Monday, 29 April 2013


A new song aimed at drawing attention to North Korea’s dire human rights crisis and inspired by the story of North Korean escapee Shin Dong-hyuk and the work of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), has been released by UK-based bandOoberfuse to mark North Korea Freedom Week.
The song, Vanish the Night, begins with a message from Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean prison camp: “Don’t forget us”.
North Korea is the world’s most closed nation, ruled by one of the world’s most repressive regimes. Over 200,000 people remain in desperate conditions in the country’s prison camps, where they are subjected to extreme torture, slave labor, sexual abuse and starvation. Christians are among the most oppressed in a country where there is no freedom of religion or belief. The UN Human Rights Council recently established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity in North Korea, following five years of campaigning by CSW and others. In 2011, CSW helped establish the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), drawing together more than forty human rights organisations from around the world.
Ooberfuse has previously released songs in memory of Pakistan’s assassinated Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and jailed Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, as well as the official English language song for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day.
Cherrie Anderson from Ooberfuse said, "We have joined forces with Shin Dong-hyuk who was actually born inside one of these gulags but who managed, against all odds, to escape through a deadly high-voltage barbed wire fence patrolled by soldiers with instructions to kill on sight. His account of the routine violence and brutality inside Camp 14 ignited our desire to respond somehow. Vanish the Night calls for the lights to be turned on in what has been described as one of the darkest places on earth. Our song is a message of hope for the ordinary people of North Korea whose suffering often goes unnoticed and whose cries are largely unheard."   
CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said, “We hope that Vanish the Night will help to raise public awareness of the horrific human rights crisis in North Korea and encourage people to continue pray and protest until we see freedom come to its citizens.” 
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Notes :
1.    Click here to listen to the song.
2.    For more information about Ooberfuse, see:
3.    CSW has hosted Shin Dong-hyuk in London on several occasions, most recently in 2010 when he met the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, and the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne.
4.    North Korea Freedom Week is held each year around the world, with events in Washington DC and Seoul.


Christian lawyer and human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai has spoken out about being barred from meeting with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Dan Baer on 13 April 2013, when he visited Vietnam for the 17th US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer was able to meet with a number of human rights defenders during his visit, including lawyers, bloggers and advocates. He was also able to meet with some religious leaders. In a statement, the US Embassy, Hanoi said: “While Mr. Baer was able to meet well-known activist Father Nguyen Van Ly in prison, we were troubled that authorities prevented a private meeting with activists Nguyen Van Dai and Dr. Pham Hong Son as planned.”
The US Embassy in Hanoi sent Mr. Dai an invitation to meet with Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer, but Mr. Dai says that on Friday 12 April, a security officer phoned him and told him not to go to the Metropol Hotel for the meeting. Mr. Dai then relayed this order to the Embassy, who confirmed that the deputy minister of the Vietnamese Public Security Ministry had agreed that Mr. Baer could meet any Vietnamese citizen.
On 13 April the Embassy told Mr. Dai that the Vietnamese authorities had allowed him to go to the meeting. However, on the same day over twenty security officers and police came and blocked the way to Mr. Dai’s home. When a political officer from the Embassy tried to pick Mr. Dai up from his house that afternoon, security officers instructed ten elderly women to block the officer’s car. Unable to reach Mr. Dai’s home, the officer had no option but to leave. According to Mr. Dai, approximately ten of his supporters were arrested by security officers when they came to see what was happening. They were detained and questioned for five hours.
Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said, “CSW is encouraged by Vietnam’s stated commitment to an ongoing conversation on human rights both inside and outside Vietnam-US human rights dialogue, and by the broad range of Vietnamese activists who were able to meet with the US delegation. However, we are concerned that religious freedom advocate Nguyen Van Dai and businessman and activist Dr Pham Hong Son were prevented from meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer. Constructive dialogue depends on mutual trust: when the authorities say delegates are free to meet any Vietnamese citizen, they should follow through with that assurance.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.


Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is deeply concerned at the kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo and is calling for urgent international action to ensure their swift release.
Archbishop Boulos (Paul) Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church and Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church were returning to Aleppo from overseeing a humanitarian effort close to the Turkish border when their vehicle was intercepted in the village of Kafr Dael by gunmen who killed the driver, reportedly also a priest, and abducted them.
In a statement on the incident, Syriac Orthodox authorities identified the gunmen as Chechens, adding that so far they have been unable to contact either the Archbishops or their abductors.
Although several prominent Muslim clerics have been killed during the Syrian conflict, these kidnappings mark the first time senior Christian leaders have been targeted and are likely to heighten concerns amongst Syria’s Christian society regarding their future.
On 15 April, religious liberty organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) released a statement on the crisis in Syria, asking the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria to pay particular attention to “vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities."
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW is deeply concerned by these kidnappings and our thoughts and prayers are with both men and also with Syrian Christians, who must be deeply disturbed and discouraged by these developments. We urge key members of the international community, and particularly those belonging to the “Friends of Syria” group, to make urgent representations to ensure these men are released swiftly and unharmed, and to encourage every party to the conflict to adhere to humanitarian standards with regard to the treatment of civilians, religious leaders and religious establishments, regardless of creed or ethnicity.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

CSWN Expresses Concern for Syria Crisis

Religious Liberty Partnership Releases Statement on Syria, Calls for International Day of Prayer 
(APRIL 15, 2013) Religious liberty organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) have released a statement on the crisis in Syria asking the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria to pay particular attention to vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities, and calling for a designated day of prayer for the country.

Called the Istanbul Statement on the Church in Syria, it expresses concern about the exodus of Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities from Syria and calls on the international community to provide sufficient protection for all ethnic and religious communities as well as their historical, religious, and cultural sites.

There was overwhelming support at our 2013 Consultation in Istanbul to speak out about the urgent situation facing Christians and other religious minorities in Syria at this present time, said Mervyn Thomas. Chairman of the RLP, and CEO of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UK. We urge Christian leaders around the world to respond to this call to prayer and action now in order to bring peace and stability to this troubled nation.

 According to the statement, drafted during the annual gathering of member organizations held in Istanbul in late March, the Religious Liberty Partnership commits to raise awareness and work toward a peaceful solution of the current crisis, including reconciliation among the various ethnic and religious communities; and to utilize practices that prioritize the well-being of all Syrians when providing assistance and advocating on behalf of the vulnerable.  The full Istanbul Statement is available at the RLP website:,, @cswng10
The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) is a collaborative effort of Christian organizations from over 20 countries focused on religious liberty.  The RLP seeks to more intentionally work together in addressing advocacy, assistance, and in raising the awareness of religious liberty issues globally.  Besides RLP Chairman, Mervyn Thomas, the RLP Leadership Team is made of:  Godfrey Yogarajah, of the World Evangelical Alliance; Ron Boyd-Macmillan, Open Doors International, Netherlands; Anne Brandner, Global Peace Initiative, Canada; Andy Dipper, Viva, UK; Daniel Hoffman of Middle East Concern; and Linus Pfister, HMK Switzerland.  A listing of RLP members is on the Istanbul Statement.

 For further information about the Religious Liberty Partnership or the Istanbul Statement, please contact:  Brian O'Connell, RLP Facilitator: E-mail:;  Phone: +1 425.218.4718.

USCIRF Concerned by Nigeria’s Religiously-Related Violence and Inadequate Government Response.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ongoing attacks and retaliations by Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s violent, religiously and ethnically mixed Middle Belt has left more than 100 dead and dozens of properties destroyed since March of this year. This recent Muslim-Christian violence in Plateau State exposes the Nigerian government’s failure to effectively deal with a history of religiously-related violence that threatens the country’s stability.

“Religiously-related violence has led to more deaths in northern Nigeria than have Boko Haram attacks. The Nigerian government needs to end this entrenched violence and the culture of impunity,” said U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.

