to ensure justice for the grieving family of Amir Masih. Both officials are Christians.

Augustine said that he had visited the family and was in contact with police officials to ensure arrest of the absconding accused.

“This is a grave crime, and the accused police officers will be severely punished,” Augustine said, adding that the government would not show any leniency in cases of torture and custodial killings.

Ruth, who visited the victim’s family along with Punjab Gov. Muhammad Sarwar, said she would raise the matter in the National Assembly.

“The family’s claim that Amir was subjected to torture because of his Christian faith is not unfounded,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are segments in our society who continue to be prejudicial towards members of the marginalized communities.”

The two Christian officials said they believe they’ll be able to bring the perpetrators to justice, but attorney Saiful Malook, who gained fame for securing freedom for high-profile Christian blasphemy convict Aasiya Noreen (commonly known as Asia Bibi), said he feared the case would be swept under the carpet after the media hype dies because “police are known to protect their own.”

“Amir Masih’s murder in police custody is not only a serious crime but also a severe violation of the constitution,” he said. “Therefore, it should be taken up very seriously, and the police alone should not be trusted in this regard.”

Malook said that the First Information Report of the case also should have included the names of the deputy superintendent of police of the zone and the station house officer, as they were the supervisory officers and it was their responsibility to ensure that no citizen was subjected to illegal detention and torture.

“I’m sure the police misguided the complainant into naming only the six accused in order to save their seniors,” he said. “I am ready to provide pro-bono legal assistance to Amir Masih’s family, because I believe that they deserve justice on merit.”

Pakistan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and on Nov. 28, 2018, the United States added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom.

Kidnapped Baptist Pastor in Nigeria Freed after 17 Days of Torture

Muslim Fulani herdsmen injured Baptist pastor Elisha Noma while holding him captive. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Baptist pastor kidnapped and tortured last month in Nigeria was released over the weekend after his family and Christian leaders paid a ransom, sources said.

Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state who abducted the Rev. Elisha Noma on Aug. 14 received 3 million naira (US$8,181) before freeing him on Saturday (Aug. 31), the chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) told Morning Star News.

“He was released after a ransom was paid following a series of negotiations with the bandits on the ransom,” the Rev. Joseph Hayab told Morning Star News in a text message. “We thank God for his mercies. We pray for God’s intervention in the calamity that seems to have befallen us as a nation.”

Pastor Noma, 60, of the Baptist Church Ungwan Makeri in Kaduna, identified the kidnappers as armed herdsmen. After his release, he received medical treatment for injuries while in captivity.

His left hand was broken, and his captors switched on their phone to let his family hear him cry in pain as they beat, cut and burned him to compel them to pay the ransom, according to CAN. He was left with scars from burns on his head and face.

In August alone, more than 40 pastors in Nigeria were either kidnapped or suffered some form of violence from herdsmen or Boko Haram terrorists, according to figures obtained from CAN.

“We will also continue to call on the government and the security agencies to do everything within their powers to stop the increasing spate of criminality across the country, especially the increasing wave of kidnappings in Kaduna state,” Pastor Hayab told Morning Star News.

James Kantiyok, a deacon at the kidnapped pastor’s church, expressed joy over his release in spite of mistreatment while in captivity.

“We can’t hold back our joy for his freedom, despite all he went through,” Kantihok told Morning Star News. “Let’s all pray for his total recovery as he is currently receiving medical treatment. We thank you all for praying with the family and the church.”

About 20 Muslim Fulani herdsmen kidnapped Pastor Noma and his son, Emmanual Noma, after storming their home at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 14. They released the pastor’s son a few hours later with a demand to raise 20 million naira (US$55,155) in ransom.

The kidnappers later lowered the demand to 7 million naira (US$19,304), Pastor Hayap told Morning Star News at that time.

In the city of Kaduna on Aug. 4, Fulani herdsmen killed pastor Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the Romi New Extension area of the city and kidnapped his wife, a church source told Morning Star News. Attacked along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on their way to Abuja, he was killed when the herdsmen shot at their car after the pastor finished leading three services at his church, the source said.

Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released after the church paid 3 million naira (US$8,273) to the herdsmen as ransom, the source said. A press statement from the church reported that the ransom was paid after negotiations with the herdsmen brought the amount down from 10 million naira (US$27,577). She was released on the Aug. 8 at about 10 p.m.

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

Nigeria Says Leah Sharibu Is Alive; Herdsmen Attacks Continue

National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria. (Wikipedia)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – More than a month after an aid worker indicated in a video that kidnapped Christian teenager Leah Sharibu had been killed, a government official in Nigeria on Saturday (Aug. 31) said she was alive.

Citing intelligence from security agencies, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu released a statement reaffirming that the government is negotiating with terrorists for the release of Leah and other captives.

“Contrary to false reports, she [Leah] is alive, given assurances from our security agencies, and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families,” Shehu said. “Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.”

Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers of Boko Haram, now called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), to secure her release, he said.

“With the abduction of loved family and friends, the government understands how difficult these times are for them, but the government is pursuing many options to ensure the safe return of Leah Sharibu,” Shehu said. “The worrying cycle of speculations on whether Leah Sharibu, the kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirl, had been harmed by her abductors is what has made us to speak out.”

Though the government negotiated with Boko Haram for the release of the other girls, Shehu said that the administration does not encourage payment of ransom to secure the release of captives. For this reason, he said, the government was not rushed to yield to demands of the terrorist group.

“Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged,” he said. “This means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists; refrain from rewarding their heinous crimes with payment.”

Leah, 16, has been in Boko Haram captivity since Feb. 19, 2018, when she was abducted alongside more than 100 other students of the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state, in north-east Nigeria. While the other girls were released in March 21, 2018 after the kidnappers’ negotiations with the government, the terrorists retained Leah because she refused to renounce Christ.

In late July Boko Haram released a video in which a Christian aid worker kidnapped on July 18, Grace Taku, mentioned that Leah and three other Christian women in captivity had been killed.

“I beg that Nigeria government should please, I’m begging again, please do something to see that we’re released, because this had occurred before in this organization, Red Cross, where some ladies were caught – Hauwa and Zipporah, they asked to be released, but because Nigerian [government] did not do anything about it they were killed,” she said in the video. “I’m begging on behalf of all of us here that Nigeria should not allow such to happen to us. And it also happened again with Leah and Alice [Ngaddah], because Nigeria could not do anything about them they were not released, they were also killed.”

In the video, Taku pleads with Christian leaders, the Nigerian government and international agencies to intervene to secure their release.

The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) said in a text message to Morning Star News that Christians in Nigeria, and especially in the ECWA to which Leah and her family belong, no longer trust that the government is genuinely working to free her and other captive Christians.

“We no longer rely on the Nigerian government’s assurances, which often amount to nothing,” Panya said. “Instead, as the Scriptures say, the just shall live by faith concerning Leah and many other national issues.”

Panya said he and other Christians must put their trust in God rather than the government.

“Our defense, confidence, is faith in God. We are praying and trusting God to bring back Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha, Sister Grace, and the remaining Chibok girls back to us safely in Jesus name,” he said. “If God decides to still use the Nigerian government or security agents for that, to God be the glory.”

ECWA General Secretary Yunusa Nmadu, Jr., said the church is happy over news that Leah is still alive. He urged the government to intensify efforts towards securing her release and that of other Christians.

“ECWA welcomes the statement from the federal government of Nigeria reassuring citizens that the world’s most popular prisoner of religious freedom, Leah Sharibu, is still alive,” Nmadu said in a text message to Morning Star News. “We urge the government to do more beyond assurances of her being alive and see to the speedy release of Leah Sharibu.”

The government needs to do more to reduce the insecurity in the country, he added.

“We are slowly sliding into a failed state due to the spate of insecurity, and the government seems to be helpless in the hands of bandits to the extent that some state governments are now holding talks with bandits that should be behind the bars,” he said.

Five Christians Killed

Much of the country’s descent into lawlessness has taken place in Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria. On Thursday (Aug. 29) Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians and destroyed many homes in an attack on predominantly Christian Kiri, in Kaduna’s Kaura County, area residents told Morning Star News.

The attack came two years after a herdsmen assault in the same area that displaced many people who had returned to try to start their lives anew.

