Grandmother from Christian ethnic group raped by Burmese troops in church *Pastor fined for praying for sick man cleared on appeal in Kazakhstan

May 31, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Burma, May 28, 2012: A grandmother from a predominantly Christian ethnic group was gang-raped and tortured by Burmese soldiers as she took shelter in a church when troops invaded her village.

The 48-year-old woman was hiding alone in the building in Luk Pi village, Chipwi township, near the Kachin-China border, on 1 May after most of the other villagers had fled.

Around ten Burmese soldiers beat her with rifle butts, stabbed her with knives, stripped and gang-raped her over a period of three days.

After the troops left on 4 May, the grandmother of 12 was found semi-conscious by some villagers and taken to hospital. She survived the ordeal and was reunited with her family but has been left deeply traumatised and mentally disturbed. 

A villager who witnessed the savage assault was captured by the troops, tied up in the church compound, kicked and stabbed. He was also taken to hospital.

“Rape with impunity”
The Burmese military has been using sexual violence as a weapon of war throughout its offensive in Kachin state, which started in June 2011.  

The husband of one victim brought a case against the military to the Supreme Court in the capital Naypyidaw, which recently dismissed all charges against them. Sumlut Roi Ji was raped repeatedly over a number of days before she disappeared in October last year.

Moon Nay Li from the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) said:

The message from the Naypyidaw Supreme Court is clear: the Burmese military can rape and kill ethnic women with impunity.

KWAT has been documenting rape cases among the Kachin throughout the conflict. During the first three months of the offensive, 32 women and girls in eight townships were raped; 13 of them were killed. In February, KWAT reported that the total number of rape cases had increased to 60.

In one incident, the mother of a three-week-old baby was raped and killed in a village near Bhamo. In another, a 39-year-old woman and her 17-year-old daughter were gang raped and killed by military troops.

– barnabas team

Pastor fined for praying for sick man cleared on appeal in Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan, May 29, 2012: A pastor in Kazakhstan who was given a heavy fine after he prayed for the healing of a sick man who visited his church has been acquitted on appeal.

Yerzhan Ushanov, leader of New Life Protestant Church in Taraz, was found guilty on 5 September 2011 of “causing severe damage to health due to negligence”. He was ordered to pay a fine and court costs totalling 201,560 Tenge (£870; US$1,365), a huge sum in Kazakhstan.

The pastor appealed and, on 24 April, the Supreme Court acquitted him, stating that it had reached its verdict “due to the absence of elements of crime in his actions”.

The case against Pastor Ushanov had been initiated by the National Security Committee (KNB) secret police. A KNB officer said that they had received a complaint from the wife of Aleksandr Kireev, the man for whom the church leader had prayed.

The initial court session heard that he had used “methods of psycho-therapeutic and medico-psychological influence on people with non-medical goals, which could lead to harm to the psychological health of individuals who have taken part in the given seances”. 

It was claimed that Mr Kireev had suffered headaches and memory lapses, had become “unsure of himself”, and had lost eight kilogrammes in weight.

Psychiatrists who were asked by the KNB to examine Mr Kireev diagnosed that he was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and claimed that this was a direct result of attending Pastor Ushanov’s church.

The pastor strongly denied this and insisted that Mr Kireev “did not suffer at all” from his prayers. He said that the KNB had been closely scrutinising him and his church since at least 2009.   

The case against Pastor Ushanov mirrored that of another Protestant church leader in the same region. Vissa Kim, pastor of Grace Light of Love Protestant Church, was fined in April 2010 for harming a woman’s health by praying for her. The Supreme Court subsequently overturned his conviction and cancelled the fine.

Against the grain
The positive outcomes in these two cases go against the grain in Kazakhstan, where Christians have been coming under mounting pressure as a result of restrictive new laws that came into force in October 2011.  

All religious groups were required to re-register with the state. Baptist churches, which refuse on principle to do this, have been subjected to frequent raids.

Individual Baptists are also being targeted. On 27 May, Vasily Stakhnev was fined 161,800 Tenge (£698; US$1,096) for distributing religious literature in a case that he said was “fabricated” by the police. It appears that Vasily’s neighbours were pressured to write false testimonies against him.  

– barnabas team

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