Monday, 26 August 2013

INDIA: Five Years On From Kandhamal Violence, Victims Await Justice, Rehabilitation, And Peace

The Christian community in Kandhamal district, Odisha state (formerly Orissa) last weekend marked the fifth anniversary of a wave of violence in which an estimated 90 people were killed and at least 54,000 displaced. Much of the violence was brutal in nature, including sexual violence and burning or burying victims alive. Among the events to mark the anniversary, there will be a rally in Bhubaneswar on 25 August and in Kandhamal on 30 August.
The long-term impact of the 2008 violence, which was the culmination of decades of anti-Christian hate speech and smaller-scale attacks in the area, continues to be felt.  Against the backdrop of a rising number of acquittals of perpetrators of the 2008 violence, the Christian community still faces harassment and violence. Reportedly, 29 girls from their community were sexually assaulted in the last year alone.
Thousands of victim-survivors still fear returning to their villages owing to the threats they continue to receive. At least 5,000 have relocated to Salia Sahi, the largest slum in state capital Bhubaneswar. Some have migrated to other states, including Kerala. Many in these displaced communities have paid a significant economic penalty for their relocation.
Paul Pradhan, director of Pallishree Seva Sadan, a social welfare centre in Paburia which was destroyed in the violence and has not been rebuilt, said, “Our people have lost everything. They have lost their houses, their tools, everything. Many people have left and have still not come back to their villages. In most areas, peace has still not been restored. Until adequate compensation is given, the people cannot recover. The government is not giving enough compensation. There should be a re-survey of damages. Even my own case is very miserable. I am not able to recuperate, while perpetrators are thriving. My own place is still destroyed. I am also not well, my health is not well”.
Many of the victims are still awaiting justice and adequate compensation for their losses.   Although the conviction rate of around 30 percent is significantly higher than the national average, many of those convicted are now on bail, even for the most serious offences, and the majority of complaints were never subject to a police investigation.  Many witnesses in the cases that have been investigated have been threatened against giving evidence in court, and without sufficient protection, a large number have lost faith in the justice system.
Some human rights activists report facing harassment not only from Hindu extremist groups but also occasionally from the police, who accuse them of being Maoist supporters.
Fr Ajay Singh, a prominent Odisha-based human rights activist, faced renewed threats after being awarded the Minority Rights Award by the National Commission for Minorities in July this year. He said, “Insecurity and fear still prevail among the Christian community here due to the rise in the number of acquittals of criminals.  Justice delivery systems have failed and are costly.  The people cannot afford it.  The Church and the civil society groups are not able to make the government accountable to the people.  Neither do the duty-bearers feel obliged to the community.  Besides the insecurity and fear, frustration is also rampant.  90% of victims are struggling for their own livelihood. This is a multi pronged problem. The challenge before us is to make the duty bearers accountable. How do we make the criminal justice system function?  Who will do it? There is no other way but to make people aware. The right holders should be encouraged to stand up for their rights. The history of the Kandhamal situation shows us that every time we spoke about peace without fighting for justice, violence continued to take place”.
David Griffiths, South Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “CSW remains deeply concerned by the poor delivery of justice, inadequate rehabilitation for victims, and the lack of genuine peace in the area.  We are also concerned by reports of continuing incidents of violence, and by allegations of harassment by human right defenders working on behalf of victims.  Much more needs to be done locally before it can be said this violence has been resolved.  Communal violence of this nature has a long genesis and a long-term impact, and often follows a predictable pattern.  In recognition of this significant anniversary, we again urge the Government of India to introduce the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, which will provide a much more effective framework for dealing with violence of this sort in future.”
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.

PERU: Csw Renews Calls For Justice On 10th Anniversary Of Truth And Reconciliation Report

As Peru observes the tenth anniversary of the publication of final report and recommendations of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed concern at the lack of justice in cases involving crimes against humanity in Peru.

