Thursday, March 29, 2007

Radio Free Asia - North Korean Defectors turn to faith -- underground church exists in North Korea

SEOUL—North Korean defectors are finding religious faith in large numbers as they face intense suffering and hardship in their flight from hunger and repression in their homeland, defectors and religious activists have told RFA's Korean service in a series of in-depth interviews.

There are also reports that underground churches are beginning to flourish in the isolated Stalinist state, which preaches its own doctrine of juche, or self-reliance, and forbids all but the most limited forms of state-sponsored worship.

"There was a Bible used for a long time in my home," a recently defected North Korean woman told RFA's Korean service. "With it, we used to sing hymns, and my grandmother preached."
"Also, somebody came from Aoji mine and preached in a different way…We just sang hymns in soft voices, not loudly. I was young at that time and kept an eye on the outside to see if someone was approaching," the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said.


The woman said her family had been unnofficial Christians for three generations, and that the meetings were attended by around 10 other believers.

Later, however, the North Korean intelligence service became suspicious of their activities and installed hidden listening devices in each home.

Christian family relocated

About one year later, the family and relatives were forced to move to another place and they were never allowed to return home, she said.

"My daddy was arrested. Then my grandmother died of sorrow, and all my family had to undergo harsh investigation from the Intelligence Service and were then expelled to a secluded place," she said, adding that they were charged with political crimes.

The woman said she was unaware of the minority of Catholic and other believers permitted to worship under the watchful eye of North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il.

"As they captured my daddy, I thought that the country regarded Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as gods and never dreamed that there were churches in Pyongyang," she said.

Lee Soon Ja, a defector who made it to South Korea three years ago, said the official churches were largely a propaganda tool to show foreign believers living in or visiting Pyongyang.
Repatriated converts still had to conduct their worship in secret, with no access to the official churches, she said.


Defectors follow those who help

Defector Lee Nam Soo has begun flying balloons carrying the Gospel towards his homeland from a nearby island, hoping to counteract government propaganda that shows foreign missionaries torturing children, he told RFA.

"This, at half of A4 size, contains what the Gospels mean, the correct information about missionaries to counteract what has been introduced to them as the beast of the beasts, and about Christianity as a den of spies and other disinformation," Lee told RFA.

"How can the North Korean government block their landing on the mountains and hills? There seems to be no way of doing so."

If a Buddhist priest leads him, he goes to a temple, and if a Sister,
then he goes to a Catholic church. This is absolutely true.


Kim Sung Min, chairman, Association of North Korean
Defectors



Kim Sung Min, chairman of the Association of North Korean Defectors in South Korea, said defectors were naturally drawn at times of danger and hardship to follow the faiths of those who helped them.

"There are many Buddhist priests and [Catholic] nuns in [the Chinese border town of] Yanji, who are visiting there. A priest approaches a defector to offer help or assistance to him, then the defector becomes used to following him," Kim told RFA.

Converts influence those back home

"If a Buddhist priest leads him, he goes to a temple, and if a Sister, then he goes to a Catholic church. This is absolutely true. If an evangelical does the same, he goes to a Protestant church," Kim said.

Defectors are often highly suspicious and distrustful at the beginning of new contacts, but later become open to religious teachings because of the unconditional assistance they receive from those who preach them.

Later, such defectors, who live precarious lives in hiding for fear of repatriation by the Chinese authorities, may spread their faith to other defectors, and even among relatives back home in North Korea, where only limited forms of state-sponsored worship are tolerated.

Lee Soon Ja said she used to run a shelter on behalf of evangelist missionaries for fugitive young North Koreans who had been reduced to begging and picking pockets.

"There were five young people in my sarangbang, a shelter furnished for those people who were taken care of by me," Lee told RFA.

"The youngest of them was 17 years old and the oldest was 21. I served meals for them, preached the Bible to them, and we prayed together. I sent the younger ones to school, and I finally settled here in South Korea," Lee said.

