05 01Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church

May 2, 2014 by Open Doors

Nigeria: Kidnapped Teens Could Be in Cameroon, ChadFrom World Wach Monitor https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2014/04/article_3119998.html/


Several news sources are reporting that some of the 230 school girls abducted from Nigeria’s northeastern town of Chibok over two weeks ago have been transferred to neighboring Cameroon and Chad.


Some villagers near the Nigeria-Cameroon border indicate that they have seen girls on board buses heading to Cameroon. Other reports from the BBC say a “bridegroom” of a girl was spotted. A bride price of $12.50 has been quoted. A local source in Cameroon told World Watch Monitor he confirms similar reports.


Meanwhile, estimates of up to a million women rallied Wednesday in the capital of Abuja to show their support for the missing girls and their families, who are distraught at the latest reports. The rally organizers – a new movement called “Women for Peace and Justice” – call for the Nigerian government to mobilize every resource to bring back the girls.


The semi-desert north of Cameroon has become a safe place for Boko Haram militants operating in Nigeria.


Reports of the transfer of schoolgirls were also confirmed by a member the Chibok Elders Forum. Dr. Pogu Bitrus told the BBC that some of the teenage girls had been spotted being taken in trucks and canoes across the borders into Cameroon and Chad.


On April 14 Boko Haram militants stormed Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in the night where they overpowered the security guards before herding at least 230 of the female students onto trucks, and drove the girls (who are between the ages of 16 and 20) deep into the nearby Sambisa forest. Since then, only about 40 of them have managed to escape.


Pakistan: Society Giving in to Social Injustice against Christians


Two recent studies have confirmed the dire situation of Christians. In a report published April 7, the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan showed that Christian women and girls are at a high risk of being abducted, facing forced marriages and conversions. Another report indicated the number of Christians increased to four who are waiting on death row after being convicted of alleged blasphemy.


Daniel, persecution analyst for Open Doors’ World Watch List Research team, says:


“Even though this might seem a very low number, it is still significant given the fact that many legal actions have been taken against the convictions, including appeals. There seems to be high degree of injustice surrounding these death sentences.


“Regarding the report on women and girls, estimations show that up to 700 Christian young women and girls face the risk of being abducted and forced into marriages, though the real number is most likely to be much higher due to shame and underreporting. It needs to be noted that also Muslim women and girls are facing this risk. However, violent attacks against Christian woman and girls are met with even more indifference.


“The report shows a sickening pattern: if families are courageous enough to file a complaint and get the police to take up a First Information Report (FIR). This is how people start a court procedure in Pakistan. Frequently the “new family” counters this by also issuing a FIR, accusing the Christian family of questioning a voluntary conversion. In Pakistan, questioning conversion to Islam is unthinkable. Judges will never publicly question conversion and the appeals of Christian families will most likely be ignored.”


He adds: “Christians’ limited access to the workforce is now at risk. Traditionally, many Christians are chimney sweepers, a job considered to be too low for Muslims up until now. But with the economic situation so bad in Pakistan, even Muslims are trying to get a job as a sweeper which leaves many Christians at risk of losing their jobs. What struck me about all these examples of social injustice Christians are facing is that the entire Pakistan society seems to give in to the pressure. No one seems to care and no one seems to be in a position to do anything about it.”


Pakistan is ranked No. 8 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.


Eritrea: Government Arrests Five Pastoral Candidates


Open Doors has learned that security officials last week arrested five Christian men who belong to the government recognized Evangelical Lutheran Church in Asmara, Eritrea. Those arrested are Petros Yosief, Bemnet Tesfay, Aklilu Tesfay, Ermias Hadgu and Aron Mehretu. They all are candidates for pastoral ministry.


Open Doors does not know their ages or the exact day of their arrest, but have been told that it happened shortly after the church’s public announcement on Sunday, April 20 that they would be ordained. They are being held at Police Station Number 2 in Asmara.


“The arrests clearly show how even government recognized churches, namely the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Lutheran churches, are not free from government control,” commented an Open Doors source who remains anonymous for security reasons. 


In May it will be 12 years since the Eritrean government clamped down on the Church in Eritrea. In 1997 they ordered all religious groups outside of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC), the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Islam to apply for registration with the Department of Religious Affairs. Nothing came of their applications, but in 2002 the government closed down all those churches that did not apply, while labelling as “compliant” those who obeyed the 1997 order.


The closure of churches introduced harsh persecution for the unregistered churches. Believers who continue religious activities in these groups face arrest, incarceration under harsh prison circumstances and torture.


“The arrest of these pastoral candidates reminds us of one of the greatest challenges churches in Eritrea face,” said an Open Doors worker. “Due to the constant turnover of pastors due to arrest or threats, continuous and Biblically consistent pastoral care for Christians is hampered.


“We ask believers around the globe to pray that in the midst of the circumstances, God will make a way for His children to be shepherded. Pray also for God’s sustaining grace to church leaders and ordinary Christians who continue their ordeals in Eritrea’s notoriously brutal network of prisons.”


Eritrea is ranked No. 12 on the World Watch List.


(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected]. The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)

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