Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 489 | Wed 30 Jul 2008
WELCOME to the intercessors who have joined the list this month.
ERITREA, where the totalitarian regime of President Isaias Afwerki
is waging a brutal campaign of persecution. More than 2000
Christians are presently in prison (where torture is endemic)
for their faith. Eritrea's violent human rights abuses are
contributing to a regional refugee crisis.
* UPDATE: Compass Direct (CD) reports that in mid-July Azib Simon
(37) died of malaria in Eritrea's Wi'a Military Training Centre.
Azib, a member of the Kale-Hiwet Church in Assab, was arrested
in December 2007. Torture had sapped her strength and she died a
week after contracting malaria. As CD notes, prisoners are
rarely given medical attention. CD reports: 'Simon's death makes
a total of five Christians who Compass has confirmed have died
in Eritrean prisons after being tortured for refusing to recant
INDIA, where Hindu nationalist forces are advancing strategically
and gaining political ground in the lead up to the next federal
elections due by May 2009. Their political propaganda is
profoundly anti-Christian and causing persecution to escalate
dramatically and intensify.
* UPDATE: On 8 July (as that RLP was being written) left-wing
members of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance
(UPA) government withdrew from the alliance over a contentious
nuclear deal with the USA. This paralysed the government and
forced PM Singh to request a parliamentary confidence vote on 22
July. For two weeks the fate of the government hung in the
balance as the Hindu nationalist BJP-led opposition mounted
the charge to bring down the government and force early
elections. After two weeks of intensive lobbying and dealing,
the UPA narrowly survived and will remain in power until the
2009 elections. The right-wing BJP will now exploit left-wing
anti-American sentiment to dragnet voters over from the left.
Further to this, insecurity caused by Islamic terrorism
threatens to add fuel to the fire of Hindu nationalism. Pray for
India and for the Indian Church.
YEMEN, where a besieged and unpopular government is responding to
Islamic calls to stem conversions from Islam to Christianity by
cracking down on missionaries and apostates (converts from
Islam). A 'missionary cell' that included one apostate was
arrested in the west coast city of Hodaiha in mid-June. Grave
concern is held for their safety.
BASILAN (SOUTH PHILIPPINES), where Christians have been threatened
with violence if they do not convert to Islam or submit to
paying Islamic jizya (protection money). On Sunday morning 20
July, armed mujahideen ambushed a passenger jeepney and
kidnapped only its Christian passengers.
* UPDATE: Late on Sunday night 27 July, kidnap victims Ronnie
Ando, Wilma Sumergido and her 14 year-old son, Michael, were
released in the jungles of Magkawa village in the town of
Al-Barka after negotiations between the Islamic militants and
Asbi Alki, the village chief of Bulantig in Lamitan City. The
negotiations included payment of a 'board and lodging fee'
raised by the local community. The initial ransom demand was
unattainable. (This appears to be all the Christians kidnapped
on 20 July, although there has been some contradictory reporting
of the victims' identities.) We praise and thank God for their
safe return in answer to the prayers of many. Mindful that the
terrorists extorted money from the community, we pray for this
terrorism to end.
OTHER ISSUES DURING JULY
* BOSNIA: KARADZIC ARREST EXCITES ISLAMISTS
On 23 February 1992, Bosnia's Croat, Muslim and Serb leaders
(Boban, Izetbegovic and Karadzic respectively) signed the Lisbon
Agreement, a compromise designed to prevent war by giving the
Muslims what they wanted: an independent state, but partitioned
into autonomous Croat, Muslim and Serb entities. (The Orthodox
Serbs, who had wanted to remain part of Yugoslavia, refused to be a
persecuted minority in a Croat-Muslim dominated independent
Bosnia.) Only days later however, the Bosnian Islamist president
Izetbegovic, buoyed by promises of US support, withdrew from the
Agreement and illegally declared independence, forcing the Bosnian
Serbs to fight for their land and liberty. The 21 July 2008 arrest
of Bosnian Serb war-time president Radovan Karadzic has emboldened
Bosnia's present day Islamist president Haris Silajdzic to renew
his call for the dissolution of Republika Srpska (RS: the
autonomous Serb entity created by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord),
i.e., for Muslim rule to be extended over all Bosnia. Pray for the
Christian peoples of the Balkans.
* INDONESIA: MUSLIM VIOLENCE ROCKS EAST JAKARTA
A minor incident on Saturday 26 July, politicised by false rumours
and followed up with incitement from a local imam, culminated in a
violent Muslim attack against the Arastamar High School for
Theology and Biblical Studies (STT SETIA) in east Jakarta. Some 265
students were injured, some were beaten and some burned by Molotov
cocktails. Police had to evacuate more than 1500 students to
safety. While the police are guarding the school, they are also
saying they will check to see if any building violations require
its demolition. Pray for Indonesia's churches facing escalating
Islamic intolerance and violence.
* PAKISTAN: KIDNAPPERS USE ISLAM ***URGENT***
Saba Younis (13) and Aneela Younis (10) are sisters from a Punjabi
Christian family. On 26 June they were kidnapped and sold to a
criminal ring. On 28 June the criminals filed for custody of the
girls alleging that the sisters had converted to Islam. The police
acted on this request while refusing the father's plea to charge
the kidnappers with kidnapping! According to Compass Direct (CD)
Judge Main Naeem Sardar ruled on 12 July that Saba and Aneela had
become Muslims, thereby invalidating their Christian parents' right
to legal guardianship. As the judge noted, under a common
interpretation of Islamic law, a Christian cannot have custody of a
Muslim. On top of this, Saba (13) has been married to the
In a Tuesday 29 July appeal, Justice Saghir Ahmed ruled that the
girls be placed in a government-run women's shelter until Monday 4
August when the court will reconsider their conversion based on
their own testimony. Whilst this is a positive development it still
does not address the issue of a parent's right to custody of their
own children. Local Christians (and doubtless the judges and
advocates) are under huge pressure as virtually all the local
authorities are supporting the Muslims. Younis Masih (the father)
told CD that he and his wife had begun fasting and praying for the
safe return of their terrorised and brainwashed daughters. 'Please
pray that the Lord protects their minds and brings them back to
us,' he said.
'I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of
your hand.' Isaiah 42:6a NIV
We usually provide a summary to use in news-sheets unable to
run the whole of an RLP. As a summary is not practicable with
this monthly update posting we suggest one or more of the above
items be used instead.
* WEST PAPUA WATCH -- Another new WEA RLC weekly service, to help
awaken the conscience of the Church and the world to the plight of
the West Papuans. The covert genocide of a Christian people is
monitored through diverse sources. Click on
** A NEW WEA RLC SERVICE -- RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ALERTS (RLA) **
http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/Alerts.aspx [updated Fridays]
The RLA are a weekly digest of religious liberty issues around the
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.
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