Living on the edge

She said many had influenced the beliefs of their families back home, who became interested in religion as a result of the experiences of North Koreans in China.

"One day a boy told me that a person in the [North Korean] Intelligence Service asked for me to bring a Bible with a zipper to him. So he sent it to him," Lee added.

"He might have been one of the boy’s relatives who found out that the boy’s visit was of great economic assistance to a family who had been long starved, and this seemed to make him request a Bible with a zipper," she said.

Rights activists and international observers say that between 50,000 and 350,000 North Koreans are currently in hiding in China.

Beijing, which fears a flood of refugees across its borders, has allowed some defectors to leave for a third country ostensibly for medical reasons.

The number of religious believers in North Korea is unknown, but has been estimated at 10,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 4,000 Catholics by overseas observers.

Open Doors: Mexico - Chiapas Christians Facing Expulsion, Persecution

Violence and Expulsions Continue for Chiapas Christians

Four evangelical Christians from the church “Growing in Grace” in San Juan Chamula municipality, 6.2 miles from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas state, were ambushed by a group of unknown armed men on January 31, leaving one believer in a serious condition.
Agustin Gomez, 21, Carlos Perez Gonzalez, 24, Andres Gomez Gomez, 15, and Santos JimĂ©nez Perez, 13, from Nich’Te community, were driving home from San Juan Chamula after collecting water for their homes (they have no drinking or running water in their village) when unknown gunmen waiting on the road began shooting at them. The attackers then fled the scene.

Two brothers, Agustin Gomez and Carlos Perez, were hospitalized in San Cristobal. Carlos sustained five gunshot wounds to the chest and was treated for internal bleeding and shock. He remains in serious condition. Agustin was treated for gunshot wounds and then released.

A formal complaint has been submitted. The Indian District Attorney’s office has started an investigation to locate the suspects and charge them with aggravated assault and attempted murder.

Chiapas state is home to the worst cases of religious intolerance in the country. San Juan Chamula, nestled in the highlands of Chiapas, is the municipality with the most severe and long-term persecution of evangelical Indians, mostly from caciques, or powerful community chieftains. Caciques practice “traditionalist” religion, a semi-pagan mix of Roman Catholic beliefs and ancient Mayan religion.

Traditionalist caciques have proven especially vehement enemies of Christians because they see Protestant Christianity undercutting their control over local villagers. When villagers become Christians, they typically stop drinking posh, an alcoholic beverage produced by caciques and stop participating in pagan-like festivities, which results in a loss of income for caciques.
In the community of Galeana, La Independencia municipality, nine believers were jailed on January 20 for 24 hours for refusing to contribute money and time to the upcoming May 8 festivity. The Christians were released after the county’s mayor intervened and only after they had committed in writing to pay a fine, respect “the internal agreements” and contribute to “the social stability” of the community. The mayor also allowed the Presbyterian church, “Jesus, the Only Way,” to re-open recently following its forced closure by the same caciques.


In Huixtan, 65 Christians were ordered by local caciques to leave their homes in the Los Pozos area by January 6. The demand was issued because the believers refused to financially support the traditionalist Catholic festivities which they no longer participate in. Reynaldo Gomez Ton, pastor of Wings of Eagle Church, said, “They want to expel us because we are not willing to contribute to their festivities.”


The believers called for the immediate intervention of the state government and the Bureau of Religious Affairs to prevent their expulsion, and the government intervened in the case. On January 21, however, caciques forbid the evangelicals to go into the countryside to gather firewood for their homes. On January 30, several of these men arrived at the homes of the believers with picks and shovels and cut off the water supply to 10 evangelical families.
Christians are also being denied government benefits available for peasants through PROCAMPO (Program of Support to the Countryside). The program distributes fertilizers and herbicides to improve agricultural and livestock production.

