New Camp for Political Prisoners Discovered in North Korea
November 22, 2016 by Jannelle P in Asia
The Human Rights in North Korea Committee reports the discovery of a new kwan-li-so, the name North Korea uses for political labor camps from which there is no escape. The official name of the camp is unknown, so the researchers call it Ch’oma-Bong, after the name of a nearby village. Though the camp was initially built over a decade ago and has recently been expanded, it is still one of the smaller camps. As far as North Korean camps go, it appears to be fairly well maintained. There is no way to determine the prisoner population, but the recent construction of over 54 new housing units suggests significant growth. Detainees, and possibly civilians, work mainly in agriculture and mining around the camp. It’s likely that prisoners are required to do the majority of the dangerous work in the mines.
Ch’oma-Bong is located only 45 miles northeast of the capital Pyongyang. A portion of the camp’s security fence is shared with infamous Camp 14. Two high security compounds have been built, which suggests that “high value” prisoners are being kept there. There are no roads leading up to the security guard posts, which indicate that they patrol largely by foot. The camp is connected to a railway station located just over a mile away.
North Korea has led the World Watch List for 14 consecutive years now. According to 2016 WWL information,
Kim Jong-un has continued to consolidate his power, and no changes or improvements have been seen over the past year. Ideology again trumped everything as could be seen in the celebration of the ruling Korean Workers Party’s 70th anniversary in October 2015. North Korea remains an opaque state and it is difficult to make sense of most of the news pouring out of the country. This is even truer when it comes to topics like human rights or the situation of the Christian minority. Christianity is not only seen as “opium for the people,” as is normal for all communist states, it is also seen as deeply Western and despicable. Christians try to hide their faith as far as possible to avoid arrest and being sent to labor camps with horrific conditions. Thus, one’s Christian faith usually remains a well-protected secret, and most parents refrain from introducing their children to the Christian faith in order to make sure that nothing slips their tongue when they are asked.”
Though the Committee did not specify that Christians are among those in the detainment camp, manybrothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea are imprisoned in kwan-li-so facilities like this one. Please pray for the people held here. God knows those who are His children.
Our Heavenly Father, who upholds the cause of the oppressed and sets the prisoners free, we pray for our fellow Christians in North Korea, imprisoned for their faith in Christ. Sustain them, Lord. Be their strength and joy in this earthly suffering. Encourage them with Your Word and Presence when their faith wanes, when loneliness sets in and when intense suffering is inflicted on them. Give them opportunity to share their faith boldly but wisely with other prisoners. May Christ be evident in their lives, not only to the prisoners, but also to the guards, and may You use their stalwart faith to draw many to Yourself. Turn their eyes from this earthly suffering to the glory set before them. In the name of Jesus, who has set us free from bondage to life, that we might be called His brothers. Amen.
Why North Korea sanctions are unlikely to produce desirable results
For multiple reasons, there is little reason to be hopeful of positive results
August 16th, 2016
As of late, the issue of sanctions has been at the front and center of all discussions regarding North Korea. Because of well-founded disappointment in the ‘soft-line’ approach – centered around negotiations and mutual concessions – an unavoidable result has emerged for many: that sanctions are now “the only game in town”.
Despite this recent shift in opinion, I cannot be enthusiastic about the tightening sanctions on North Korea, which are firstly difficult to implement and, secondly, unlikely to produce desirable results – even if properly implemented
This position – which I recently articulated in an interview with RFA in Washington – has consequently invited some criticism, notably from Joshua Stanton, an experienced and observant North Korea watcher who has very different views from mine on this issue.
This lengthy piece is, therefore, in a sense an indirect response to Joshua Stanton’s criticism – “indirect” because, instead of arguing point by point, I will reiterate my arguments about the inefficiency of sanctions in a more systematic manner.
Chinese boat sailing along Yalu River, adjacent to DPRK | Picture: NK News
HURDLES TO IMPLEMENTATION
To start with, North Korea sanctions don’t work. To put it in a more cautious way, so far they have failed to produce any noticeable impact on the state of the DPRK economy or the lifestyle of common North Koreans or members of the elite.
The international sanctions regime was first introduced by the UN Security Council in 2006, at the time when the North Korean economy began its slow recovery from the 15 years of crisis experienced after the collapse of the communist bloc. Yet despite ever-tightening sanctions, the ten years that since passed have been a time of steady economic growth and significant improvement in the living standards for a majority of the North Korean population.
