Christians face “intimidation and violence”

May 22, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Myanmar, May 18, 2017: Despite Myanmar (Burma) taking encouraging steps towards greater democracy, many of the country’s Christians continue to face severe persecution from the Buddhist majority. The independent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom documented the situation in Myanmar in their latest report, stating that “discriminatory restrictions on land ownership, intimidation and violence against Christians, the forced relocation and destruction of Christian cemeteries, violent attacks on places of worship, and an ongoing campaign of coerced conversion to Buddhism.”

Most of Myanmar’s Christians come from non-Burman ethnic minorities and these groups continue to be singled out. The government’s long-running war against Kachin separatists has “deeply impacted Christian and other faith communities, including by restricting their access to food, shelter, health care, and other basic necessities.” Thousands of Kachin Christians have lost their homes and live in camps.

Children in ethnic minority Christian communities are particularly vulnerable: “there are 33 Na Ta La [Buddhist] schools across the country, more than half of which are in rural, impoverished Chin, Kachin, and Naga areas. The Na Ta La schools offer free education and boarding to children of poor families who might otherwise not have access to education. In return, however, Christian students are not allowed to attend church; must practice or learn about Buddhist worship, literature, and culture; and become initiated into the monkhood or nunhood. Students effectively are cut off from their parents, and upon graduation are guaranteed government employment so long as they officially convert to Buddhism, including on their national ID cards”

- uscirf report 2017

A hospital in Lahore is forcing Christian paramedics to recite verses from the Holy Quran

May 21, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Pakistan, May 3, 2017: Reports suggest that there is a hospital administration in the city that forces its non-Muslim staffers to either recite verses from the Holy Quran at morning assembly or be marked absent for the day.

The Mian Mir Hospital, run by the City District Government Lahore, was named after Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir who rose to prominence during the time of Mughal emperor Jehangir. The saint himself was a big proponent of interfaith harmony.

The matter came to light when Mian Mir Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Sarfraz allegedly slapped a Christian paramedical staffer for not attending the assembly. Following the incident, all paramedical staff protested against the MS and other hospital administration by shutting down all functions of the medical facility.  “This act of the MS is a violation of the Constitution of Pakistan,” commented a Christian paramedical staffer named Marshal.

Talking to the media, he asked religious scholars to sort out the issue as the administration of the hospital was pressurising them to leave their jobs.”

Another paramedical staff member of the medical facility, Fahad Ahmed, said both Muslims and Christians were working in harmony. “It is professional workplace; I don’t know why the administration is forcing our Christian brothers to do this. This is totally unacceptable.”

Center for Social Justice Chairman Peter Jacob told The Express Tribune that religious freedom is guaranteed to all under Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan. “This act goes against the constitution and should be dealt with accordingly,” he commented.

A paramedical staffer also agreed with this notion. He urged authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter and “question the MS over the incident”.   Despite several attempts and text messages, MS Mian Mir Hospital Dr Muhammad Sarfraz was unavailable for comment.

However, CDGL Health CEO Dr Muhammad Saeed assured a high-level committee had been formed to look into the matter and a strict departmental inquiry would be initiated against anyone found guilty.

Experts said extremism was creeping into public hospitals and was a massive concern for law enforcement agencies. A senior law enforcement official, requesting anonymity, said the phenomena of extremism among doctors and other paramedical staff was nothing new. He urged the health department to frame a code of conduct to avoid any such incident in future. “The issue of Mian Mir hospital is just a small manifestation and also serves as an alarm bell,” he concluded.

- tribune

Young female ISIS terrorist who attempted to kill Christians on easter by Pakistan

May 19, 2017 by admin  
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Pakistan, May 18, 2017: The government of Pakistan has reportedly pardoned a young medical student who joined the Islamic State terror group but was stopped before blowing up a Christian church on Easter, insisting that she can serve as an example to others.

Major General Asif Ghafoor argued on Samaa TV that Noreen Laghari is not a terrorist, and due to the actions of Pakistan’s armed forces who caught her before carrying out the bombing, her mind has been rescued from brainwashing, the British Pakistani Christian Association reported on Wednesday.

“So should we treat Noreen like a terrorist or release her so that she can tell others how she was trapped and used for terrorism?” Ghafoor asked. “In this way, awareness will be created among the younger generation and parents as well as institutions.”