Pastor Gomez Ton stated that Huixtan’s mayor, Javier Martinez Vargas, “has done nothing to prevent [the current threat] of expulsion.” Rather, he has said that “this act is a result of the habits and customs of the community of Los Pozos,” and that “[the caciques] should mind the religious freedom, the individual rights of the persons.”

Pastor Gomez Ton’s church has long been the target of attacks. Thirteen years ago, he and 10 other evangelicals, among them women and children, were jailed by caciques and their church building was destroyed. The church was destroyed again in 2003, and in 2005, two Christian women were raped by caciques.

The Indian pastor blamed former town councilor Delfino Mendez Ton for the abuses. Although an investigation was ordered by the District Office for Indian Justice, located in San Cristobal, “no investigation ever took place, and the case remained unpunished,” Pastor Gomez Ton said.

Open Doors has been supporting the legal defense of this case through the council of attorney and pastor Esdras Alonso, in an effort to put pressure on the authorities to exercise justice and religious tolerance. Even though the District Attorney’s office in the highlands of Chiapas has been formally presented with a complaint denouncing the aggression, it has not acted on behalf of the law, which grants religious freedom in the community and punishes the perpetrators of injustice.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

VOM: Indonesia, China

INDONESIA
UPDATE - Islamic Extremists Sentenced in Killing Christian School Girls – Associated Press

On March 21, 2007, three Islamic militants were found guilty of decapitating three Christian school girls and dumping their bloodied heads in nearby villages. According to Associated Press reports published in Indonesia, the Islamic militants were sentenced to between 14 and 20 years for the killings of Theresia Morangke and Yarni Sambue, both 15, and 17-year-old Alfita Poliwo. Hasanuddin was sentenced to 20 years for masterminding the 2005 attack, while his co-conspirators, Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano, each received 14 years. A fourth girl in the attack, Noviana Malewa, then 15, received serious injuries to her face and neck, but survived. After the attack, Noviana suffered damaged nerves, a dislocated lower jaw and loosened teeth. VOMedical provided reconstructive surgery to repair nerve damage and reduce scarring. Pray God continues to heal Noviana's emotional and mental scars. Pray for Christians in Indonesia who face great persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Psalm 108:4, John 16: 33

CHINA
Pastor Released from Prison, Wife Arrested – VOM Sources/ China Aid Association

On March 16, 2007 Pastor Don Quanyu was released from prison after serving ten days of administrative detention in the Wancheng Detention Center in Nanyang, Henan. Dong was arrested with 36 other Christian leaders but was the only one sentenced in connection with the "illegal gathering". Three days after Dong's release his wife, Li Huage, was arrested and sentenced to 10 days detention for allegedly "disturbing public order." Li was arrested at the office of the Wancheng District Public Security Bureau as she was seeking the return of her cell phone, computer and Bibles which were confiscated during a raid of her home. Pray for the safety of this family and for God to comfort them during this trying time. Ask God to protect Christians in China who face great persecution. Psalms 5: 11-12

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

VOM: India - Pastors attacked

INDIA – On March 16, 2007 Pastor John Selvan and Brother Vijay were attacked by more than 30 Hindu extremists when they were returning home from conducting prayer meetings in Bhelahalli, Bangalore, India.

“They [the extremists] severely beat the men with sticks, axes and other weapons. The extremists are still holding Brother Vijay, the motorbike and their cell phones,” reported The Voice of the Martyrs contacts working in India.

The Hindu extremists are demanding Pastor Selvan bring the senior pastor of the church to them or “face serious consequences.” Pray for the safety of Vijay and for Christians in India who continue to face difficult and dangerous situations because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Forum 18: Uzbekistan - Pastor must be imprisoned to be "re-educated"

23 March 2007
UZBEKISTAN: PASTOR'S RE-EDUCATION "IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT ISOLATION FROM SOCIETY"
http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=935

Protestant pastor Dmitry Shestakov has appealed against the four-year sentence in one of Uzbekistan's open work camps imposed by for hisreligious activity, Protestant sources have told Forum 18 News Service. The verdict stated that Pastor Shestakov had to be deprived of his freedom" given the absence of the possibility of re-educating him without isolation from society." No date has yet been set for an appeal hearing and Shestakov remains in Prison No. 1 in Andijan until the hearing. He has been banned from kneeling to pray and had his copy of the New Testament confiscated. He has been offered the Koran to read instead, Forum 18 has learnt. Although the state Religious Affairs Committee has frequently in state-run mass media attacked Pastor Shestakov and Protestants generally, Begzot Kadyrovof the Committee claimed to Forum 18 that "I have no information about the case." The verdict also claims it is "necessary" for 12 videotapes, seven CDs, two audiotapes and one copy of an Uzbek-language translation of a book "Jesus: More than a Prophet" to be destroyed. Two Protestants continue to await trial in north-west Uzbekistan.

Open Doors: Sudan Training Center

Open Doors Training in Southern Sudan Unifying Church

In the last issue of Frontline Faith, we reported on the fragile peace currently in place in Southern Sudan. And the need to move quickly to complete the multi-purpose Emmanuel Christian Training Center (ECTC) while this peace is still in place.

Just days after our report, a devastating fire swept through the Center, making your prayers and support for the ECTC more urgent than ever. Fortunately no one was injured and the new construction work was spared.

One of the reasons why the ECTC is so vital is the impact it is having on unifying Christians across Southern Sudan.

Pastors being trained by Open Doors have expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to be brought together. While the pastors are from various tribes…and even different denominations…the training they have received has resulted in barriers being broken down, misunderstandings being resolved, and a realization of their oneness in the Body of Christ.
The end result has been a commitment to serve together…for the sake of the Gospel…rather than being divided!

One of the challenges these pastors now face is the growing threat from radical Islam. These courageous pastors fear people will be persuaded to become Muslims because the Islamic leaders promise to provide free schooling and free healthcare…under the condition that those who utilize these services become Muslims.

So please pray for these brave pastors. Pray for them to stand strong in unity regardless of tribal or denominational affiliation. And pray that they may stand boldly in the power of Christ against the ongoing threats from radical Islam.

And thank you for your support of the completion of the Emmanuel Christian Training Center. Because of your prayers and gifts, leaders of the persecuted Church will be trained…and there will be a powerful witness throughout Southern Sudan for the Gospel!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

From VOM: India, Indonesia, China

INDIA
Pastors Brutally Beaten - VOM Sources

RAJASTHAN - On March 7, 2007, Pastor Reginald Howell of Good Shepherd Community Church was brutally beaten by a Hindu extremist group in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan. According to The Voice of the Martyrs sources, Pastor Howell went to Hanumangarh to pray for the sick and visit Christians in the area. The pastor was beaten with an iron rod and suffered severe injuries on his back. The police refused to register his complaint and as a result, doctors denied him treatment. Rajasthan State has a so-called "Freedom of Religion Bill," that is used as a tool to harass Christians. VOM sources report cases of anti-Christian attacks in the area keep increasing, and the State Administration turns a blind eye to the persecution.

ANDRA PRADESH - On March 11, 2007, Pastor Anand visited a village to attend services. He was attacked by more than 10 men from a Hindu radical group. Local police who arrived at the location of the attack did not protect him, resulting in further beatings. Pastor Anand was beaten on his face and legs with wooden logs until the early hours of the next morning.

Pray for healing for these pastors and that the Gospel of Christ will not be hindered, but it will spread in the midst of this persecution. Romans 12: 14, 21

INDONESIA
Indonesian Christians Attacked; Church Closed - VOM Sources

On February 11, 2007, a Moslem mob stormed Indonesia Bethel Church, in Majalaya, disrupting the service and beating church members. More than 50 Islamic extremists raided the church building and ordered the congregation to leave. Church members were threatened, beaten, and asked to show their identity cards. During the raid, a cell phone belonging to a church member, offerings, an important building permit and pictures of Jesus Christ were stolen. The militants insulted believers and said Indonesia was a Muslim nation. Hours after the attack at Indonesia Bethel Church, the same Islamic extremists marched to Baranangsiang and closed a church there.

