Persecution of Christians in Nigeria, Laos & Iraq

September 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Iraq, Laos, newsletter-world, Nigeria, Persecution, World

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Nigeria: Suicide bomber hits church in bauchi, at least four deadNIGERIA: SUICIDE BOMBER HITS CHURCH IN BAUCHI, AT LEAST FOUR DEAD

A suicide bomber struck a church in Bauchi, Nigeria, on Sunday (23 September), killing himself and at least four people.

The attack on the church in the Bayan Gari area of Bauchi Town happened at around 9am as worshippers were leaving after the first service of the day. The bomber detonated his explosives at the church gate after failing to gain access to the site.

A boy aged around seven was among the fatalities. The death toll could rise, as many of the 48 people who were wounded suffered life-threatening injuries.

The incident followed another attack on Christians in the town the previous Sunday (16 September). Gunmen opened fire at a place where people gather to socialise in the evening; nine were killed.


Five Christian leaders were arrested as part of a crackdown on the Church in one Lao district.

On 11 September, three pastors, Bounlert of Alowmai church, Adang of Kengsainoy church and Onkaew of Kapang church, along with two other Christian leaders whose names have not been made public, were detained by police in Phin district, Savannakhet province.

The latter two were released on 13 September, but the other three have been held in harsh conditions, their hands and feet chained. Adang and Onkaew are seriously ill.

While the church pastors were locked up, police officers went to their congregations and questioned their wives and other leaders; they were asked about church finances, their own Christian faith and that of others, as well as details about the pastors’ work.


Over 150 young Christians held a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday (22 September), following an explosion in front of a church there. Inspired by the International Day of Peace on Friday, they were also joined by older believers.

A bomb hidden in a bag had exploded at the door of the cathedral in Kirkuk on Sunday 16 September at 8.45pm. The building was damaged but nobody was hurt.

– barnabas team

Pastor of torched Egyptian church jailed over building’s height *Christian families from two Lao villages threatened with eviction

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Egypt, Laos, newsletter-asia, Persecution

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Egyptian churchEgypt, March 13, 2012: The pastor of an Egyptian church that was torched by Muslims – prompting a Christian protest that was brutally crushed by the military – has been jailed over the building’s excess height.

Makarios Bolous was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 300 Egyptian pounds for violations regarding the height of St George’s Church in the village of Elmarinab, Aswan province.

The century-old building was torched by a Muslim mob on 30 September 2011. It was under renovation at the time, and permission for the work had been granted by the governor of Aswan.

Local Muslims took objection, and after making demands that the building be stripped of any sign of its being a church, they turned violent. Attackers demolished the dome, walls and columns before torching the building.

Thousands of Christians took to the streets of Cairo in protest, and on 9 October they came under brutal attack by the security forces, Islamists and thugs. In what was described as the worst violence in Egypt since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, military vehicles charged at Christians who were demonstrating near the state TV building in Maspero Square; the protestors were also shot at, beaten and dragged through the streets. At least 25 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

Following an international outcry over the incident, Field Marshall Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, gave orders to the governor of Aswan that St George’s be rebuilt at the expense of the government. Nothing has yet been done.

One church leader said:

We are not allowed to pray there or come near it by order of the authorities.

Construction workers had started removing the excess height before the building was torched. At Mr Bolous’ court hearing, the church lawyer presented documents showing that the architect and building contractor – not the pastor – had responsibility for this work, but this was not taken into consideration. St George’s will appeal against the ruling.

Mr Bolous has also been prevented from going into the village by the local Muslims.

The attack on St George’s was one of an increasing number of violent anti-Christian incidents in Egypt since the revolution. Now that Islamist parties hold the majority of the seats in the new parliament, Christians are fearful that their vulnerable position in Egyptian society will only worsen.

– barnabas team

Christian families from two Lao villages threatened with eviction


Laos Rice FieldsLaos, March 13, 2012: Christian families from two villages in the same Lao province have been ordered to renounce their faith or face expulsion.

One of the groups – ten families, around 65 people, from Hueygong village, Pakoo district, Luangprabang province – has been given a deadline of 18 March to either recant or leave their homes. Eight of the families became Christians just three months ago.

Local authorities issued the expulsion order on 18 February. Prior to this, Pakoo district officials had demanded information about the number of churches and believers in the area and said that people had to seek permission from the authorities to be Christians. The Pakoo district government has refused to recognise the presence of Christians in its territory, despite the fact that there are eight churches there now.

The head of religious affairs of Luangprabang province has however intervened on behalf of the Hueygong Christians. He has told district officials that the expulsion order is illegal and should be reversed. If it is not, he will take the matter to higher authorities.

The other group of Christians who are facing eviction in Luangprabang province live in Hueysell village, Ngoi district. Two Christian leaders were summoned to the village government headquarters in mid-January and given the verbal order that the Christian residents must renounce their faith or face being ejected. The 14 Christian families, over 80 individuals, have stood firm, and so far the village authorities have not carried out their expulsion threat.

Christians elsewhere in Laos have faced similar harassment. In December 2011, all 47 Christians in Natoo village, Palansai district, Savannakhet province, were told that they must give up their faith in Christ and cease all Sunday worship meetings or leave.

Threats of this nature have been carried out. Christian families were driven out of Katin village, Ta-Oyl district, Saravan Province, at gunpoint in January 2010. They were told that they could return only if they abandoned their Christian beliefs.

Although the Lao constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the country is a signatory grants freedom of religion, in practice the authorities continue to harass, evict and arrest Christians. The Communist regime is deeply suspicious of Christianity, which they regard as a Western import.

– barnabas team

Pak woman tortured & paraded for ‘anti-Islam’ views *Northern Laos Christians called to renounce belief or…

March 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Laos, newsletter-asia, Pakistan, Persecution

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Woman tortured in PakistanPakistan, March 02, 2012: A Christian woman was brutally tortured and paraded in the streets of a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province by a mob for her alleged “anti-Islam views”, local residents and police officials said today. Some 30 residents of Kot Meerath village of Sialkot district, 80 km from Lahore, dragged Seema Bibi out of her house on February 26 and paraded her in the streets after shaving her head.

She was targeted by the mob for her alleged “anti-Islam views”, members of the Christian community said. Following the assault, Seema Bibi and her family left the village to save their lives, local residents said.
“She and her family had been facing threats from a group of extremist villagers. She left the village as she had no other option,” said Aslam Masih, a resident of Kot Meerath.

Regional police chief Muhammad Amin told reporters that 26 people had been arrested on charges of torturing Seema Bibi and a case had been registered against them. Amin said police had no knowledge of the whereabouts of Seema Bibi and her family. Amin said the arrested people had tortured and assaulted Seema Bibi for her beliefs. Police had stepped up their vigil due to tensions between Muslims and Christians in the village, he said.

– times of india

Northern Laos Christians called to renounce belief or…


Luangprabang ProvinceLaos, March 2, 2012: On February 18, 2012, the Hueygong village chief Mr. KHAMPENG and the Saysawang sub-district police Mr. SOMPON issued an expulsion order against ten Christians families, consisting of approximately 65 believers; eight of the ten families became Christians three months ago. Christians now are holding worship services in the home of their leader Mr. JAR-YANG.

According to the order, Christians have up to March 18, 2012, to recant of their Christian belief or else they must be expelled from the village. Local Christians nearby are uncertain whether officials will use force to follow through with the order. Hueygong village and Saysawang sub-district are located in Pakoo district of Luangprabang province.

The expulsion order came shortly after the Pakoo district government refused to recognize the presence of Christians in its district—even though eight Christian churches now exist there. Prior to the order, district officials informed Christians to report the number of believers and churches to the Pakoo district government office in order to seek permission to be Christians. A Lao church leader northern Laos stated that a request to be Christians in Pakoo district would have to be approved by the Pakoo district chief and the district religious affairs as well as the secretary of the Communist party of the district. Without these district officials approving the request, villagers cannot become Christians or believe in the Christian faith. If they insist on believing it, they would then face punishment in the form of an expulsion or similar action.

The head of religious affairs of Luangprabang province Mr BOUSEE CHANTUMA is reported to have intervened in the situation in order to compel Pakoo district officials to reverse the expulsion order, deeming that the order did not have legal ground. BOUSEE has communicated with both with Pakoo’s district chief and district religious affairs’ chief with regard to the legality of the order. BOUSEE apparently disagrees with the order and has informed these district officials that if the expulsion order is not reversed or cancelled, he will appeal to higher authorities—namely, the provincial governor, the prime minister’s office, the Lao parliament, or the central government’s religious affairs department. BOUSEE holds that district authorities cannot arrest Christians without first going through his provincial religious affairs because it involves religious matters which are under his jurisdiction.

The expulsion order violates the Lao constitution, Lao religious law (Decree 92), and the Lao law on local administration. District officials have abused their power and illegally issued the order. They should be punished to the extent of the law.

The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the Lao constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as ratified by the Lao government and recognize the existence of Christians and churches in Pakoo district as well as to reverse the expulsion order issued by local authorities. The HRWLRF further asks the Lao government to recognize the right of every citizen to believe in a religion of his or her choice. That right also includes the right to assemble and practice the requirements of that religion.

– hrwlrf

Lao Pastor jailed for Christian activities set free after nearly 13 years

March 2, 2012 by  
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Laos Pastor JailedLaos, February 29, 2012: A pastor has been released from prison in Laos after being locked up for nearly 13 years because of his Christian activities.

Bounchan Kanthavong was set free on 2 February, having been arrested in June 1999 and then sentenced to twelve years in jail for treason and sedition.

His only “crimes” appear to have been receiving Bible training and sharing his faith with people who came into his clothing shop. Bounchan’s witness led to around 70 people accepting Christ.

He had been introduced to Christianity in January 1997 when he spent the night with a Christian family while away on business. When he returned to his home in Vanghai village, Udomsai province, Bounchan began to spread his new faith. People came to his shop from other villages, keen to hear and embrace the Gospel.

The Lao authorities repeatedly warned him to stop believing, practising and spreading the Christian faith and ordered him to cease all worship activities at the shop.

They were concerned about people leaving the traditional Lao religion (spirit worship) and embracing what they consider a foreign religion, thus becoming loyal to a power other than the Lao authorities. Bounchan’s actions were thus perceived as a threat to national security and interpreted as treason and sedition.

Bounchan is married with five children. Following his detention, his wife Sengkham took over the leadership of their Christian community, which has grown to more than 3,000 believers today.

Last April, the authorities told Bounchan that they were willing to release him if he renounced Christ and separated from Sengkham.

But he clearly did not as his detention was prolonged. Bounchan’s health, particularly his eyes, suffered during his time in jail, and his family struggled without his leadership and provision.

– barnabas team