The BPCA noted that Pakistan’s Muslim majority had pressed for Laghari’s freedom, but wondered if they would have been so merciful if the medical student, who had left to join IS in Syria, had attempted to blow up a Muslim school instead.

“Noreen Leghari is a woman intelligent enough to be considered for a role as a doctor yet is being described as pliable and immature,” BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry said.

“Miss Leghari’s animosity for Christians would no doubt have led to many deaths including her own, yet a ‘soul searching nation’ have a strong will and desire to show her mercy.”

Chowdhry continued: “How many of these same Pakistani citizens would be so forgiving had Miss Legahri planned to bomb a Muslim School?

“If it were Muslims that were targeted by Legahri I am certain many of the campaigners would find her crime too offensive for granting a pardon — Christian lives are ostensibly less valuable in Pakistan.”

Chowdhry argued that it is “hard to believe” that Legahri’s “deep-rooted hatred” has simply vanished when she was ready to kill Christians this Easter.

“Years down the line I pray we do not discover a series of ‘Shipman’ type deaths of Christians at any hospital she is employed by,” he warned, referring to British GP and serial killer Harold Shipman.

“I asked several Pakistani Christians whether they would trust a doctor who had previously attempted to bomb a church on Easter Day, to administer care for them. It was no surprise to me that the unanimous response was a resounding no.”

While Laghari has been pardoned, Christians in Pakistan continue being targeted by the nation’s blasphemy laws, and severely punished if found guilty of insulting the Islamic faith.

A court in Pakistan sentenced a Christian man to life in prison earlier in May for sending “blasphemous” text messages from his mobile phone.

Legal advocacy group CLAAS vowed to continue fighting for Zafar Bhatti’s freedom despite the harsh sentencing.

“The lower court’s judges always hesitate to make decisions on the merit, or free people accused of blasphemy, and instead transfer their burden to the higher court without realizing how their decision will impact the accused and their families’ lives,” Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, said in a statement.

“Bhatti is innocent and will be freed by the higher court. But it will take several years for his case to be heard by the High court, and until then he and his family will continue suffering needlessly.”

Accoridng to the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan, at least 65 people have been killed over blasphemy allegations in the country since 1990, and dozens more convicted of the crime have been placed on death row.

- christian post

Facebook blasphemy: Christian teenager denied bail again

May 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Lahore, May 18, 2017: A court in Pakistan has refused bail to a 16-year-old Christian boy accused of Facebook blasphemy.

Nabeel Masih was arrested for “liking” and “sharing” a Facebook post which “defamed and disrespected” the Kaaba in Mecca – the building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque.

A Districts and Sessions judge, who refused the bail, said the boy committed a “heinous and odious act by defiling the religious feelings of Muslims and their holy place of worship.”

It was Judge Iqbal who in 2010 convicted the Christian woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy. She has been on death row ever since.

In February, a local magistrate had refused him bail despite his lawyers’ plea that as a child with no prior convictions, he should be released.

Riaz Anjum, from human rights group Pakistan for All, told World Watch Monitor the judge had acted in contravention of the law because, under Section 196 of Pakistan’s Code of Criminal Procedure, courts are prevented from hearing cases relating to blasphemy without the approval of the central or provincial government. (This is because the State perceives blasphemy to be a crime against the State.)

Masih was arrested on September 18, 2016. After his arrest, many Christians living in the area went into hiding fearing reprisals, though they later returned.

In October, Masih’s lawyers reported being intimidated by the complainant’s supporters, as they made their Appeal Court appearance.

Aneeqa Maria Anthony said she was told by a lawyer for the complainant to “watch herself and stay away.” She also said about 80 people at the hearing threatened Masih’s family.

Anthony added that she was “confident [Masih] has committed no crime and that is why we are representing him… Nabeel is innocent: the accusation against him has not yet been proven.”

Other social media cases

In July 2016, Pakistani Christian Nadeem James and his family fled their home in the religiously conservative city of Gujarat after he was accused of committing blasphemy by sending an offensive text message from his mobile phone.

In May 2016, Imran Masih, a 30-year-old road sweeper, was attacked and had a fatwa declared against him after a work colleague said he’d found an anti-Islamic video on Masih’s phone.