Pray believers in Indonesia will rest in the knowledge that God walks with them through this difficult time. Ask Him to heal all who were injured. Psalm 23

CHINA
Thirty-Six Christians Arrested in Henan, China - VOM Sources/China Aid Association

On March 6, 2007, the police raided a house-church Bible study in Wancheng District, Nanyang City, Henan province. The leaders were taken to the police station and interrogated for a day. After international pressure, however, the local police have released 33 arrested house-church leaders and three leaders from South Korea. One leader, Pastor Dong Quanyu, was sentenced to 10 days administrative detention for "illegal" gathering.

Pray Christians in China demonstrate the love of God through constant love and prayer for those who persecuted them. Pray for strength for Pastor Quanyu, as he serves the remainder of his sentence. Matthew 5: 43-48

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

(From Open Doors USA) CALL TO ACTION: Letters of Support for Nigerian Sisters

In April 2006, Open Doors International launched a letter-writing campaign for Hannatu and Jemima Alkali, sisters in Nigeria who have been suffering persecution since 2004.

Jemima Alkali is in desperate need of encouragement--we request your letters once again!
Hannatu, 22, fled the country on September 28, 2006, according to Compass Direct News. When five Muslim militants invaded her family home on Christmas Eve 2006 in search of her and were unable to find her, they assaulted and raped her older sister Jemima, 26.*
Read Full Article

Open Doors is extremely concerned about Jemima’s wellbeing. She has still not received any trauma counseling. Not surprisingly, she does not want to reflect on the horrible experience.

When the sisters received letters of encouragement last year, Hannatu told Open Doors:

“I know that Muslims are hunting for me to take my life, but the God who delivered Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego from the burning furnace will surely do the same for me and Christians worldwide, who are passing through persecution, to the glory of His name. All we must do is to look to Jesus’ example.”

Since Hannatu is no longer in Nigeria, Open Doors has no way of getting any letters to her, so please send any letters of encouragement to Jemima only, following these Writing Guidelines:
  • Do not mention Open Doors in the letters
  • Greeting cards, artwork by children and postcards are best (send postcards in an envelope, do not write the Open Doors address on the postcard)
  • Print clearly (only write in English)
  • Be encouraging, keep the message brief, but include 1 - 2 Bible verses
  • Be sensitive when writing letters; ex. please refrain from referring to the rape incident
  • Don't say anything negative about Islam or Muslim extremists
  • Provide your name & country, not your full address
  • Don't send money with the letters

Please Pray:
For God to continue to comfort and heal Jemima through this time, and that she will be able to receive adequate trauma counseling. Psalm 23

That Jemima will experience the faithfulness and love of God through His presence and through the encouragement received from her brothers and sisters around the world. Colossians 2:2

That God will continue to equip Hannatu for the carrying of her cross and following after Christ, bearing His love and truth to those around her. John 12:25-27

Note: Please send all letters to the following address:

Open Doors USA
PO Box 27001
Santa Ana, CA 92799

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CALL TO ACTION: Intercede with Egyptian government on behalf of jailed convert

Open Doors is sponsoring a petition to be faxed to the Egyptian government on behalf of El-Akkad, former Muslim Sheik who is still in prison for converting to Christianity.

El-Akkad has been freed by the courts, but the Egyptian government refuses to release him. He is suffering from high blood pressure and a skin disorder (neither of which is being treated while he is in prison).

From the Open Doors e-mail:

"Egyptians born into Christian families have the freedom to practice their faith and are allowed to convert to Islam and practice Islam. But Egyptian Muslims do not have the freedom to become Christians or to practice Christianity if they secretly convert.

This is called a double standard. This standard has robbed El-Akkad of his freedom. Let’s approach the Egyptian government about this on his behalf."


