Thursday, August 28, 2008

One News Now: India (Direct Post)

Violence against Christians continues in one state in eastern India in the wake of the murder of an anti-Christian activist.

This past weekend a top leader in the World Hindu Council was killed by a mob of 20 men suspected of being Maoist rebels. Since then, other leaders of the World Hindu Council have incited followers to go on a rampage against Christians in India's Orissa state. At least eight people have been killed, including six members of churches affiliated with
Gospel for Asia. GFA reports that the buildings of at least 15 of its churches -- and the homes of more than 125 church members -- have been burned. GFA founder and president K.P. Yohannan encourages Christians around the world to pray for and help those affected by the rioting. He recalls when Jesus pleaded with his disciples to remain awake for at least one hour, waiting with him in prayer. "Which means he is saying, 'I'm in great pain and great sorrow. Share my suffering,'" Yohannon says. "And I think as believers, in a free nation like this, we need to be asking the Lord to give us a burden to understand the pain and suffering of multitudes of Christians, our brothers and sisters, and [to] pray for them. [Perhaps to] take a day of the week to fast and pray for them."

Hindu extremists are blamed for torching a Christian orphanage and raping and murdering a nun. In an online video address, the ministry leader also shares that they know nothing of the whereabouts of dozens of their GFA missionaries.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Open Doors: China (Direct Post)

Chinese Government Plans Crackdown on House Church Leaders

As the Olympics have concluded, there is new evidence of religious freedom abuses that reveals a stark contrast to China’s effort in providing religious services for athletes and visitors during the Games. According to Compass Direct News, China hired religious clerics and published a special bilingual edition of the Bible for distribution to athletes and official churches during the event. Simultaneously, officials asked house church leaders in Beijing to sign documents agreeing not to hold services during the Games, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported on August 13. As most Olympic athletes, tourists, and journalists will be gone by October, China has a new strategy on dealing with what they call four “troublesome elements,” which includes house church leaders, CAA reported on August 18. Read more about the government crackdown on house church leaders in China.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forum 18: Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan is continuing its nationwide attacks on religious minorities, Forum 18 News Service notes. The trial of Aimurat Khayburahmanov, a Protestant detained since 14 June in the north-west of the country, is in progress. He faces a possible sentence of between five and 15 years' imprisonment, and is being tried for teaching religion without official approval and establishing or participating in a "religious extremist"organisation. In a related case, Jandos Kuandikov, another local Protestant, has been fined for unregistered religious activity. The judge in that case, Bakhtiyor Urumbaev, claimed to Forum 18 that the Immanuel and Full Gospel churches were banned in Uzbekistan. Kuandikov disputes this, pointing out that his church is seeking re-registration.

Forum 18: Kazakhstan


Almaty regional Public Prosecutor's Office seems keen to seize property from religious communities, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Six property cases against Christian and Muslim religious organisations in the region are known to have been initiated since mid-June. Amongst them is Agafe Protestant Church, the regional Economic Court ruling - despite numerous violations of due process - that the Church's building and land should be confiscated. A defence lawyer has received anonymous death threats, and an appeal will take place on 27 August. The regions' Hare Krishna commune also continues to struggle to retain its property. Similar attempts to seize religious property continue elsewhere in Kazakhstan. Near the north-western town of Alga, New Life Protestant Church has been evicted from its building. Grace Protestant Church in Semey, eastern Kazakhstan, has been forced to brick up windows, as the Fire Brigade insists on this "in case there is a fire in the neighbouring property." The Church has also been prohibited from using its own building.