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Eritrean Church Leaders still in jail 12 years later

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

Kiflu Gebremeskel, Patriarch Abune Antonios, Haile Naigzhi Photos: World Watch Monitor

(World Watch Monitor) Although the tiny East African nation of Eritrea has a population of just 6 million, Eritrea is one of the leading sources of refugees in Europe. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is a lack of religious freedom.

The Eritrean government outlawed worship outside of Islam and the Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic Church in 2002, driving all other Christian churches underground as they faced varying degrees of restrictions and attacks. Since then, thousands of Christians have been arrested and incarcerated without benefitting from a legal process. Among them are a number of prominent church leaders arrested in 2004, who remain incarcerated today, almost 12 years later. World Watch Monitor spoke with the family of one of these prisoners.

Haile Naigzhi, leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, was arrested during the early hours of 23 May, 2004. He was taken from his home to Police Station #1 in Asmara, then moved to Wongel Mermera – a dungeon-like prison in Asmara, where he still resides, alongside at least five other prominent church leaders (see list below). They have little hope of release anytime soon.

For years following Naigzhi’s arrest, his wife and three children (names withheld to protect their identity) waited for his release. In 2013, his wife received credible information that the government wanted to arrest her and the children, so she decided to flee.

As World Watch Monitor reported last year, the journey out of Eritrea is fraught with danger. Movement in Eritrea is heavily controlled through an internal travel-pass system and checkpoints; anyone trying to cross the border can be shot on sight. If you make it past those first two hurdles, you reach the desert, exposed to the unforgiving elements and lawless human traffickers. Whatever destination you aim for after that could see you either crossing the Mediterranean on a rickety boat or dodging deportation from African countries with diplomatic and ideological ties to the Eritrean government.

World Watch Monitor cannot divulge the details of the Naigzhi family’s journey, nor where they ended up, but today they are settled in a new country, where they have been granted asylum.

“We feel safer here,” said Naigzhi’s wife. “We are able to freely serve God. I am also happy because the children are in a good school.”

But their 19-year-old daughter misses home. “Ever since we left our country, things have dramatically changed in a way we didn’t know they would. I knew the moment we left that we would have an uphill battle until we are able one day to go back home again. And it was all true.”

Naigzhi’s wife added: “I miss my husband dearly. It is very lonely for me.”

Their eldest daughter last saw her father when she was seven, whereas the youngest son (13) does not remember a time when they were all together.

The other boy, 17, last saw his father when he was five and confessed to also feeling homesick.

“I miss home, I miss my friends, and I miss our house,” he said.

“It is difficult, but we hold on to Jesus,” said Naigzhi’s wife.

Her daughter added:

“We learnt that having a ‘bed-of-roses’ kind of life on earth is not actually God’s number one plan for us, but that everything we face in this world shapes our spirits into the beautiful spirit the Lord wishes to see in us. I am happy in every way and most especially to be the daughter of the Most High God. I am also happy to be the daughter of a prisoner for Christ. He is the best dad ever! God will make things perfect one day, and I trust Him with all my heart. He is faithful to keep His word.”

Eritrea is No. 3 on Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. No-one knows for certain how many Christians remain in the elaborate network of incarceration centres in Eritrea. Although there seems to have been a lull in arrests, pressure remains high on Christians and on society in general. Thousands are still intent on fleeing the country, the majority aiming for Europe. Hundreds have died trying.

Incarcerated church leaders

Abune Antonios

Head of the Orthodox Church, removed from his position in 2007 after criticising the Eritrean government for interference in church activities. Two priests accompanied by government security agents entered the Patriarch’s residence and confiscated his personal pontifical insignia. He was replaced by Abune Dioskoros – a development orchestrated by the Eritrean government. Patriarch Antonios, who has never been charged with any offence, remains under house arrest and strict state surveillance.

Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot

Senior pastor of the Kale Hiwot Church. Arrested for participating in a Protestant wedding ceremony in Barentu on 9 January, 2005. Taken to Asmara Police Station No. 5, then subjected to 10 months of solitary confinement and hard labour at Sawa military camp. Released after six years, then re-arrested six months later, after a fleeing church member, who was being monitored, called him. Now back in prison in Barentu, where he has been for 11 years in total.

Kidane Weldou

Senior pastor of the Full Gospel Church and member of the executive committee of Gideons International in Eritrea. When his vehicle was found abandoned in 2005, his wife and four children assumed he had been arrested. Believed to be in Wongel Mermera prison.

Haile Naigzhi

Leader of Eritrea’s Full Gospel Church, arrested at his home during the early hours of 23 May, 2004, and taken to Police Station #1 in Asmara.

Kiflu Gebremeskel

Founder and senior pastor of Southwest Full Gospel Church, and member of the executive committee to the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea. Before he became a full-time pastor, Dr. Gebremeskel was also a mathematics lecturer and until 1999 was department and faculty head at the University of Asmara. Has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University. Taken from his home in Asmara Gejeret in May 2004. Wife and four children have not been able to visit him.

Million Gebreselasie

Anaesthetist and pastor of Massawa Rhema Church. Arrested on 3 June, 2004, five days after another pastor, Tesfasion Hagos (who has since been released and granted asylum in another country), visited his church and home. Arrested at a police checkpoint just before entering Asmara, as he was returning Pastor Hagos’ belongings to his home. Taken to the 2nd Police Station, where he was held for about two months, before being relocated to Wongel Mermera, where he remains. Unmarried.

Futsum Gebrenegus

Eritrea’s only psychiatrist. Also served as an Orthodox priest. Arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis

Expert theologian and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for allegedly being involved in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Tekleab Menghisteab

Doctor and Orthodox priest also arrested in Nov. 2004 for alleged involvement in the renewal movement within the Orthodox Church.

Taliban Faction Threatens More Attacks Against Christians in Pakistan – What you can do

Follow the link below the video to help to a be a part of the solution.

 

First, PRAY for our Pakistani brothers and sisters.

Then contact your Senators and representatives and ask them to act immediately. Other than humanitarian aid, no more U.S. funding until Pakistan greatly improves and shows lasting efforts to control violence and stop human rights abuses against Christians and other minorities, particularly seen with the blasphemy laws. If we unite as the Body, we can do more to protect them.

Contact Your Elected Officials Today!

To our Pakistani family in Christ: You are not forgotten.
HELP PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

 

Women and Christians Suffer Human Rights Abuses, yet the U.N. Celebrates Pakistan

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We have to speak out. Despite the nation of Pakistan’s human rights abuses, the United Nations is planning a Pakistan Day on March 23rd to honor Pakistan and their goal for peace on the world stage. We must let our lawmakers know that this is a travesty. Release Asia Bibi, protect Christians and Women in Pakistan! Do away with the blasphemy law and then we’ll consider a celebration.

Anniversary of Islamic Mob Attack of Joseph Colony in Pakistan – Pray for Pakistan

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(Voice of the Persecuted) On March 9, 2013 the Christian neighborhood , Joseph Colony in Lahore, Pakistan was overcome by a large Muslim mob. The colony was attacked and vandalized after a local Christian man had been erroneously accused of blasphemy. The infuriated mob forced some 170 Christian families to flee the area. It was reported that the mob not only attacked the houses but also looted them. Disturbing scenes of burning houses, streets strewn with debris and blackened furniture were seen as the mob attacked. Read our March 2013 report covering the horrific attack.

After the attack, Pakistanis and villagers lamented,

“They burnt down our houses, they burnt our Bibles. You should have seen the way we had to run. Women and children, running, some children weren’t even wearing shoes.”

Another resident said in tears while she described the fire burning down of the community,  “I saw it with my own eyes. They [the mob] were laughing as they destroyed everything.”

One of the affected said people in large numbers came to her home, ransacked it, threw household items out of her house, doused them with gasoline and set fire to them. “They torched the houses of many people who had nothing to do with the incident,”

“This is Pakistan, but not the Pakistan which Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah dreamed of.”

Over the years, there have been numerous abuse over blasphemy allegations. In 2009, a Christian neighborhood in the city of Gojra, in central Punjab province, was targeted. Nine people lost their lives and many homes were destroyed.

In 2011, the former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated by his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri, who was against Taseer’s public support of Aasiya Noreen, widely known as Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned for allegedly committing blasphemy. The law is often misused against Christians and other religious minorities. Taseer criticized and wanted Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws amended and fiercely advocated for Asia’s release.  Asia, a mother of 5 still sits in jail praying her death sentence will be overturned.

Also in 2011, Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated in Islamabad. Taliban gunmen, opened fire on Bhatti’s car and killed him on the spot. Bhatti was targeted by extremists for speaking out against the country’s ruthless blasphemy laws.