The page to send the fax is
http://members.opendoorsusa.org/site/R?i=6ecP3amPGCYmF-o0rjm7Dw . Please take a moment to fill in the form and petition the Egyptian government on behalf of El-Akkad.
COURAGEOUS CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE, NGUYEN VAN DAI, PERSECUTED

Nguyen Van Dai is one of Vietnam's few practising human rights lawyers and a founder of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam. As noted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) the persecution of Nguyen Van Dai commenced in August 2006 as he and other dissidents were planning to launch an independentbulletin. (Link 1)

An August 2006 bulletin from the Law Office of Nguyen Van Dai entitled"Vietnam Steps up Repression of Religious Freedom" can be viewed at Link 2.

HRW reports that Dai was detained and interrogated by police from 9 to 14 November 2006 and kept under house arrest from 15 to 22 November while theAPEC meetings were in progress.

As reported in a recent WEA RLC News & Analysis posting, the persecution against Dai intensified in early February 2007 after he hosted Vietnam's first ever discussion on human rights law. (Link 3)

Nguyen Van Dai is being persecuted because, as a lawyer who is representing the persecuted Church and advocating for religious liberty, he has considerable evidence that Vietnam is not living up to its international agreements to improve religious liberty in the country. If Vietnam is to retain its privileges while continuing its persecution, then Nguyen Van Dai must be silenced.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: NGUYEN VAN DAI CHARGED AND ARRESTED
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
According to a press release from The People's Democratic Party (PDP: link4) "Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyen van Dai, a founder of theCommittee for Human Rights in Vietnam, one of eight Vietnamese to be awardedthe Hellman/Hammett grant [from Human Rights Watch], was arrested in Ha Noion 6 March 2007."


According to the PDP, lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan, spokesperson of Thang TienParty (The Progression Party) was arrested from her home at 10 am on thesame day. She had been detained and interrogated with Dai in early February.

The government mouthpiece, the Viet Nam News Agency, reported (7 March):"The Ha Noi Investigation and Security Police yesterday arrested Nguyen VanDai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, attorneys of the Thien An Law Office at 10 DoanTran Nghiep Street in Hanoi, on charges of propagandising against the Stateof the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

"Nguyen Van Dai, 38, head of the Thien An Law Office, and Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, an attorney registered to work at the office, were arrested underVietnam's Penal Code, Term 88, Article 1, points a and c."

According to Viet Nam News Agency, documents seized in a search of Dia's law office "contained distorted information on the country's situation, inflammatory statements against the Government, information related to the establishment and announcement of reactionary organisations opposing the State of Vietnam.

"The investigators also found many documents that proved that Dai and Nhanreceived instructions and financial support from overseas to open courses onhuman rights and democracy and to sponsor people who signed their petitions so as to lure forces against the State of Vietnam, as well as to collectVietnam's socio-political and religious information for parties abroad.

"The initial results of the investigation showed that since 2004, Dai tookadvantage of the State's permission to establish the law office topropagandise, gather forces and conspire with political opportunists andhostile forces at home and abroad to oppose the State. Nhan has activelyhelped Dai, according to the initial results of the investigation.

"These alleged acts run counter to the interests of the nation and people,seriously violating Vietnam's laws." (Link 5)

Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have both been charged with violatingarticle 88 of Viet Nam's Criminal Law which deals with "conductingpropaganda activities to harm the security of state". The PDP reports thatthe arrest order provides for Dai and Nhan to be temporarily incarceratedfor four months pending further investigation.
Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have both been charged with violatingarticle 88 of Viet Nam's Criminal Law which deals with "conductingpropaganda activities to harm the security of state". The PDP reports thatthe arrest order provides for Dai and Nhan to be temporarily incarceratedfor four months pending further investigation. They have been incarceratedin Prison 1 (new Hoa Lo prison), Cau Dien village, Tu Liem district in HaNoi. Dai's wife, Mrs. Vu Minh Khai is under intense surveillance. Sourceshave reported to PDP that Dai and Nhan have commenced a hunger strike.


