Our Letter of Confession
“A witness saw a young woman who folded her hands in a praying fashion when the SSD [State Security Department] interrogated her. The SSD suspected therefore that she was a Christian. They took her to another room and beat her until she confessed.”
Now is the time to make our confession to Kim Jong Un. We declare that we will remain loyal to the one true God and continue to stand with our persecuted family members in North Korea.
We know what is happening in North Korea. We commit to telling the world about the crimes of its leader and to do everything in our power to assist our persecuted family there.
We invite you to add your voice in support of North Korean Christians by digitally signing the Letter of Confession. We will deliver these letters to North Korea’s representatives to the United Nations.
|He shouldn’t even be in prison|
|Dear friend, Gao Zhisheng shouldn’t be in prison right now. The Chinese human rights lawyer has been targeted by the government for defending Christians and other religious minorities. They’ve shut down his law firm, revoked his lawyer’s licence – and since 2006 he’s been in and out of prison, suffering illegal detention and torture. All for speaking up for justice. Ask your MP to call for Gao’s release from prison.|
|Gao’s family haven’t seen him since January 2013 – and even then, they were only allowed a half-hour visit. He is due to be released on 22 August 2014, according to some legal experts. The Chinese government has consistently failed to provide information on his whereabouts and even his health, so it’s vital that we make sure they know we’re expecting his release. And last year, Gao’s wife Geng He asked the international community to keep pressing the Chinese authorities on his case “as the best way to protect him”. Gao and his family have suffered tremendous injustice for far too long. Please urge your MP to take action for Gao today. Thank you so much. Yours in hope for freedom Emma CSW Campaigns Team P.S. The Chinese government is desperate to keep Gao quiet – but he’s desperate to speak up against injustice. Email your MP today to call for Gao’s release. Thank you!|
|Urgent: Your prayers this week will change lives|
|Dear friend, Thank you so much for your campaigning and prayers for some desperate situations in the last few weeks. This week has been filled with highs and lows – the news of Meriam’s release, followed swiftly the family’s detention at Khartoum airport 24 hours later. Meriam isn’t the only person who needs God’s intervention on her behalf and your prayers are vital – will you continue to pray for the following situations with us?|
|SUDAN: Meriam Ibrahim and family still detained Meriam Ibrahim, whose death sentence for apostasy was quashed on Monday, is still being held after being detained along with her family at the airport on Tuesday. Meriam is being investigated by the police for alleged irregularities with her travel documents. The police have refused to release the family on bail whilst they carry out their investigation.
>> More prayer points available at www.csw.org.uk/prayformeriam
| ERITREA: Your prayers this week could change Eritrea’s future On Thursday the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) will discuss, and hopefully adopt, a strong resolution condemning the continuing, severe and widespread human rights violations committed by Eritrea against its citizens and calling for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violations outlined in reports by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea. This is a bold step and one which needs to be underpinned by prayer if it’s to be successful.
| IRAN: Behnam Irani returned to prison after disappearance As you may know Pastor Behnam Irani, who was jailed on political charges, was assaulted earlier this month and was removed to an unknown location. He has now been returned to Ghezal Hesar, but his physical condition and whereabouts during the time of his disappearance are unclear.
| CUBA: Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife detained by authorities You may remember Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife Yoaxis from previous emails and our Response newsletter – they are religious freedom activists who have regularly been targeted by the Cuban government. They were detained by police last weekend, and although they were released two hours later, police have confiscated their computer. We’re concerned that state security officials could plant information on their computer in order to justify criminal charges.
|To get regular prayer updates from CSW to keep praying for these and other situations, please sign up here. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 Blessings, Emma CSW Communications Team P.s. Please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to pray too. Thanks again for your support!|
|BREAKING: Meriam is free!|
|Dear friend, Just a few hours ago, we received some wonderful news: Meriam Ibrahim has been freed!
