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(Morning Star News) – Yusuf Tulo and his sizeable family were worshiping in their home in eastern Uganda on April 28 when they heard their neighbors shouting, “Fire!”
Tulo, 35, had left Islam to put his faith in Christ last October. He still had three wives and 14 children dependent on him living on a homestead with more than one house in Bugwere village, and the house they used for worship was on fire.
When they went outside, however, something was not right; among neighbors standing around the house looking at the smoke, one said, “Please remain indoors – your lives are in danger.”
Tulo had been receiving threatening messages from Muslims for months, but faced with the danger of smoke coming from the house, he chose to remain outside. An hour later, the roof collapsed in flames and the house was charred.
“We lost everything in that house: beddings, clothing, books, documents and other household belongings worth more than $1,000,” Tulo told Morning Star News.
The village is in Kitantalo parish, Tirinyi Sub-County of Kibuku District, and Tirinyi police arrived at the scene an hour later.
Since then the family has been living with friends and neighbors – in intense fear for their lives, he said. Among the threats he has received, one text message read, “The burning of the house was just warning. If you continue hardening your hearts and fail to return to Islam, then expect a worst thing that you have never seen before,” he said.
“We thank God that no one was physically hurt but emotionally are very hurt as we continue receiving threatening messages warning us of a possible attack,” Tulo said. “The pressure from the extended family and radical Muslims is really troubling my family, and we cannot risk going back to our houses.”
Muslim extremists began throwing stones at their houses at night soon after the family embraced Christ and started attending a Pentecostal church in a nearby village. He began receiving threatening messages in January from radical Muslims who also have confronted family members on several occasions, he said.
Muslim villagers and the imam of the Bugwere mosque have insulted them verbally, with one villager saying in February, “If you do not come back to Islam, then expect something unusual to befall your family,” he said.
“Since then my family became vigilant, and we even hired a guard to take care of the family during the night, but the stone-throwing continued in one of the houses while the guard was on patrol on the other side of the homestead,” Tulo told Morning Star News.
The family requested financial assistance and prayer.
“We sincerely need prayers and financial support,” Tulo said. “My family is scattered, and the children are unable to go to school. We gave our lives to Jesus and here we are living a troubled, restless life. The law should bring these perpetrators to book.”
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
Photo: Charred home of Yusuf Tulo in Bugwere village, Kibuku District, eastern Uganda. (Morning Star News)
Karamles, North Iraq (AINA) — There is no peace for Christians in northern Iraq. If, on the one hand, the memory of the violence perpetrated by Islamic State jihadists (SI, ex Isis) is still alive, in recent weeks another threat is shadowing the future of the community: the Shiite militias linked to the Shabak, who are in fact hindering Christians return to the Nineveh plain.
The epicenter of this new chapter of anti-Christian persecution is Bartella, increasingly drapped with banners depicting the militia battles against Isis as well as saints and sacred figures of the Shiite tradition.
“Bartella is a problem, a special case”, says Paolo Thabit Mekko, head of the Christian community in Karamles, speaking to AsiaNews. “In recent years – he continues – the presence of Shabak has increased dramatically and Christians are afraid to return. At least 600 families who have fled in the IS era are still in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, and have no prospect of return at the moment. There is a real demographic upheaval in the city, which began in 2003 after the US invasion and which has accelerated in the last period “.
The presence of local Shiite militias, adds Don Paolo, “creates unease and the prospects for the future arouse anger and concern”. The priest sees a behind-the-scenes attempt to “change the demographics of the area”, according to some a “design” orchestrated by the Shiite leadership and maneuvered from the outside, with the complicity of a part “of the Shabak politicians and exponents in Baghdad who support them “.
Until 30 years ago, the population of Bartella was entirely Christian. The demographic changes of the last decades have turned the composition upside down, ending up dividing it in half between Christians and Shabak, a largely Shiite Muslim ethnic group. When the Islamic State (SI, former Isis) conquered much of northern Iraq, including the Nineveh Plain, the entire population of Bartella left the area due to persecution by Sunni radicals.