The ten years that since passed have been a time of steady economic growth and significant improvement in the living standards for a majority of the North Korean population.
The inefficiency of those sanctions has been once again demonstrated by the results of Resolution 2270, which was adopted by the UN Security Council in early March 2016. This resolution envisioned sanctions of hitherto unprecedented severity, including, for example, a complete or partial ban on mineral exports from North Korea. However, after nearly half a year of the sanctions being implemented, it is still “business as usual” in North Korea. Such vital economic indicators as grain market prices and market exchange rates for foreign currencies have remained virtually unchanged, while most of the construction projects (including resource-wasteful hallmark projects in Pyongyang) are still continuing apace.
There are many reasons why initial UN sanctions and those outlined by Resolution 2270 have been so inefficient, but the major role is played by the uneasy and controversial attitude of China.
When from time-to-time the Chinese government expresses its support for some sanctions or criticizes North Korean policies on nuclear and missile issues, there are outbursts of joy in Washington and other Western capitals where people start saying that “finally the Chinese are in the same boat with us”. But such optimism has so far always been proven to be misplaced, for the Chinese are not in the same boat with the United States and they are unlikely to share this proverbial boat ride in the foreseeable future.
There is little doubt that China is seriously annoyed by North Korea’s nuclear brinksmanship and its nuclear and missile program as an indirect but significant security threat. However, on the list of the problems the Chinese government has to deal with, this particular danger is not very high. For China, any possible change in status quo on the Korean peninsula constitutes a potential challenge, and this is well understood in Beijing.
From decades of painful experiences, the Chinese have learned that the North Korean government is remarkably indifferent to minor pressures, so Pyongyang reacts to outside demands only when it faces a mortal threat. China, having a near complete monopoly on North Korean foreign trade, is in a position to create a crisis of such magnitude that it would indeed put in danger the survival of the DPRK economy and – perhaps – even reverse its policy on the nuclear issue. Indeed, if China stops all trade and dramatically reduces the number of North Koreans residing and doing business in China, this would wipe out the North Korean economy in a year or two.
China does not need regime collapse, revolution, and anarchy in a nuclear country located on its borders
However, such a crisis is likely to produce results which will not serve China’s long-term strategic interests. It is possible that the North Korean government would yield and indeed surrender its nuclear program, but it is even more likely that it will remain stubborn to the bitter end, leaving the crisis to trigger a revolution. However, this is clearly not what China wants. China does not need regime collapse, revolution, and anarchy in a nuclear country located on its borders. And, of course, it is not very enthusiastic about the emergence of a unified Korea, which is likely to be democratic, nationalistic, and friendly to the United States, Beijing’s major strategic adversary.
Thus, one should not be surprised that the Chinese are using their trade, economic exchanges and aid to North Korea in a very measured manner. They sometimes decrease the amount of economic exchange and giveaways, but it is usually done for symbolic purposes to indicate Chinese dissatisfaction with particular North Korean actions.
And it seems that this is exactly what we see now again: after a few months of a tough approach, China appears to be getting softer on Pyongyang. While this turn is currently being brought about by the general deterioration in Beijing-Washington relations and emergence of the THAAD deployment issue, it is nevertheles something that was going to happen anyway.
Targeting only elites in North Korea is difficult | Picture: E. Lafforgue
ELITE ONLY SANCTIONS?
Proponents of sanctions are likely to reject what has been said above, claiming that the major goal is not to damage the North Korean economy nor to make the life of common North Koreans more difficult. Instead, they will claim, it is rather to create uncomfortable conditions for the North Korean elite so they will start considering a change of their policies in order to have their life comforts returned to them. To simplify things a bit, it is assumed – or hoped – that if top decision makers are deprived of their Hennessey cognac, overseas travel and Mercedes Benz luxury cars for a sufficiently long period of time, they will start considering the denuclearization of their country.
Such logic would possibly work in most authoritarian states, where the ruling elite does not face an existential threat. Therefore in an average dictatorship, elite dissatisfaction might lead to a palace coup or revolution. But such political changes are unlikely to produce a wholesale replacement of the entire ruling elite, for while former colonels might become generals after revolutions, the overall elite change little. Just look at the Soviet Union: as of early 2016, only four of all leaders of post-Soviet States are neither former Soviet-era officials nor officials’ children.