In 2014, lawyer Rashid Rehman was threatened in court while he represented a man accused of ‘liking’ a ‘blasphemous’ message posted on Facebook. Rehman was later murdered at his office.

- matters india

Facebook blasphemy: Christian teenager denied bail again

May 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Lahore, May 18, 2017: A court in Pakistan has refused bail to a 16-year-old Christian boy accused of Facebook blasphemy.

Nabeel Masih was arrested for “liking” and “sharing” a Facebook post which “defamed and disrespected” the Kaaba in Mecca – the building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque.

A Districts and Sessions judge, who refused the bail, said the boy committed a “heinous and odious act by defiling the religious feelings of Muslims and their holy place of worship.”

It was Judge Iqbal who in 2010 convicted the Christian woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy. She has been on death row ever since.

In February, a local magistrate had refused him bail despite his lawyers’ plea that as a child with no prior convictions, he should be released.

Riaz Anjum, from human rights group Pakistan for All, told World Watch Monitor the judge had acted in contravention of the law because, under Section 196 of Pakistan’s Code of Criminal Procedure, courts are prevented from hearing cases relating to blasphemy without the approval of the central or provincial government. (This is because the State perceives blasphemy to be a crime against the State.)

Masih was arrested on September 18, 2016. After his arrest, many Christians living in the area went into hiding fearing reprisals, though they later returned.

In October, Masih’s lawyers reported being intimidated by the complainant’s supporters, as they made their Appeal Court appearance.

Aneeqa Maria Anthony said she was told by a lawyer for the complainant to “watch herself and stay away.” She also said about 80 people at the hearing threatened Masih’s family.

Anthony added that she was “confident [Masih] has committed no crime and that is why we are representing him… Nabeel is innocent: the accusation against him has not yet been proven.”

Other social media cases

In July 2016, Pakistani Christian Nadeem James and his family fled their home in the religiously conservative city of Gujarat after he was accused of committing blasphemy by sending an offensive text message from his mobile phone.

In May 2016, Imran Masih, a 30-year-old road sweeper, was attacked and had a fatwa declared against him after a work colleague said he’d found an anti-Islamic video on Masih’s phone.

In 2014, lawyer Rashid Rehman was threatened in court while he represented a man accused of ‘liking’ a ‘blasphemous’ message posted on Facebook. Rehman was later murdered at his office.

- matters india

Protestant home church banned for “collaborating with Korea”

May 17, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

China, May 17, 2017: A protestant domestic church has been declared outlawed in Fujian Province and accused of “establishing religious sites” and “collaborating with South Korea.”

The news was published yesterday on the Christian Post. The authorities accused the Church of Berea [a Protestant denomination] “River of Life” for having opened a theology institute, supported by money from Korea, and having set up several places of worship. They also seized 1,346 yuan (about US $ 200) of donations, as “illegal revenue”.

The “River of Life” community was founded eight years ago and has gathered dozens of faithful every Sunday.

Tens of millions of Protestant Christians prefer to practice their faith in the so-called “domestic churches”, which are not registered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs. This makes them illegal. But in the Protestant world there is growing pressure to widen religious freedom even to unregistered communities, provided they are not “evil cults”, with negative consequences on the population and government.

An attorney who is studying the case of the “River of Life” Church states that “it is ridiculous to arrest someone because he participates in Christian meetings at home. The government often uses the excuse that Christians’ disturb the social order ‘to persecute them.’

In the case of the outlawed community, there is also a link with a foreign country that, according to government regulations, should be monitored and avoided as much as possible to create “national and patriotic” communities. Pastor Zhang, interviewed by China Aid notes: “Since religions are founded in different countries, the people are unavoidably ‘collaborating with foreign powers’ when they choose a religious belief. Jesus himself was a foreigner. This logic is ridiculous. Our government has armed itself to the teeth in order to control people’s minds.”

Last month Doug Bandow, of the Cato Institute, said that “President Xi Jinping’s China is becoming more and more fearful,” as the government continues to suppress all dissent and contacts with the West.

For Bandow, the growing persecution in China shows that “the Communist god who has failed, fears competition [with other religions]“.

In a commentary published in the Japan Times, Bandow notes that despite religious persecution, economic reforms undertaken by China “have enlarged the space for the expression of faith” and that “freedom cannot be easily narrowed.”