Today, two years after the ousting of the “Caliphate” jihadists, less than a third of the original 3800 families that populated the town have returned. Most of them are still in exile and there is fear of returning due to persecution, threats and intimidation perpetrated by some members of the Shabak community, which presides over the Shiite militias that control the area.
Following the expulsion of Isis, confessional divisions, militias and armed groups are emerging with increasing strength, trying to get hold of growing sections of territory in northern Iraq, above all in the plain of Nineveh, which was once almost entirely Christian. Qusay Abbas, a member of the Shabaks in Parliament, said the attacks were the work of a small, unrepresentative minority.
But the stories (and complaints) from Bartella and other towns in the area tell another truth: That the Shiite militias are trying – most of the time by force – to eliminate the Christian component. In fact the cases of sexual attacks, thefts, threats and violence against private individuals is becoming more and more frequent. Recently, an ethnic Shabak man fired bullets in the air for over an hour in front of a church in the town.
“What is happening to Bartella – underlines Don Paolo – is repeated, albeit to a lesser extent, in other areas of the plain such as Karamles and Qaraqosh. We are facing a movement that seeks to expand “.
“A council of the sages of the Nineveh plain – he continues – which includes Christians, Arabs, shabaks has initiated dialogue and is trying to resolve the situation. Unfortunately there are no official agreements and there is no way to apply the rare agreements between the parties “.
In this context the Iraqi Church remains firm on the refusal to create a Christian armed militia and strengthens the initiatives of meeting and confrontation. “The situation remains delicate – concludes the priest – and Christians are afraid. One of the solutions that can be followed, and which we hope, is the establishment of an official, institutional police force, within which Christians can also contribute to enlisting the protection of law and order”.
(Morning Star News) – Pastor Sagar Baizu, 46, had finished one meeting and had an hour before the next one, so he decided to stop at a café on a major thoroughfare in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, on July 19.
As he was about to sip a coffee in the crowded café at 2 p.m., six to eight men suddenly attacked the spokesperson and co-general secretary of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN) from behind.
“They beat me for a minute and a half and suddenly fled the site,” Pastor Baizu told Morning Star News. “They said, ‘We will blast your church and all the churches with bombs and shoot you and all your leaders.’”
He became dizzy from many blows to his head by two of the assailants and could not see the faces of any of them, he said.
“I just could not understand what was happening to me for about 10 minutes after the assault,” the pastor said.
After cafeteria staff members helped him regain his bearings, Pastor Baizu informed police, who arrived in about 20 minutes.
Though he sustained no visible injuries, he received immediate medical attention, and doctors advised him to wear a neck brace for a week and to rest his head as much as possible.
Pastor Baizu, who has headed Anugrah Vijay Church (Grace Victory Church) in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu District, for 23 years, filed a report on the assault with police, and the chief district officer has taken it seriously, he said.
Police registered a case against six to eight unidentified men under “attempt to murder” and “threat of bomb blast,” he said. The chief district officer instructed Kathmandu Valley police to provide security to the pastor, and policemen have been deployed outside his church building and residence. They told him to inform security personnel whenever he leaves home.
Pastor Baizu has been advocating on behalf of Nepali Christians for more than 10 years.
“I am the official spokesperson of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal and have been speaking about the rights of the church for many years now,” he said. “This is not the first time that I have received threats.”
Asked if the attack could have resulted from personal animosity, Pastor Baizu said he had no personal enemies, and that he had no doubt he was assaulted for his boldness to “stand for the church and with the church.”
“This is persecution that came because of my Christian activism,” he said. “They spoke about bombing the church and killing the Christian leaders. Otherwise they would have never spoken like this.”
He was a high-profile advocate for Tupek Church in Kathmadu after a bulldozer arrived to demolish its building about four months ago. The pastor also recalled how four Christians were jailed for a week after a mob of Hindu extremists assaulted them for singing Christian songs on a roadside.
The hard-line Hindus held the young Christian men until police arrived, and officers arrested the four Christians and set the assailants free, he said. A case was registered against the four Christians, who were released on bail.
The assault on Pastor Baizu comes amid a rash of anti-Christian hostilities this year. He said increased threats on the Christian community in Nepal is a matter of great concern.
