Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 630 | January 2022 Update

Source: http://rlprayerbulletin.blogspot.com/

Date:  January 26, 2022

RLPB 630. January 2022 Update. Inc Burma, Burkina Faso, China, Ethiopia, Finland, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda

JANUARY 2022 UPDATE

By Elizabeth Kendal

BURMA (MYANMAR): TATMADAW KILLING IDPs

moso village burned vehicles 24dec2021 myanmarNow

Tatmadaw massacres Karenni IDPs, 24 Dec 2021

On Christmas Eve, 24 December, Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) troops, massacred a group of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kayah (formerly Karenni) State. The IDPs - 'including children, women and old people' - were fleeing attacks on Moso village, just outside Hpruso township in Burma's eastern periphery, when they were intercepted by Tatmadaw troops. After the soldiers had gathered 15 vehicles together in one place, they then shot and burned the IDPs in their vehicles. At least 35 Karenni are confirmed dead, with at least 42 missing. Then, in the early hours 17 January, Tatmadaw troops launched attacks on IDP camps in the forests around Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State. At least three people were killed and seven wounded, all Catholics. Around half the Karenni identify as Christian. Please pray for Burma's long-suffering and gravely imperilled Christian nations.

BURKINA FASO - MALI: DR KEN ELLIOT, SIX YEARS A CAPTIVE

51530EF800000578 6275519 Dr Ken Elliott pictured was kidnapped by Al Qaeda militants in B a 12 1539563245001

On 15 January 2016 Australian missionaries Dr Ken Elliot and his wife, Jocelyn, were abducted from their home in Djibo, northern Burkina Faso [see RLPB 341 (27 Jan 2016)], where they had built and run the only medical clinic in the region. After a huge outcry from area Muslims - who had lost their beloved and only doctor - the militants released Mrs Jocelyn Elliott. Six years have passed and Dr Ken Elliott, now 86, remains a captive of, and medical slave to, al-Qaeda-aligned jihadists based somewhere in northern Mali. Lord have mercy! Please pray.

CHINA: BIBLE SELLER TO REMAIN IN JAIL

Chen Yu 002 0

On 11 January Linhai City Court in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, upheld the seven-year sentence against Chen Yu, a Christian online bookstore owner. Through his Xiaomai (Wheat) Bookstore, Chen had sold more than 20,000 Christian books, mostly Bibles. In September 2020 a court charged Chen with 'illegal business operations' and sentenced him to seven years in prison. No doubt devastated to have lost his appeal, Chen is condemned to remain in prison presumably until September 2027. Please pray.

ETHIOPIA: RELENTLESS VIOLENCE; LOOMING CRISIS

Weybila Mariam incident killing at Timket festival 22jan2022

Oromia police open fire on Amhara worshippers; 19 Jan 2022.

On 6 January US Horn of Africa envoy Jeffrey Feltman met with Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa. The very next day, PM Abiy extended Christmas Day political pardons to several key Tigrean and Oromo opposition leaders. Among those released from prison were TPLF co-founder Sibhat Nega (whom strategic analyst Gregory Copley describes as 'hard-line Tigrean nationalist and committed marxist-leninist'), and Oromo nationalist leader Jawar Mohammed [see RLPB 526 (30 Oct 2019)] - men imprisoned for criminal (not political) acts. The domestic backlash against PM Abiy - especially among the existentially imperilled Christian Amhara - has been considerable, although support for him remains strong. Meanwhile, Ethiopia remains wracked with violence. The TPLF continues to attack civilians and infrastructure in mostly Christian Amhara and mostly Muslim Afar Regions. Oromo nationalist forces (including police) continue to target and kill ethnic Amhara Christians in Oromia Region, including during the Timket (Epiphany) festival. In a futile effort to secure dominance over the Red Sea region, Washington is backing ethnic separatists in the hope of stymieing Ethiopia's rise. They are playing with fire, for Ethiopia's collapse would trigger regional chaos and a Christian crisis of monumental proportions. Please pray.

FINLAND: CHRISTIAN MP ON TRIAL

Paivi Rasanen in a pause of the 24 January trial in Helsinki. Photo Matti Korhonen Uusi Tie. 24jan2022

Päivi Räsänen in court, 24 Jan 2022

The criminal trial against Finnish politician Paivi Rasanen commenced on 24 January. A medical doctor by profession, the Christian parliamentarian - a former government minister and leader of the Christian Democrats party - is charged with the crime of 'ethnic agitation', under the section of 'war crimes and crimes against humanity' in the Finnish criminal code. Her crime (committed in June 2019) was to tweet a question to her own denomination - the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland - after it agreed to sponsor the Helsinki LGBT Pride Parade. She asked: 'How can the church's doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?' Rasanen was subsequently charged with two more criminal acts - one relating to a radio debate in 2019 and another related to a pamphlet she wrote on sexuality for her church in 2004. The bishop who published the pamphlet, Rev Dr Juhana Pohjola, is also facing trial [see RLPB 599 (26 May 2021)]. As Finnish media notes, 'for the first time in Finland, the court will have to rule on whether quoting the Bible can be a crime'. Early reports from the courtroom bode ill for religious freedom in Finland. Please pray.