Rimsha Masih, a teenage Christian girl was charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning pages from the Quran. However, the case was dismissed after investigations revealed that Masih was framed by a cleric, Khalid Jadoon Chishti. Rimsha and her family were evacuted out of Pakistan for ongoing death threats.

New reports claim a Pakistani lawyers’ group behind the rise in blasphemy cases. Rueters shared,

The group, whose name translates as The Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood, offers free legal advice to complainants and has packed courtrooms with representatives, a tactic critics say is designed to help it gain convictions.

The stated mission of the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat Lawyers’ Forum and its leader Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad is charged, tried and executed.

“Whoever does this (blasphemy), the punishment is only death. There is no alternative,” Chaudhry told supporters crammed into his small office behind the towering red-brick High Court building in the eastern city of Lahore. Read more

Protests erupted after Mumtaz Qadri who is held by many as a hero, was executed on Monday. Mobs clashed with police, attacked a media office in Karachi and a press club in Hyderabad after Friday prayers against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri for Taseer’s murder. Security has been tightened around Asia Bibi as new threats have been made to kill her.

Until it is abolished, innocent minorites will continue to face false charges or death sentences as victims of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law.

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Turkey’s Protestants are today an “anxious and distressed” community

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For Turkey’s tiny Protestant community, 2015 was a year marked by threats and attacks against their churches and leaders. A report by the Protestant Churches Association on human rights violations documents a series of attacks and obstacles that Protestants faced over the course of last year, including physical attacks and verbal harassment. (Read report here) Judicial authorities showed no compunction to respond to their complaints about such offenses. In addition, the government excluded the community from its meetings with religious minorities. In the words of community leader Ihsan Ozbek, Turkey’s Protestants are today an “anxious and distressed” community.

As a testament to the community’s standing, on the door of the local Protestant church in the city of Balikesir, someone posted a piece of paper bearing the words “Turkish Islam Alliance” and painted “Allah is one” on a wall of the building.

READ MORE (Al-Monitor)

Persecution of Pakistani Christians Reaches Across Continents

 

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(Voice of the Persecuted) A small child lying lifeless on a beach face down, Christians slaughtered—their body parts strewn by those who attack in the most barbaric, evil way. Millions flee war torn countries and an evil ideology, while governments vie for control. Images of refugees and the internally displaced from Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and beyond have been burned into our memories forever.

It’s more than a movement, revolution, civil war, or extremism joining forces to wreak havoc across the planet.

Often we hear persecution of Christians comes at the hands of radicals or extremists, not by the religion of Islam. Lost in the migrant crisis is the fact Christians are persecuted in Islamic nations, even banned from entering areas and forbidden places of worship. So called political correctness has placed a veil over the fact that Sharia is used as tool for the abuse of Christians, other religious minorities and women—an instigator of persecution.

Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia following strict forms of Sharia law are not experiencing civil war, nor the destruction of their nation.  But today, we draw your attention to Pakistan.

Christians in Pakistan have experienced persecution since their birth. It’s a reality of daily life and often worse for those who dare to speak out and seek legal justice.

Pakistan was formed in blood and continues this way, today.  Christianity suffers greatly at the hands of the Islamic government with a blatant disregard for the lives of Christians. Pakistan is known for turning a blind eye to everything from bonded labor, rape of Christian women and young girls, forced conversions, forced marriages to mobs taking the law into their own hands even burning alive those falsely accused of blasphemy.

Pakistan lost their bid for a seat on the UN Human rights council.  Imagine a country with a record of slavery, murder and religious intolerance judging any type of human rights abuses sitting on the panel.  To expect them to call out human rights abuses when they allow, condone and practice such evil would be absurd.

 According to Dawn News Agency this is how western countries described Pakistan’s human rights record:

“Western countries also had their qualms. The Nordic countries in particular had concerns about Pakistan’s human rights record — death penalty, the blasphemy issue and persecution of Christians, Ahmadis and Shias. Others were uncomfortable over the strong position Pakistan took on issues like drones and ‘Islamophobia’.”

The US recently released a report that claims Pakistan as one of the top abusers of religious freedom:

Detailing the many abuses of religious freedom in its section on Pakistan, the IRF report states that in 2014:

Government policies did not afford equal protection to members of majority and minority religious groups, and due to discriminatory legislation, minorities often were afraid to profess freely their religious beliefs. Media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported killings of religious minorities by police. . . . The government’s general failure to investigate, arrest, or prosecute those responsible for societal abuses promoted an environment of impunity that fostered intolerance and acts of violence . . . . In numerous cases during the year, authorities failed to protect victims of religiously motivated mob violence.  Read more.