“Every day we hear about one or the other incident in Nepal,” he said, adding that the government is not doing enough to protect the rights of Christians, and that radical organizations are taking advantage of this laxity.
A team of Christian delegates recently met with Nepal’s home minister but were disappointed with the cold response, he said.
India (Morning Star News) – Christians in eastern India were worshipping on April 29 when Hindu extremists attacked and had them arrested on baseless accusations of operating a “conversion racket,” sources said.
Three of seven Christians arrested have been in jail since then, and yesterday a judge in Danapur, Bihar state, rejected their plea for bail.
Some 60 Hindu extremists stormed into the house church service where 50 Christians had gathered to worship, 19-year-old Angel Pariyar told Morning Star News.
“It was a difficult and tense moment for us,” she said. “A huge crowd surrounded our house, and they stopped us from even going inside our own house. We were made to stand outside as they called up police and reported against us, calling our worship service a ‘conversion racket.’”
The mob, members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (student wing of RSS), harassed and attacked women, but when police arrived they arrested Pariyar’s parents and other Christians, she said.
Her parents, Subash Kumar and wife Sarah, along with Ravi Singh, Rajni Pradhan, Suraj Pradhan, Amit Kumar and Santoshi Devi, were taken into custody by Rupaspur police after the assault. Her parents and aunt, Rajni Pradhan, remain incarcerated.
“60 Hindu youth activists showed up at the entrance of our house and started shouting at us, ‘Why are you converting people?’ and abused my family in filthy language,” Pariyar said. “My mum told the youths that we are only worshipping in our house and asked, ‘Why are you interfering in this?’”
Pariyar’s family, of Nepalese descent, has lived in India for generations, and the assailants used highly derogatory language as they accused them of coming from Nepal to convert Indian Hindus, she said.
“They issued threats to my parents, ‘We will kidnap your daughter – we will take her away,’” Pariyar told Morning Star News. “My father told them that if they have anything against us, let that be against the parents and not children. ‘Please don’t involve children in this,’ he pleaded with them.”
She told them her grandfather served with the police in India as her father does now, and that she was proud to be Indian, she said.
“That angered them, and soon they started beating my mum and both my aunts,” she said.
The Hindu extremists continue to taunt her when she visits her father, a respected officer with the Bihar Military Police, in jail, she said.
“‘Oh! Her dad was caught drunk,’ they say and burst into laughter, and another remarks, ‘No, it is a case of robbery,’” Pariyar said. “I go there daily and pass by the same people, yet they make sure to say something demeaning to hurt me, and I quietly gather myself and move on. That few feet walk from the prison gate to the visiting room is the most burdened one. It takes lots of patience, but I will bear it all because at least I get to meet my dad daily.”
Her 10-year-old brother does not know where his mother and father are, she said.
“I wake him up, get him ready for school, complete the house chores, visit dad at Danapur sub-jail, pick up my brother from school and get back home,” she said. “This has been my routine for the past 10 days.”
Pariyar told Morning Star News that she appeases her brother by telling him that their parents have gone to a prayer meeting.
“He would say, ‘Okay,’ but come back again and would ask me over and over, ‘When will they be back home?’ But I have no answer.”
She requested prayers for the release of her parents and aunt.
“My mum and aunt are kept in the women’s cell, and their rules are very strict,” Pariyar said. “They don’t allow us to meet the inmates. I am glad that I at least get to meet my papa daily.”
Furious, Uncooperative Police
At the Rupaspur police station, the station house officer initially said only that the Christians were accused of “anti-social activities.”
“We received a complaint that the Christian couple are involved in anti-social activities and hence have apprehended them,” Dipak Kumar told Morning Star News.
Asked what exactly the anti-social activities were, Kumar became furious.
“They are abusing Hindu gods and goddesses and are forcefully converting people,” he said.
Asked what kind of “force” they were using, Kumar said, “I filed the FIR [First Information Report] already. No more questions on this.”
He declined to provide a copy of the FIR or disclose the details in it.
Christian advocacy groups flooded the police station in Rupaspur with calls asking him to reveal grounds for the arrest and charges against the Christians, but Kumar remained adamant that “he will drag the Christians to court,” sources said.