The "Vietnam Committee" news release on the website of "Que Me: Action forDemocracy in Vietnam" adds that while the arrest warrant condemns thelawyers to four months detention, "In fact, they risk a much longerdetention. Under Vietnam's Criminal Procedures Code, this 4-month period maybe extended four times for national security offenders (i.e. a total of 20months), after which the People's Procurator is entitled to apply 'otherdeterrent measures' (Article 120)." (Link 6)

Que Me comments: "Article 88 is one of the vaguely-defined, catch-all'national security' offences in Vietnam's Criminal Code which have incurredwidespread international criticism. In July 2002, the United Nations HumanRights Committee denounced these provisions as 'incompatible' withinternational human rights law and demanded their immediate repeal."

CRACKDOWN ANTICIPATED

Que Me quotes Mr Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on HumanRights as saying, "We anticipated this crack-down on dissent after the APEC Summit, once Vietnam had obtained all it wanted from the international community, such as WTO membership and removal from the US State department's blacklist of Countries of Particular Concern for religious freedom violations [see link 7]. We did not have to wait long. Today, Vietnam has resorted to its old repressive habits, crushing all peaceful voices of dissent. The arrest of Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan and other pro-democracy activists, as well as intensified repression against leaders of 20 Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam all over Vietnam, reveal the hypocrisy and double language of the Vietnamese regime".

The PDP news release also reports that police have been harassing and intimidating several members of the Mennonite Church in Central Region of Vietnam. "Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang has asked for urgent help due to constantly harassment from the police on Mennonite followers in remote areaas Plei Ku city, Gia Ray province".

Other victims of religious persecution include Father Nguyen Van Ly who hasalso been accused of violating Article 88। Father Ly has been forciblyremoved from his parish and placed under house-arrest in a remote location.(Link 8)

Elizabeth Kendal
rl-research@crossnet.org.au

Links

1) Vietnam: Dissidents Struggle to Exercise Free SpeechEight Writers Win Prestigious Hellman/Hammett PrizeHRW, 6 February 2007 http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/06/vietna15277.htm

2) To understand why the Vietnamese government is persecuting Nguyen vanDai, see:"Vietnam Steps up Repression of Religious Freedom".From the Law Office of Nguyen Van Dai. 21 August 2006
http://www.vietnamhumanrights.net/website/NVDai_082106.pdf

3) Vietnam Persecuting Honoured Christian AdvocateWEA RLC News & Analysis, 19 Feb 2007
http://www.worldevangelicalalliance.com/news/view.htm?id=919

4) The People's Democratic Party
http://www.freewebs.com/dangdanchunhandan/ dangdanchunhandan@yahoo.com

5) Two lawyers arrested for anti-Government activities. 7 March 2007
http://english.vietnamnet.vn/social/2007/03/670292/

6) Vietnam crackdown on pro-democracy activists: Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai andLe Thi Cong Nhan arrested in HanoiPARIS, 6th March 2007 (Vietnam Committee)http://www.queme.net/eng/news_detail.php?numb=760

7) United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
USCIRF Disappointed About Removal of Vietnam from U.S. Government's List ofReligious Freedom Violators; Welcomes Re-Designation of Saudi Arabia andAddition of Uzbekistan. 13 November 2006
http://www.uscirf.gov/mediaroom/press/2006/november/20061113CPClist.html

8) Fr Nguyen Van Ly arrested in Hue. 21 Feb 2007
http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=8554&size=A

Monday, March 19, 2007

Open Doors: Mexico, Nigeria

Four Young Christians Ambushed in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico

Agustin Gomez, 21, and Carlos Perez, 24, were hospitalized. Carlos sustained five gunshot wounds to the chest and was treated for internal bleeding and shock. He remains in serious condition. Agustin was also treated for gunshot wounds, but was released. Along with 15-year-old Andres Gomez Gomez and 13-year-old Santos Jiménez Perez, Agustin and Carlos were ambushed on the road while heading home from collecting water for their families, living in a village where there is no water. Read More>>