Recently rapists were set free after brutally beating and raping 2 Christian sisters.  Bribery and fear are often used against witnesses, and manipulation of justice is at levels unimaginable.  Even some who claim to help are sometimes rife with corruption and greed.

“Christian girls, who are never removed from the custody of their rapists, are forced to agree to the terms of their marriage rather than see their families killed before them and receive further beatings and degradation.”  “How many girls will cry themselves to sleep forever, before international governments intervene?”  Read Here.

Taken from our report “The Dark Secrets Of Pakistan & The Attempts To Silence The Truth”:

We followed the death of the Human Rights Activist Sabeen Mahmud. One of the last events she hosted, was on the ‘disappeared’ of Balochistan, those who have been killed by the State.  She stood for Freedom of Speech, and encouraged debate. She also helped form a human chain around a Christian church in solidarity with the Christian community after an attack on a church in Peshawar.  Sabeen was an avid voice for the Human Rights abuses in Balochistan.  This region is steeped in conflict not only from Pakistan, but Afghanistan, and even Iran.  A report broke about another Human Rights Activist who spoke about her grief over Mahmud’s murder.  She has received death threats, rape threats and threats of charges of Blasphemy.  So full of vitriol and hatred are these threats she had to delete her social media accounts.  Freedom of the press and freedom of religion in Pakistan are non-existent, at the least, and anyone who dares to speak out is met with immense pressure, prison and even death.  World Watch Monitor reported the Press club in Quetta banned 4 Christian journalists for what they call proselytizing….converting Muslims to Infidels.  Read More.

For the world to ignore the plight of Pakistani Christians, people who’ve fled death and mutilation for religious freedom and peace, is one of the biggest travesties of justice seen in the world, today.  They are swept under a mountain of migrant issues, while countries they escape to, like Thailand and Malaysia only add to their suffering.  This is not new, but where are they to go? The UNHCR has been unwilling to find solutions to help and protect Pakistani Christians.  At the very least, they could defend them in countries where they issue asylum seeker certificates.  Assurances should be made to give them the ability to work and support their families, help to extend their visas and protect them from arrest or worse, deportation.  Anything but remain silent and endlessly postpone interviews required for asylum status.

The world is repeating the very thing seen during the Holocaust when it ignored the plight of the Jewish people.  Many Christians who dared to help were sacrificed along with them, while the world turned away in silence. It’s shocking the number of today’s college students who are completely ignorant of the Holocaust. It should be a mandatory lesson…we’ve forgotten the words, “Never Again.”

No hope of returning as in war torn countries, no hope of regaining lost lives. Many, often educated are thrust into a life of poverty in hiding with no recourse. One brother injured so badly in an attack suffers constant oral pain and needs of dental surgery.  Many of the children are sick, some with pneumonia. Heart patients, diabetics…the list goes on and on. Sadly, the majority of American and Western churches are silent.  Nothing…no comfort, no aide, no mention.  If every church in America would sponsor only one family every month, all could be cared for. Even $100.00 goes a long way to provide food, medicine and shelter for persecuted Christians in Thailand. If every church prayed for those suffering for Christ, miracles would be witnessed!

Flag of Pakistan

The Constitution and flag of Pakistan each are to represent religious minorities such as Christians?  We have covered the constitution of Pakistan,  but here is the representation of their flag:

The green represents Islam and the majority Muslims in Pakistan and the white stripe represents religious minorities and minority religions. In the centre, the crescent and star symbolizes progress and light respectively.  The flag symbolizes Pakistan’s commitment to Islam and the rights of religious minorities. It is based on the original flag of the Muslim League, which itself drew inspiration from the flag of the Sultanate of Delhi, the flag of Ottoman Empire and the Flag of the Mughal Empire.

Pakistan defies their own flag. How can the global community ever trust that they would recognize abuse if they are abusers in their own country?

You can begin to see the dire circumstance our Pakistani brethren face.  Not only in Pakistan, but continue to endure in places such as Thailand and Malaysia in the painstaking wait for freedom. Don’t turn away, silence is no longer an option. Write your representatives, write to the UNHCR, or sign a petition.