This is not the case in North Korea, however, since the existence of a rich, free and highly seductive South Korea means that any serious internal disturbance there will likely result in regime collapse, soon followed by absorption of the North by its rich twin state.
In other words, unlike a majority of dictators’ henchmen in other countries, North Korean elite members understand that in case of even a successful coup, the winners will face too high a risk of rapidly losing everything as a result of instability, a popular uprising and potential unification (a cross of East German and Romanian scenarios).
They need stability, and, if worst comes to worst, they also need nuclear weapons to safeguard themselves against foreign powers
Taking this into consideration, these people are significantly less likely to start conspiracies – even if they are indeed deprived of their usual nightly glass of Hennessey cognac. They need stability, and, if worst comes to worst, they also need nuclear weapons to safeguard themselves against foreign powers being involved with their domestic crisis, Libya style. Thus in order to ensure stability, and stay alive, they can survive without a daily glass Hennessy cognac.
A poster promoting a ‘strong and prosperous’ economy | Picture: E. Lafforgue
TARGETING THE ECONOMY?
So let’s talk about a more realistic and tested model of sanctions – those which target the economy at large and whose (usually unstated) aim is to decrease the living standards of the general populace in order to create some discontent, hence putting the government under political pressure.
Such sanctions have been tried many times, from Serbia to South Africa. In most cases, they were not remarkably efficient, but there have been cases when sanctions seemingly made a great contribution towards desirable change. However, there is a tendency which is often overlooked; that sanctions have worked much better in countries which were democracies or semi-democracies, or where the common people had at least some opportunity to express their discontent with the government’s policy.
Indeed, such sanctions usually work in an indirect way, by making the lives of the common people more difficult, in some cases being without daily bread, in others, without the opportunity to buy a car every few years. All the pressure is built with the hope that discontent can crystalize into all kinds of opposition movements. And, if they are given the luxury of relatively free elections, citiznes become more likely to vote for opposition candidates, as was the case in Serbia and South Africa, for example.
However, this model is not applicable to North Korea.
North Koreans have no way to influence their government’s decisions or even register their dissatisfaction with government policy. They vote in elections with claimed 100% approval rate, and most of them cannot even think about any kind of open civil disobedience.
We have seen how it worked back in the late 1990s when the country faced a grave shortage of food and basic necessities. At least half a million people starved to death during the so-called ‘Arduous March’ of 1996-1999, but their deaths had little, if any, impact on government policy. Indeed, Kim Jong Il and his advisors did not abandon their goals of developing nuclear weapons and missile-based delivery systems, nor did they introduce reforms which, if applied correctly and timely, could have saved most –if not all – the lives lost during the famine.
At least half a million people starved to death during the so called ‘Arduous March’ of 1996-1999, but their deaths had little, if any, impact on the government policy
Of course, North Korean society has changed much since then, so widespread starvation might indeed lead to a revolution, for nowadays citizens are significantly less docile and much better informed about the possible alternatives. However, this is a risky bet, especially if we take into account that an economic crisis will kill many people before it can lead to a revolution.
This is the reason why economic sanctions so far have remained unsuccessful and the North Korean economy continues to perform at a modest, but acceptable level.
This is not to say that harsh economic sanctions do not make sense at all, for such measures might make sense if your goal is denuclearization at any cost. However, if your goal is to improve lives of common North Koreans, this is clearly not the way to go. Fortunately, due to the position of China and other reasons described above, sanctions are not going to drive the North Korean economy to the brink.
Capitol in DC | Picture: Flickr Creative Commons
SOME SAD CONCLUSIONS
It is clear now the dominant mood in Washington and other world capitals is in favor of sanctions, so a sanctions-centered policy is likely to continue for a long time, perhaps many years to come. No amount of debate is likely to change this fact – especially since such a policy sells well with voters, creating a false and misleading impression that a principled and morally correct stance has been taken, and “something is being done” about North Korea and its nuclear threat.
Furthermore – as the experience of Cuba sanctions has demonstrated – even a long-term absence of political effect resulting from the sanctions regime is not going to discourage proponents, who will probably keep saying that “results are just beyond the corner”. In the case of Cuba, such figures were making claims like this for more than six decades, or a period of two generations.
Therefore, we have to accept that we are going to live in a sanctions-dominated world, and find ways to encourage desirable changes within it, even when the environment is harsh and unproductive. But sanctions are not conducive for policies which could probably be significantly more successful, such as cultural and personal exchanges which familiarize North Koreans with the outside world and help them realize that they live in a remarkably inefficient and backward society.