The TRC was set up by the Peruvian government to investigate the causes and impact of two decades of internal violence and published its final report alongside detailed recommendations to the government on 28 August 2003. The report found that the conflict, which pitted extreme left guerrilla groups the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) against government forces, left almost 70,000 victims. The TRC found that the Shining Path was responsible for the largest number of victims, the majority of whom were civilians, while state forces were responsible for 37%. Over the past ten years, a country-wide victim registration project has caused those numbers to be revised and it is now believed that there may have been more than 100,000 victims.
The TRC also published detailed recommendations, with an emphasis on justice for victims, aimed at preventing future violence. Unfortunately a large number of cases, especially those involving state forces, have stalled due to obstruction from government ministries and the military. In some instances, cases have been shelved altogether.
In one example, the case of Jorge Parraga Castillo, a protestant pastor who was forcibly disappeared, tortured and later killed on the Manta military base in 1989, was archived after the Ministry of Defence and the military refused to provide the names of those responsible. Prosecutions of those responsible for massacres, including the extra-judicial execution of six young men during a church service in 1984 in the hamlet of Callqui and the murder of 123 civilians including infants and the elderly in the community of Putis in the same year, have stalled in the courts due to lack of cooperation by the Ministry of Defense and the military.
CSW’s Acting Advocacy Director Benedict Rogers said, “As we celebrate the ten year anniversary of this groundbreaking report, we call on President Ollanta Humala to prioritise the full implementation of the TRC’s recommendations. CSW continues to monitor the progress of cases including the Callqui and Putis massacres, and lauds the persistence of our local partner organisation, Peace and Hope, and others who continue to pursue truth and justice on behalf of the victims. We urge the Peruvian government, including the Ministry of Defence and the military, to provide the names of those responsible for human rights atrocities and to cooperate actively with investigations. As institutions which are sworn to protect the civilian population and uphold the rule of law in Peru, they must take the lead in the fight against impunity.”
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.

CHINA: Linfen House Church Leader Beaten, Threatened With Death.

Church leader Li Shuangping, a leader at Linfen church, was beaten and threatened by unknown assailants on the night of 13 August, according to reports from China Aid.
Li had been driving to his home in Shanxi Province and was forced to stop his car when a man who seemed to be intoxicated staggered into the road. He was then dragged into a black car which had pulled up alongside his car, tied up, blindfolded, and pinned down while three men beat him around his head and body. One man also threatened to kill Li and his family members, including his children. Li was then thrown out of the car.
Li believes the perpetrators were working for the local government and he sees this is an attempt to threaten house church leaders. During the incident, one of the men asked Li how he would like to die as a result of being a house church leader.
In 2009, the 50,000-strong Linfen church was raided by several hundred police and plainclothes officers, after which Li was sentenced to two years of re-education through labour. During the raid on the property, Bibles and the building itself were damaged and a number of church members were beaten and injured. 
Some church leaders attempted to travel to Beijing to lodge a formal complaint but were arrested on the way. Li Shuangping and several other leaders were released in July 2011; others were released in 2012 and 2013. However, some remain in prison, including Yang Rongli who is serving a seven year sentence.
Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said, “This attack appears to be an attempt to intimidate the Linfen church leaders and their congregations. The Chinese authorities have a responsibility to protect all citizens from attacks on their personal safety and to investigate serious threats against them and their families by both state and non-state actors. We call on the Chinese government to immediately put an end of all kinds of attacks and restrictions on Linfen church leaders, and urge the authorities to immediately release those leaders still in prison.”
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 continuing violence in Egypt, which has left more than 830 people dead, including 70 policemen. At least 60 churches have been targeted, along with Christian schools, homes, businesses and even an orphanage.

In Minya, Beni Suef, Fayoum and Assiut, Christian homes and businesses are reported to have received leaflets warning them to leave or face reprisals by Islamists. There are also reports of Christian homes and businesses in Minya being marked with black X's to single them out for attack.
In a particularly disturbing incident reported by Associated Press, Islamists who attacked and looted a Franciscan school in Beni Suef paraded three nuns "like war prisoners", while two other female employees were sexually harassed and abused. Churches that were attacked or destroyed during the recent violence were unable to hold Sunday services yesterday, while others cancelled their services for fear of attack. The Egypt Independent reports that Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram monastery in Degla, south of Minya, did not hold prayers on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years. Nevertheless, there are increasing reports of moderate Muslims coming to the assistance of Christians.
At least seven Christians have being killed and many more injured since the ousting of former-President Morsi by the military on 3 July. Islamists have blamed Copts for conspiring in the removal of the former president, with some calling for retaliatory attacks. A Facebook page purporting to belong to the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Helwan, Cairo, stated: “The Pope of the Church is involved in the removal of the first elected Islamist president. The Pope of the Church alleges Islamic Shari'a is backwards, stubborn, and reactionary.”  It went on to say: “After all this people ask why they burn the churches.” The FJP has denied inciting sectarian violence, denouncing a number of Facebook pages as fake.
Egyptian authorities have confirmed that 36 Islamists died in police custody, while at least 24 policemen were ambushed and killed in the Sinai region yesterday.
In other news, judicial authorities have ordered the release of former President Hosni Mubarak, who has been detained on a variety of charges since 2011.
CSW’s Press Officer Kiri Kankhwende said, “We send our condolences to those who have lost loved ones, regardless of their religious or political affiliation. The sectarian targeting of the Coptic community by Morsi supporters, in misplaced retaliation for the actions of the army, cannot be divorced from the continuing campaign of defamation and disinformation emanating from key Brotherhood figures regarding the Church's role in Morsi's ousting. Both the violence and the disinformation that fuels it are unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms. While it is deeply encouraging to hear of moderate Muslims coming to the assistance of their Christian neighbours, the responsibility to protect lies ultimately with the Egyptian authorities. We therefore renew our call for the interim government to ensure comprehensive security to all Egyptians, and also urge and pray for peace and reconciliation.”
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.

