by Elizabeth Kendal
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* ALEPPO, SYRIA (RLPB 382), where the Battle for Aleppo is in its final days. Turkey's invasion and advance in the direction of al-Bab (just 36km from rebel-held eastern Aleppo) has forced the Syrian government's hand.
UPDATE: As the Turkey-backed, al-Qaeda-aligned 'rebels' come under intensive pressure, thousands of Aleppo residents, long-held as human shields, are now escaping eastern Aleppo for the safety of government-held areas. Reports are surfacing of conflict erupting between rebel groups as hardline jihadists seek to stem the exodus of disaffected fighters and civilians. Those who have escaped confirm that rebels have terrorised residents, executing those suspected of disloyalty and keeping snipers posted at all possible exits. Pray this bloodshed will end soon. Pray for the Church in Syria.
* JAKARTA, INDONESIA (RLPB 383), where Islamic clerics have accused Jakarta's incumbent ethnic Chinese Christian Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama of blasphemy in the hope they can prevent him from contesting Jakarta's February 2017 gubernatorial elections.
|'Penjarakan Ahok' (imprison Ahok)|
For a full analysis see: Indonesia: Ahok's 'Blasphemy',
By Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 30 Nov 2016
* SUDAN (RLPB 384), where the Islamist and Arabist Government of Sudan (GoS) continues its war on dissent and its persecution of the Church while preparing for a dry season resumption of its genocidal jihad against the African Christians of the Nuba Mountains.
|Bishop Max Gassis|
includes 12 minute interview.
According to Nuba Reports, some 230,000 Nuba refugees are languishing in the camps of South Sudan, stuck between two horrendous wars: the GoS genocidal jihad in the Nuba Mountains and South Sudan's civil war. With Europe desperate to curb migration, the US desperate for Sudanese intelligence, China and Russia eager to invest and an array of African states keen to normalise relations, the Nuba are being abandoned. Bishop Macram Max Gassis, the emeritus bishop from the El-Obeid diocese in the Nuba mountain area of Sudan, is appealing for international assistance on behalf of the Nuba. He is requesting specifically that Khartoum be pressured to end its aerial bombardment of civilians and allow the entry of humanitarian aid. '[The Nuba] are our brothers and sisters in humanity,' he told Deutsche Welle. 'If we neglect them, we are responsible in front of Almighty God.' May the Lord intervene for his people!
* NIGERIA (RLPB 385), where Christians in ethno-religious fault-line regions -- specifically at this time in southern Kaduna -- face a resurgence of classic Islamic jihad as Fulani Muslim herdsmen and Islamic militants, backed by Muslim political and military figures, work together to displace them and steal their lands.
UPDATE SOUTHERN KADUNA: MORE ATTACKS
On Friday 25 November Mile One Village in Tafan District, Jemma Local Government Area (LGA) in Kaduna State's deep south was attacked by 'gunmen' who killed four residents and burned several houses. The residents of Mile One and the surrounding villages of Gidan Waya, Ungwuan Ninzo and Ungwuan Kagoro have all fled. The students of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, spent the night hiding in the bush. Neighbouring Pasakori village came under attack a day earlier. Christian leaders lament and have denounced the on-going ethnic cleansing.
UPDATE KANO: BLASPHEMY KILLERS ACQUITTED
On 2 June Bridget Agbahime (74), wife of Pastor Mike Agbahime (pastor of Kano's Deeper Life Bible Church, Northern Nigeria), was beaten to death at her stall in the Kofar Wambai market by an enraged Muslim mob after being falsely accused of blasphemy. According to reports, her accuser had been 'looking to make trouble' for the Agbahimes (who are Christian Igbos from the south) for some time. On Thursday 3 November a Kano court acquitted the five men arrested over the murder, allowing them to walk free. The ruling has horrified Christians. The Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 Northern States and Abuja has appealed to the Attorney General.
NOVEMBER ROUND-UP -- also this month ...
* CHINA: ANOTHER CHRISTIAN LAWYER DISAPPEARS
|Jiang Tianyoung (source: RFA)|
* IRAN: AZERI CHRISTIANS RELEASED ON BAIL
Update to RLPB 372 (24 Aug 2016): Praise God that Yusif Farhadov (51), Eldar Gurbanov (48) and Bahram Nasibov (37), three Azeri Christians from Baku, Azerbaijan, who were arrested on 24 June while attending a wedding in Tehran, have been released on bail. After two months of solitary confinement and months of hardship in Evin Prison's Ward 350, the men were released on 29 October. They were allowed to return to Azerbaijan on 6 November after paying the full amount of bail. Middle East Concern reports (7 November): 'They faced charges of engaging in missionary activity and propaganda against the regime, but it is hoped that they will be acquitted of these charges.' Praise God for this mercy.
* UZBEKISTAN: PRISONER RELEASED ON BAIL, BUT WARNED
* VIETNAM: PROBLEMATIC LAW PASSED
On 18 November Vietnam's new Law on Belief and Religion passed in the National Assembly with 84.58 percent approval. Vietnam's Communist Party-run media hailed it as a great leap forward for religious freedom. Whilst the final text has not yet been made public, it is not expected to differ significantly from previous drafts. The draft Law on Belief and Religion started from the position that religion is a threat to national security and social order, a problem to be micro-managed. In hailing the law's passing, the state-run media noted that, whilst guaranteeing religious freedom for all, the law bans religious activity that could (amongst other things) harm social order and/or national unity, or prevent the performance of civil rights and obligations, or offend the honour of any persons. Such vague and subjective parameters ensure the Communist authorities will have plenty of grounds upon which to repress and persecute religious believers. As is common in much of Asia and Africa, the Church is at the centre not only of humanitarian work but of most pro-democracy and human rights advocacy. Please pray for Vietnam and its Church.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).