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Myanmar: Catholic priest, catechist abducted by armed group

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An armed resistance group opposed to Myanmar’s military junta in the western state of Chin has seized a Catholic priest and a catechist travelling with him.

Members of the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) seized Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang along with a catechist while they were travelling from Surkhua town to Chin state capital, Hakha on July 26, UCA News reported. Both belong to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Surkhua in Hakha Diocese.

Bishop’s appeal
Local Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha has called for their release, expressing concern for their safety and well-being nearly a week after their abduction.

“I call on the concerned leaders of the CDF to immediately release the pair,” Bishop Hre Kung said in a letter released on August 1. Local Catholics have also expressed concern and said prayers for the immediate release of the cleric and the catechist.

Father Tin Thang has been helping numerous of displaced people including the elderly, women and children who took refuge in the parish following clashes in early June, according to sources.

Allegations
Following the letter of Bishop Hre Kung, the CDF said the priest and catechist were in good health.

The group accused the priest of giving information to the military junta, getting medical support from the junta and urging locals to receive the junta’s support. The group said it had warned the clergy not to contact the military’s security force, and they had to arrest Father Tin Thang as he failed to comply. “We will release them only after our demands of transferring the priest from Surkhua to Hakha and signing letters of recommendation from two church leaders are fulfilled,” the group said.

However, according to the Italian news agency, AGI, the priest and the catechist were arrested in Hakha while buying medicines for the people of Surkhua. The local community denies Father Tin Thang had any involvement with the security force.

Father Paul Thla Kio, a priest of Hakha Diocese told the Vatican’s Fides news agency that the CDF has seen Father Tin Thang having contacts with a general of the army. Father Thla Kio explained that the general, who is a Catholic and attends Masses, often went to the priests’ residence. In fact, Father Tin Thang asked the general to avoid violence.

Civil resistance groups
The ousting of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government by the military on February 1, has thrown the nation into chaos with nationwide protests, strikes and a civil disobedience movement, demanding the restoration of the government and the release of their leader. There have been no signs of a letup in the bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military on its opponents in a bid to consolidate its hold on power. The offensive has re-ignited the military’s old conflicts with some of the armed ethnic organizations as well as numerous independent civil resistance groups.

The CDF is one of these civil resistance groups fighting the military. Using homemade weapons, the CDF has inflicted heavy casualties among junta forces in a conflict that erupted in Chin state in May. Clashes are still raging and more than 18,000 people have been displaced in Chin state and neighboring Magway and Sagaing divisions, according to a United Nations report on July 30. During the conflict, priests have been targeted, with the military arresting eight priests from Chin and Kachin states and Mandalay division in May and June.

Ethnic Christians
Christians are a minority in the predominantly Buddhist country, accounting for 6.2 percent of its 54 million population. Myanmar Catholics represent about 1.5 percent of the population.

Areas occupied by the Kachin, Chin, Karen and Kayah ethnic groups, who have been facing oppression and persecution at the hands of the military for decades, are largely Christian.

Thousands of innocent civilians in have been displaced by the conflict. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar, over 220,000 people have been displaced by conflicts and insecurity since the coup.

Myanmar’s complex crises
The serious political, socio-economic, human rights and humanitarian crises generated by the coup, have been exacerbated by a raging third wave of Covid-19 infections, with an acute shortage of oxygen and near absence of the most basic healthcare.

Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing marked 6 months since the coup on Sunday by taking on a new title as prime minister of a newly formed caretaker government. The military-backed State Administration Council (SAC) that was formed after the Feb. 1 coup, has now been reformed as a caretaker government. The junta leader promised fresh multi-party elections in 2 years, saying he will cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on finding a political solution to the country.

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Elderly Eritrean Pastors Continue to Suffer in Prison

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Eritrea – Two pastors who were arrested and imprisoned by the Eritrean government in July are still being held in prison, sources with knowledge of the situation told ICC. Both in their mid-seventies, Pastor Girmay Araya and Pastor Samuel Okbamichael were arrested in the middle of the night before being taken to the Wengel Mermera interrogation center run by the Ministry of Justice in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.

Both pastors were largely retired from the ministry when they were arrested, raising questions about why they were targeted. Eritrea has a long history of targeting religious figures and is currently detaining many others pastors.

Called “Africa’s North Korea” by some, Eritrea is a one-party state ruled by an oppressive, totalitarian government that is openly hostile to religion. Religious prisoners are often subjected to long or indefinite terms in prisons where they suffer unimaginably inhumane conditions.

Former prisoners at Mai Serwa, another prison in Asmara, report being held in shipping containers, each holding 8-22 detainees and extremely susceptible to the extreme weather swings of the desert around them. According to the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR), “inmates are subjected to total darkness, which increases their suffering. A torture chamber made of concrete is reportedly located at the back of the containers. [One] detainee… was interrogated and tortured four nights per week for two months.”