In last week’s attack, the herdsmen mounted a surprise invasion while most people were still working in their fields, area resident Jude Bako told Morning Star News by phone.

“Five of our people have been killed, and two others are still missing as we do not know where the herdsmen took them to,” Bako said. “The Fulani herdsmen attacked our village while we were still working on our farms. Our people who were in the village at the time were forced to flee for their lives, too.”

Another village resident said he narrowly escaped being killed.

“I escaped being killed by the herdsmen when they attacked us at about 4 p.m.,” Musa Gabriel told Morning Star News. “Four of our people were killed during the attack, and the fifth person died from gunshot wounds yesterday morning, Friday.”

Gabriel said that in the attack two years ago, the herdsmen burned down the worship buildings of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and ECWA.

Bege Katuka, chairman of the Kaura Local Government Council, confirmed Thursday’s attack.

“Five persons were killed, while two others are still missing,” he said. “A number of houses were destroyed during the attack.”

Police also confirmed the attack.

Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo confirmed that four persons were killed in the attack on Thursday (Aug. 29), and that a fifth person died the next day from gunshot wounds.

“On Friday, Aug. 30 while our men were combing the area, they discovered four corpses, and the 35-year-old Daniel, who was injured during the attack, later died, making five people who were killed,” Sabo said.

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

Christian Family Takes Refuge in Mountains after Expulsion from their Home in Mexico

Pastor Mario Choj visits Pérez family in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

“To follow Christ is beautiful. It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

(Morning Star News) – Miguel Pérez Díaz, his eight children and 87-year-old father have been living in a mountainside shack since May, when local officials expelled them from their village in Chiapas state, Mexico.

Relatives, friends and neighbors in Tajlovijho, a village in the municipality of San Andrés Larráinzar in southern Mexico, had been harassing them for leaving indigenous religious practices for Christianity, sources said.

“The first action they took against them was to cut their potable water service,” pastor Mario Choj told Morning Star News. “Then they made them leave the humble home they owned.”

Leaving the “traditionalist” blend of Roman Catholic and indigenous rituals and beliefs, the Pérez family put their faith in Christ four years ago and began a small fellowship in their home, said Pastor Choj, who leads an Assemblies of God Church called Jesús Es el Camino.

The family loaded the few belongings their neighbors allowed them to take and headed up the mountains to a village called Mitontic, where they survive by collecting the morning dew from a nylon sheet and rain water that falls from the metal roof of the shanty they built, the pastor said. They store the water in empty soda bottles and other containers.

Shack where the Pérez family has taken refuge in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

Despite taking refuge far from their home, they are obligated to pay Tajlovijho officials 500 pesos (US$26) each month to keep authorities from taking possession of their house and remaining belongings, sources said.

Pastor Choj said Pérez told him the family is ready to suffer for Christ.

“To follow Christ is beautiful,” Pérez said, according to the pastor. “It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

Their case is one of thousands in which indigenous Mexican families that have been driven from their homes and lost all their belongings “only because they have accepted that Jesus is the only hope that we Mexicans have to be free of sin and eternal punishment,” Pastor Choj said.

The “traditionalist” religious mix practiced by the area’s predominantly ethnic Tzotzil, who are of Mayan origin, includes drunken festivals honoring pagan idols that evangelical Christians eschew. In a misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” law designed to protect indigenous culture, local caciques (political “bosses”) cite local regulations requiring villagers to contribute fees toward and participate in the festivals.

Christian attorneys note that this misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” laws violates the guarantee of religious freedom in Article 24 of Mexico’s constitution.

Similar cases of persecution have happened in Oaxaca, Durango and other states outside of Chiapas. In July residents of Huejutla, Hidalgo state, cut water service to two Christian families for refusing to participate in “Catholic festivals of the community,” according to online outlet Animal Político.

Denying any religious motive, officials with the Ministry of Interior blamed the two evangelical families “because they did not fulfill their duties” to villagers and did not “participate in their ‘uses and customs,’” the news cite reported.