While programs targeting refugees might still be compatible with sanctions, working with the still loyal subjects of the Kim family might be a lot more difficult. Unfortunately, academic and personal exchanges are usually frowned upon by hard-liners who tend to believe that such programs ‘reward’ the North Korean dictatorial regime by inviting their students – who will be scions of the elite – to study in Western schools or encourage other exchanges between North Korea and the outside world. This ability to nearly freeze exchanges and thus reduce the information in-flow to North Korea is a major negative side-effect produced by the excessive adherence to the sanctions regime.
However, as I have said, sanctions are likely to remain part of the American and, broader speaking, Western policy for the foreseeable future. So we have to live within this, unfortunately.
Main picture: NK News
August 16th, 2016
Human Rights Abuses, Nukes, Famine and Hacking: North Korea’s litany of shame
Is it any surprise that North Korea recently conducted its fourth test of a nuclear bomb?
No, it isn’t.
In fact, it was probably to be expected.
Why? Because only three weeks earlier, the UN adopted a Resolution which would refer the leaders of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights abuses.
According to the US State Department, these abuses include allegations of unlawful deprivation of life, torture, infanticide, starvation, as well as violations of the freedoms of conscience, expression, speech, assembly, association and press.
Additionally, according to the Open Doors’ World Watch List, North Korea is the single worst persecutor of Christians in the world – and has been for the last 14 years in a row.
It is supposed that over 100,000 of North Korea’s estimated 400,000 Christians are imprisoned on account of their faith. And, the others are not allowed to freely worship, or even mention or read from the Bible.
Indeed, because the alleged human rights abuses are so egregious, this is the second time the UN has boldly moved to refer North Korean leaders to the UN’s International Criminal Court.
Naturally, the North Korean dictatorship was unhappy about the UN drawing attention to these crimes against humanity. And, one of its agents at the UN even went so far as to claim that the Resolution was politically motivated and “based upon all sorts of distortions and fabrications including sheer lies.”
But, the Resolution isn’t, in fact, based on distortions. These crimes are well-known, due to the bravery and courage of the many people who defect from North Korea every year (an estimated 28,000 defectors since the late 1990s). From their stories, we know that gross human rights abuses are continuing unabated, there.
So, the leadership of North Korea had to try to divert attention away from their terrible human rights record. And, of course, there’s no better way to divert attention than to test a nuclear bomb!
Unfortunately, though, we have come to identify a pattern in North Korea’s behaviour – they often do something outrageous to divert attention away from other bad behaviour. Very often, too, in the hopes that they will be rewarded.
Thankfully, in the aftermath of this latest nuclear test, the US House of Representatives have voted to sanction the leadership of North Korea – going after the personal assets and hard currency of the leaders of North Korea.
But, more is required.
Specifically, we suggest two other simple arrangements to help improve the conditions of those suffering abuse in North Korea, as well as to ease regional tensions:
1) Most importantly. Any easing of sanctions, as well as any continued, non-humanitarian aid or joint ventures with the other parties (e.g., special economic zones with China, Russia, and South Korea, involving special trading privileges/arrangements and, or, the improvement of infrastructure, etc.) must be contingent on measurable and verifiable IMPROVEMENT of North Korea’s treatment of human rights; and, 2) The distribution of humanitarian aid must, henceforth, be monitored by a mutually-agreed-on third party, to ensure that the aid gets to its intended destination.
The bottom-line is that, from now on, North Korea must show improvement in the area of human rights, if it wishes to avail of the benefits of partnership with the other members of the Six-Party Talks.
The people of North Korea have suffered enough. Now, it’s time for the people of the world to stand united with them, and against the brutal conditions which many of them face every day.
Thank you for signing this urgent petition. Thank you for standing with the people of North Korea.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
PAKISTAN A Pakistani family converted to Christianity is hounded, victim of death threats – Asia News
A Pakistani family converted to Christianity is hounded, victim of death threats
by Stephen John
Since 2006, the couple has had two children and constant persecution from certain Muslims because the wife converted to her husband’s religion. Attempts to file a case against their tormentors have fallen on deaf police ears. After years on the run, the family is now in hiding. Human rights activists want the government to defend religious freedom, human rights and the country’s constitution.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – A Christian family has been on the run for almost ten years, finding temporary refuge but no safe haven. Jobless and desperate, they are unable to meet their own needs, as they continue to be threatened, hounded, and attacked because they want to live a Christian life and raise their children in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
After hearing their tragic story, AsiaNews decided to present it. Names, places and other details have been changed to protect the family, but their fate is part and parcel of the fight for religious freedom and the rights of Christians in Pakistan.