Badow cites a recent report by Freedom House (a USA body for Religious Freedom), in which it is noted that repression against Christians in China rather than checking religion’s natural expansion and keeping it under political control, has essentially created an enormous black market, forcing many believers to operate outside the law and to view the regime as “unreasonable, unjust, or illegitimate.”

- asianews

Pakistani official: ‘We have failed minorities’

May 16, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Lahore, May 16, 2017: An official from Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province has admitted that authorities have failed to protect religious minorities from hard-line Islamists.

“The intolerance, anger on religious matters and culture of lynching disturbs us,” said Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan chief spokesman of the Punjab government speaking at the May 12 event titled “Securing Punjab’s Diversity” in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province where majority of Christians in the country reside. Punjab also has 60 percent of the country’s population.

As an example, Kahn said four people from the Ahmadiyya sect were killed by hardliners during April. “The religious cleansing must stop,” said Khan who is also special assistant to the Punjab chief minister.

Ahmadis, who believe Prophet Mohammed was not the last prophet, have suffered harsh persecution since they were declared non-Muslims by Pakistan in 1974.

“We have failed in protecting minorities from forced conversion,” Khan said at the event attended by more than 30 activists, journalists and educationists. “Everybody knows it, why should we hide it?” he asked.

Out of 1,000 Christian and Hindu women forcibly converted to Islam and forcibly married each year in Pakistan, 700 of them are Punjabi Christians, according to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council. Rights group say many of these are under the age of 18 and are married off to Muslims, or forced into bonded labor.

Speaking to ucanews after the event, Father Abid Habib — former regional coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic religious major superiors — said, “It has become impossible for local Hindus to recover their kidnapped children. In all the cases the minority community is at the losing end.”

“The police and the courts always take the side of the Muslim party. Even though one can see that the girl is making a statement under pressure, the courts usually dismiss the case and let her go with the kidnappers,” said Father Habib. “Perhaps they think of it as lawful in service of Islam.”

As a panelist at the event, Nadeem Umar Tarar, from the National College of Arts in Lahore, highlighted other issues that minorities face in Pakistan such as the country’s controversial blasphemy laws and the bombing of Sufi shrines.

“Our cultural identities have been suppressed by a religious and extremist mindset. There is no space for intellectual discussion,” said Tarar.

Speaking at the event, Catholic Professor Anjum James Paul said that non-Muslim families in Pakistan continue living in silence for fear of persecution and face religious discrimination in schools and government offices.

Paul, who is the Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association, said school textbooks for increasing hatred for religions other than Islam. “We are facing internal threats due to the prevalent extremist mindset which is affecting everybody including students and religious groups,” he said.

Christians make up most of the non-Muslim minority in central Punjab and account for 1.5 per cent of the province’s total population. Punjab government records say about 7,000 Hindus live in the province. About 70 percent of Pakistan’s 600,000 Ahmadis also live in the province.

Nationally, more than 95 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people are Muslims. Less than 2 percent are Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities.

- ucan

Philippine Independent Church condemns arrest of bishop

May 15, 2017 by admin  
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Manila, May 14, 2017: The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) or IFI condemned what it described as the “illegal arrest” of one of its bishops in the southern city of Ozamis in Mindanao.

A combined military and police unit arrested Bishop Carlo Morales and his companions at a checkpoint in the village of Gango in the city on May 11.

The arresting officers claimed one of the bishop’s companions was a member of the rebel National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which is currently negotiating a peace deal with the government.

“Be that as it may, we find no reason that the good bishop of Ozamiz will be illegally arrested, handcuffed, and illegally detained in jail,” read the church’s statement released on May 12.

The church said Bishop Morales “fully introduced himself as a bishop but still he was accorded with such maltreatment.”

“We, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, raise our voice to the highest condemnation,” read the church’s statement.

The IFI is an independent denomination in the form of a national church. Its schism from the Catholic Church was proclaimed in 1902 due to the alleged mistreatment of Filipinos by Spanish priests.

Since 1960 the church has been in full communion with the Episcopal Church in the United States and the entire Anglican Communion.

“We demand for [Bishop Morales] immediate release,” said Bishop Antonio Ablon of the nearby Pagadian Diocese.