I wanted you to be among the first to know that the appeal court has overturned her convictions for adultery and apostasy, and declared her innocent of all charges. She and her children, Martin and Maya, are now back with her husband Daniel. We are thanking God for this amazing miracle! Can you join us to keep praying for Meriam and her family?
|Meriam and her family still aren’t safe. People claiming to be her family members have threatened to carry out her death sentence themselves, and her lawyers have received death threats because of their involvement with her case. We’re appalled by this. Everyone has the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to uphold this right, as Meriam’s lawyers are doing. This right is guaranteed in international law, as well as in Sudan’s own constitution. Please pray urgently for Meriam, her family and her lawyers.|
|It’s time to change the world, so that no one should have to go through what Meriam went through – months on death row, simply because of her faith. She even had to give birth in chains. Please uphold her in prayer. Thank you. Blessings Emma CSW Communications Team P.S. Thank you so much for everything you did to help secure Meriam’s release. But she’s not the only one we’re campaigning for. As long as there are people who are harassed, threatened and imprisoned for their faith, we’ll be speaking up for them. I’ll be in touch with you soon to tell you how you can get involved – meanwhile, thank you again for all you’ve done. Meriam is free!|
Deadly attacks, particularly on Christian communities, are now the weekly norm. According to a local human rights NGO, at least 1,296 people died between 1 April and 5 June.
We’ve put together downloadable resources to help you, your church and small group to rise up in prayer for this troubled nation. There’s a poster, a prayer sheet, and Twitter header and Facebook cover images so you can show your support. Just click here to download your free resources, and use them all through the week of 15-22 June, or whenever convenient for you.
The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.
We’ve seen God move in incredible ways when we’ve joined together to pray for Nigeria before. We’ve seen expected attacks headed off, violence brought to a halt, perpetrators arrested, and peace-building initiatives flourish. Please join us for the Nigeria Week of Prayer, and let God arise.
Iran: Pastor Irani beaten in prison and taken to unknown location 09/06/2014
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that Pastor Behnam Irani, who was sentenced in 2011 to six years imprisonment on political charges, was beaten in prison and transferred to an unknown location in the early hours of 7 June.
Pastor Irani was summoned by Judge Mohammad Yari, Chief of the Sixth Chamber of the Revolutionary Tribunal at 6:30 am on 7 June. As the summons appeared irregular and contrary to judicial process, Pastor Irani rejected it and wrote a letter of protest. However, at 9 am, VEVAK intelligence agents entered his prison cell and proceeded to beat him before he was taken to see Mohammad Yari. He was subsequently transferred to an unknown location.
The assault on Pastor Irani is the latest of several reports in recent weeks of Iranian authorities using excessive violence against prisoners of conscience.
Pastor Irani is the leader of the Church of Iran congregation in Karaj. He was initially arrested in December 2006, and was sentenced in 2011 to six years imprisonment on charges of “action against the state” and “action against the order.”
Two weeks ago, Pastor Irani’s bible and other Christian literature was confiscated by authorities. Recent events have given rise to concerns that the authorities may be planning to add charges to his existing sentence.
During the first few months of his imprisonment in Ghezal Hesar, Pastor Irani was held incommunicado in a small cell, where guards repeatedly woke him from sleep as a form of psychological torture. He was moved to a cramped room where inmates could not lie down to sleep, before being transferred to a crowded, filthy cell, which he shares with 40 criminals, many of whom are violent. He has been subjected to physical and psychological pressure, and has suffered regular beatings from cell mates and prison authorities, as well as death threats.
In February 2014, Pastor Irani successfully underwent surgery to treat stomach and colon complications.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We are deeply concerned to hear of the assault on Pastor Irani and his enforced disappearance, especially given his medical complications. We cannot begin to imagine the distress this news must be causing his family and friends. CSW urges the authorities to make Pastor Irani’s whereabouts known and to provide him with any medical treatment he may need following his beating at the hands of VEVAK security agents. Furthermore, we continue to call for his release, since in reality he is in prison on account of his faith and in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party. We also urge the Iranian authorities to end assaults on prisoners, as they violate the nation’s obligations under article 10 of the ICCPR, which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity.”
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
|Those terrifying words were spoken to Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian. She’s just been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ – leaving Islam. Please take action for Meriam now. Meriam was arrested on 17 February, and sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death for apostasy, after Sudanese authorities became aware of her marriage to a Christian man. She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Martin Wani. Since she was arrested she’s been allowed no visitors, and has been denied vital medical treatment. Although she testified that she is a life-long Christian, the court ruled she had abandoned Islam, and was originally Muslim because her father, who left her Christian mother when Meriam was six, was a Muslim. Since Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims, her marriage is invalid under Islamic law – so she was convicted of adultery as well as apostasy.|
|Meriam is heavily pregnant, and has a toddler to look after too in prison. We can’t allow this terrible injustice to continue. Email the Sudanese embassy in the UK to protest Meriam’s sentence. Thank you for taking action. Blessings Emma CSW Campaigns Team|
|Working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. CSW. PO Box 99, New Malden, KT3 3YF|
Sudan woman faces death for apostasy
A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy after she left Islam and married a Christian man.
