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China Remains a 'Country of Particular Concern' PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 10:55

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2013 Annual Report on the state of international religious freedom on April 30. China was once again listed under “countries of particular concern.” The report notes the government’s continuing mistreatment toward the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

USCIRF also noted the Chinese government’s rise in mistreatment toward Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims.Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaking at a rally opposing Falun Gong persecution.

Falun Gong emerged in China in the 1990’s. While the Communist government originally offered its support to the qigong exercise-based communities, Falun Gong’s spiritual philosophy became perceived as a threat to national security and social harmony as its numbers rose.

According to the USCIRF report, Falun Gong members “face some of the most intense and violent forms of persecution.” Members are jailed, forced to renounce their faith, or sent to detention centers where they are tortured. Furthermore, it is hard to find anyone in China to legally speak against the oppression Falun Gong members face. According to the USCIRF report, “The Chinese government also continues to harass, detain, intimidate, and disbar attorneys who defend members of vulnerable religious groups.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 15:16
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Japanese Unification Church Member Missing PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:33

"T.I.” (whose name is protected for privacy) was apparently abducted against his will. He had three cell phones, an unusually high number for a college student, even in technology-rich Japan. One was for everyday use, one was a back-up phone, and one’s specific purpose was its GPS locator. T.I. knew about cases involving parents kidnapping their adult child to reverse their decision to join the Unification Church. He was prepared for this possibility.

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A senior in the College of Science and Engineering at Kanazawa University, 21-year-old T.I. is an adult under Japanese law, which guarantees his right to religious freedom, including the right to adopt a religion which is different from one’s family of origin. T.I. joined the Unification Church’s Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) in April, 2011. He then moved into a CARP dormitory that summer.

 

T.I. informed his family about his affiliation with CARP in June, 2012. His mother reportedly became distraught and asked him to leave the dormitory as soon as possible. His father also opposed to his choice of religion, but did not pressure him about it. While T.I. continued living in the CARP dormitory, he maintained regular communication with his family and informed them that he had received a solid job offer from a non-church company to employ him after his graduation.

 

Unification Church member Mr. S. lives in the same neighborhood as T.I.’s family. When T.I. visited home last New Year’s Day, he asked Mr. S. for help in case T.I.’s parents were to kidnap him.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 10:51
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Egypt: Religious Differences in a Post-Mubarak State PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 21:40

Human rights activists are growing increasingly concerned about religious persecution in Egypt. A new President assumed power in June 2012. However, religious violence continues, and in some cases has escalated, since. Censorship is also still at large.coptic_orthodox_cathedral_abbasyia_cairo

Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II gave an “unprecedented condemnation” of the Islamist president on April 9 after two people were killed exiting a funeral service at Coptic St Mark Cathedral. Four Coptic Christians were being remembered at the service, the National Review reported. The four Copts were killed during a clash between Muslims in northern Cairo.

Coptic Christians make up the majority of Christians in Egypt and are an estimated 10 percent of the Egyptian population. Although Christianity is noted as one of the “divine religions” in Egypt’s penal code, Coptic Christians receive the most persecution of any religious group.

A mob of 200 Muslims “hurled fire bombs, live ammunition, tear gas, and rocks” at the Copts as the exited the evening funeral service, the National Review reported. Dozens of Copts were wounded. One Muslim died after “reportedly falling from a ladder, which he had climbed in order to destroy the Cathedral’s security camera.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:22
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Sudan Cracks Down on Christian Churches PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 06 May 2013 18:01

Sudan banning the construction of Christian churches raises the specter of a country-wide government crackdown on religious freedom for Christianity. Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al Fatih Taj El-sir, announced April 17 that no more licenses will be issued to build churches. He stated a growing number of abandoned churches and lack of worshippers since South Sudan seceded in 2011 as the reason, the Sudan Tribune reported. sudan flag

Since June 2012 authorities have reportedly destroyed several churches in and around Khartoum, including two churches belonging to the St John’s Episcopal Church. The two churches, located in Khartoum, were bulldozed under the order of the Ministry of Planning, who claimed they lacked permits. In April 2013, several Presbyterian churches were looted. Many other churches have been raided and had their books confiscated for content-checking.

Simultaneously, since December 2012 there has been “an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:07
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U.S. Government Responds to Iran Imprisoning Christian Pastor PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 April 2013 17:05

Saeed Abedini, an American Christian pastor and dual Iranian-American citizen, has been imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison since September 2012. Abedini was visiting Iran helping build an orphanage when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained him. He is facing an eight-year prison sentence for practicing Christianity in Iran, which the Iranian government claims is a threat to national security. On March 21st the U.S. government finally began speaking out against Abedini’s detainment.

Abedini has endured multiple beatings that left him unable to recognize himself, he wrote to his family. He did not receive medical attention because the nurse assigned to him refused to touch a Christian. The U.S. government spoke out after intensive pressure from Congress and the media, along with a petition containing 500,000 signatures calling for Abedini’s release.

On March 21st Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donohue addressed Abedini’s case at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, stating, “We repeat our call for the Government of Iran to release Mr. Abedini, and others who are unjustly imprisoned, and to cease immediately its persecution of all religious minority communities.” Secretary John Kerry stated March 22nd that he is “disturbed by reports that Mr. Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison” and that his mistreatment “violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws.” Read Secretary Kerry’s full statement here.

Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, and two children reside in Boise, Idaho.    

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 21:25
 
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