Two more pastors arrested in Sudan

Earlier this month we had sent you an update about conditions in Sudan for Christians. Unfortunately, events have happened since. On December 18th, Sudanese security officials arrested two Sudanese pastors in the Khartoum area.

Both pastors, who belong to the Sudan Church of Christ, were arrested from their homes. Reverend Kowa Shamaal and Reverend Hassan Abdelrahim have previously objected the destruction of worship buildings belonging to Sudan Church of Christ, however the reason for their arrest is not officially known. Families of the two pastors have not received information on their whereabouts. 4289b1a2-f266-494e-be26-1445fd26eac0

Christians in Sudan are also asking prayer as Pastor Hafez of Bahri Evangelical Church and Mohaned Mustafa, the church’s lawyer, have been in court this week for their trial. Both men were arrested and briefly detained in July after they protested the government’s unauthorized decision to destroy church property and were charged with “obstructing a public servant in the performance of his duties.”

The trial began on December 14th and on December 22nd the court dismissed the case of Mohaned Mustafa. The court accepted the defense team’s argument that “prosecutors had failed to comply with the legal requirement to obtain Bar Association approval for the filing of a criminal case against a lawyer.”

The trial will continue for Pastor Hafez. He last appeared before the court on December 23rd, however we are waiting for an update on the trial.

Please join Jubilee Campaign in praying for the release and safety of Reverend Shamaal and Reverend Abdelrahim. Please also pray for the court to drop the charges against Pastor Hafez, and for the Christians in Sudan to be protected.

To read more on the story, visit:

http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7ec6d7eb2533a90581f839110&id=bbc0221ac6&e=c95cc2072f

http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/992-sudan-pastor-and-lawye

BREAKING NEWS: Farshid Fathi has been released from prison in Iran

Farshid1

With much joy we announce that Iranian pastor, Farshid Fathi, was released on December 21st after spending five years in prison.

Farshid was arrested the day after Christmas in 2010 in a surge of arrests. He was charged with “acting against national security through membership of a Christian organization, collection of funds, and propaganda against the Islamic Regime by helping spread Christianity in the country.” His release came early, as his original release date was December 2017.

Please pray for Farshid and his family as he adjusts to life outside of prison. We pray for protection of Christians in Iran, as Christians often face threat by the government. Approximately 100 Christians remain in prison in Iran.

We are so thankful to the Lord for his protection over Farshid while in prison. It is our hope that the Gospel will continue to spread throughout Iran.

To read more on the story, visit:

https://www.elam.com/article/farshid-released

http://meconcern.org/index.php/en/prayer-requests/991-iran-christian-prisone

https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2015/12/4170617/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Iranian+pastor+released+after+5+years+in+jail&utm_campaign=Iranian+pastor+released+after+5+years+in+jail

Press Release From HRNK: AllSource Report on North Korea’s Camp 16

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

 

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and AllSource Analysis (AllSource) Launch Report Based on Satellite Imagery of North Korea’s Political Prison Camp No. 16

Report Identifies Likely Increase in Prisoner Population. Have Preparations Been Made for Intense, Prolonged Use of Deadly Force against Prisoners?

 

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. and AllSource Analysis (AllSource), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have launched a report entitled North Korea Imagery Analysis of Camp 16.  Political Prison Camp No. 16 (Kwan-li-so No. 16) is located in Hwasong-gun in North Korea’s North Hamgyong Province, approximately 70 km (43.5 mi) southwest of Chongjin City. The camp is the largest of North Korea’s such unlawful detention facilities. Camp 16 occupies an irregularly shaped area measuring approximately 30 km by 35 km (18.4 mi by 21.7 mi). The 119 km camp perimeter encompasses 53 named “villages” and numerous unnamed “villages” across an area of 53,900 hectares (539 sq. km). Of North Korea’s four currently operational political prison camps, Camp 16 is the only one with no known witnesses or escapees.

 

The report can be downloaded from HRNK’s website (HRNK.ORG), together with other HRNK publications. For this report, AllSource used pan-sharpened satellite imagery collected by DigitalGlobe and Airbus Defense and Space from April 2013 to January 2015. The report also used a declassified KH-9 satellite image taken in October 1983.