"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, AFP reports.
Western embassies and rights groups had urged Sudan to respect the right of the pregnant woman to choose her religion.
Local media report the sentence would not be carried out for two years after she has given birth.
I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy”
End Quote Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law. It rules that apostasy – the abandonment of one’s religious faith – is a crime.
The judge also sentenced the woman to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery – because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic cleric spoke with her in a caged dock for about 30 minutes, AFP reports.
Then she calmly told the judge: "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."
Amnesty International said the woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood.
In court, the judge addressed her by her Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.
She was convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan’s version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims.
The woman was originally sentenced to death on Sunday but given until Thursday to return to Islam.
The BBC’s Osman Mohamed, in Khartoum, says death sentences are rarely carried out in Sudan.
On Tuesday, the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands issued a joint statement expressing "deep concern" about the case and urging Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, AFP says.
The woman was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013, and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim, Amnesty said.
The group called for her immediate release.
She is said to be eight months’ pregnant
Rampaging elephant ‘turns back to save baby’
A male elephant that smashed up a house in an Indian village allegedly returned to lift the debris from a crying baby girl.
By Becky Barnes
Last updated: 12 March 2014, 14:03 GMT
A distressed elephant turned back to save a 10-month-old baby after smashing up a family home, a couple in India have claimed.
Lalita and Dipak Mahato, who live in a village in West Bengal’s Purilia district, told the Times of India (ToI) that they were having dinner at around 8pm on Monday night when they heard a “cracking sound”, then a huge crash.
"We ran over and were shocked to see the wall in pieces and a tusker [male elephant] standing over our baby,” dad Dipak told ToI.
“She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot.
“The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris."
The daily newspaper reports the male elephant removed every last bit of stone, brick and mortar from the tiny girl’s body before returning to the forest.
"We worship [elephant god] Lord Ganesh in our village,” the baby’s mum Lalita told ToI.
“Still, I can’t believe that the tusker saved my daughter after breaking down the door and smashing a wall.
“We watched amazed as it gently removed the debris that had fallen on her. It’s a miracle."
The youngster was taken to hospital where she was treated for external injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.
According to forest officers, the same elephant has killed at least three people in the last year. It has reportedly damaged at least 17 houses in three adjoining villages.
Forest officer Om Prokash said elephants come to the villages in search of food and do not intend to harm humans unless they are attacked.
According to ToI a similar incident was reported in Jalpaiguri’s Madarihat village about six months ago when a herd of elephants carefully removed a little girl before smashing several houses.
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45
Family of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle put to death
All direct relatives of the executed uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, including women and children, have been put to death at the leader’s instruction, multiple sources reported this week.
Jang Song-thaek was executed last month on charges of attempting to overthrow the Communist regime. His executed relatives include Jang’s sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and Ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong-jin, and Ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol, who is Jang’s nephew, as well as his two sons, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
"The executions of Jang’s relatives mean that no traces of him should be left," a source said. "The purge of the Jang Song-thaek people is under way on an extensive scale from relatives and low-level officials."
This latest crackdown is bad news for all citizens, and certainly for Christians, who are viewed as enemies of the state. How can we pray for Christians in North Korea in the light of these terrible events? Jan Vermeer, an Open Doors worker involved with our work in North Korea, shares what he has learnt from the Bible about praying for the persecuted church.
"’Pray for those who persecute you. Bless your enemies.’ We tend to miss the significance of Jesus’ commandment. He orders us to pray for the persecutors and to bless the enemies of the gospel. Canon Andrew White from Baghdad has to lead his congregation through a time of severe terrorism. He says: ‘If you want to stop terrorism, there is no point in talking to the good people. You have to speak with the bad people.’ Praying for our enemies is the most strategic thing we can do.
"The difficult part is application in everyday life. These principles just feel… wrong. So God really wants me to pray for Kim Jong-Un’s terrible regime and bless them?
"Then I read what North Korean Christians say about their requests before God’s throne. They pray God will come to their aid soon. They pray God will bless their leaders with the gospel of the risen Christ. They pray that God’s name will be glorified through the underground church. And so should I."
Source: Yonhap news agency; Open Doors
- Ask God to bless Kim Jong-Un and to open his heart to the gospel
- For change within the regime. Pray that God will rescue them from the dominion of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of light
- For Christians in North Korea. Ask God to give them the strength, wisdom and courage to glorify His name in every circumstance.
With many thanks for your prayers.
Open Doors Prayer Team