URGENT: Pray for the Release of Pastor Yang Hua

Recent information has revealed that a Chinese house pastor that has been detained since December has been enduring torture by the Chinese government.

Yang Hua was arrested on December 9, 2015 after trying to prevent authorities from stealing property Huoshi Church in Guiyang. Leading up to the arrest, the church, which Yang is a pastor of, received notices from the government stating that the church was being used for illegal gatherings and must be demolished. It had also issued a fine to the church that would increase over time if not paid. The church was given a date of November 21 to stop all its activities.

On November 29, authorities raided the church, took video footage, and warned that the church leaders would be forced to pay the$15,650 fine that had accumulated if the church’s activities did not stop. On December 9, Yang was arrested.

After his arrest, Yang was charged with attempting to obstruct justice and sentenced to five days in detention. However, five days later his family received a notice stating that Yang was charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and sentenced to five more days.

On December 20, Yang’s wife arrived to the detention center to pick up Yang. However, she witnessed him being put in a black hood and being transferred to an unlicensed car. She later learned that his charge had changed to “illegally holding state secrets.” He was moved to the Nanming District Detention Center.

Family and Yang’s attorney have had a difficult time visiting him, although a few visits have been permitted. Yang has reportedly shared that authorities have pressured him to confess to the crimes he has been charged with.

According to Yang, during an incident with the prosecutors, one of the prosecutors used very threatening language, stating: “You’d better confess. Your life is in my hands. I’m here to meet with you because I see you as an ally. If you refuse to cooperate, I’ll treat you as a spy, as someone on the opposing side. In that case, we won’t treat you this nicely. I can make you disappear from the face of the earth. I’m a powerful man. Not one of the policemen [at this detention center] would stand if I asked him to get on his knees. [If you refuse to cooperate,] not only you, but your wife and your children will face problems. I’m a torture expert. I know how to beat you up without leaving a mark on your body for people to see. Doctors won’t be able to diagnose you. Even you won’t know what you died of.”

Currently, Yang’s lawyers have sued the prosecutors, however there has not been any additional news regarding the lawsuit.

Please Jubilee Campaign in praying for Pastor Yang Hua:
-Please pray for the safety of Pastor Yang Hua, and for the Chinese authorities to release him immediately
-Pray for the safety of his wife and children, who the prosecutors have threatened, as well as others who are associated with Pastor Yang Hua and his church
-Pray for the Christians in China, who are regularly faced with persecution, that they would be encouraged by the Holy Spirit and spread the Gospel throughout China

To learn more about helping Yang, please visit: http://www.freeyanghua.org/.
China Aid has also started a petition for Yang’s release. Sign the Petition!

Coptic Christians Ask for Prayer; Attacks Continue in Egypt

Jubilee Campaign received a horrifying update from Middle East Concern about the current climate in Egypt for Coptic Christians. In the last six weeks, there have been at multiple attacks on Christians.

“On 20th May several Christian homes were attacked in al-Karam village in Minya province, as a result of a rumour about a relationship between a Muslim woman and a Christian man. During the attack the man’s mother was publicly stripped of her clothes and dragged naked through the streets. The woman is around 70 years old. Of the 16 people arrested for the assault, 11 were released on bail this past week (three on 27th June and eight on 28th June).

On 9th June in Damshir village in Minya province four Muslims armed with knives attacked a Coptic man and his family. They alleged that construction work he was doing was intended to build a church and they threatened him and told him to leave the village. After he filed a complaint the four men were detained, but the authorities told him to stop the construction work.

On 10th June a man attacked a nun at a medical centre run by the Coptic Orthodox Church in the town of Biba in Beni Suef province. When a guard tried to help the nun he was also attacked. Later the same day the attacker returned, armed with a knife. The guard managed to lock the man out of the centre. A complaint was filed with the police, but no action has been taken so far.

On 17th June a mob of a few thousand people gathered at the house of a Copt in al-Bayda village near Alexandria, after prayers had been held at the mosque. They shouted that they would not allow a church in the village and accused him of turning the building which contains his apartment into a church. Several Coptic homes were attacked, two were seriously damaged and at least ten were looted.

On 29th June in Kom al-Loufy village in Minya province four houses belonging to Copts were set on fire after a rumour spread that two brothers were constructing a church. After the rumour started the police asked the brothers to sign a statement saying that the building they were constructing on their land was for residential purposes; however, their homes and the homes of others were attacked nevertheless.

On 30th June Father Raphael Moussa was killed in Arish in Northern Sinai. Father Raphael was the parish priest of St George’s church. He was shot by several perpetrators on his way back from a church service. The Egyptian branch of the so-called “Islamic State” movement has claimed responsibility for the murder and has threatened to carry out more killings.

The Egyptian Parliament is also undergoing debate regarding legislation that would directly impact the Coptic Community. One debate is about possible amendments to the legislation on blasphemy, while other discussions include legislation to regulate personal status law for Christian communities and church construction. There are two draft bills on equal citizenship for all and countering discrimination.

Middle East Concern has asked for the following to be prayed for on behalf of Coptic Christians:

a. the victims of the above-mentioned attacks and their families will experience the comfort and peace of the Lord
b. Christian and other communities will be protected from attacks of this kind
c. the victims will not be forced to take part in “reconciliation meetings” where they have to forego any right to seek legal redress, and that the authorities will apply the law and prosecute the perpetrators
d. the debates in parliament will lead to the adoption of legislation that will grant all Egyptians equality before the law and protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion

Help Support H.R.2140 & Stop Persecution in Vietnam

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A few weeks ago, we informed you of the arrest and detainment of Nguyen Van Dai.

Latest reports have indicated that Dai’s wife and attorney still have not received any news on his condition nor whereabouts.