PAKISTAN: Acquittal Of Cleric In Rimsha Masih Blasphemy Case.

The religious cleric accused of damaging a Qur’an to falsify evidence in the blasphemy case of Rimsha Masih was acquitted of all charges on 17 August.
The case against cleric, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, was dismissed after the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence against him.  Witnesses had previously made statements alleging that he had planted burnt pages of the Qur’an in the rubbish bag used by Rimsha, before making blasphemy accusations against the girl over his mosque’s loudspeaker, inciting mob violence.  The same witnesses later stated that they had been coerced by police and withdrew their statements.
Last October, in response to its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN, the Pakistani government cited the arrest of Chishti as progress, when confronted with multiple criticisms relating to the blasphemy laws.  It was described as sending “a strong message to all those trying to misuse” the laws, and a “turning point in the history of Pakistan.”
Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, a leading coalition of Islamic clerics in Pakistan, has expressed disappointment at the decision. The Council made headlines last year by condemning the “misuse” of the country’s blasphemy laws and calling for Rimsha’s case to be handled fairly.
Rimsha, who was deemed to be fourteen years old but with a younger mental age, was charged with desecrating the Qur’an under section 295B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in August 2012.  Her case was dismissed by Pakistan’s Supreme court in January 2013 and she and her family have been granted asylum in Canada.
Benedict Rogers, Acting Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “The arrest of Rimsha’s accuser last year was widely lauded as a turning point for blasphemy cases in Pakistan.  The collapse of the case is therefore disappointing and reinforces the continued lack of accountability and sense of impunity that lie at the heart of false blasphemy allegations.  It sends the message that those who misuse the laws will remain unpunished.  In contrast, those accused and their communities often live with the negative effects long after the accusation.  This development also reminds us that much remains to be done to strengthen policing, judicial processes and rule of law in Pakistan, raising questions of witness protection and manipulation, as well as questionable investigation processes.  We urge the Pakistani government to increase investment in these areas, and to expedite debate and reform to tackle the misuse of the blasphemy laws and those who make false accusations.

Monday, 19 August 2013

We are very thankful for the over-through of the Muslim Brothers (MB) in Egypt. It is a big blow  to the MB movement world wide. It may have a domino effect in other countries. Its an answered  prayer, as the Egyptian church has been praying daily for months.
The aspirations of freedom, dignity of life and justice, but during their rule the Muslim Brothers set up a totalitarian regime with a one party system in spite that their president won with a very narrow margin (less than 1 %). In the process the Muslim Brothers lost their credibility due to their violence, misunderstanding of democracy, corruption, lies and incompetence to lead the country.  This is why people, even those who voted for president Morsi, rose up against them. Since december 2012, after president Morsi made his constitutional decree controlling the military, judiciary and the all government institutions by appointing Muslim Brothers as heads and passed a constitution which gave them monopoly of power (creating an Islamic theocracy), opposition grew stronger and stronger.
The climax was on the 30 of June when over 22 million came out onto the streets to overthrough the regime. Thankfully the military sided with the people. President Morsi and its government was deposed by the army, as he refused to resign. An Interim national government was formed, with the former head of the judiciary, Adly Mansour, as the interim president. Egypt's new cabinet, led by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, mainly consists of liberals and technocrats. It includes no Islamists.
During the time of transition the Muslim Brothers were threatening to use violence if president Morsi is not reinstated. The MBs started to intimidate the opposition using violence, torture and arms. In Sinai jihadists who are off shouts of the MB waged war against the military. Also the MB started attacks against churches and properties owned by Christians in different parts of the country. The last few days after evicting two of the Muslim Brothers sit-in’s in Cairo, they started to attack police stations and public buildings. The evictions of two sit-ins by the government was done professionally in spite of the violent response from the protesters with arms and malatoves.
The government announced a state of emergency for one month and a curfew during the Night  from 19.00hrs to 06.00hrs. Friday August 16,The Muslim Brothers started sporadic attacks in different parts of Cairo and other parts of the country but with very small numbers (a couple of thousands) compared with the millions who came out to over through president Morsi.
What to pray for:
* Unity within the army to continue to stand with the people’s aspiration for freedom and a secular state. Wisdom and unity for the interim government to implement  the set out roadmap.
* For God’s grace to work in the lives of the Muslim Brothers to touch and change them, as He did with Saul. And for the rest of the Egyptian people,  that they will turn to the living God, as they have been disillusioned with Islam and are questioning.
* Protection, grace and strengths for the Christians during this time, when they are facing a lot of atrocities from the Islamist (MB:s). Pray that their perseverance and love for the Lord will draw many people to Himself.
*  Pray for security, violence to stop and for the journey of Egypt to freedom, dignity and justice.
* Pray that the journey of Egypt to freedom, democracy and dignity will continue.
*  Pray also for the church during this time to stand for it’s rights and pursue of justice, equality and
perseverance in prayer, unity and love.

Praise the Lord: At this point the majority of Egyptian Muslims are standing together and sympathizing with the Christians, who are being attacked by the Muslim Brothers.
The minister of defense has promised to rebuild the churches, which have been destroyed, at the expense of the government.

Monday, 5 August 2013


CSW Nigeria: IRAN: FATWA ISSUED AGAINST BAHAI COMMUNITY: The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, issued a fatwa (religious edict) against the Baha’i community on 31 July, call...

VIETNAM: Catholic Petitioners Beaten By Police Outside Cathedral

On the morning of 31 July, Catholics praying for the resolution of land disputes outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City were forcibly removed and beaten by police and security agents.
An unknown number of people praying in front of the statue of Our Lady, just outside the Cathedral’s main entrance, were dragged onto buses by police. Those who resisted were brutally beaten and had their mobile phones taken away. Following the assault, several people are being treated in hospital. In photographs of one young woman beaten by police, her face is swollen and bruised and her mouth filled with dried blood.
The petitioners had reportedly come to the church from their homes in the South-eastern and South-western provinces to pray for the resolution of land disputes after their land and property was seized by the local authorities, according to reports posted on Dân Làm Báo, a Vietnamese-language blog. Despite having participated in dozens of lawsuits, the petitioners’ complaints have not been resolved.
The unlawful confiscation of land is a significant problem in Vietnam, and one that directly affects the Catholic Church. In recent years, the Church has put forward claims for land and property confiscated in the 1950s. In 2008, peaceful protests and prayer vigils held by petitioners calling for land and property to be returned to the Church were brutally suppressed by police. Then in June 2012, the authorities in Nghe a Province attacked Catholics in Quy Chau District in an attempt to confiscate land owned by the church. A large group violently attacked parishioners, leaving several with serious cuts and bruises to their face and body.
A briefing issued by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in April 2012 tracked human rights violations against Catholic communities in 2012-2013. Violations included physical attacks on priests and laypersons, disruptions to religious services, destruction of property and damage to gravestones and sacred statues.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW condemns the Vietnamese authorities’ decision to forcibly remove and violently beat Catholics who had come to church to pray. This was a peaceful gathering of religious believers at a legally recognised venue. The actions of the police and security agents are completely unjustified and are a violation of the right to freedom of religion or belief, enshrined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Vietnam acceded to in 1982. We call on the Vietnamese Government to protect the right to religious freedom of Catholics and other religious minorities in Vietnam, and to immediately end the use of force against peaceful religious activities.”
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.


The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, issued a fatwa (religious edict) against the Baha’i community on 31 July, calling on Iranians to avoid Baha’is and labelling them a ‘deviant and misleading sect.’
The edict comes days before president-elect Hassan Rouhani assumes office, illustrating that despite the president-elect’s promises to rule with moderation and ensure the rights of religious minorities, ultimate power in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader.
Despite the Baha’i community being the largest religious minority in Iran, numbering over 300,000, it is not officially recognised and is refused legal status. Since 1979, over 200 of its leaders have been killed or executed, and thousands more imprisoned.
Baha’is are barred from accessing further education and employment in the public sector, with over 10,000 having been dismissed from university and government jobs. In 2008, seven Baha’i leaders were arrested and were each sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2010 for ‘forming an illegal cult’. According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), as of February 2013, at least 110 Baha’is are being held in prison solely because of their religious belief, twice the number held in early 2011.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “We are extremely concerned by this new fatwa against the Baha’i community, particularly since previous fatwas have resulted in an intense crackdown on them. There was cautious optimism following the election of Hassan Rouhani, who has promised a more moderate approach than his predecessor. However, this news raises questions as to whether he will be able to do so, since ultimate power clearly resides elsewhere. The fatwa also calls into question the possibility of any early improvements in the plight of Iran's religious minorities. CSW urges the Supreme Leader and president-elect to uphold the rights of the Baha’i community as equal citizens and to guarantee freedom of religion or belief for all religious communities, in line with Iran's international obligations as a signatory to the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
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.