Wednesday, June 29, 2011

114. June 2011 Update; incl. Burma, Egypt, North Korea, Tajikistan.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 114 | Wed 29 Jun 2011

By Elizabeth Kendal

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [. . .] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7,11 ESV)

JUNE 2011 UPDATE
-- During June we prayed for . . .

ZIMBABWE (RLPBs 110 & 111), where churches (particularly Anglican churches) are facing escalating political violence ahead of elections. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more information.

UPDATE: according to The Tablet, a Catholic weekly newsletter, President Mugabe has branded the Catholic Church an enemy of the State. With secret police masquerading as Mass-goers, Catholic priests are increasingly at risk of arrest and torture. One priest laments: '[we] don't have any freedom to preach the Word as we would want to even within the Church because you never know what kind of visit you may get after Mass. You know that the secret police are attending and the moment you finish, things happen.' Even just acknowledging the existence of hunger in the country is enough to get a priest into trouble. Phones are tapped and Internet lines are monitored. Priests wearing clerical garb are routinely arrested, interrogated and humiliated. 'If you are lucky,' the priest said, 'you are interviewed and let go; if you are not so lucky you are tortured a little bit.' Pray for the Church in Zimbabwe.

see: Fear in the pulpit
Oppression in Zimbabwe
Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet - 25 June 2011

REFUGEES (RLPB 112), as increasing numbers of Christians are being forced to flee war, Islamic jihad and violent religious persecution.

NUBA MOUNTAINS, SUDAN (RLPB 113): where as many as half-a-million mostly Christian Nuba -- some 50 African tribes indigenous to North Sudan's Nuba Mountains -- have been displaced by aerial bombardment and a violent ethnic cleansing campaign. Once again, as in the early 1990s, the Arab-Islamist regime in Khartoum has closed the Nuba Mountains off to all humanitarian aid as it seeks the genocide of the 'blacks' through the use of starvation as a weapon of mass destruction. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more information. Please pray for God's intervention.

JUNE 2011 ROUND-UP
-- also this month . . .

BURMA (Myanmar): CONFLICT ERUPTS IN KACHIN STATE

As was noted in RLPB 080 (3 Nov 2010), the sole purpose of Burma's fraudulent November 2010 elections was to legitimise the regime and give it a mandate to impose its will. Because the ethnic-religious minorities do not have enough confidence in the junta to disarm, the regime has branded them 'separatist' and tensions have escalated. Conflict has erupted in devoutly Christian Kachin State which borders China to the north. The trigger has been China's building of two hydropower mega-dams in Kachin, against the will of the Kachin people who protest that social and environmental damage will be catastrophic. With China wanting to build at least seven more such mega-dams in Kachin State, the Burmese junta's interest in controlling Kachin lands will intensify. Thousands of Christian Kachin are on the run and at least 50 have been killed. Pray for the Christian Kachin.

EGYPT: VIOLENCE CONTINUES AGAINST COPTIC CHURCH

On 23 June hundreds of fundamentalist Salafi Muslims attacked the Coptic Church of St George in the village of Bani Ahmed in Minya Province, Upper Egypt, during Mass. The Salafis demanded that the priest, Fr George Thabet, either leave the village or be handed over to be killed. For months now, the Salafis have been protesting development work done on the church. After a five-hour siege the Army intervened, quelling the rioting and escorting Fr Thabet out of the village.

On 25 June a rumour spread through the village of Awlad Khalaf in Suhaj Province, Upper Egypt, that the home being built by a Coptic Christian, Wahib Halim Attia, was actually a church. Consequently, a mob of some 200 Muslims responded by attacking Mr Attia. After looting and bulldozing his home, they moved on to loot and torch another six Coptic-owned homes. Attia was subsequently arrested. Reportedly, local Muslims intervened to return many of the looted possessions. Pray for the Church in Egypt and that Egyptian Muslims will awaken to the fact that Islam is not the solution.

NORTH KOREA: MILITARY GOING HUNGRY

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has obtained some very revealing film smuggled out of North Korea. The footage confirms: there is mass poverty, starvation and fear; there are scores of scavenging, homeless orphans whose parents have died either of starvation or in concentration camps; and work is being done by malnourished slave labourers. But the report also reveals something quite new: many uniformed soldiers are weak from hunger and malnutrition. This is significant because if the regime cannot sustain its 'military first' policy -- feeding its military to secure its loyalty -- then the regime's grip on power could be tenuous. Under the Kim regime, hundreds of thousands of Korean Christians suffer some of the most severe expressions of religious persecution known. See Religious Liberty Monitoring for more on North Korea. And please pray.

TAJIKISTAN: SEVERE RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS THREATENED

On 15 June Tajikistan's Lower House of Parliament approved a controversial Parental Responsibility Law. An initiative of President Emomali Rahmon, the law obliges parents 'not to let children-teenagers participate in the activity of religious organisations [other than funerals], with the exception of those officially enrolled in [State-sanctioned] religious education'. Penalties will apply.

Also on 15 June the Lower House approved amendments to the Criminal Code that will extend punishments for 'unapproved meetings' to unapproved religious meetings, and prescribe lengthy prison terms for those found participating in 'religious extremist' teaching. With the courts left to define 'extremist', observers fear that all unsanctioned religious education will be penalised. Before they can be enacted as law, the draft law and amendments need to be approved by the Upper House (Majlisi Milli) and signed by the President. Chair of the Lower House's Science, Education, Culture and Youth Policy Committee, Marhabo Jabborova, told Forum 18 she felt 'sure' the Parental Responsibility Law and the Criminal Code amendments would be adopted by the Upper House in July. Whilst Islamic sects considered to be dangerous are the target, Protestant Christians will be caught in the net, a detail the authorities will keenly exploit. Please pray for God's intervention.