Attorney Nisha Singh rushed to the police station to initiate the bail procedure, only to have Kumar refuse to begin the process, Singh said.
“I was accompanied by two other lawyers, but the SHO [Kumar] was very uncooperative,” she said. “There was severe pressure on him by the RSS, Bajrang Dal and ABVP groups.”
He did not allow application for bail, let the families know reasons for the arrest, or issue a copy of the FIR, the attorney said.
“At last he looked at me in rage and said, ‘I filed the charge sheet – see you in court!” Singh told Morning Star News.
The Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Danapur, rejected the plea for bail by the three Christians still in jail on Tuesday morning (May 8). The Hindu mob, led by Nagesh Singh and Deepak Singh, chanted “Jai Sri Ram [Hail Lord Ram]” after the court announced that it rejected bail, Pariyar said.
Attorney Sagar Suman, along with Singh defending the Christians, said police violated procedure as outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code.
“It is the duty of the government to look into the matter, investigate it properly and only then an FIR must be registered,” Suman said. “But in this case, it is simply a matter of hijacking someone’s privacy and violating their constitutional right of freedom to practice a religion of their choice.”
The Indian Constitution grants the fundamental right to practice, profess and propagate one’s faith under Article 25, and that was what Subash Kumar, his family and others were doing within their house, the attorney told Morning Star News.
“All of a sudden the extremist forces forcefully intruded on their privacy, without any permission they entered their house by force, and instead of filing a case against them, the police filed a case against the minority alleging that they [Christians] are spreading ‘communal hatred,’” he said. “It is completely an abuse of the process of law by the police and the lower court.”
A police source who requested anonymity said a local politician is exerting intense pressure to mobilize Hindu extremists.
“There is severe pressure from an elected representative from the area who is now a central minister in [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s government,” the source told Morning Star News. “He backs up the youth, encourages them to attack Christians and funds their activities. He just wants to create some sensation, this is their way of expressing loyalty to the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party].”
Abused in Custody
Ravi Singh, nephew of Subash Kumar, told Morning Star News that police had mistreated the Christians while in custody.
SHO Kumar was irritated that so many advocates called asking what was happening, said Ravi Singh, who spent an entire day in police custody.
“He was scolding my uncle, mocking him, saying, ‘Calls are coming from all over India for you today. Even I want to see who can set you free from here.’”
SHO Kumar was doing everything a responsible police officer would not do, he said.
“My mother, Santoshi Devi, was seated on a chair, and the SHO pulled the chair away, and she fell down,” Singh said. “Not just that, Kumar thrashed my uncle, Subash Kumar, several times while he continued ridiculing and mocking him for being a Christian.”
By 8 p.m. the attorney could get only four of the arrested Christians released on bail: Ravi Singh, Suraj Pradhan, Amit Kumar and Santoshi Devi, attorney Nisha Singh told Morning Star News.
A counter-FIR was filed against the assailants only after the judge rejected the bail plea submitted by the Christians.
Pariyar said local newspapers published false statements by Hindu extremists that a non-profit her mother heads, the Prerna Foundation Trust, was converting Hindus to Christianity.
“Nobody tried to contact us to find out the truth,” she said. “It is not true; my mother only works for women’s empowerment. She never mixed religion with her work.”
The foundation has been successful in forming self-help groups and micro-enterprises that provide employment to women in Bihar, she added.
Pariyar said that the smile on her jailed father’s face gives her hope.
“My papa always told us that following Christ is not an easy path and that we need to be ready for everything,” she said. “Now I can recall him telling us, ‘There will be suffering, oppression, but we must stand for Christ. Christ, and Christ alone.’”
The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist BJP, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.
India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.
India (Morning Star News) – A week after a pastor fell into a coma following harassment by hard-line Hindus in southern India, a gang of Hindu extremists in the same state beat another pastor after he prayed for healing at the home of an elderly church member, family members said.
Police altered the statement of the Rev. Gandham Padma Rao, 49, so that the 10 young men who assaulted him on Jan. 27 in Medipally village, Telangana state, were described only as drunken youths, not members of a Hindu nationalist group as the pastor had stated, his son told Morning Star News.