Contrary to popular opinion, Camp 16 is not completely enclosed within a single fixed security fence or wall. Only the lower third of the camp has an actual fence. The remainder of the perimeter appears to be patrolled primarily by troops on foot, given the absence of vehicles along the perimeter. Although guard positions are not positioned to provide overlapping fields-of-view of the camp, they appear to be well maintained, and are located along the most obvious escape routes. Parts of the perimeter are supported by several double and triple-walled guard positions. The presence of these guard positions seems to confirm what North Korean escapees told The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), i.e. that Camp 16 guards had reportedly spoken of elevated guard posts equipped with machine guns, meant to “massacre prisoners in emergency situations.” The presence of what appears to be an armory secured by an earthen berm, interior wall, exterior fence, and a guard post, identified through the satellite imagery, may indicate that preparations have been made for intense, prolonged use of deadly force against camp prisoners.

 

Based on this recent satellite imagery analysis, Camp 16 continues to operate as North Korea’s largest political prison camp. The camp remains active, even in recent winter imagery, focusing primarily on logging, agricultural fields, orchards, livestock, a few fish farms, mining, light industry, and hydroelectric power generation. Satellite imagery analysis appears to confirm sustained, if not increased economic activity at the camp. Corroborated with previous HRNK/AllSource reports on Camps 14 and 25, the report on Camp 16 seems to confirm an evolving pattern of increased economic activity within North Korea’s political prison camps.

 

During the period under study, there has been an increase in the number of housing units and support buildings. HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu said: “Although analytical caution is essential, especially in the absence of direct testimony from former Camp 16 prisoners or guards, the significant expansion of housing units seems to indicate that there has been an increase in the prisoner population. This increase may have been the result of prisoner transfer from facilities that have been closed, such as Camp 22 in Hoeryong near the border with China. The increase may also be the result of more people being imprisoned due to the ongoing crackdown on attempted defections and purging of senior officials.”

 

Joseph Bermudez, AllSource co-founder and chief analytics officer, said: “As reports continue to emerge on possible developments at North Korea’s P’unggye-ri nuclear test facility, it will also be important to keep a watchful eye on Camp 16 Hwasong, located only 2.5 kilometers to the east of P’unggye-ri, because of the possible nexus between prison labor at this very active political prison camp and North Korea’s nuclear tests.”

 

Bermudez, an internationally recognized analyst, award winning author, and lecturer on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs, previously testified before the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (UN COI) on North Korea’s increased focus on “the development of nuclear weapons and other ‘asymmetrical forces’ such as special operations forces, chemical and biological weapons, and mini-submarines” at a time when its overall “military capability has been steadily decreasing due to obsolescence of equipment, difficulty in training, and lowering of standards for soldiers following the overall decline in nutritional status of the population and its subsequent impact on the height of prospective recruits.”  Bermudez further noted, “Continued monitoring of Camp 16 will help identify whether prisoners have been or are currently being used to support the P’unggye-ri nuclear test site and determine the extent of human rights abuses at that camp.”

 

The report is the latest step in a collaborative effort by HRNK and AllSource to create a clear picture of the evolution and current state of North Korea’s political prison camps. HRNK is the NGO that put North Korea’s penal labor colonies on the map by publishing Hidden Gulag in 2003, Hidden Gulag Second Edition in 2012, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps in 2013, and The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression & Prisoner Disappearances in 2015, all authored by world-renowned investigator David Hawk. Together, the two organizations have been closely monitoring North Korea’s political prison camps so that any attempts to distort the harsh reality of the camps by destroying evidence will not go unnoticed. In a speech given before the 7,575th meeting of the UN Security Council on December 10, 2015, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power quoted some of the findings of The Hidden Gulag IV.

 

 

The report North Korea Imagery Analysis of Camp No. 16 is available on HRNK’s website:

 

https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/ASA_HRNK_Camp16_v8_fullres_FINAL_12_15_15.pdf

 

Contact:             Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director

executive.director@hrnk.org; 202-499-7973

Prayer Request for Sudan as Conditions Worsen

Despite the international attention and pressure Sudan has received in recent years, conditions to worsen for Christians in the country. This past October in separate incidents, two more churches were destroyed.