In May 2006, Amina, a 29 year-old Muslim woman, married 34-year-old Salamat Masih, a Christian. Her family was against it from the start, especially since they had already arranged her marriage to a trusted Muslim man.
However, Amina would not give in to her family’s pressures, and decided to marry the man she loved. The two also wanted a Christian wedding, but no pastor was willing to do it for fear of retaliation by her relatives.
To stop the marriage, Amina’s family filed a case against the would-be husband for rape and kidnapping. Thus, fearing arrest, Amina and Salamat decided to elope in accordance with Islamic law. This meant that Salamat, a Christian, had to convert to Islam since Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims.
Two Muslim men, Naveed Asim and Kareem Ahmad, acted as witnesses to the Islamic wedding. Proud of converting a Christian to Islam and of the greater standing they achieved among Muslims, they also took on the responsibility of monitoring the newlywed’s life.
With this purpose in mind, the two “guardians” forced the couple to move to Sadar, a town near Karachi, and live according to Islamic traditions, including fasting during Ramadan.
Still, Amina and Salamat did not want to live as Muslims and sought help from a local Church to arrange a Christian marriage and live among local Christians.
Eventually, the pastor of a local church agreed to register their marriage as Christian on 26 October 2006. The couple also found refuge among local Christians because of threats of reprisal from Muslims.
In the following years, the couple had two daughters. Yet, their secret did not last and threats started again, especially from the two men who had taken on the task of acting as their “guardians”.
For Amina, constant threats and pressures proved too much and she miscarried a third child. This further aggravated the conflict because the father chose to give his son a Christian burial rather than laying him to rest in a Muslim cemetery. The family’s enemies had one more reason to persecute them.
Fearing for their life, the family went from city to city, finding temporary shelter in various homes. Muslims from Amina’s community, especially the two “guardians”, kept tracking them down, proffering fresh threats and exerting more pressure on them.
Two years ago, threats turned into an actual attack. Gunmen shot at Salamat, in the leg, then drove their motorcycle over the injured limb. Only the presence of bystanders forced the attackers to flee, thus preventing them from finishing off their victim.
Because of the family’s difficult economic circumstances, Salamat was never properly treated and his leg has not fully healed. Such an impairment has limited his ability to work, making family life that much harder.
The couple’s relatives are no longer able to help for fear of reprisals and attacks by Muslims. The same goes for co-workers and friends who helped them and gave them refuge. The fear of an attack has proven stronger than the desire to help.
Since March 2015, the family has been hiding in one of the country’s largest cities. Since the family has been tracked down once and attacked before, the location has been kept secret for security reasons.
Attempts to file a case with police for the violence and threats against the family have fallen on deaf years. Law enforcement agencies have refused to deal with it.
Forced into hiding for weeks on end, Amina and Salamat have been unable to work and lead a normal life. Although a local NGO has helped them with their immediate needs, the couple and their children have gone to bed hungry on several occasions.
For Amina’s family, marrying a Christian and converting to Christianity are dishonourable acts, hence the threats. This is the more acceptable since her attackers have walked away, scot-free, ready to strike again.
However, not everyone has stood idly by. Citing the Constitution of Pakistan, the Asian Human Rights Commission has called on Pakistani authorities to respect the principle of equality of citizens, and guarantee freedom of religion. Likewise, it has called for action against the police officers who failed in their duty to protect the family.
Portadown film-maker Paul Moorehead in White House screening
8 September 2015
- From the section Northern Ireland
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Paul Moorehead and Thomas Glass working on Ticking the Box
A former teacher turned film-maker from County Armagh is taking part in a prestigious conference at the White House this week.
Paul Moorehead, from Portadown, has been invited to show his film Ticking the Box at the President’s Inter-faith and Community Service Challenge National Gathering.
The film focuses on what is meant by community engagement and the ways in which it is happening.
It includes interviews with Dr Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine who helped to desegregate one of the largest schools in the US in 1957, as well as former commissioner of education Ernest Boyer.