USCIRF has recommended since 2009 that Nigeria be named a “country of particular concern” (CPC) due to the government’s failure to hold accountable perpetrators of religiously-related violence. While since 1999 more than 14,000 persons, both Muslims and Christians, have been killed, USCIRF has been able to document that only 1% of the perpetrators have been prosecuted.

“The Nigerian government’s failure to prosecute perpetrators of religiously-related violence only encourages reprisals and intensifies local tensions and mistrust. Boko Haram uses this impunity as a recruitment tool and to justify its attacks on Christians,” said Lantos Swett.

The most recent round of fighting started on March 20-21 when armed men, alleged to be from the Fulani tribe, opened fire on the Christian village of Ratas while villagers slept, killing 19. This violence since has led to Christian and Muslim reprisal attacks throughout Plateau State and even Kaduna State, including an Easter weekend assault that left an estimated 80 dead.

In 2012, Boko Haram, an extremist and violent Muslim group, attacked more than 25 churches, primarily those in cities with a history of religious-related violence, to incite Christian reprisals and destabilize Nigeria. Additionally, Boko Haram, which has killed more Muslims than Christians over the past few years, has used Christian attacks on Muslims to justify its attacks on Christians.
source Elombah perspective(Transform Nigeria Movement)

Monday, 15 April 2013


On Monday 14 January 2013, CSW Nigeria team embarked on a solidarity visit to the village of Umaisha in Nassarawa State,Nigeria where families and victims that were attacked in Yobe state by the deadliest Islamic sect Boko Haram are currently seeking refuge.

      The team accompanied by one of the  members of the Board of trustee of CSW Nigeria and former national secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Engr. Salifu , the   CSW coordinator of Yobe state, Rev. Othniel arrived the village of Umaisha and a looked round the settlement of these Christian families.
    After looking round the locally built houses by these families, we noticed the effort of this displaced families to build for themselves houses using mud blocks is somehow being crippled by their inability to purchase some building materials they can’t make themselves Such as zincs, nails, wood, electric poles and borehole.  So as to provide them access to clean water.
   Rev Adamu Moisayo, 47 father of three give his account to CSW Nigeria on why they ran for refuge from Potiskum Yobe state to this remote village of Umaisha in Nassarawa state. He said we all are familiar with the trouble in northern Nigeria especially the North-East, we have had issues of persecution long before now but our primary reason for running away from Yobe state is the recent series of attack by the Deadly Islamic group “Boko Haram”. He further narrated that among several attacks and killing of innocent Christians in Yobe state, the church he pastor’s Evangelical Winning (ECWA) All at shagari housing estate in Potiskum Yobe state was bombed on the 18 Oct 20012 which terribly affected a lot of his congregation and made it difficult for him to convince anyone to stay because he can’t guaranteed their safety. They have been sleeping in the bush at night then return to their various house in the morning for weeks before finally fleeing Yobe state on Nov 2012 to the village of Umaisha Nassarawa state where one of CWS Nigeria coordinator Rev Orthniell helped secure for them.
  In addition Rev Aje Gwani 65, said they are facing the challenge of the source of livelihood in Umaisha since they are strangers here and have nothing to do to enable them provide for their families. Despite these challenges he said, they are grateful to God to be alive. More so Rev Nuhu Maisayo 43 also said that they can’t afford paying school fees for their Children because the fees here in Umaisha are on the high side compared to Yobe state. Government in Yobe state subsidized school fees for indigenes which they benefited while here they don’t benefit on such because they are not indigenes of Nassarawa. They explained that they had to systematically escape from Yobe state leaving their properties and jobs behind. Some were not lucky and lost their lives in the process of trying to run away from Yobe, there are over 23 families now living in the village of Umaisha and 6 families in a neighboring village and others are still coming to join them.
  According to their testimonies six (6) people among them have the teachers qualification and averagely there are about 6-7 persons per family which makes the total number of people in their community relatively large.
    The CSW Nigeria teams were able to pray with them, encourage them and help them with 15 bundle of roofing Zinc through the generosity of a friend to the organization. Although their needs are much more, we urge them to remain steadfast in prayers and see themselves as evangelist in the village as we sent out their stories to friends and see what God will do on there situation. Finally on behalf of CWS Nigeria, we are calling on you to pray for these families and also partner with us to express and extend the love of Christ to our brothers and sisters whom are in desperate need of health care, education, shelter, water and livelihood. You can give towards the purchase of building materials for their houses, towards the payment of school fees for their children or towards the construction of a borehole to enable them access clean drinkable water. We will be glad to facilitate a trip if you wish to meet them in the village of Umaisha in Nassarawa state, our doors of partnership is always open for you to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice.