In Chiapas, Pérez and his family, including wife Guadalupe Hernández and father Miguel Pérez Núñez, came to faith in Christ after reading an evangelistic pamphlet printed and distributed by Cruzada Mexican, a ministry also known as Every Home for Christ-México, Pastor Choj said. Volunteers leave the pamphlets, New Testaments and other Christian literature, some of them translated into indigenous languages, at area Protestant churches.

“The Pérez family previously lived happy and faithful, but they did not know what trials were coming to their peaceful life,” Pastor Choj said. “But they pray that more Christians would spread the Word of God, as many still need to know the love that is available only from Jesus Christ. They also pray for all the families expelled from their own houses and lands.”

Mexico ranks 39th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

One Pastor Killed, Another Kidnapped in Separate Attacks in North-Central Nigeria

 

Photo of Rev. Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the city of Kaduna, Nigeria, was killed and his wife kidnapped on Aug. 4, 2019. (Morning Star News via Living Faith Church)

No relief for Nigerian Christians subjected to continuous Muslim Fulani brutality.

(Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed a Pentecostal pastor and abducted a Baptist pastor in a spate of kidnappings this month in Kaduna state, Nigeria, sources said.

“The herdsmen, about 20 of them, shot into our house and broke the doors of the house,” said Emmanuel Noma, who along with his father, 60-year-old pastor Elisha Noma, was kidnapped at 1 a.m. on Aug. 14. “They forced us out of the house at gunpoint and took us away. After two hours they released me, with the demand that I should go and raise 20 million naira [US$55,155] for them before they will release my father or else he would be killed.”

The Rev. Joseph Hayap, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the kidnapping of Pastor Noma, of Nagarta Baptist Church in Makiri, Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria. Pastor Hayap said the kidnappers have reduced their ransom demand from the original 20 million naira.

“The kidnapping herdsmen are now asking for 7 million naira [US$19,304], but we are still negotiating,” said Pastor Hayap, a Baptist.

Two weeks earlier, Fulani herdsmen killed pastor Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the Romi New Extension area of the city of Kaduna and kidnapped his wife, a church source told Morning Star News. Attacked on Aug. 4 along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on their way to Abuja, he was killed when the herdsmen shot at their car after the pastor finished leading three services at his church, the source said.

Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released after the church paid 3 million naira (US$8,273) to the herdsmen as ransom, the source said. A press statement from the church reported that the ransom was paid after negotiations with the herdsmen brought the amount down from 10 million naira (US$27,577). She was released on the Aug. 8 at about 10 p.m.

Kaduna State CAN Chairman Hayap told Morning Star News that she was recovered along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

“When she was with the kidnappers, she didn’t know that her husband had died,” Pastor Hayap said.

The day she was released, another group of herdsmen attacked a Roman Catholic parish in Kasuwan Magani, a town south of the city of Kaduna. A security guard was killed as the parish priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church, the Rev. Joseph Kato Kwassau, escaped.

About 20 armed herdsmen arrived at the premises in a mini-van, according to a church press statement.

“They were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons,” it read.

Kwassau told Morning Star News by phone that the attack took place at about midnight, when only he and the church guard were in their living quarters on the premises.

500 Kidnapped

Kidnapping is rampant in Nigeria. Hayap said more than 500 Christians have been kidnapped in Kaduna state in the past four years. Churches have paid about 300 million Naira (US$827,321) to Muslim Fulani Herdsmen to ransom them, he said.

“We as the church, the body of Christ, have found ourselves in a very bad situation in Kaduna state,” he said. “Pastors and church members are being kidnapped, and huge sums of money are being demanded, and nothing has been done by Nigeria government to halt the situation.”

Hayap appealed to the Nigerian government to urgently take measures to bring to an end to attacks on Christians and churches in Kaduna state and across the country.

Kwassau of St. Luke’s, who is also a dean of Rimau Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, said that the Christian community at Kasuwan Magani has been under attack from herdsmen and local Muslims for some time. Hayap concurred that Christians in Kasuwan Magani have been attacked various times by herdsmen.

“As I speak to you, a daughter of a Baptist pastor in the area of Kasuwan Magani is under the captivity of the herdsmen,” Hayap said. “So we are really concerned that Christians and their pastors in Kaduna State are no longer safe.”

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

Please keep our Nigerian brothers and sisters in your prayers.