The film was made for American higher education and has been shown on cable TV in the US.
Mr Moorehead said getting the opportunity to screen his work at the White House was a real honour.
"It’s basically the principals of American colleges, plus some international people who have been chosen," Mr Moorehead said.
"The film that I made is being shown at the President’s Inter-faith gathering and then I’ll be talking about it afterwards.
"We make films about community and faith and education, so in terms of where we’re going to, I suppose this is as high as we can get."
He said the fact his films could be used to try to help bring people together in Northern Ireland was an important part of the White House invite.
"I was told it was based on people that they felt could make a difference in the communities they’re in," he said.
"I’ll be making two visits to the White House, one a kind of meet and greet thing and the second will be to talk about the work I’m doing here in Northern Ireland."
It is all a long way from a studio at Lurgan Junior High School where Mr Moorehead – then a teacher – started making films, initially to be shown within the school.
"We started broadcasting on the internet and then we started to go out and do outside broadcasts," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Ticking the Box was made in America but Mr Moorehead said it relates to Northern Ireland
"I started into making films and the first film I made was nominated at the Learning Onscreen Awards and I thought ‘good grief’. Then it was taken up by the Department of Education and it kind of made changes to the history curriculum.
"I thought by making films you can have quite a voice."
He formed the community enterprise company LJHSTV and hasn’t looked back, with his career since landing him awards, as well as White House invitations.
"We made a film two years ago [A Step Too Far] that won the Chicago Peace on Earth film festival – best feature documentary," he said.
"We brought that back and that is being used here [in Northern Ireland] between inter-faith groups.
"Because things are so difficult here, if you make a film elsewhere and sort of relate it to here, it can make a difference."
Mr Moorehead’s US visit will include dinner with the principals of the prestigious Georgetown and Howard universities.
"I can’t say I don’t feel a bit out of my depth here, but you’re not going to miss chances like this," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption One of Mr Moorehead’s previous films won an award at the Chicago Peace on Earth Awards
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Syrian Priest, 270 Christian and Muslim Hostages Kidnapped by Islamic Militants Reportedly Alive
By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
September 7, 2015|9:32 am
(Photo: Reuters/Rodi Said)
Displaced Assyrians, who fled from the villages around Tel Tamr, gather outside the Assyrian Church in al-Hasaka city, as they wait for news about the Assyrians abductees remaining in Islamic State hands, March 9, 2015. Islamic State released 19 Assyrian Christian captives in Syria on March 1 after processing them through a sharia court, a monitoring group which tracks the conflict said. More than 200 Assyrians remain in Islamic State hands, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
A Syrian priest, along with 270 Christian and Muslim hostages kidnapped by Islamic militants earlier this summer in an offensive on the city of Homs, are reportedly alive and hoping that they’ll be released after negotiations.
Fides News Agency said that Father Jacques Murad, who belongs to the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, is still alive, according to local sources, but is being held hostage with groups of Christians and Muslims taken by jihadists in August. The hostages are reported to be "stable and secure," and are waiting as local ecclesial communities are carrying out negotiations through mediators for their possible release.
"The sources contacted by Fides confirm that all the hostages are still in Quaryatayn, and specify that the news on the story of father Murad broadcast in recent days by Lebanese television network Nursat TV did not include any statement regarding the religious person kidnapped, but only reassuring considerations about his fate, expressed by another priest," the report added.
Murad was captured in May by two armed men on motorbikes who arrived at the Mar Elian monastery, before forcing the priest into his car and taking him to an unknown destination.
The monastery has reportedly been hosting hundreds of refugees from the Syrian civil war, including over a hundred children younger than 10. Before he was captured, Murad had been helping provide basic necessities for the refugees.
It was not made clear which groups the jihadists belong to, though the country has been torn apart by clashes between government forces and various Islamic rebel groups seeking to take power.
Christians have been targeted especially heavily by the Islamic State terror group, which has captured significant territory in Syria, and has forced believers to agree to live under strict conditions or be driven out of the captured cities.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained a copy of a document Christians in the captured town of al-Quaryatayn are being forced to sign, which lists 11 stipulations that must be followed.
The contract prohibits: the establishment of churches, the displaying of crosses, making Muslims hear Christian prayers or rituals of worship, the hiding of spies, offending Islamic religious beliefs, the carrying of weapons, the sale of pork or wine to Muslims, and failing to dress modestly.
Father-of-five to leave UK to fight ISIS despite admitting he may NEVER see family again
A FATHER is leaving behind his life in the UK to join the battle against Islamic State (ISIS) – despite admitting he might never see his family again.
By Selina Sykes
PUBLISHED: 17:36, Wed, Sep 2, 2015 | UPDATED: 20:25, Wed, Sep 2, 2015
Jamie McCarroll is taking the fight against extremism into his own hands
Former soldier Jamie McCarroll, 40, is taking the fight against extremism into his own hands as he feels the UK government is not doing enough to help persecuted Christians in northern Iraq.
The father-of-five from Glasgow, who quit his job to fight ISIS, has not yet explained his decision to his three daughters and two stepsons but has told them the news.
He said: "I’m leaving my life here and my kids, they’re my whole life.
"I’m giving up a lot to go over there to nothing. But I understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it."
Mr McCarroll, who is self-funding his efforts, plans to join Dwekh Nawsha, a militant group founded in 2014 to help protect the country’s Christian population.
The group’s Facebook page refers to them as "The Sacrificers" who are "doing our duty to the Assyrian people who are in need".
Mr McCarroll said: "They aren’t getting any help from any organisations, and just looking at everything that’s going on is so difficult.
"They’re being murdered all over that part of the world by Islamic State if they refuse to convert their religion.
"It’s very bleak for them as there’s no one helping them at all. The UK and US governments aren’t doing anything to help them."
Mr McCarroll admitted he might never see his family again
I’m giving up a lot to go over there to nothing
Mr McCarroll, who fought with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, said: "I don’t really think about something bad happening. It’s not something you think about because if you do you won’t last long.
"I’d rather think about going over there and helping those people than worrying about my own safety."
He is hoping to fly out to Erbil, northern Iraq, in the next six to eight weeks, where he’ll be taken to a safe house and undergo training before fighting on the front line.
It is thought more than 2,000 Britons have joined ISIS, while a small handful have also flown out to Iraq and Syria to fight against the extremist group.
Mr McCarroll said: "I’ll be on the frontline fighting, putting my life at risk, and knowing that my children might never see their father again.
"I couldn’t live with myself doing nothing, when I knew I could help."
Mr McCarroll, who joined the army at 18 and served during the Bosnian genocide, stressed there are too many untrained men going over to fight who are a liability to professional soldiers.
He said: "You need to have formal training if you want to go out and help, but there’s people out fighting at the moment who’ve not got any formal training and who’ve been there for over a year now."
Migrant crisis: Are these happy young men really timid souls fleeing war and persecution?
THEY aren’t quite the heartrending image of dishevelled, traumatised refugees fleeing the horrors of their war-torn home country one might expect.
PUBLISHED: 11:32, Mon, Sep 7, 2015 | UPDATED: 12:44, Mon, Sep 7, 2015
A group of Syrian men pose for snap using selfie stick
Indeed this bunch of asylum seekers – laughing as they take a group selfie on the Greek beach where they have just landed – could be any gang of mates ready to whoop it up on a booze-fuelled sunshine holiday.
The well-dressed, happy and confident looking group of men, ready to claim EU asylum on the island of Lesbos, serves as a remarkable counter image to last week’s heart-breaking photograph of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi whose body was washed up on a Mediterranean beach.
One of the Syrian men holds up ‘selfie stick’ to capture the moment he and his friends arrived in Lesbos – one of the two Greek Islands bearing the brunt of the mass exodus of refugees and migrants.
A series of photos captured by a photographer on the island show the group of young men doing the two-fingered peace sign and grinning with joy after making the treacherous journey on a rubber boat.
The image of young Aylan Kurdi washed up dead on a beach rocked the world
Tomorrow they will join thousands of refugees waiting to be registered on the island before they are given the go-ahead to travel to Athens – the door to mainland Europe and Britain.
The last 24 hours has seen a worsening situation in Lesbos, where violent clashes between police and frenzied crowds waiting to board ferries to Athens erupted.
Some collapsed, while frightened children screamed in their mother’s arms.
The Mayor of Lesbos pleaded for help from the country’s Government, likening the escalating situation to a bomb "about to explode".
Sypros Galinos said: "I appeal to the prime minister for immediate measures. We all have victims."
Athens has so far chartered just two ferries to transport refugees off of the island.