 CSW Nigeria CEO Rev Y.S nmadu (in white), Engr Salihu(black cap), Rev Orthniel(black Jacket) with some of the victims in their settlement in Umaisha village.
                    Locally made mud bricks
                           A yet to be completed mud house

                   The Victims mixing mud to make a building brick

                     Site where they dig-out mud to make bricks

         CSW team on one of the yet to be completed building
A completed building without windows, doors and roofing

      CSW team offering prayer before getting their stories and testimonies

A local shop owner where CSW Nigeria purchase 15 bundle of roofing zinc donated to the victims
                        Francis Iliya CWS staff presenting the zinc donation


Friday, 12 April 2013


11 April 2013

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling the Turkish government to offer protection to Mr Erdal Dogan, a human rights defender who has received death threats as a result of his work as legal counsel for the victims in the trial concerning the killing of three Christians on 18 April 2007 in Malatya, South Eastern Turkey.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) Freedom of Belief Initiative wrote an open letter calling on the Turkish authorities “to take all necessary measures to provide protection and ensure the safety of Mr Dogan” after one of the defendants in the trial, Varol Bulent Aral, threatened him during a hearing on 8 March 2013.
On 18 April 2007, Turkish citizens Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and Tillman Geske, a German citizen, were tortured and killed at the offices of Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publishing house in Malatya,  by five young Muslims.
The trial of the five alleged murderers began on 22 November 2007 at the Third Criminal Court in Malatya; however, the trial has been prolonged due to the prosecutors’ desire to prove the killings were part a high-level clandestine scheme to undermine the government through acts of terror. In September 2012, and just two days before the next phase of the trial, two judges and two prosecutors were removed by the Turkish Justice Ministry, leaving just one judge familiar with the case.
In the NHC’s open letter, Mr Dogan is quoted as saying, “This is not the first threat I have received as a result of this case. But this one is significantly different from the other ones and seemed to be an imminent danger.”
The letter continues, “The Zirve/Malatya case points to the same circles of people that [were] behind the murder of Hrant Dink, the Turkish Armenian editor killed on 19 January 2007. In the indictment, both cases are seen as actions of the same criminal network. This network may see Mr Dogan, representing the victims in the Zirve/Malatya case, as a driving force in exposing people involved in the network. Both in the court room and in public Mr Dogan has made requests for intelligence services to provide all information they have about the network.”
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “We call on the Turkish government to take the threats against Mr Dogan’s life seriously and offer him protection. As we approach the anniversary of their deaths, we remember the lives of Necati, Ugur and Tilman, and offer up prayers once more for their families and friends. We welcome the prosecutors’ determination to uncover all the aspects of this case. It is vital that all who were involved in these murders, at any level, are brought to justice.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has received new information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Vietnamese church leader Hoang Van Ngai (also known as Vam Ngaij Vaj), who died in police custody in Dak Glong District in Dak Nong Province on 17 March.
Police claims that Ngai died after putting his hand into an electric socket have been contested by his family members.
Reports by Ngai’s relatives state that his wife and sister-in-law were arrested on 14 March and were forcibly taken to the police station in Gia Nghia. Ngai and his elder brother Hoang Van Pa were arrested the following day and were detained in adjacent cells. The reason for the arrests was not clear; the police did not present or refer to any arrest warrant or temporary detention order.
At approximately 3pm on 17 March, Ngai’s brother heard the sound of violent beating coming from his brother’s cell. When the police took Ngai out of his cell, his brother saw that he was “completely limp as if he was dead, gone, purple marks on his throat.” Prison guards denied Pa’s request to go with his brother.
Ngai was an elder of Bui Tre Church, which belongs to a legally recognised denomination, the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South). According to other members of the Hmong community, Ngai was a compassionate and courageous person who helped those in need and defended the church he helped to build. Ngai’s older brother believes he made enemies amongst government officials because he stood up against abuses of power and refused to pay bribes.
On 18 March, the police headquarters announced that Ngai was dead; however, his family felt that this announcement did not make clear the reason for his death. In addition, the family reject the suggestion made by Mr Dien, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dak Nong Province that Ngai may have committed suicide. Ngai’s wife, brother and sister-in-law have submitted a letter of petition to the Chief of Police in Dak Nong Province requesting an investigation into the case and the indictment of the person(s) responsible for Ngai’s death and the arrest of his family members.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “As more information comes to light about the tragic circumstances of Hoang Van Ngai’s death, CSW again calls on the Vietnamese Government to fully investigate this case and the possibility that the victim was tortured while in police custody. We also urge the government to take measures to guarantee that the right to religious freedom is upheld across the country, in order to prevent further violations against believers.”
procession to the funeral.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


At least two people were killed and over 90 injured yesterday during a siege on St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo, in the aftermath of a funeral for four Coptic men.

Hundreds of mourners had attended the funeral of 25 year-old Morqos Kamel, 35 year-old Victor Saad, 45 year-old Mansour Attia and 25 year-old Essam Tawadros, who died of gunshot wounds during a mob attack on 5 April on the Christian community in Khorous, a suburb 10 miles north of Cairo, following unsubstantiated claims that Christians had daubed offensive imagery on the walls of an Islamic institution.

When the mourners attempted to leave the premises, they were pelted with stones, petrol bombs, and Molotov cocktails, forcing them to seek shelter in the grounds of the Cathedral. As stones and other missiles continued to be hurled from the roofs of surrounding buildings and by people who had climbed the walls of the Cathedral, young Coptic men took up sticks and rocks to retaliate.

When police eventually arrived, they fired teargas into the grounds of the Cathedral, and did not intervene as the attack continued for five hours. Violence also continued in Khorous, with attacks on Christian-owned shops.

A marked escalation in sectarian violence that began with the 2011 Uprising has continued under President Mohammed Morsi’s tenure without effective official intervention. Members of Egypt’s Coptic community have been physically attacked or killed; their homes, businesses and church buildings have been destroyed and several young women have been abducted. Perpetrators are rarely apprehended; encouraging an atmosphere of impunity.

In a comment on Sunday’s violence His Grace Bishop Angaelos General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom (UK) said, “Today, Egypt saw an unprecedented attack on the See of the Pope of Alexandria, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo, by mobs, with the police arriving far too late and doing very little, if anything at all, to prevent them. Reports have indicated that Egypt’s president, Mr Mohammed Morsi had made telephone contact with the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, saying that ‘the protection of the lives of all Egyptians, Muslims and Christian, is the responsibility of the state.’ It is now clear that the state needs to take that responsibility far more seriously.”

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the violence in Abbasiya and Khorous. The significance of a direct and sustained assault on the heart of the Coptic Orthodox Church cannot be overemphasised, and is symbolic of the official failure to protect the Coptic community in an adequate and timely manner. The seeming unwillingness of the security services to discharge their responsibility to protect both the church and the mourners is wholly unacceptable. It is yet another example of the culture of impunity that surrounds sectarian attacks and sends the message that not all Egyptian citizens are equal under the law. Egypt’s progress as a democratic state will be measured by the government’s ability to guarantee security, equality and fundamental freedoms to all of its citizens, and it is time for words to be matched with actions in this regard.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit

Source: Christian Solidarity UK


Wednesday, 3 April 2013


At least 19 people were killed, an unknown number injured and an estimated 4000 displaced when armed Fulanis attacked Mafang and Zilang villages in Kaura Local Government Area (LGA) in Southern Kaduna State over the Easter weekend.