After Killing of Clergyman, Priest Narrowly Escapes Death in Southeastern Nigeria

City of Enugu, in southwest Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Martin Kudr)

“I am sad – what manner of country is this?” A country where some people are untouchables. A country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attacks against Christians in the country. These senseless killings of innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye.”

(Morning Star News) – Following the killing of a Roman Catholic priest and a parishioner in southeastern Nigeria earlier this month, another clergyman on Thursday (Aug. 15) narrowly escaped an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen about 40 miles away, sources said.

Armed Fulani herdsmen on Aug. 1 killed the Rev. Paul Offu in Awgu town, south of Enugu city in Enugu state, as he was returning to his church site after a visit to other congregations he was overseeing, according to Enugu Diocese officials. The herdsmen shot his car as he drove along Ihe-Agbudu Road, forcing it to a halt, and then dragged him out and shot him to death, diocese spokesman Emmanuel Nkemjika Igwesihi said in a press statement.

The herdsmen took parishioner Kenneth Igwe in the ambush. Police found his corpse on Aug. 5, according to Igwesihi.

“The Rev. Fr. Paul Offu was shot dead by some Fulani herdsmen who took him into the bush around 2 p.m.,” the Rev. Ben Achi, director of communications for the diocese told Morning Star News by phone. “He was accosted by the herdsmen and was shot dead.”

About 69 kilometers (42 miles) north, herdsmen on Thursday (Aug. 15) ambushed another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Chimezie Ani, near Caritas University, a Catholic university in Amorji-Nike, as he drove toward Ugwuomu, the priest told Morning Star News.

“I was driving when suddenly the herdsmen, who were armed, shot at my vehicle, aiming at the windshield,” Ani told Morning Star News. “I immediately on noticing them stopped the car and drove in reverse. The bullets from them broke my windshield and riddled the car all over. I miraculously escaped unhurt. They retreated into the bushes after realizing I escaped from them.”

He said Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian commuters along that highway “for some time now.”

“I’m sure they were herdsmen,” Ani said.

Achi of the Enugu diocese confirmed the Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 attacks.

“The incident [Aug. 15] happened along Ugwuomu Road as you heard,” Achi said. “We are very grateful to God that he was not harmed, as he was able to navigate on reverse to a safe distance.”

Following the Aug. 1 killing of Offu, more than 200 Catholic priests took to the streets in the city of Enugu, the state capital, in protest on Aug. 2. They marched peacefully to the State House to present a letter to the governor expressing their displeasure over growing Fulani herdsmen attacks on Christians.

Afterwards the Rev. Callistus Onaga, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, told reporters of his sadness over the inability of the government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim Fulani, to end herdsmen attacks across the country. Christians in the state have come under a series of attacks over the past seven years, adversely affecting area Catholic churches, Onaga said.

“I am sorrowful and utterly disappointed on the security in the state,” he told a press conference.

Another priest, the Rev. Clement Ugwu, of St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno, in Ezeagu County of the state, was kidnapped and killed in March, and herdsmen shot another priest in late July, Onaga said.

“We were shocked to see a priest that joined in our meeting yesterday afternoon in this bishop’s house very healthy and sound being reported to have died. The priest shot by the herdsmen two weeks back is still receiving intensive medical attention as we speak,” Onaga said. “Why we get worried when our priests are attacked is that it shows the level of insecurity other Nigerians face daily. Our priests are very much respected and honored by our parishioners and the people, so if these things can happen to them, what happens to the flock, the people they shepherd?”

Priests in various parts of the state were kidnapped from 2013 to 2016, he said.

“Only in 2017 were we given some breathing space,” Onaga said. “It continued in 2018 and this year, 2019; it is worse as we have suffered the death of a priest in March this year, and now another issue. All we demand is that if there are crop of bad herdsmen in the state, they should be fished out, and we will continue to live in peace with the good ones.”

Also on Aug. 2, the Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, bishop of Awka Diocese, in southeastern Nigeria’s Anambra state, told reporters of his concern over the tepid response of the Nigerian government to violence carried out by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Addressing journalists at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, he said the government lacks political will to curtail attacks against Christians.

