Thousands of Nigerian Christians Killed; Jubilee Campaign Leads Protests

On April 1, Jubilee Campaign took part in a timely rally, outside of the White House protesting against massacres in Nigeria that have killed thousands of Christians. Our protest, which took place while Nigerian President Buhari was in Washington, D.C., demanded action from the Obama and Buhari administrations to stop the violence conducted by a Nigerian tribe called the Fulani whose primary livelihood is in cattle herding and who are mostly Muslim.  Victims of their violence have been agrarian Nigerians of indigenous tribes, who are predominantly Christian. In conjunction with this protest, Jubilee Campaign sent letters to President Obama and President Buhari outlining our concerns and requests. Because the US has great influence and strong relations with Nigeria, we requested to President Obama that he urge President Buhari to take action, and to President Buhari that he put an end to impunity in the violent raids which have killed thousands of innocent children, women, and men.

The Fulani herdsmen are a group of nomadic cattle herders who have affected northern and central Nigerian communities with their violent attacks that include murder, destruction of homes and crops, and land grabbing. Because the Fulani are herdsmen, they often overtake land and use it for their cattle grazing. Though the Fulani have had a history of violence, they have never conducted so many systematic and lethal attacks as has occurred in recent years.

During their attacks, groups of armed Fulani, often hundreds at a time, storm a village and either kill people with their machetes or guns or burn their homes trapping the families inside. Concerns have risen over the apparent rise in radicalization of the Fulani. Many survivors of attacks have reported that the attackers cry “Allahu Akhbar,” meaning “Allah is greater.” The group has also recently gained much more advanced weapons than they have had in the past, such as AK47s. Because of these developments, many locals speculate that the Fulani herdsmen are closely linked with Boko Haram.

Just last Monday, an attack was reported in two villages, Dori and Mesuma. Local police have reported that at least 15 people were killed, while resident reports claim over 40 were killed. Though police officers tried to respond to the attack, they were unable to access the villages by vehicle due to poor road conditions. An unconfirmed report claims that the attack was conducted in response to a member of the Fulani herdsmen being stopped from raping one of the women in the community.

The violence that Nigerian communities are facing is startling. Amid continuing attacks, Jubilee Campaign is persistently taking up efforts to call for justice against perpetrators and the protection of victimized communities.

Please fervently pray for peace in Nigeria.

Read the letter that we sent to President Obama here.

 

Terrorist Attack in Pakistan Kills Scores on Easter Sunday

Pakistan bombing

Christians in Pakistan were met with tragedy on Easter Sunday. At least 72 people were killed including 29 children, and over 340 injured in a suicide blast at Gulshan Iqbal Park in Lahore. It is believed that that approximately 20 Christians were killed, and over 200 Christians injured.

Around the time of the blast, an estimated 3,000 people were at the park, many of which are believed to be Christians there in celebration following Easter services. The suicide bomber blew himself up at an exit gate of the park where many women and children were.

A spokesman of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a group that is related to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the group was responsible for the attack stating, “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter.”

The attack has raised the issue of security. Many eyewitnesses claimed that there was no security at or around the park. Following the attacks the Punjab government announced there would be three days of mourning, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting to analyze the security situation.

The blast reaffirmed the State Department’s need to designate Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). CPC’s are countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. The State Department is then required to provide the Secretary of State with specific policy options to address the violations. The past few years the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended Pakistan to be designated as a CPC, but it has yet to make State Department’s list.

Please join us in praying for all those affected by the attack in Pakistan. We pray that Pakistani Christians will not be discouraged in their faith, but have full confidence in the Lord during this time.

(The above picture was sent to us by The Zindagi TV Team. To learn more, visit https://lifeforpakistan.com/Media-Outreach)

 

“Living in North Korea is like Living in Another Universe”

On March 18, Jubilee Campaign attended a discussion panel hosted by the US Mission to the United Nations, where four North Korean women shared their testimonies of the atrocities that they faced in North Korea and during their journeys to escape. These women’s stories are similar to millions who live in North Korea.

Young-soon Kim spent 9 years in a political prison camp, along with her family. She found out after she was released that she had been imprisoned due to her friendship with a hidden mistress of Kim Jong-il. Of her entire family, only Ms. Kim and her son survived the camp, and still her son lives with crippling mental disabilities because of the scarring experiences and torture he faced in North Korea. Ms. Kim says, “If you really want to establish peace in the world, I think it’s as urgent as dealing with North Korea’s nuclear issue to resolve or get rid of all the political prison camps in North Korea.”

Lucia Jang’s first husband sold their son, without her knowing, to a wealthy North Korean family for a small amount of money and some bars of soap. Lucia later traveled back and forth to China to sell goods in order to provide for her starving parents. On one of her journeys she was taken and sold to a Chinese man who locked her in his house and continuously sexually abused her. She escaped his home and hid in a farm along the border where she fell in love with the farmers’ son. Chinese authorities caught her and sent her back to North Korea where she was imprisoned in a concentration camp for one year. After her release she fled back to China to be with her lover. There she became pregnant a second time, but she had to return to North Korea because the father’s family did not want the child. After returning, she was imprisoned again and authorities demanded that she abort the baby. Not wanting to lose a second child, she received help from her father and permanently escaped North Korea.