The first act of destruction occurred on October 17. A Lutheran church was burned down in Gadaref, East Sudan along with all of its furniture and Bibles inside.

The second incident occurred a few days later on October 22 iomdurmanchurch-sudan_nfbln the city of Omdurman. On that day the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan was given a 72-hour notice that the church would be destroyed due to development reasons. A final notice was given a few days later, then the church was set on fire before also being bulldozed. Authorities claimed that the church was on public grounds meant to be used for a marketplace, however a mosque on the same grounds was not destroyed.

Christian schools in Sudan have also encountered hardship. This past June, Ishag Andrawes, the manager of a Catholic school in Omdurman, was arrested along with parents of students after a peaceful protest. Andrawes and the parents were participating in a demonstration in hopes to have the school returned to them after it was confiscated illegally three years ago. A court ruled for the school to be returned, however authorities have failed to follow the court order.

It appears that persecution has not ended for Pastor Yat Michael and Pastor David Yein Reith. According to Radio Tamazuj, the two South Sudanese pastors who were tried and acquitted this past summer may face further complications. An arrest warrant for the pastors has been issued by an appeals court in Khartoum Bahri. The court reportedly wants to hear new evidence against the pastors.

Please remember to keep Sudanese Christians in your prayers as conditions worsen. Join Jubilee Campaign in praying that the hearts of governing authorities will soften towards Christians, and that the Gospel will flourish in Sudan. We can be encouraged that even in the midst of persecution, the Word of God is not bound (2 Timothy 2:9).

 

To read more about condition in Sudan, you can visit the following:

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/Pray/tag-prayer-updates-post/two-sudan-churches-destroyed-one-for-a-marketplace/

http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/rampant-persecution-of-christians-and-church-destruction-escalating-in-sudan

https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/khartoum-court-issues-arrest-warrant-two-s-sudanese-pastors

Churches in Indonesia Destroyed as Tensions Flare

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation, comprising of 12.7% of the world’s Muslims. The country has an overwhelming majority of Muslims, with 87.2% of its people following Islam and a mere 7% professing to be Christians. The disparity has led to conflicts between the Muslim and Christian communities.

The churches in several areas of Indonesia are being targeted by Islamic extremists, most of whom have affiliation with the Islamic Defenders Front. These extremists are putting great pressure on local government officials to shut down churches that are operating without a legal license. West Java province has had all 29 of its churches shut down, and Aceh province has had at least 10 including registered churches shut down by government officials and others destroyed by Islamic extremists. Because the system that religious groups must go through to obtain an operating license is corrupt, the closing of many of these churches is unjustified.

Any religious group must go through an approval process in order to legally operate a house of worship. This system is often a source of discrimination against religious minorities. Many times, a Christian group who has met all necessary requirements still has their requests arbitrarily dismissed or ignored. To no fault of their own, Christians must occupy buildings deemed illegal if they wish to continue their worship.

Islamic extremists use this system to justify their violence toward Christians or pressure local officials to close Christian churches. On October 9th government officials, under pressure from members of the IDF, agreed to shut down 10 churches in the Aceh province. The day after this agreement, a mob of 700 people burned the Indonesian Christian Church, a church that was not even on the list to be shut down. This caused about 8,000 Christians to flee their homes out of fear of continued violence. Also, in West Java, where all churches have been forcibly closed, church pastor Bernard Maukar was put in jail for 3 months for operating an unlicensed church, even though his church had met the legal requirements needed to obtain a license for over a year and had since been simply waiting on the approval of the government.

Please join Jubilee Campaign in praying for the churches of Indonesia. Pray that they would have the strength to resist the discrimination from the government and Islamic  extremists. Also, pray for Indonesia’s leaders, that they would act in a just manner to protect the Christian minorities.

Read more about the topic…

http://www.ibtimes.com/indonesia-muslim-christian-conflict-aceh-churches-destroyed-sectarian-tension-rises-2146304

http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-churches-demolished-indonesia-government-muslims-148063/