Use your voice to help Persecuted Christians fleeing extreme persecution, life sentences or death…don’t remain silent. PRAY like never before.  Prayer is our greatest tool against evil.  If you can help monetarily, please do so below.

Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

You may also mail your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

#INDONESIA – Thousands of Christians Flee as Churches Burned and Destroyed by Radicals and Government Authorities

Tensions raised as multiple churches in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia burned down by mob of radical Islamists

Indonesian believers fear as multiple churches in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia burned down by mob of radical Islamists, last week

(Voice of the Persecuted) Over the last few days, Indonesian Christians under extreme pressure have been sharing reports, photos, videos and their prayers with Voice of the Persecuted. Tensions are high among the Christian communities in Indonesia as radical Muslims burn down their churches and government authorities tear down their places of worship.

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In 2006, the controversial Joint Rules set by the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 8 and No. 9, demands states churches cannot be built without providing authorities with a list of names and signatures of 90 congregation members along with written support from at least 60 local residents and a village chief.

This has made it nearly impossible, if at all, for religious minorities to collect the signatures of 60 people required for the permit, particularly if the signatures are needed from citizens whose religion differs from their own.

‘Houses of worship’ are the most visible symbol of a religion and the oppressive government regulations on places of worship have been used to target followers of minority religions, including Christians. Believers relayed to Voice of the Persecuted that many of the Mosques are without permit/license, but those cases are overlooked.

Despite growing intolerance and escalating persecution in the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation, the Church in Indonesia continues to grow.

The province of Aceh is located at the northern end of Sumatra and the only region in Indonesia where Sharia law is officially authorized. Religious tension has been brewing there for months.

A radical Muslim youth group, Aceh Youth Concerned for Islam held protests demanding alleged unlicensed churches be torn down by authorities. Many believe the government’s decision to destroy ten Christian churches came by pressure of Muslim fundamentalists. But Impatiently, Muslim extremists took actions into their own hands and instigated mob violence to destroy Christian buildings and threaten Indonesian believers. Police were deployed but unable to stop the violence as one authority reported they were outnumbered by a mob of 500-800 strong.

When hatred flared, more than 5000 Christians fled their communities and were displaced as internal refugees.

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The chronology of attacks and burning of churches by radicals in the district of Aceh Singkil, continued with the demolition of churches carried out by the Government Aceh Singkil by unjustly using SKB 2 menteri ( A decree between minister of religious affair and minister of home affairs in 2006) No. 8 in 2006 on the establishment of House of worship and the 2007 Governor of Aceh regulation No. 25 regarding the establishment Houses of worship.

SKB 2 menteri No. 8, No. 9 and regulation No. 25 applied to the places of worship built after the policies were confirmed. Referring to the history of established churches in Aceh Singkil, the majority stood prior to both regulations.

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In translation means…if Houses of Worship were built before 2006 or have historical values and do not have a permit, the local government must help them to obtain the permit. There is no wording in the regulation that the government is authorized to destroy those Houses of Worship.

 

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August 18 2015, GKPPD Mandumpang was burned by unknown person at Aceh singkil

• Tuesday, October 13th , Hki Church was burned by radical groups At Aceh Singkil * Friday, October 16th , GPIB church was burned by unknown people at Sabang Aceh

Tuesday, October 19, 2015 at 10:00 held the destruction of church GKPPD Siompin church, GMII Siompin church and Catholic Mandumpang church. ( 3 churches)

•  October 20, 2015, The distruction of churches continued, and 2 churches had been demolished: the Church GKPPD Kuta Tinggi church, and GKPPD Tuhtuhen ( 2 churches)

 October 22, 2015, The destruction of the GKPPD Siatas Church and GKPP Sanggaberru Church ( 3 churches)

• The government still has plans to destroy the 2 other churches also in the district of Aceh Singkil.

The following data shows the establishment of churches in Aceh Singkil.