“It is a clear violation of human rights and on the person of a religious leader or a bishop that has an obligation to provide protection or sanctuary to a person who is in distress or politically persecuted,” said the prelate.

Bishop Ablon called the arrest of his fellow bishop as a “despicable police malpractice and a clear harassment and human rights violation.”

Bishop Morales and his companions — wife Maria Teofifina Morales, driver Sadome Dalid, and a certain Rommel Salinas — spent the night in a crowded holding cell in the city’s police station.

Father Dave Bitos from Ozamis Diocese told ucanews.com that the bishop is facing charges of “harboring a warranted person.”

The police accused Salinas of being a “high-ranking New People’s Army [NPA] leader in western Mindanao. His arrest was covered by five warrants for the crimes of “destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder, and robbery in band [squatting].”

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines that has been waging a more than four-decade old insurgency.

Arresting officers said a hand grenade and personal belongings were recovered from Salinas during his arrest.

Members of the church held an overnight protest outside the police station in the city to call for the release of the bishop and his companions.

- ucan

1,000 Candlelight Vigils held worldwide to protest prison sentence for Jakarta’s Christian governor

May 14, 2017 by admin  
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Jakarta, May 13, 2017: Massive rallies are being held across Indonesia since the conviction and arrest of the governor of the capital Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who was convicted of “blasphemy.” About 9,000 Indonesians have submitted their national identity cards to serve as the guarantor for the Christian official’s bail, according to local media.

The arrest of Ahok, who was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday after being found guilty of insulting the Islamic faith, has led to a wave of massive support from sympathizers who are protesting the unjust ruling as a wrong precedent for freedom of speech in the country and are demanding that his detention be suspended, according to The Jakarta Post.

While supporters in large numbers have regularly gathered around the area where Ahok is being held in detention and nightly candlelight vigils have been held across the archipelago, those who live away from Jakarta are planning to hold 1,000 more candlelight vigils in various parts of the country and abroad, the Post said.

Ahok’s supporters are also collecting signatures and photocopies of identification cards to secure the suspension of the Christian governor’s detention. One of the coordinators of the ID collection effort was quoted as saying that about 9,000 Indonesians had submitted their IDs as guarantors, but the requirement is for 10,000 guarantors.

Ahok, an ethnic Chinese who back in April lost his re-election bid in Jakarta, had angered hardline Islamic groups when he referenced passages in the Quran last September, arguing that his opponents were trying to use the Islamic holy book to deceive people into voting against him.

Thousands of hardline Muslims had marched on the streets in Jakarta, demanding that Ahok be jailed ahead of the city’s gubernatorial election in April. Ahok had won the first round of voting held Feb. 15.

Many believe that Ahok’s opponents had long been against the Christian governor due to his clean record and because he was seeking to remove corrupt practices from the system.

Ahok was appointed the governor of Jakarta in November 2014 after then Gov. Joko Widodo, affectionately known as “Jokowi,” was elected president of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Ahok was Jokowi’s deputy at the time. Even during Jokowi’s presidential campaign, Indonesia’s extremist Muslim groups urged voters to oppose Jokowi to prevent the Christian official from becoming governor.

Ahok was declared a suspect in the blasphemy case in November 2016, after hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims held a rally to demand his prosecution. Ahok explained he didn’t mean to insult the Quran.

A video posted on social media, which showed Ahok saying no one should manipulate verses from the Quran for political gains, “was edited by Buni Yani (a Facebook user and a university lecturer) in an attempt to show the governor discrediting a verse from the Islamic holy book during a meeting with local residents,” Jakarta Globe reported earlier.

Ahok had been misquoted. The video makes it look as if the governor had said, “You’ve been lied to by the 51st verse of the (Quran’s) Al-Maidah chapter,” while he had actually said, “You’ve been lied to by [people] misquoting the 51st verse of the Al-Maidah,” the Globe said in an editorial.

While the majority of the people in Indonesia are known to be tolerant and moderate, there are several extremist Islamist groups in the country. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago have been closed over the last decade due to pressure from such groups.

- christian post

US Embassy officials help persecuted Chinese Christian family escape to America

May 12, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

China, May 11, 2017: United States government officials helped save a threatened Chinese Christian family from being deported back to China by sweeping them from detention in Thailand as Chinese security agents were coming to take them away.