Pastor Rao fulfilled church duties the two days after the assault before seeking medical help, and doctors told family members that his blood pressure was so high that he could have suffered a hemorrhage had he waited any longer. Another pastor, 47-year-old K.A. Swamy of Hyderabad, on Jan. 21 fell into a coma after suffering high blood pressure and a brain hemorrhage hours after Hindu extremists threatened him with highly offensive language and took him to police for distributing Bibles.
Pastor Rau’s son, Samuel Mark, told Morning Star News his father had left the home of the elderly church member, who had just been released from a hospital, at about 9:30 p.m. and was walking to his car when the young men blocked his way with their motorcycles.
When the pastor ignored them and began walking on the other side of the road, one of the assailants shouted, “Why are you coming to our village? Why are you praying here?” as four others began hitting him, knocking him to the ground, relatives said.
Pastor Rao and eyewitnesses said the youths were members of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Vahini.
“They spoke to me in vulgar language: ‘You must never come to our village to pray. You should never enter our village,’” Pastor Rao told Morning Star News.
Two of the assailants held him while the others punched and kicked him, he said.
“I could not balance myself and fell in a pit nearby,” he said. “They picked me up, threw me on the road and started battering me again. I tried hard to regain my strength and run, but they followed me quickly held my collar, pushed me off with their feet. When I fell down again, they began kicking and beating me again.”
One of the Hindu extremists tried to pick up a large stone and throw it at him, he said. Area residents heard his cries and came out of their homes, including a member of his church who came running and cried out for help.
The church member, identified only as Mariyamma, along with her relatives and other area residents said the assailants were members of the Vishwa Hindu Vahini. A First Information Report was filed in the NTPC Ramagundam police station, but police removed references to the Hindu nationalist group from Pastor Rao’s statement and described the assailants only as drunken wage workers, his son said.
Sub-Inspector P. Chandra Kumar told Morning Star News only that the suspects were young men in police custody.
“The investigation is not yet completed,” he said. “Yes, it is true that the pastor was beaten and the attackers were all youngsters in between ages 24 and 27.”
He declined to reveal the identity of the assailants, but sources said the primary suspect, Chandragiri Shiva Prasad, was in custody.
Pastor Rao drove back to his home in Ramakrishnapuram, where he conducted a baptism ceremony at his church the next day. The following day (Jan. 29), he took painkillers and carried out duties at his church’s Sunday service, but later that afternoon he felt light-headed and was taken to a hospital.
His blood pressure was 200 over 140 mmHg, Dr. D.B. Vamsi told Morning Star News, and the pastor was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Medilife Hospital, Mancherial. A hypertensive crisis is said to begin when blood pressure reaches 180 over 110 mmHG.
“The patient complained of pain,” Vamsi said. “Immediately after we heard about the assault, we sent for more tests. His pains will last for a few weeks.”
The pastor’s family members told Morning Star News that the church’s cross was uprooted and broken two years ago. The church’s sound equipment was destroyed a year ago, and in December, while he joined in Christmas carols, the pastor’s car was punctured with nails, they said.
Family members and visiting pastors said the attack appeared to have been planned. They said the Hindu extremists knew how to strike him so that there would be no bleeding but multiple contusions.
The pastor’s son told Morning Star that his father has been unable to lie down since his back was severely bruised.
“My dad went to visit the families who had been attending our church over years now,” he said. “He had no business to do with the assailants. He didn’t bother anyone. He didn’t even respond to them when they shouted at him. All of a sudden, they began kicking him on the road. Don’t you see it was all planned?”
(Voice of the Persecuted) For 14 consecutive years, North Korea (DPRK) has topped the World Watch List as the worst place in the world to be a Christian. Christianity is seen as an addiction, Western and something to be despised. North Korean Christians must hide their faith or risk spending years in hard labor camps and tortured under unspeakable treatment and conditions. Back on U.S. soil, Kenneth Bae, an American Christian who was imprisoned then released, continues to be threatened by the North Korean government. Kenneth Bae was the longest serving United States prisoner in North Korea.
Before his detention in North Korea, Bae was surrounded by friends, hosting meals and entertaining with hilarious tales and his renditions of Elvis tunes. He was the fun-loving uncle who showered his nieces with affection. He dropped out of college at the age of 22 to support his own young family. And after coming home late from working two jobs, he’d spend hours watching his baby son sleep. Kenneth is a man who always does the right thing, no matter the cost.
Years ago, Kenneth saw an opportunity that combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian. He believed in showing compassion to the North Korean people by contributing to their economy in the form of tourism. Based out of China since 2006, he started his own tour company specializing in tours to North Korea, a remote country filled with stunning vistas and a people proud of their history and tradition. His livelihood was to introduce the natural beauty of the country and its people to the outside world as a tour operator. His heart was to be a personal touch-point of compassionate humanity to the North Korean people…to reflect the light of Christ.
On one of the many tours he had led through Rason (Rajin-Sonbong), a special economic zones for foreign investors, Kenneth was arrested by North Korean authorities on Nov. 3, 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years in a hard labor camp for what the DPRK identified as “hostile acts” against the North Korean government.
As Ken was being held by one of the world’s most brutal governments, his family and friends in the U.S rallied for his release. Their voices drew the attention of media outlets who than began covering Ken’s unjust imprisonment.
Kenneth’s family and friends connected with Voice of the Persecuted asking VOP to encourage the Body of Christ to pray and intercede for Kenneth. They also asked for help in closing the petition his son, Johnathon started—doing what we could to help gain Kenneth’s freedom.
In a video interview with Bae released in July 2013, he spoke of his deteriorating health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and back problems. A month later he was moved to a Hospital due to his worsening health and reports claimed he had lost more than 50lbs.
Alarmed by Kenneth’s appearance his mother, Myunghee Bae pleaded with DPRK to allow a visit with her son. Her request was granted by DPRK authorities to arrive in Oct., 2013. Prior to the trip, she discussed her concerns and asks for continued prayers. During her stay, she was allowed three visits, totaling six hours.
In January 2014, Kenneth’s mother, and sister, Terri Chung attended President Obama’s State of the Union address. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) had offered the seats to them. Terri, his mother, as well as Kenneth’s son, Jonathan Bae met with public figures in New York and Washington DC, uniting with the goal of seeing Kenneth released from detention in North Korea.
Terri, Myunghee, and Jonathan also met with Secretary of State John Kerry. Below is a statement from his sister:
“We were honored to have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry. Secretary Kerry was warm and sympathetic, and I want to thank him for affirming the commitment of the US State Department to securing Kenneth’s release. We are grateful for his support, and we appreciate the ongoing efforts of many at the State Department who have been working behind the scenes for the past 15 months to bring Kenneth home.
The past week our family has received overwhelming support from people across the country. It is clear that many Americans are invested in this cause to see this fellow American come home to his family. I see the heart, soul and hard work of so many people. We will never be able to thank you enough for your kindness.
I also hope and pray that the attention and care that people are showing does not end with the publicity of today. The fact is, my brother remains in detention in DPRK (North Korea) after 15 months, the longest detention of any American in recent times. We will not rest until Kenneth is home in the United States. We continue to implore our government to do everything possible to secure Kenneth’s freedom.”
Kenneth Bae was sent back to the labor camp in January 2014. You can view his family’s emotional plea in this video interview on CNN.
Kenneth Bae spoke out about the harsh conditions at the labor camp where he is being held in North Korea. He told a Swedish diplomat that he was in great pain and longed to be back with his family. In March 2014, Bae was re-admitted to a hospital in Pyongyang but was again sent back to the labor camp. His sister, Terri feared for her brother’s serious health conditions afraid he may not survive in the labor camp. See our Sept. 2014 report.
In the early part of November 2014, his family shared the update we all had been waiting for. The U.S. State Department informed them that he had left North Korean airspace and was on a plane bound for the United States. He had been released!
They thanked the United States government, the DPRK government for allowing him to come home, and the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang for their tireless efforts in advocating for Ken. They also expressed their gratitude for everyone across the world who continued to advocate and pray for Kenneth.
We at Voice of the Persecuted still rejoice with great thanks to our almighty God for our brother’s freedom. When in the flesh it appears there is no hope, we can always trust our God to do the impossible! Never giving up, constant in prayer and trusting He would do a great thing in this most turbulent storm, in His time. VOP believes Ken’s release was an answer to our many prayers, a miracle to bring glory to our heavenly Father.
Since his return, Bae had been quiet as he recovered and healed from the physical and emotional abuse he received in North Korea. But he’s finally sharing the full story surrounding his arrest and imprisonment in his book, Not Forgotten.
Not Forgotten is a modern story of intrigue, suspense, and heart. Driven by his passion to help the people of North Korea, Bae moved to China to lead guided tours into the secretive nation. Six years later, after eighteen successful excursions in and out of the country, Ken was suddenly stopped at the border: he inadvertently brought his hard drive, that revealed the true nature of his visits. He was arrested, brought to Pyongyang for further questioning, and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. His crime? Attempting to overthrow the North Korean government. He wondered if he would ever see his family again.
From the first harrowing moments of his ordeal to his release—and even today—Ken never wavers in his love for the North Korean people, even his captors. Not Forgotten is both a compelling narrative of one man’s dedication to serving the less fortunate and a modern testament of a missionary forced to rely solely on God who sent him into dangerous territory. Ken’s book gives a rare, firsthand account of life inside the most shrouded country on the planet, meeting its people, experiencing their daily lives, taking in the landscape, and encountering the tyranny of a totalitarian regime. With its combined spiritual and secular appeal, this never-before-told story is sure to captivate and inspire readers of all ages. Get your copy of Ken’s book HERE
Since the release of Not Forgotten, Bae has shared his experiences during multiple public appearances and given interviews to promote the book. Bae was recently interviewed by a defector-run group in South Korea that broadcasts into the North. For translated version of Bae’s interview with Unification Media Group, use this ip address http://bit.ly/28Iu8fy
But North Korea is threatening Kenneth to keep silent about his imprisonment in the country.
On Monday, they warned they will not negotiate with the U.S. over two American citizens it is holding until former detainee Kenneth Bae stops publicly talking about his time in prison.
21-year-old student of the University of Virginia, Otto Warmbier was sentenced in March to 15 years’ hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda banner bearing the name of former leader Kim Jong Il. In April, a North Korean court convicted Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul of crimes against the state and sentenced him to 10 years’ hard labor.
Quoting the state KCNA news agency of North Korea,
“As long as Kenneth Bae continues his babbling, we will not proceed with any compromise or negotiations with the United States on the subject of American criminals, and there will certainly not be any such thing as humanitarian action,”
“If Bae continues, U.S. criminals held in our country will be in the pitiful state of never being able to set foot in their homeland once again.
Please keep Kenneth Bae and those persecuted by the North Korean government. Pray the hearts of authorities be soften and oppression no longer exist in the nation.
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.
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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.
One of the Iranians told German media, “we would read the Bible in our Twelve-bed room. Immediately, the Muslims come into the room to insult us, because we have converted from Islam to Christianity,” and one of the other victims of the abuse said, “suddenly seventy people stood in front of us called us names and said they wanted to beat us. We were afraid for our lives!”
According to reports at the centre it took over 20 police officers and a K9 unit in order to stop the Muslim mob from committing acts of violence against the Christians.
The National director of the asylum centres admitted: “yes, there is harassment against Christians,” not just in Berlin but all across Germany and in many asylum homes.
Fearing for their continued safety the Iranians have all taken refuge in the care of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Berlin.
The church is headed by pastor Gottfried Martens who said, “In my estimation, at least half of our church members living in the refugee camps are living in fear,” and said many Christians are, “discriminated against, harassed, threatened, beaten in exceptional cases, beaten hospitalised or attacked with weapons.”
The pastor said he was greatly concerned with the safety of the Christians adding, “Many do not dare to identify themselves as Christians. Christians put on headscarves, so that no one recognises that they are not Muslims.”
He said that Muslims often do not recognise any conversion of religion away from Islam and that, “again and again Christians ask me to take them away from the (asylum) home, because there they have such fear. Some no longer dare to stay in the homes.” Read More