Hyeon-seo Lee is a young woman who describes living in North Korea like living in another universe. When she was a young girl, her house caught on fire. Without checking on his children, Ms. Lee’s father risked his life to run back in the house and save the portraits of Kim Jong-il. At the time, it was not surprising to Ms. Lee that her father would risk his life to save the dictator’s portraits. This is what any North Korean father would have done. If the portraits were not salvaged and left to burn, he would have faced punishment. It was only once Ms. Lee escaped North Korea that she realized North Koreans were brainwashed to care more about their leader than their children. Ms. Lee also recalled the harsh abuses women face not only in North Korea, but also in China where they are commonly trafficked as slaves or sent back to North Korea.

Now a young mom, Eun-ju Kim lived most of her life never thinking she would become a mother because she lived in constant fear that she wouldn’t live to see the next day. Her family was struck hard by a famine in the 1990s. In 1997, her father died from starvation. One day, in desperation her mother and sister left Eun-ju Kim at home to go find food. Days later, thinking she would die of hunger before her family returned, Ms. Kim wrote her will as a mere 11 year old. Fortunately, her mother came back that day, though empty handed. They were then forced to live homeless. In the winter, they fled to China to escape starvation, only to have their struggles of hunger be replaced with struggles of human trafficking. Chinese authorities sent Ms. Kim back to North Korea where she experienced horrifying treatment upon return. Describing North Korea, Ms. Kim says, “to them, you are not human.”

Ambassador Power of the US, Ambassador Oh of South Korea, Ambassador Yoshikawa of Japan and  Ambassador Wilson of the UK all voiced their concerns for North Korean women and citizens and gave a commitment to take action for the human rights of North Koreans.

Please pray for the millions suffering in North Korea and the world leaders who have committed to fight for justice.

View an editorial of the event published in the Washington Times here.

 

U.S. State Department declares actions by ISIS genocide

Last week history was made as Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States’ recognition that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yazidis, and Shiites in the areas controlled by the terrorist group are indeed genocide.

The State Department had received pressure from multiple entities to make the designation, including Congress. In an omnibus bill from the beginning of this year, a deadline of March 17 was included for the State Department to make a decision on a designation. However, there were doubts whether the State Department would follow through. In a unanimous 393-0 vote prior to Kerry’s announcement, the House of Representatives declared the Islamic State’s crimes as genocide, putting more pressure on the government to act.

On March 17 at 9 a.m. Kerry made the designation stating, “Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions.”

The looming question the international community now has is, “What’s next?” The designation does not have any binding actions, however there is hope that the designation will increase support to the groups facing genocide by increased military support and allowing refugee settlement in the United States. Now that the United States has declared “genocide,” our hope is that the United States can no longer avoid the atrocities being committed.

Join us in thanking the Lord for working on the hearts of our nation’s policy makers to recognize the crimes committed against those who oppose ISIS’s ideology. We continue to pray for peace and reconciliation in Iraq and Syria, and for the conversion of ISIS’s fighters.

 

BBC Investigates Horrible Conditions Facing Christian Pakistani Asylum Seekers in Thailand

This past week, Chris Rogers, a BBC reporter, informed the world of his findings while going undercover in Thailand to expose how the country treats asylum seekers. Jubilee Campaign was happy to provide the BBC our report we published last year to help their investigation. Pakistani Christians, who come to Thailand fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, make up the second largest asylum seeking group in Thailand. Because Thailand is not a signatory to the  Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, asylum seekers in Thailand are subject to arrest and unhygienic conditions in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). Though most are registered with the UNHCR office, which in the past had offered protection from arrest, Thai authorities disregard their registration and arrest them anyway, often separating families and detaining the asylum seekers for an indefinite amount of time.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has designated Pakistan as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern (CPC). Although the United States Department of State has not shared in this designation, Pakistan has proved to have one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law tends to be one of the main reasons many Christians leave Pakistan. Christians are often arbitrarily accused of defiling Islam’s holy book, the Koran, or insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Most recently, a Christian couple was sentenced to death after they were found guilty for sending a text message that “blasphemed” against the Prophet Muhammad. The couple insist that their phone had been stolen, and that they did not send the message. There is no evidence that has linked the couple to the text messages, but the sentence has remained.

Other asylum seekers have fled Pakistan due to the threat of suicide bombers targeting churches. Individuals and families are also targeted by extremists, threatening to kill them unless they convert to Islam.

These dangerous conditions have forced Christians to seek out a refuge. Asylum seekers that go to Bangkok hope to be resettled in the West; however, they are subject to further persecution while they await resettlement. In recent months, the Thai authorities have arrested hundreds of Pakistani Christians. Unfortunately, two have passed away while detained because of the poor conditions of the facilities.

We urge you to write to your Thai embassy and ask for the immediate release of all the Christian Pakistani asylum seekers. In addition, the Thai authorities should be urged to stop arresting those registered with the UNHCR while they await their resettlement appointments.

To watch the BBC video in which Jubilee Campaign is mentioned, visit: https://vimeo.com/user18375217/review/156847557/edd7ed8b33. The password to view the video is: Pakistan

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