“Individuals who are arrested for religious reasons are systematically subjected to ill-treatment and torture,” the OHCR said. “It is common practice to coerce renunciation of faith.”

Despite its similarities to North Korea, Eritrea seems to have largely managed to escape that country’s penchant for attracting sanctions. In fact, the U.S. is actually lifting sanctions off of the country. However commendable this may be from a diplomatic or economic perspective, it is important that the U.S. not lose sight of the real, systematic abuses at play in Eritrea. It should continue to pressure Eritrea, including through targeted sanctions designed to force behavior change at every level of the abusive system.

“If it does decide to improve relations with Eritrea, the U.S. must use that closeness to pressure the country to begin respecting human rights,” said Jay Church, ICC’s Advocacy Manager for Africa. “A thorough rehauling of its judicial system, the abolishment of its horrendous penal system and the creation of a professional one in its place, and respect for religious freedom would be a good place to start.”
Sources:persecution

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ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികള്‍ക്ക് സമ്പൂർണ വിലക്ക്,ലോകത്തെ ഞെട്ടിച്ച് ചൈന

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ബീജിങ്: ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ കറന്‍സികള്‍ക്ക് സമ്പൂര്‍ണ നിരോധനവുമായി ചൈന രംഗത്ത്. ലോകത്ത് ആദ്യമായാണ് ഒരു രാജ്യം ഇക്കാര്യത്തില്‍ ഇത്രയും കടുത്ത തീരുമാനവുമായി രംഗത്ത് വരുന്നത്. ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളും അവയുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട എല്ലാ ഇടപാടുകളും നിയമവിരുദ്ധമായി പ്രഖ്യാപിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തിട്ടുണ്ട് ചൈന.

ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളുടെ കാര്യത്തില്‍ തീരെ ഉദാരമല്ലാത്ത സമീപനം ആണ് ചൈന സ്വീകരിച്ചുവരുന്നത്. ഇതുസംബന്ധിച്ച് ചൈനയുടെ പല നിയന്ത്രണങ്ങളും നേരത്തേ തന്നെ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ വിപണിയെ വലിയ തോതില്‍ ബാധിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍, ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ നീക്കം ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോവിപണികളുടെ അടിത്തറ തന്നെ ഇളക്കിയേക്കും. ചൈനീസ് തീരുമാനം വന്നതിന് പിറകെ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോകറന്‍സികളുടെ മൂല്യത്തില്‍ വലിയ ഇടിവും സംഭവിച്ചു.

ചൈനയുടെ കേന്ദ്ര ബാങ്ക് ആയ പീപ്പിള്‍സ് ബാങ്ക് ഓഫ് ചൈനയാണ് ഇക്കാര്യത്തില്‍ കൃത്യമായ നിര്‍ദ്ദേശങ്ങള്‍ പുറപ്പെടുവിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത്. ക്രിപറ്റോകറന്‍സികളുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട് എല്ലാ ഇടപാടുകളും നിയമവിരുദ്ധമായിരിക്കുമെന്നും നിര്‍ബന്ധമായും നിരോധിക്കപ്പെടേണ്ടതാണെന്നും ബാങ്ക് അവരുടെ വെബ്‌സൈറ്റ് മുഖേന വ്യക്തമാക്കിക്കഴിഞ്ഞു. ബിറ്റ്‌കോയിന്‍ എന്നോ, എഥേറിയം എന്നോ ടെഥര്‍ എന്നോ വ്യത്യാസമില്ലാത്തെ എല്ലാ ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ കറന്‍സികള്‍ക്കും ഇത് ബാധകമായിരിക്കും.

ചൈനക്കാരുടെ കൈവശമുള്ളവരുടെ ബിറ്റ്‌കോയിനുകള്‍ക്ക് ഇനി എന്ത് സംഭവിക്കും എന്നത് സംബന്ധിച്ച ചര്‍ച്ചകളും പുരോഗമിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ചൈനയിലെ താമസക്കാര്‍ക്ക് ഓഫ്‌ഷോര്‍ എക്‌സ്‌ചേഞ്ചുകള്‍ വഴി നല്ഡകപ്പെട്ടിരുന്ന ക്രിപ്‌റ്റോ സേവനങ്ങള്‍ കൂടി നിരോധനത്തിന്റെ പരിധിയില്‍ വരുന്ന സാഹചര്യത്തിലാണ് ഇത്തരം ഒരു ആശങ്ക ഉയര്‍ന്നിരിക്കുന്നത്.
Sources:globalindiannews

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