On May 10th, 2016, Dai’s wife, Mrs. Vu Minh Khanh, traveled to Washington D.C. from Vietnam to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. In her testimony, she informed the committee about Dai’s experience with Vietnamese authorities, including being a victim of torture and put in an incommunicado state in prison.

Mrs. Khanh also informed the subcommittee of how Dai’s arrest has put mental stress on her. Vietnamese authorities have placed a camera outside her house that records her every move, and forbids her from visiting her husband.

The Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held another hearing on Vietnam on June 22nd. During the hearing, Chairman Smith advocated for Vietnam to be re-designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). Previously, Vietnam had been designated as a CPC from 2004 until 2006. During the hearing, Chairman Smith remarked, “[USCIRF] has made a very strong and consistent appeal to the IRF office to put Vietnam on that CPC category. It had been taken off prematurely during an economic agreement in the false hope that there would be deliverables that never happened.”

Jubilee supports Chairman Smith’s proposed legislation H.R. 2140 Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2015. The bill proposes that Vietnam should not receive non-humanitarian assistance from the United States if human rights and religious freedom does not improve. It also suggests that Congress re-designate Vietnam as a CPC. Since its introduction, the bill has passed in the House four times, but continues to fail once it reaches the Senate. Please contact your local Representative and state Senator and vocalize your support of the bill!

Jubilee also continues to mail postcards of encouragement to Dai’s wife, Mrs. Khanh. If you would like to send her a postcard, please email jubilee@jubileecampaign.org and we will mail you postcards to send her.

Pakistan Court Acquits Five Blasphemy Cases

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On June 20th, the cases of five Pakistani Christians accused of blasphemy were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorism Court in Gujranwala. Considering most blasphemy cases in Pakistan do not see much movement or success, these cases are truly an act of God.

In 2015, a Christian pastor and four others were originally arrested under terrorism laws for using the Urdu word “rasool”, which means apostle, to describe a deceased pastor on posters that were put up across the town of Gujrat. The posters were made in order to bring attention to an ordination ceremony occurring at the Biblical Church of God on Sunday August 16th, 2015. The word “rasool” was used in the poster to describe pastor Fazal Masih, who had established the Biblical Church of God, which supports Christians in Pakistan. Issues arose with these posters because in Pakistan the word is used only for Islamic prophets, specifically Prophet Muhammad. Thus, a group of Muslims found this poster to be offensive because Fazal Masih was a member of the Christian religion.

A blasphemy case was made against the involved Christians under the premise of various anti-terrorism laws. Under Anti-Terrorism Act 8/9 they were found guilty of displaying and publishing written material which was threatening, abusive, and insulting. Additionally, under Anti-Terrorism Act 11-W they were found instigating sectarian hatred and hurting religious sentiments. They were also found to be violating one of the subsections of the infamous blasphemy law, Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which found them guilty of deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

After the original arrests, the First Information Report (FIR) written by the police noted that a total of 16 people were nominated for participating in said blasphemous acts, but only 7 faced court trials. One of the organizations in Pakistan supported by Jubilee Campaign to assist Christian victims and their families, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) took up the case in August of 2015 and now five of the men, Shafwat Gill, Latif Masih, Unitan Fazal Gill, Moshin Shoukat, and Zulifiqar were each acquitted. Another two, Aftab Gill and Hajij bin Yousaf, have been sentenced to imprisonment for six years.

Jubilee Campaign celebrates the acquittal of these five men and pray for their safety in Pakistan. Please join us in praying for the additional two to be acquitted, and for blasphemy laws to be repealed in Pakistan. Thank you for your financial support to our Pakistan Victims Family fund which CLAAS administers to provide aid to the families of Christian victims of false accusations such as these. Please continue to give.

Praying for India’s Christians while Modi addresses Congress

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As Indian Prime Minister Modi addressed the US Congress on June 8, Jubilee Campaign took part in one of the most effective activities to fight against injustice: prayer. Executive Director Ann Buwalda and Jubilee Campaign staff participated in a prayer vigil in the capital that was held to bring awareness to the plight of Christians in India and pray on their behalf. Many concerned persons and organizations attended the event.

Ms. Buwalda addressed the participants of the vigil and explained the deterioration of religious freedom that has occurred under Prime Minister Modi’s governance. She specifically noted the growth of Hindu extremism that has taken place in the recent past. Hindu extremists have increasingly threatened Christians. Extremists often force them to stop their Christian activities and even renounce their faith. Organized campaigns called ghar wapsi are held to try and force those who have left the Hindu faith to reconvert to Hinduism. Christians are harassed and abused if they do not comply.

As we previously reported, religious minorities such as Christians in India receive little to no protection to practice their faith. Though federal law holds certain protections for minorities, these laws are often not implemented at the local level. It is well known that local authorities tend to take advantage of the law and discriminate against non-Buddhists.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is led by Prime Minister Modi does not do a good job of promoting tolerance in the country because it advances its adherence to the ideology of “Hinduness.” BJP members are even the ones who lead the ghar wapsi campaigns.

A continuing concern for Chrisitans in India is the passing of “anti-conversion laws.” Modi has allowed for many states in India to pass laws protecting against forced conversions. The issue with these laws is that they have not been used to stop people from being forced back to Hinduism, such as occurs in the ghar wapsi, but instead have many times been used as a mechanism to target the activities of Christians. There have been various reports of Christians who are arrested for sharing their faith, even though they are not forcing anyone to accept it.

Because of the continued persecution that is taking place in India, Jubilee Campaign will be submitting a report to the United Nations this year as part of their Universal Periodic Review, which analyzes the condition of human rights in each country. Our report to the UN will bring attention to the discrimination and persecution Christians have faced under Modi’s rule and give specific recommendations on how the country can improve its human rights record.
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