1. GKPPD Kuta Kerangan church , di Kuta Kerangan Village,  est. 1932.

2. GKPPD Siatas church in Pertabas  est. 1942.

3. GKPPD Kuta Tinggi Church in Kuta Tinggi est. 1943.

4.  GKPPD Tuhtuhen church in Tuhtuhen village was established in1948.

5. GKPPD Lae Gecih church in Lae Gecih village est. 1967.

6. GKPPD Mandumpang church in Mandumpang village est. 1950.

7. GKPPD Siompin church in Siompin village est. 1964.

8. GKPPD Keras church in Keras Village est. 1952.

9. GKPPD Guha churchin Guha village was est. 1947.

10. GKPPD Gunung Meriah church in Gunung Meriah village est. 1960

11. GKPPD Sanggaberru church in Sanggaberru village est. 1962.

12. GKPPD Daling Dangguren church in Dangguren village est. 1995.

13. GKPPD Biskang church in Napagaluh village est. 1953.

14. GKPPD Situbuhtubuh in Situbuhtubuh village est. 1989.

15. GMII Siompin church in Siompin village est. 1995.

16. GMII Mandumpang church in Mandumpang village est. 2000.

17. JKI Kuta Kerangan church di Desa Kuta Kerangan Kecamatan Simpang Kanan est. 2003.

18. HKI Gunung Meriah church in Sukamakmur village est. 1968.

19. Catholic church Gunung Meriah in Sukamakmur village est. 1963.

20. Catholic church Lae Mbalno est. 1993.

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Based on chronology of the attack that occurred on October 13, 2015 and data in establishing the churches in the district of Aceh Singkil, the GKPPD Church Leaders and NGO’s concerned with freedom of religion, faith, mentoring, advocacy and education in Aceh Singkil hold that:

1.The action of attacking and burning HKI church by radical groups in Aceh Singkil on October 13, 2015 and where the State has participated in facilitating that action through its inability to prevent and crack down on Islamic groups that carried out the attack, expanding affecting conflict area that led to the victims having been displaced out of Aceh Singkil is a violation of Human Rights.

2. Restrictions on the churches in Aceh Singkil is contrary to the Constitution amendment in 1945 Article 29 verse 2 that states that the country to ensure freedom of all citizens to embrace their faith of choice.

On October 24th, The Vice Governor of Aceh said, “The tragedy/conflict of Aceh Singkil is not a big problem/a reasonable thing.” Hearing this, one Christian shared, “Oh my, what kind of leader does Aceh have nowadays? He must be educated about Indonesia’s Laws, the Constitution and Pancasila (five principles).

Messages from our Indonesian brothers and sisters

• I don’t know why they have cruel hearts, but we know our Dear Lord Jesus sees all.

• The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord for the harvest and to provide them with the reapers.

• Unity in diversity is torn to shreds.

• May the Lord Jesus give the best ways to Christians friends in Aceh, they still believe God is not asleep..God is watching all.

Where is the voice of the media?

We only want freedom in our own land, free from discrimination and religious freedom.

Pray for Aceh Singkil

Anxiety and fear, our grief has not passed, the tears have not dried. Who will hear our pleas for Justice.

Goodbye My Church

The church that we have built with great difficulty, the church that we have built with our sweat and tears, now memories that have been flattened.

Word of God, “You will be hated for My Name”

My friends, stay strong, joyful, still rely on the Lord. Do not let our faith also collapsed and be flattened, but stay strong growing in faith.  No need to be angry, abuse, or kill. God never taught this way to us. The teachings of the Lord, is teaching us…love others, even love your enemies. Remain patient, God never sleeps. We can always reach out for His hand. There are BEAUTIFUL plans HE will provide for us.

Voice of the Persecuted received this touching letter by a young Christian sister sharing from her heart after she saw the pictures and people who had burned some of the churches in Aceh Singkil.

WHAT’S WRONG THE CHURCH? 

The people of Indonesia should be taught and often read the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, Chapter XI about Religion Article 29 :

(1) The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.

(2) The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief.

Friends, you can burn our churches because they are only buildings.

Friends, you can destroy our churches because the churches are merely stone, sand, cement, and arranged wood. We only call these buildings churches.

You can burn our churches, because theses buildings are not our Lord.

Friends, you can flatten our churches to the ground, because we are not worshiping church.

You can burn our churches because the churches are only places where we gather as people who believe in our God.

Friends, you can burn and flatten our places of worship, but not our faith nor our belief in our God.

Will we avenge your cruel actions? We will not do that, friend.

Will we cuss you and say you are perverted? You will not hear this from us.

Behold, we are only minorities, Christian people trying to defend our faith and trust. We won’t avenge the cruel actions you have done, because that’s not what our God has taught us. But this is what we will do. We will fold our hands and pray to God, so that HE will forgive you, friends.

You can burn our churches, but it will not hinder our trust in the Lord.

But friends, may I ask this question to all of you who have burned our church buildings?

What is wrong with the churches?