“I am sad – what manner of country is this?” Ezeokafor said. “A country where some people are untouchables. A country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attacks against Christians in the country.

“These senseless killings of innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye.”

Police confirmed the attacks on the priests and reported arrests of some of the attackers.

Police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement on Friday (Aug. 16) that officers were investigating the attacks on the priests.

“Crack detectives from the Intelligence Response Unit, the Forensic and Homicide sections of the Force Criminal Investigation Department have been deployed to Enugu state,” he said. “The deployment is to complement the Enugu Command of the Force in their investigations into the unfortunate incident.”

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

The Extinction of Christians in the Middle East

  • “I don’t believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights. But in Western countries, there are animal rights. In Australia they take care of frogs…. Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.
  • “Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them. We are the original people in this land. We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don’t wake up.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus.
  • “Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.

By Giulio Meotti (Gatestone Institute) Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians“.

This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.

Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over. The newspaper La Vie collected the testimony of a Christian, Yousef (the name has been changed), who fled in the night of August 6, 2014, just before ISIS arrived. “It was a real exodus”, Yousef said.

“The road was black with people, I did not see either the beginning or the end of this procession. There were children were crying, families dragging small suitcases. Old men were on the shoulders of their sons. People were thirsty, it was very hot. We have lost all that we have built for life and nobody fought for us”.

Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever”, wrote two American scholars in Foreign Policy.

“We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria”.

In Mosul alone, 45 churches were vandalized or destroyed. Not a single one was spared. Today there is only one church open in the city. ISIS apparently also wanted to destroy Christian history there. They targeted the monastery of Saints Behnam and Sarah, founded in the fourth century. The monastery had survived the seventh century Islamic conquest and subsequent invasions, but in 2017, crosses were destroyed, cells were looted, and statues of the Virgin Mary were beheaded. The Iraqi priest, Najeeb Michaeel, who saved 850 manuscripts from the Islamic State, was ordained last January as the new Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul….continue reading this article here

Christian villages bombed and evacuated

ERBIL, KURDISTAN (ANS) — Around 10 Christian villages in the northern Kurdistan Region have been evacuated due to frequent and increasing Turkish bombings targeting apparent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions.

Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports Rudaw TV www.rudaw.net visited Christian villages in the Kani Masi District, where some homes are locked up and abandoned. There are 25 such villages in the district, including 10 or so evacuated ones, according to district officials. One local told Rudaw the PKK should leave the area.

“PKK better to go back to Turkey, and fight against the Turkish army inside Turkey, and leave Kurdistan region for peace,” said Shlimon Aseel from the village of Duri, where 15 of the 40 homes have been evacuated.

AINA said the PKK is a Kurdish militant group that has fought the Turkish state for decades for greater autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist group and regularly strikes apparent targets of the group in the Kurdistan Region. The PKK is based in the Qandil mountains along the Turkey-Iraq border.

PKK fighters are present in the areas around the city of Amedi where Kani Masi is. The area is in the Duhok Province amd close to the Turkish border. Most Christians in the there identify as ethnic Assyrians.

Sarbast Sabri, the head of Kani Masi District, says the Turkish airstrikes hit the district on a daily basis, and negatively impact the lives of civilians.

“Civilians in the area are living in continuous panic, due to the Turkish bombardments and PKK movements in the areas of Kani Masi,” he told Rudaw.

Civilians are frequently caught in the crossfire between Turkey and the PKK, and people empty the villages to escape the fighting.

According to AINA, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has repeatedly asked PKK fighters to stay away from populated areas and villages. Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has also voiced concerns to Turkey over civilian deaths resulting from Turkey’s airstrikes.

Baghdad has likewise called on Turkey to end its attacks, while simultaneously demanding the PKK leave their territories.

Turkey launched Operation claw in late May to drive the PKK away from its border with the Kurdistan Region.

On June 27, Turkish airstrikes resulted in the deaths of at least four Kurdish civilians near the village of Kurtak at the foot of the Qandil Mountains, where the PKK is headquartered.

There was a short-lived peace process between Turkey and the PKK which ended in failure in July 2015. Since then, at least 4,397 people, including Turkish security forces, PKK fighters, and civilians have been killed, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

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