For updates see: Evangelical Focus.

KENYA: TERROR STALKS LAMU COUNTY

In the early hours of 3 January, militants - suspected to be al-Shabaab - brutally murdered six Christians in Widho village, Mpeketoni township, in Kenya's coastal Lamu County. The massacre has all the hallmarks of an Islamic terror attack. The six victims - all Christian men (two with the Redeemed Gospel Church and four with the Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa) - were hacked to pieces and burned to death. Locals told Morning Star News that Muslims vacated the village prior to the attack and Christians were specifically targeted. 'Among five houses set ablaze, one belonged to a Muslim who had been friendly to Christians, but the rest belonged to Christians and only Christians were killed.' The families of the slain are traumatised. The Christians of the area are living in fear; many have fled. The government needs to act. Please pray.

lappset map mereja

NOTE: Lamu County is no stranger to terrorism. However, the escalating attacks on mostly Christian Lamu residents and police are complicated. Numerous reports in Kenyan media indicate that since the Kenyan government launched the Lappset Corridor Program - a mega-infrastructure project linking South Sudan and Ethiopia to a new port in Lamu, opening the once-remote region up for development - land speculators have flooded the region looking for land to snatch and sell. Corruption is rife and criminal networks are involved; some are ethnic-based, and some are suspected of using jihadists as proxies specifically to clear Christians from the land. Many analysts insist that the Kenyan government knows what is happening but is doing nothing about it.

Recommended reference:
Terrorism or ethnic raids? Inside Lamu killing fields.
The African Crime and Conflict Journal, 16 January 2022.

NIGERIA: NORTH-CENTRAL REGION IN GRIP OF TERROR

According to Nigeria's Premium Times, 'At least 486 people were killed in the first three weeks of 2022 by non-state actors across Nigeria, an average of 22 people a day.' Over 80 percent of attacks were perpetrated by terror/jihadi groups; and 50 percent occurred in eastern Niger State where Boko Haram is expanding its presence [see RLPB 618 (6 Oct 2021)]. Along with Niger, other states seriously affected are Kaduna, Zamfara, Plateau and Kebbi. As Niger Governor Abubakar Sani Bello points out, 'When we deal with them in [eastern] Niger, they move to [southern] Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operations need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.' Please pray.

Update from KADUNA: The terrorist-bandits holding Bethel Baptist High School students released one student on 28 December and another on 1 January. One student remains in captivity - alone. Please pray. Meanwhile in PLATEAU: In the early hours of 12 January, Fulani militants attacked the predominantly Christian ethnic-Irigwe village of Ancha in Plateau State. In a two-hour rampage they looted and destroyed homes, stores, vehicles and farms. Eighteen villagers, including a baby, were killed, and six were wounded. Sixteen of the dead were members of the Salama Baptist Church, part of the Bethel Baptist Association. Lord have mercy! Please pray.

PAKISTAN: THE PLIGHT OF PAKISTAN'S DHIMMA
The non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state are known as dhimmis. As second-class citizens without legal rights, dhimmis live with gross insecurity and may be abused with impunity.

Zafar Bhatti

Christian Pastor Zafar Bhatti (57) was arrested and jailed in 2012 after a local Muslim cleric, unhappy with Bhatti's ministry, accused him of the capital crime of blasphemy. In 2017, a judge sentenced Bhatti to life in prison rather than death because there was 'no concrete evidence' against him [see RLPB 568 (23 Sept 2020)]. On 3 January 2022 the Rawalpindi District Court ruled that the death penalty should be imposed. Lawyers are preparing to appeal both the death penalty and the original conviction. Please pray.

 Mahnoor Ashraf 14 went missing on Jan. 4 2022. Morning Star News courtesy of family 5

Meanwhile, another Christian minor girl has been groomed and trafficked into Islam. On 4 January Mahnoor Ashraf (14) was abducted in Lahore while walking to a shop, converted to Islam by a corrupt Muslim cleric and married to an already married Muslim man, a neighbour named Muhammad Ali Khan Ghauri (45). The Islamic marriage certificate states Mahnoor's age as 19, though her birth certificate shows she was born on 19 Aug 2007. Mahnoor's family is deeply distressed, and according to her father, 'the police are not doing anything to find [her]'. Please pray.