Please Pray:

For these four young men—for healing, comfort, strength, perseverance, and God’s demonstration of His love for them during this time। 2 Chronicles 16:9a

For local Christians in San Juan Chamula who face similar persecution and violence—that God will protect them, use their testimonies to challenge surrounding beliefs, and bring glory to Himself. John 17:20-24

Muslim Students Set Fire For the Third Time to High School Chapel in Nigeria

The Government Science Secondary School’s Chapel of Adonai was burned down three years ago by Muslim students, a time when many Christian students were also beaten to the point of hospitalization। This most recent arson attack is the second since services resumed last September, according to Compass Direct News. On both occasions, staff and students managed to put out the fires. Prior to this most recent attack, letters were dropped into the chapel mail, warning Christian students and staff members of an impending attack unless they left the school.*
Read More>>

Please Pray:

For the students and staff of this school—that they will not be discouraged by the repeated attacks, but that they will see God’s sustaining hand of protection over them and their Chapel of Adonai: Psalm 55:22

That these Muslim students will be awakened to the love and compassion of God, who both preserves and blesses His children through trials of this kind, as well as offers forgiveness to those who inflict these wounds. 1 Kings 18:39

Persecution in Laos - From Mission One

FROM MISSION ONE:

Persecution Case in Borikamxay…Please pray!!!

A serious effort to eliminate Lao Christian presence from Nakoon village, Borikan district, Borikamxay province, Laos, has been taking place for weeks. However, more are coming to the surface in the last five days.

Nakoon village is located southeast of Borikan district/town. The only way to get from Borikan district/town to Nakoon village is to travel by boat through the Say River. The travel time takes about 8 hours and the boat only leaves on time per day.

The officials forced 11 of 47 Lao Christians living in the village of Nakoon to renounce/sign a document that they would no longer “believe” in (hold to) the Christian faith or else a serious danger will come upon their lives. This same life-threatening danger was declared by the Lao authorities upon Pastor Arun (the church leader of Borikamxay province) which consequently resulted in his martyrdom just over a year ago.

After unable to rid of Christian presence from Nakoon village under the provincial and district’s policy of “zero Christians” since only 11 of 47 Lao Christians had been forced to leave their faith, the village officials called a village meeting which was attended by all the Nakoon villagers. The village officials called for a vote which would force the remaining 36 Lao Christians to renounce their Christian faith or face threats to their lives which had been made sampled of by the murder of their leader, Pastor Arun, just a little over a year ago. However, at the end of the meeting, the Lao Christians made a stand for their faith and refused to renounce Christ. As result of unsuccessful attempts to force all of the Lao believers to renounce their faith, on March 13, 2007, the village officials wrote and gave an official deportation order on the basis of the official provincial and district’s policy of “zero Christians” which was in effect in the area in which Nakoon village was located. ]

Since they are unable willing to give up their Christian faith, the Lao Christians in Nakoon village was ordered to be deported from the village and they must leave their homes and land and find other places to live. This order affected all 10 families/households:

1. Tao Jer (3 family members)
2. Tao Khamsing (5 members)
3. Tao Ku (5 members)
4. Mae Pet (7 members)
5. Tao Sang (5 members)

1. Tao Pai Yai (3 members)
2. Tao Pai Noi (5 members)
3. Tao Sorn (4 members)
4. Mae Pheng 1 (3 members)
5. Mae Pheng 2 (7 members)

On March 14, 2007, Tao Jer (leader) and Tao Khamsing (co-leader) escaped from Nakoon village to seek help from the body of Christ. However, they are being still hunted down by the Lao authorities. We ask that you would pray for their safety and all the Lao believers in Nakoon village. Also, we would like to pray for freedom to worship God in Nakoon village.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS.