Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WEA RLP: More bad news from Orissa/Prayer Request (Direct Post)

KANDHAMAL DISTRICT, ORISSA STATE, INDIA, where Christians made homeless by the Hindu August-September 2008 pogrom are too afraid to leave the relief camps. Those who do return to their villages are finding that Hindus persecute and impose humiliating and repressive restrictions on them with impunity.

UPDATE: CHRISTIANS BEING EVICTED FROM ORISSA RELIEF CAMPS On 16 January 2009 the Orissa High Court rejected a petition from rights activist Keshamati Pradhan against the Orissa State Government's forcible closure of Kandhamal relief camps. The High Court said this was because the Supreme Court was considering Kandhamal riot cases, so Pradhan took her petition to the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court returned the petition to the High Court on 23 March, saying it wanted to hear the State's position first. Meanwhile, the Orissa State Government is declaring peace and evicting Christians from the relief camps in order to close them. The traumatised, homeless Christians are then forced to return to their villages without any protection or security. Pradhan's petition goes before the Orissa High Court on 6 April. Please pray.

ANOTHER RSS LEADER MURDERED IN ORISSA -- SITUATION 'EXPLOSIVE' On 19 March some 15 suspected Maoist rebels shot dead Hindu nationalist RSS leader Prabhat Panigrahi in Rudhiguma village, Kandhamal district. Just as in August 2008, the Hindu nationalists are saying that a 'nexus' between the Maoists and Christians is responsible. According to local Hindu nationalist BJP officials the situation in Kandhamal is 'explosive'. Meanwhile the BJP has named the Hindutva activist Ashok Sahu as its candidate from the Kandhamal Lok Sabha (Federal parliament) constituency. According to Sahu, Kandhamal is the 'model area' for Hindutva in the entire country. The Indian elections commence on 16 April. Please pray.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Forum 18: Tajikistan (Direct Post)


Tajikistan's restrictive new Religion Law, approved by both Houses of Parliament with little debate this month, could go to President Emomali Rahmon for signature within days, Akbar Turajonzoda, an independent member of Parliament's Upper House, told Forum 18 News Service. "This Law contradicts Tajikistan's Constitution and international norms," he insisted. "I voted against." Protestant communities are also concerned,with one pastor telling Forum 18 that "this Law will worsen the situation with religious liberties". The new Law favours the Hanafi school of Islam over other schools, restricts the number of mosques, requires the state to name all imams, restricts religious education, imposes compulsory censorship of religious literature and imposes wide-ranging state control over the activity of all religious associations. Officials reject the possibility of allowing debate on the Law. "We have already had enough public debates," a parliamentary official told Forum 18. "What we need is just to finally adopt it."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Forum 18: Uzbekistan (Direct Post)

6 March 2009
Natalya Kadyrova is one of several Protestant Christians known to Forum 18News Service to have been denied the exit visas Uzbek citizens need before they can leave their own country, apparently as punishment for their religious activity. The wife of a pastor of a Tashkent Protestant church,Kadyrova has already been fined for her involvement with her church.Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses have told Forum 18 that their adherents have faced exit visa denials in the recent past. Human rights defenders are among others who face similar problems. However, Saken Kojahmetov, head of the Department of Entry and Exit at the Interior Ministry's Department of Entry, Exit and Legalisation of Citizenship in Tashkent, denied this to Forum 18. "We don't obstruct Uzbek citizens from travelling freely," he claimed. Asked why a number of religious believers cannot get exit visas,he responded: "If some people are saying this, let them come to me and raise their case and we will resolve it."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Barnabas Fund: Violence in Nigeria (Direct Post)


An outbreak of violence between Muslims and Christians in the capital of Bauchi province in Northern Nigeria has left at least eleven people dead. Nine of the victims are said to be Christians, six of whom were shot and three killed with machetes. At least six churches, perhaps as many as 13, have been destroyed by fire, as well as three mosques and over 200 houses. Around a hundred people have been injured. About 4,500 people were displaced from their homes, and many of them have taken refuge in military barracks.

The latest eruption arose from a dispute between the congregations of a mosque and a nearby church on February 20, although the details remain unclear. Violence appears to have continued for at least three days. A night-time curfew has now been imposed, and a military and police presence established on the streets; the federal government has sent soldiers to the state to provide additional security. The security forces have also been deployed or placed on alert in adjoining states.

The police have given assurances that those responsible for the outbreak will be punished, and the state governor has asserted his resolve to maintain peace. However, some doubt the authorities’ commitment to the security of lives and property, especially those of Christians. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, says, “The chair of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Bauchi, Musa Tula, has expressed dissatisfaction over the measures being taken to ensure the safety of Christians in the state. He has also disputed the governor’s claim that the crisis is politically motivated, attributing it instead to religious tensions.”
Nigeria is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim North and a largely Christian South. Some of the territories that lie along the dividing line explode into violence from time to time. Tensions have been running high in Bauchi since November 2008, when more than 300 people died in Jos, in neighboring Plateau State.

Christian and Muslim leaders have called for calm and for peaceful co-existence between adherents of the two religions. But various Christian groups have asserted that violence in the North is likely to stop only if the government acts more strongly to prevent the killing of Christians and to bring their murderers to justice.

Please Pray:
  1. For the Christians injured and bereaved in the violence, and for those whose churches, homes or businesses have been destroyed. Ask that God will comfort them in their distress and provide for their needs.
  2. For the rapid restoration of order in Bauchi, and that those responsible for the killings will be brought to justice. Pray too that the continuing tensions between Christians and Muslims in Northern Nigeria will not erupt into further violence.
  3. That the Nigerian authorities will act decisively at local and national level to provide protection for the country’s Christian citizens and to deter attacks upon them.