But Mr Galinos added: "I don’t need one ship, I need a fleet."
Alvand, 18, from Kobani, Syria takes a selfie with his friends as they walk along a railway track
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimates 124,000 have landed on Greek islands this year.
The Greek coastguard sad it saved more than 500 people from the water in just 24 hours on Friday, with scores more expected.
And in complete contrast, thousands arrived in Germany on trains from Hungary and Austria after being invited to settle in the country by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
However Hungary’s Prime Minister Vitkor Orban accused the migrants of targeting Germany for "a German life", instead of physical safety away from war-ravaged countries.
Politicians scramble to offer their homes to Syrian refugees
People traffickers sick ‘kids go free’ offer onboard doomed death…
Migrants take a selfie while waiting for a bus to Austria
He said the stream of migrants flowing through south-eastern Europe were immigrants, attracted by the prospect of life in Germany, not refugees.
Mr Orban said: "If they want to continue on from Hungary, it’s not because they are in danger, it’s because they want something else."
The right-wing leader, who has attracted praise and opprobrium for his hardline handling of Europe’s immigration crisis, defended a controversial package of measures that would include deploying the army to the frontier.
The prime minister said he hoped this would "hermetically seal" the country’s southern border.
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Islamic State: ISIS orders parents to MARRY OFF their daughters to its depraved fighters
TERRIFIED parents in Libya have been ordered to MARRY OFF their daughters to depraved Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, it emerged today.
PUBLISHED: 03:27, Mon, Sep 7, 2015 | UPDATED: 11:07, Mon, Sep 7, 2015
Isis has ordered parents to hand over their daughters in marriage
Sex-crazed Islamists in the coastal city of Sirte are looking to force mothers and fathers to hand over their young girls in the name of jihad.
Those who refuse could find themselves hauled before a Sharia court, with public floggings and even the death penalty amongst the punishments routinely handed down by Isis militants.
The move comes after Express.co.uk revealed how Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has sent hundreds of fighters to Sirte to help the jihadis hold the city.
The hated terror group has declared the Sirte its new capital in north Africa as part of its bid to create a so-called caliphate.
A billboard in Sirte shows women what they are allowed to wear
In a sermon to Sirte’s terrified people – who recently rebelled against their new Isis rulers – militant Hassan al-Karami ordered locals to marry off their female relatives to Isis fighters.
He said that mothers and fathers should "step up and take the initiative" by handing over their daughters as part of jihad. Isis has made similar demands in areas it has captured in Iraq and Syria, with many women revealing the horrific treatment they have received at the hands of its twisted and depraved fighters.
Black flags on Europe’s doorstep: Inside ISIS’s new capital Sirte…
Boko Haram sends militants to ISIS in Libya as map shows horror…
The Benghazi-born jihadist also declared the city, once the hometown of Colonel Gaddafi, to be part of the so-called caliphate.
Isis has declared its intention to use the Mediterranean city as a springboard from which to invade Europe.
The hated terror group has declared Sirte part of its so-called caliphate
Speaking at a mosque in the city’s third district, where an ill-fated anti-Isis rebellion was brutally crushed two weeks ago, al-Karami announced that the group will set up Sharia Law courts in Sirte to hand down brutal punishments to anyone who questions their rule. Penalties for anybody who disobeys the Islamist fanatics will include public flogging and even the death sentence.
He also said that the city’s university will be reopened in a bid to brainwash local inhabitants. It will teach a strictly Isis-approved curriculum, and men and women will be completely separated. ,
Hundreds of Boko Haram militants have joined the Isis in Sirte
Boosted by hundreds of heavily armed Boko Haram warriors, al-Karami also taunted the group’s enemies, who are trying to take back the city.
Referring to a newly formed Arab League force, which has vowed to fight Isis, he boasted: "The Islamic State does not fear the infidel apostate Arab coalition against it."
Libya’s embattled government has called for international air-strikes on Isis to halts its rapid spread through northern Africa.
Last month Isis announced plans to use Sirte as a springboard to invade Europe, urging its militants to make the short journey across the Mediterranean and "conquer Rome".
The jihadists in Sirte have threatened to turn their attentions on nearby Europe, saying in propaganda videos that they will "conquer Rome".
The fight against ISIS
Mon, August 10, 2015
The battle against ISIS militants (also abbreviated as Daesh, ISIL, IS and Islamic State) continues in the Middle East.