Chen Guiqiu, the wife of imprisoned and tortured human rights lawyer Xie Yang who was arrested in 2015 on charges of inciting subversion, and her two daughters, one of which is a U.S. citizen, were imprisoned in Bangkok and facing deportation orders on March 3 when God answered their prayers, the Associated Press reports.

Having just been issued a deportation order, Chen was shown surveillance footage of the jail’s entrance where there were at least a dozen Chinese government agents waiting to escort her and her girls back to China, a country that ranks as one of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians and where they could have faced punishment for fleeing the nation.

“Don’t desert us now, not like this,” Chen recalled praying, in her interview with AP.

And, He didn’t.

Just in the nick of time, U.S. Embassy officials came to the rescue and led Chen and her daughters out the back door of the jail. After the Chinese officials learned what happened, they chased after the family and the U.S. officials. It was at the airport in Bangkok that the embassy workers and Chinese agents engaged in a heated argument over who had rightful custody of the family.

A source with knowledge of the altercation told AP that the encounter heated up so much that it almost turned physical.

Although sources were not able to reveal how the negotiations ended without exposing diplomatic sensitivities, somehow Chen and her daughters finally arrived to the U.S. on March 17.

But had it not been for the fact that Chen was connected with Texas-based Bob Fu, a pastor and founder of the legal aid group China Aid who also helped other well-known Chinese Christians and human rights activists flee China, her family’s fate might have been different.

Chen and her girls decided to leave home because government pressure increased after Chen helped release her husband’s testimony in January, which made international headlines because of the allegations that he was beaten and tortured by prison officials in China.

AP reports that following the reports of Xie’s treatment in prison, which is consistent with other reports of police abuse in China, Chen was summoned by police for meetings that lasted hours.

In those meetings, she said officials threatened to deny her kids education, and have her fired from her job as a professor at Hunan University and evicted.

The threats only got worse as authorities were failing to extract a confession from her husband.

Tired of the government threats stemming from the situation with her husband, who was arrested during a crackdown on human rights lawyers in July 2015, Chen decided that it was time to leave the country and did so on Feb. 19.

“We’re going on a trip,” Chen recalled telling her daughters at the time.

However, they encountered a problem. Chen’s 14-year-old daughter was detained by police when she tried to board a train for Hong Kong, which meant that there was a travel ban placed on them.

It was then when Chen sought help from Fu, who helped blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng flee to the United States in 2012 after he escaped house arrest.

Fu had connections at a safe house in Bangkok. After trekking through two countries without paperwork on foot and by car for five days with little food, Chen and her daughters arrived safely at the safe house.

However, the Chinese government heard of Chen’s escape. According to AP, government officials forced her 70-year-old father, her sister and her boss to travel to Thailand in an attempt to find her.

It was on March 2 that Chen and her girls were located at the safe house and jailed. And the next day, a Thai judge ordered the family to be deported back to China.

But thanks to Fu, who contacted the U.S. State Department and some of his allies in Thailand, U.S. officials located Chen’s daughters while she was in court for the deportation proceeding. After locating Chen, U.S. officials successfully persuaded Thai officials to let them leave with the woman and her children.

After speeding to the airport, immigration officials stopped Chen because Chinese officials were pressuring them to prevent Chen and her girls from leaving the country. After about two weeks of negotiating, Chen and her daughters were finally allowed to leave and entered the U.S. on March 17.

It is unclear why Chen and her daughters were finally allowed to leave and where they were housed during the weeks their departure was being negotiated.

“China is exporting its human rights abuses beyond its borders,” Susan Shirk, former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego, told AP. “The Thai government has always tried to maintain good relations with the U.S. and with China … but these kinds of cases make that balancing act very difficult.”

Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman for East Asia, told AP that the U.S. is urging China to release Xie and the dozens human rights lawyers detained in the July 9, 2015 crackdown and “remove restrictions on their freedom of movement and professional activities.”

According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, China ranks as the 39th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.

“As Christians are the largest social force in China not controlled by the Communist Party, there are increasing efforts to bring them under state control,” an Open Doors fact sheet states. “Historical Christian communities (including government-controlled churches) and non-traditional Protestant Christian communities are monitored and limited in their freedom of religion.”

- christian post

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