Wednesday, January 18, 2006

News Items from Open Doors USA

Open Doors USA:

Three Chinese Christians Sentenced to Prison for Bible Distribution

On November 8, 2005, thirteen months after their arrest, Rev. Cai Zhuohua and two members of his family received sentences of up to three years in prison for distributing Bibles and other Christian literature. Rev. Cai, the leader of six Beijingarea house churches, his wife, and her brother were accused of "illegal business practices" after authorities discovered more than 200,000 Bibles and other pieces of Christian literature in a storage room managed by Cai.

The case, according to a Chinese government newspaper, is the most serious case of foreign religious infiltration since the founding of the People's Republic of China. Yet during the trial, the judge refused to admit any arguments about religious issues. He claimed it was strictly an economic crime. Consequently, Cai's lawyers argued that Cai and his family could not have been engaged in "illegal business activities" because all of the literature was being given away. The three also revoked their written "confessions" that were composed from interrogation records because they had been forced to sign them under threat of torture.

Two Schoolgirls Shot in Indonesia

INDONESIA (Compass) Just 10 days after the beheading of three Christian teenage girls, unidentified assailants shot two senior high school students in Indonesia's Poso district. The two girls, both 17 years old, were admitted to the hospital in critical condition. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on security forces to hunt down the perpetrators, but Indonesians are skeptical -- a significantly increased security presence after the beheadings failed to prevent this second attack, and numerous other violent crimes against Christians in Poso remain unsolved.

Number of Christian Prisoners Doubles

ERITREA (Compass) The number of Eritrean Christians confirmed to be jailed for their religious beliefs has recently shot up to a total of 1,752. That’s nearly double the documented count just six months ago, and many believe the actual number of prisoners could be even higher. Most of these prisoners are members of independent churches, but an increasing number of key leaders within the officially registered churches are also being arrested. Held in prisons, military camps, and police stations across the country, Eritrea’s Christian prisoners include 26 full-time ministers whose personal bank accounts have been frozen by the government, causing significant additional hardship for their wives and children.

Christian Attorney and Pastor Rescue Man from Certain Death

NIGER STATE (Compass) When police learned that Sardauna Anaruwa Sashi had become a Christian, they arrested him and began beating him with their batons. Bludgeoned into a stupor and at the point of death, Sashi was left in a prison cell for four days. Then, with the help of an attorney, Sashi’s pastor was able to rescue him from certain death at the hands of the police. Since his release, however, Sashi has received several death threats from Muslims in the town. Sashi knows the town’s Muslims will never relent in their efforts to kill him, but he refuses to recant. He states, “Even though I have had to face difficulties almost on a daily basis, I will never renounce my Christian faith, even if it means I have to die.”

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