SOUTH SUDAN: ARAB MUSLIM NOMADS KILL CHRISTIAN FARMERS

Over at least two days in early January, armed Arab Muslim Misseriya nomadic tribesmen from Sudan attacked the Christian community of Yith Pabol in South Sudan's Aweil East county, Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State. At least 28 people were killed, and 57 homes burned. Bishop Joseph Mamer Manot said on 6 January that 'massive displacement has happened and the humanitarian situation is alarming as food and other property have been burned down into ashes, leaving survivors with no shelters, no food and no safe drinking water'. Please pray.

reliefweb map feb 2021 red Aweil East County

Aweil East county, encircled in red.  Map source: reliefweb Feb 2021

NOTE: Early every year nomadic cattle-herders from Sudan's Arab Muslim Misseriya tribe cross into South Sudan's Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State to search for pasture and water. The migration routinely results in clashes, as the migrants compete for resources with the cattle herding Dinka Malual indigenes (non-Muslim Africans, mostly Christians). In February 2021 the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in collaboration with its peace partners and the government, hosted a peace and pre-migration conference between the two groups. It was decided that the Misseriya would be permitted to cross into South Sudan, but only without guns. Any Misseriya bringing guns or ammunition into South Sudan was to be arrested and prosecuted. The reformist Sudanese government of PM Hamdok was directly involved in addressing the conflict. But since Sudan's October military coup, Sudan is back under military rule. The previous regime of Omar el-Bashir was known to use the Misseriya as proxies against Christians. We are yet to see if the current regime under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (also known as Hemeti) will do the same.

SUDAN: POST COUP RE-ISLAMISATION

After enacting unprecedented reforms aimed at de-Islamising and democratising multi-ethnic Sudan, the deep-state-backed military intervened and ousted the civilian government in a military coup. Since October 2021 Sudan has been back under military rule. It is becoming increasingly clear that regime is moving to re-Islamise the state. Apostasy was decriminalised in July 2020 [RLPB 559 (22 July 2020)]. However, when Ms Koko told a court this month that she had left Islam for Christianity - something that would allow her to reunite with her apostate former husband, the court ruled her conversion unacceptable. Likewise, the reformist government of PM Hamdok had promised to remove the illegally-constituted committees imposed on churches by the al-Bashir regime. However, post-coup that promise is void. CSW reports (14 Jan): 'Church property belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) in Kosti, White Nile State, and Kadugli in South Kordofan State has been taken over by members of a committee convened in violation of the church's constitution.' What is more, in Kadugli a SPEC church leader is facing criminal charges for attempting to intervene to prevent an illegally-constituted committee from selling church property. These trends bode ill for Sudan's Christians. Please pray.

TURKEY: ANOTHER BYZANTINE CHURCH OPENED AS A MOSQUE

The church of Hagia Sophia [Holy Wisdom] of Ainos (Enez) is a Byzantine building dating back to the 12th Century. On Friday 24 December - i.e., Christmas Eve - the Turkish President of Religious Affairs, Ali Erbas, officially opened the renovated church to Muslims for prayers as a functioning mosque. Please pray for the increasingly threatened Church in Turkey.

UGANDA: PERSECUTION PERSISTS IN EASTERN REGION

In the early hours of 30 December, Muslim extremists broke into Jenifer Nakirya's home in Kasasya village, Pallisa District, and beat her and her daughter close to death. In February 2021 the same Muslims murdered Jenifer's husband, Simon Olinga, after he led six Muslims to Christ. Jenifer regained consciousness at dawn, but her daughter Oliva Apio (16) was still unconscious when church members arrived at 6:30am with food as part of the church's aid to widows. Unable to walk, it seems Olivia has suffered a spinal injury and she is having memory problems. Jenifer, meanwhile, continues to suffer pain. Please pray.

In May 2016, mosque leader Bashir Sengendo of Namaato village, Namutimba District, converted to Christianity and fled for his life to western Uganda. There he attended Bible College and after six months become a pastor. All the while, his relatives kept urging him to return to Namaato and tend to a portion of land supposedly allocated to him. Eventually, on 12 January 2022, Sengendo returned; arriving in the village at 9pm The next morning, Sengendo's brother and uncle beat and cut him mercilessly for daring to bring shame on the family and on Islam. Neighbours rescued him and took him to Namutimba Hospital where he remains seriously ill, having lost a lot of blood. Please pray.

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