Jubilee Campaign Netherlands traveled to Nigeria and interviewed people staying in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps. They have been displaced from their homes due to violence from Boko Haram, the deadliest terrorist group in the world. Another militant group that has become quite active in Nigeria is the Fulani militants. This group also violently attacks villagers and drives them out of their homes, contributing to the large-scale IDP problem in Nigeria.
Leading up to and during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington DC in June, Jubilee Campaign helped bring attention to the India’s widespread religious freedom violations. Our staff volunteered alongside the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) to provide an information booth on the continuous persecution that Christians face in India. This booth informed the general public and staffers in Washington of the abuse that is occurring under Modi’s rule.
Eighty percent of India’s population is Hindu, but it also has a large Muslim minority and smaller minorities of Christians and Sikhs. Modi is the head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a right-wing political party known for promoting the ideology of “Hinduness.” An environment of intolerance for religious minorities has recently risen under the rule of Modi. There has been a growing number of attacks on Christians from Hindu extremist groups and widespread discrimination from the authorities of local governments.
Protests erupted marking Modi’s 100th and 300th day in office, in which protesters brought attention to the alarming treatment minorities have faced during Modi’s rule. During the protest marking 300 days, which was called “300 DAYS – Documenting Hate and Communal Violence under the Modi Regime,” Christian activists presented a list of 168 incidents of violence and harassment that had occurred against Christians in the past 300 days. They estimated that the list provided only about a tenth of the incidents that had actually occurred. They also shared a large amount of incidents that had victimized Muslims.
Now over a year after the protest of 300 days, the conditions in India have not improved. Jubilee Campaign receives reports on almost a weekly basis of horrendous attacks against Christians. Last week, Hindu extremists attacked an entire Christian village burning the residents’ homes and severely beating them as they ran the Christians out of town.They did this because they felt their gods were mad at them for having Christian neighbors.
There have also been campaigns lead by BJP members of ghar wapsi (“homecoming”), which is an effort to re-convert minority members back to Hinduism. Victims face threats and violence if they resist the forced conversion.
Ironically, 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.
It is clear that Modi’s rule needs major reform. If the intolerant atmosphere against minorities continues, there will be devastating effects on the Christian population and others who do not adhere to the Hindu majority. So far, Modi has been a threat to the large diverse democracy that India is supposed to represent, and Indian Christians and organizations around the world are crying out for Modi to put a stop to the persecution against minorities.
As Jubilee Campaign has previously reported, Eritrea is one of the hardest places in the world to be a Christian due to intense persecution and its restrictive government. Church leader Haile Naigzhi is one of many church leaders who remains in prison today after being arrested 12 years ago in 2004.
In 2002, the Eritrean government outlawed all religions except Islam and the following Christian denominations: Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, and the Roman Catholic Church. Because of this, many non-denominational, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Christians have been arrested due to their faith, and many remain in prison with no knowledge of when or if they will ever be released.
Christians often are forced to flee for fear of persecution or arrest. This is what happened to Naigzhi’s wife and three children. After years of waiting and hoping Naigzhi would be released from his dungeon-like prison, his family was forced to leave the area in 2013 after receiving information that the government wanted to incarcerate them all.
They have now found asylum in an undisclosed place outside of Eritrea where they can openly practice their faith. The family has shown enormous resilience and faith in the Lord, but they still miss Naigzhi dearly and hope for his release.
Please keep Naigzhi and his family in your prayers. Here is also a list of other church leaders known to be imprisoned in Eritrea who need your intercessory prayers:
Abune Antonios- head of the Orthodox church.
Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot- pastor at Kale Hiwot Church
Kidane Weldou- pastor at Full Gospel Church
Kiflu Gebremeskel- founder of Southwest Full Gospel Church
Million Gebreselasie- pastor of Massawa Rhema Church
Futsum Gebrenegus- Orthodox priest
Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis- Orthodox priest
Tekleab Menghisteab- Orthodox priest
Jubilee Campaign is partnering with other organizations to pray for Nguyen Van Dai during this upcoming week, and send letters of support to his wife. Dai is a prominent Christian lawyer and religious freedom defender.
Dai was one of the first lawyers in Vietnam to take on cases involving violations against Christians. Incensed by stories of house churches raided by the police, Dai became committed to defending human rights – at great personal cost. As a result of his work on “sensitive” cases, he served a four year prison sentence for “spreading propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. He was released in 2011 and put under probation/house arrest, which ended in March 2015.
While under probation/house arrest, Dai was closely monitored by police and security agents. His home was attacked by people believed to be hired by the government, and on at least one occasion he was prevented from going to church. Then on 6 December 2015, Dai was badly beaten after being involved in a conference on human rights for Catholic citizens.
On 16 December 2015, Dai was again detained for “spreading propaganda”. His colleague, Ms. Le Thu Ha, was taken into custody on the same day. Both Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha are being held in prison in Hanoi.
If you are interested in sending a letter of encouragement to Dai’s wife, please reply to this email and we will send you her name and mailing address. Out of respect for Dai’s wife, we are asking for her mailing address to not be shared on any social media platforms. We also ask for you to avoid any political or anti-government remarks. Jubilee Campaign has also ordered postcards with pre-made messages to Dai’s wife. If you are interested in sending one of these postcards, please email us your mailing address and we will send you one right away. You can write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join us in praying for lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and for his family and colleagues.
Monday: Pray for Christian lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, that justice will be done and he will be released and allowed to continue his work defending religious minorities and other victims of oppression.
Tuesday: Give thanks for Dai’s courage and for his faith in God despite difficult circumstances.
Wednesday: Pray for Dai’s young colleague, Le Thu Ha, aged 33, who is also in detention and is accused of serious crimes against the state.
Thursday: Give thanks for the growth of Christianity in Vietnam and the many thriving churches and missions in the country.
Friday: Pray for comfort and strength for the families of Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha, and for peace about the future.
Saturday: Give thanks for the international community’s attention to Dai’s case and a new understanding of the situation for religious groups in Vietnam.
Sunday: Pray for wisdom for lawyers and advocates in Vietnam who are working for religious freedom for Christians and other minorities.