May I ask what is wrong with our religion, friends? If our religion is different than yours, why we can’t we build our own places of worship in our country, Indonesia?

What’s so wrong that our religion is different from the majority of people of Indonesia? Doesn’t the State of Indonesia according to the CONSTITUTION of 1945 article 29 paragraph 2, ”GUARANTEES ALL PERSONS THE FREEDOM OF WORSHIP, each according to his/her own religion or belief”?

Thank you, friends for the churches which you have chosen to burn. What you have done has made us stronger in our faith and even more trusting in our Lord.

MAY THE LORD FORGIVE YOU BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING.

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The recent number of attacks on religious communities has impelled the Indonesian government to reexamine the controversial 2006 joint ministerial decree on establishing houses of worship.

ANTARA News quoted Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo as saying, “My office and the Religious Affairs Ministry are seeking to amend our decree on building houses of worship so that everyone will show respect when a religious community is setting up their holy place.”

Indonesia’s national motto is “unity in diversity”. The Government of Indonesia must act swiftly to revise this decree, an initiator of tension and abuse among Indonesia’s religious communities. A mandate to protect the entire community with freedom of worship without fear must be put in place throughout the nation, including the province of Aceh, without exception.

We pray for Indonesia as our brothers and sisters fear the pressure and intolerance Christians now face in Aceh may very well spread across the nation. They’re also concerned that the influx of Muslim refugees may fuel further intolerance. Some tell us the nation’s claim of religious harmony is merely for show, a decoration.

Dear brothers and sisters, though you may be on the other side of the globe, we suffer with you and will keep you close in our hearts and prayers. We rejoice and thank God for you. Hold on, there is hope…the Lord is with you.

Mazmur 59:16 (59-17) Tetapi aku mau menyanyikan kekuatan-Mu, pada waktu pagi aku mau bersorak-sorai karena kasih setia-Mu; sebab Engkau telah menjadi kota bentengku, tempat pelarianku pada waktu kesesakanku. (Psalm 59:16)

Father, protect them in this land and help them to respond in Your will. We pray the Church and their faith will continue to grow as they endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel. We ask as they turn their eyes towards the Lord and that God’s Holy presence will be felt among them. May they unite as One in the Body of Christ and be strengthened beyond measure. Father, we ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

(Voice of the Persecuted)

They’re also asking that we stand with them by signing the petition below addressed to the President in Indonesia.  Grateful for your help and say, “Thank you!”

The petition translated:

The minority religion places were regulated by 2 of our ministers from previous government-the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 9 and No. 8 of 2006, in which the regulation should require no ID card of 90 church members and 60 ID Cards from local community approval.

Regulatory clause that mentions “local community support at least 60 people” makes discriminatory for religious minorities in the region.

It Is really not easy to collect the signatures of 60 people to get a permit the establishment of houses of worship, especially if the required signatures of citizens whose religion is different with those who will build a house of worship.
Now, a lot of violence, closures, and arson by anarchist groups for reasons not meet the approval of 60 people.
Violence of this kind, will make hostility among Indonesian citizens at many places, crime, and erode our sense of nationhood. Imagine this country will be fragmented and disappearing sense of tolerance we are as the nation.
Indonesia should not be grouped based on the majority and the minority religion, where it will actually make it disintegrate our nation, and become brittle.

States should ensure that every citizen can worship wherever they are throughout Indonesia.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Article may be shared or reprinted with credit/link to Voice of the Persecuted

Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

You may also mail your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

88 Eritrean Christians Abducted by ISIS

Eritrea-Libya

Under dangerous conditions, Eritreans are fleeing their country to escape extreme human rights and religious freedom violations.  

The ISIS terror group kidnapped 88 Eritrean Christians from a people-smugglers’ caravan in Libya last week, a U.S. defense official confirmed Monday.

The defense official confirmed initial reports of the mass kidnapping to Fox News after seeing a recent intelligence report. The independent Libya Herald newspaper reported that the convoy was ambushed by militants south of Tripoli before dawn this past Wednesday morning.

Meron Estafanos, the co-founder of the Stockholm-based International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, told the paper that the group of migrants included “about 12 Eritrean Muslims and some Egyptians. They put them in another truck and they put 12 Eritrean women Christians in a smaller pick-up”.

Estafanos said that the militants had initially stopped the truck and demanded that the Muslims on board make themselves known. Everyone who responded was asked about the Koran and their religious observance in an attempt to catch Christians pretending to be Muslims. Read More

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