NEW WEBSITE: Solution for Syria

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We’ve launched a new website! –> solutionforsyria.org

Jubilee Campaign has launched a new website dedicated solely to our Syria efforts. As you may know, for the past few years we have been advocating for a solution to the Syrian crisis – a solution that comes from the people and is representative of the people.

So far, peace talks and other initiatives for a solution have left out many of Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities, only including the actors engaged in violence. However, many of Syria’s minorities have been instrumental in protecting vulnerable areas from ISIS, as well as maintaining peace in areas previously consumed by fighting. We find it puzzling that the actors who have remained peaceful are being left out of discussions regarding a solution.

We are advocating for a democratic, pluralistic solution for Syria. In northeast Syria, a group of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians, and Chechens of various religions have established the Self Administration Areas of North East Syria. This region is self-governed, and functions on a social contract “based upon mutual and peaceful coexistence and understanding between all strands of society.” As we advocate for a democratic, pluralistic solution for Syria, we look to the Self Administration Areas as a prime example of how this solution can be achieved.

Our new website will provide information on the solution we are proposing and advocating for, current news on Syria, as well as opportunities for you to be involved. Be on the lookout tomorrow for when the website goes live! We will be sending an email with the link, as well as posting it to our social media accounts.

As always, please remember to pray for the crisis to end in Syria. And please pray that our advocacy initiatives will be effective and well-received!

Trump Extends Sudan Sanctions Review

President Trump issued an executive order to extend the sanctions review period on Sudan for 3 months. The State Department released the following in a press statement:

“The President’s E.O. extends the review period for an additional three months and provides for the revocation of those sanctions if the Government of Sudan (GOS) sustains the positive actions that gave rise to E.O. 13761, including maintaining a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan; improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan; and maintaining its cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism.”

The Sudanese government has made some improvements, however, inexcusable human rights violations persist. For example the Sudanese government continues to deny aid distribution to desperate citizens who live in war-torn, marginalized communities. Therefore, we are thankful for this extended period of time for Sudan to take the necessary steps to meet more acceptable human rights criteria.

Thank you to those who engaged the US government on this issue. Jubilee Campaign will continue to advocate for human rights in Sudan.

Jubilee Campaign delivers petition for blasphemy victim

Jubilee Campaign Netherlands met with the Indonesian ambassador and delivered a petition with 19,973 signatures calling for the release of Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, the former governor of Indonesia’s capital. The petition is addressed directly to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and calls on the president to deploy the immediate release of Ahok and the protection of religious and ethnic minorities in Indonesia. The petition was well received by the Indonesian ambassador, and he promised to personally pass on the petition and discuss the matter with the government in Indonesia.

Ahok Petition handoff

Ahok who is an ethnic-Chinese Christian was the former governor of Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia holds the largest Muslim population in the world. During his race for re-election he was accused of blasphemy. In a speech he referred to a verse in the Quran that warns against having Christian or Jewish allies. He stated that some Muslims were wrongly using this verse to discourage fellow Muslims from voting for Ahok. A edited video of his statement was posted online and went viral. His words were deemed by the Indonesian court as blasphemous.

Ahok lost his re-election and on May 9th was sentenced to two years in prison. Joel Voordewind Parliamentarian of the Netherlands Christian Union party says that the people around Ahok are calling for permanent international pressure to free Ahok. Therefore, on May 20, the Christian Union party, together with Jubilee Campaign, launched the petition “Free Ahok!” Collecting nearly 20,000 signatures, this petition was delivered on July 4th with the following letter:

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Tell Congress to Tighten North Korean Sanctions

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(Watch video here.)

You’ve heard of US student, Otto Warmbier’s, recent death after returning home from North Korea. This has once again shone a light on the horrors of North Korea and has left many asking “what more can the US do?” Though some feel we have tried everything only to receive disheartening results, the US Foreign Affairs Committee is convinced that we can do more. The committee released a statement debunking some common myths about US relations with North Korea. See the myths vs. facts below:

Myth: “North Korea is the most sanctioned country in the world.”

Fact: Serious pressure on North Korea has been applied unevenly, only to be lifted prematurely for promises that never materialized. And as the Wall Street Journal’s David Feith noted, North Korea may not even be in the top five most-sanctioned countries, with Iran, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe and Belarus facing tougher sanctions. “That began to change only last year,” Feith continued, “…with the passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act pushed by Rep. Ed Royce.”

Myth: “We’ve tried to put pressure, through China, on North Korea in the past and it just hasn’t done anything.”

Fact: After implementation of sanctions in 2005 against China-based Banco Delta Asia – which was doing business with the North Korean government – the Kim regime saw its flows of hard currency greatly restricted, reducing its ability to fund its illicit weapons programs. But the sanctions were lifted prematurely for more empty promises from the regime. Third-party sanctions against international banks currently doing business with the regime would have the same effect now.

Myth: “The U.S. has limited options” to address North Korean threats.

Fact: There is plenty of room to ratchet up pressure on Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s ruling class. One of the best options the United States has is Chairman Ed Royce’s Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act [H.R. 1644], which passed the House last month by an overwhelming vote of 419-1. Specifically, the bill:

  • Expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons program;
  • Targets those overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, a source of billions of dollars in annual revenue for the regime;
  • Cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports; and
  • Requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism.

It’s time for the Senate to act on Chairman Royce’s bill. Doing so will give the United States powerful new tools to address North Korean threats.

We ask you to contact your Senator today, and urge him/her to support the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.

Persecuted Christians: Victims of Torture

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(Image from Church in Chains)

Today marks the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The UN recognizes that torture is an evil practice in any form and constitutes a crime against humanity.

At Jubilee Campaign, we know that persecuted Christians are a targeted group for torture. Torture is often used by governments or others to punish Christians for their faith or as a means to try to force them to recant their faith.

A current victim of this type of persecution is Pastor Yang Hua. Yang was the pastor for a house church in Guizhou province. He has been detained since December 2015. He was arrested during a police raid of the church when he tried to stop the police from taking a hard drive. He was then charged with “divulging state secrets.”

During his time in detention he reported that his prosecutors tortured him, threatened to kill him, and threatened his family. Despite his allegations against them, these prosecutors were allowed to remain on the case.

On December 26, 2016, Pastor Yang was put on trial for the charges against him. Public members were banned from the premises and Yang’s wife was forcibly removed from the court, escorted home, and monitored by police. In January this year, his sentence of two years and six months in prison was announced.

The church has been banned and other church leaders fear arrest. Despite their many hardships, Pastor Yang and his wife have shown steadfast faith the Lord. We ask that today you pray for Pastor Yang and other victims of torture and persecution. Pray for their strength and comfort and that they may be a testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ.