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Release of 69 Christians imprisoned in Eritrea for faith in Jesus

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Eritrean government has, at the time of writing, released 69 Christian prisoners, many of whom have been in long-term detention for their faith for up to 16 years without trial.

Following on from a release of more than 20 male and female prisoners on 4 September, Barnabas can report that the authorities are continuing make conditional releases from the Mai Serwa prison, near the capital, Asmara.

A Barnabas contact has confirmed the Eritrean government has, at the time of writing, released 69 Christian prisoners, many of whom have been in long-term detention for their faith for up to 16 years without trial.

Following on from a release of more than 20 male and female prisoners on 4 September,  the authorities are continuing make conditional releases from the Mai Serwa prison, near the capital, Asmara.

“This is an answer to prayer. Thousands of Christians have been praying for this,” he added.

Life will not be easy for those who are released Dr Berhane explained, “Many have been in prison for a long time. The circumstances they are being released into are very changed. Some will return to friends and extended family, but many will be homeless with nowhere to go. There is no state help in Eritrea.”

Dr Berhane called for prayer for the released prisoners, “People have souls and minds that will need healing. They need to rehabilitate. We need to pray that they will recover from their trauma.”

In 2019, more than 330 Christians were arrested between May and August. Among them were 141 Christians – including 104 women and 14 children – detained on 10 May as they gathered at a house church meeting in Asmara.

Eritrea remains one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution, where believers of certain denominations are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. Since the introduction of religious registration policies in 2002, only three Christian denominations are legally permitted – Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran – as well as Sunni Islam.

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Vietnamese Christian Imprisoned for Trumped Up Charge Returns Home

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Vietnam– A pastor in northwestern Vietnam told ICC that on January 10, a Christian man named Sung A Khua returned home after serving two and a half year in prison.

In 2018, when Sung A Khua and his family converted to Christianity, they were facing a lot of hostilities and persecution from the local authorities and villagers. Soon after his conversion, the local authorities and villagers came and prevented him and his family from attending church. They were asked to denounce their Christian faith. But he ignored them, continued to attend church, and grew in his faith. Later that year, the villagers destroyed his house and confiscated his properties, so his family had to move out and lived temporary near the forest.

With the intervention of the leading pastor, the authorities allowed them to return home and repaired their house with some support from friends. Similar to many other tribal people living in that area, he went to the forest to log some wood to repair his house. He was soon arrested by the local authorities and brought to the court. On Nov 26th, 2018, he was charged for illegally logging and destroying the forest and was sentenced to a 30-month imprisonment. This is a common tactic used to intimate Christian converts.

Though he has now returned to his family, he will be placed under the surveillance of the local authorities for at least six months to two years. The local government forbids any visit to his family. Some pastors and friends have tried to reach out to him but to no avail. A Khua will probably face many challenges from now on as he begins life anew. Please remember him and his family in your prayer.

Sources:persecution

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Christians in Nepal Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

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Nepal– Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country. The Global Press Journal recently published an article discussing the story of Pastor Hari Tamang, a current example of this persecution. Pastor Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Although the trafficking charges were dropped, Tamang is still years later fighting the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Nepalese law allows for the free exercise of one’s religion but forbids the conversion of others. This has produced a context of growing tensions in the society. The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity as skyrocketed. Advocacy organizations estimate that Christians now number between 2 and 3 million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

In neighboring India, similar anti-forced conversion laws have been implemented in several states across the country with similar penalties. India, however, has been leading the way in persecuting religious minorities – a trend that only encourages the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal to take similar actions.

The Church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which also raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions. In other words, the charitable actions of the Church are viewed with suspicion. Regardless of this, the Church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.
Sources:persecution

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