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Pastor’s son shot dead by Nigeria’s civilian joint task force for attempting to stop church demolition

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Christians in Nigeria’s Borno State are protesting the killing of a pastor’s son as he was trying to stop his church’s demolition by a government agency.

The victim, identified as Ezekiel Bitrus Tumba, was shot and killed last week allegedly by “security men” from the “civilian joint task force,” or CJTF, a local group formed in 2013 to support the Nigerian security forces in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group in northeast Nigeria, according to the local online newspaper Vanguard.

The 29-year-old man was killed last Thursday when he, along with other youth, attempted to stop the demolition of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria, or EYN, in the Hausa area in Borno State’s capital city of Maiduguri by a government agency called the Borno Geographic Information Service, or BOGIS, which maintains land.

“Officials of Borno Geographic Information System, led by its executive secretary, Engr Adams Bababa, brought CJTF to the church not only for demolition but also ended up killing our brother and son,” said Bishop Williams Naga, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in a statement, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“The entire Christian community has been thrown into mourning mood as a brother, who was a breadwinner of his family, was sent to his early grave,” Naga added.

On Sunday, congregants gathered around the ruins of the church to hold their weekly service.

“They demolished the building, thinking it is the Church. (But) the Church is forever unstoppable and indestructible,” Hausa Christians Foundation wrote on Facebook.

Authorities have demolished four other churches in the area, alleging a “failure to formalize land titles and property tax,” ICC said, adding that state governments in northern Nigeria prohibit the construction of church buildings and often tear down existing structures without warning.

The other demolished churches include Jubilee Sanctuary Church, Total Gospel Mission International, Sanctuary Church and Christ Forever Land, according to CAN.

“If you want to build a church, they will not give you a permit, because the government will (fire) anyone who proposes/signs a document to build a church,” a church leader in northern Nigeria was quoted as saying.

Christians in Nigeria face severe persecution also on the hands of Islamic non-state actors, including Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.

The Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law estimated in May that as many as 1,470 Christians were killed in Nigeria during the first four months of 2021, the highest estimate in the first four months of any year since 2014. The number also surpasses the estimated number of Christians killed in 2019. The report estimated that as many as 300 people had been killed in Kaduna in the first four months of 2021.

In the first four months of this year, the organization estimates that at least 2,200 Christians were abducted. Kaduna state recorded the highest number of abductions at 800.

The Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the third-most affected country by terrorism and reported over 22,000 deaths by acts of terror from 2001 to 2019.
Sources:Christian Post

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Taliban are carrying out mass executions, says Christian missionary helping Afghans

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Less than a month after the U.S. troops withdrew troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have started arresting, and in some instances executing, people they perceive as their enemies. Recent photos and video suggest they’re killing as many as 30 to 40 at a time, Christian missionary David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces and Ranger officer, said in a media interview.

The way the United States pulled out is “dishonorable, and a horrible breaking of promises … and leaving thousands of people behind that we promised we’d take out with us including American citizens,” Eubank, who is from Free Burma Rangers and provides humanitarian services in war-torn areas, told CBN News.

In some instances, the pull-out has been “cowardly,” he continued, speaking from Tajikistan, which neighbors Afghanistan and where many Afghans are arriving after fleeing the Taliban.

“Taliban are hunting down people right now, trying to get all the names of anyone they perceive as an enemy,” Eubank said, adding that the enemies include “people who work with the U.S. government, people who are with other governments, people who work with non-governmental organizations they don’t agree with.”

Eubank, who is in Tajikistan to help Afghans, also said that “many have been executed. … I’ve seen recent photos of 30 to 40 people [being executed].”

Eubank clarified that he doesn’t know the scale of the killings or the arrests, “but I believe it’s countrywide now.”

The Taliban are allowing American citizens who have identity cards to escape, he continued, adding that “anyone who doesn’t have papers, anyone they perceive as an enemy, they are going to arrest them, and, in many cases, execute them.”

The people in Afghanistan “are in terror,” Eubank added.

According to its website, Free Burma Rangers have helped 1.5 million displaced persons to date who would have otherwise died.

In an interview with The Christian Post last year, Eubank shared: “I am motivated by what Jesus does for me and want to share His love and encourage people to follow Him. We are not to be led by comfort, fear or pride, but go in the love God gives us. We go into areas of direct combat to save lives and share love.”

Following the drawing down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of much of the country, taking the capital Kabul last month and forcing the government to flee.

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern warned last week that as the Taliban is cracking down on protests and journalists, concerns are also being raised among religious minorities of increased oppression and persecution because the Taliban have promised strict enforcement of Sharia law.

Almost all Afghan Christians — estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 — are converts from Islam and remain largely closeted and hidden from the public eye due to severe persecution.

“Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general,” ICC reports. “In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.”
Sources:Christian Post

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ICC report on religious persecution of Christians in China over the past year

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International Christian Concern (ICC) has just published a new report on persecution in China. In it, ICC lists and analyzes over 100 incidents of Christian persecution between July 2020 and June 2021, a period marked by a significant campaign by the Chinese government to forcefully convert independent religious organizations into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This forceful assimilation—also called Sinicization—has continued to intensify since it was introduced as part of the Four Requirements campaign launched in 2018. Since then, the government has only increased its attempts to use the Church for political purposes. It has gone as far as converting church buildings into propaganda centers and even regulating the content of sermons in order to promote communist party values.

Three-Self churches are part of the legal framework the CCP uses to systemically curb Christianity, including Catholicism. If a church is not registered as a state-sanctioned church, it is violating the law and the CCP can step in at any time to shut it down, prosecute individuals, and put enormous social pressure on attendees. As described in last year’s report, registered churches are at the mercy of laws that were passed entirely in contradiction to the constitution and enforced by multiple departments, bureaus, and agencies using them to suppress house church activity.

A significant trend throughout the past year was church raids. In them, not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested. One example of a church raid was in September 2020, in Sichuan province, when China’s Public Security Bureau of Nanbu deployed over 30 police officers to raid an underground Protestant house church, known as Sola Fide. When police arrived on the scene, they arrested 50 Sola Fide members. Throughout this process, the police tore down crosses and other Christian symbols and destroyed hymnals and Bibles.

With the intensified crackdown against churches, both state-vetted and underground, there is no longer a safe place to be a Christian in China. Almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution over the last year.

The Religious Affairs Bureau and the CCP have a single goal: to prevent religious influence from threatening their communist control.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “China tightening down on people of faith comes as no surprise to observers. What is concerning is the depth and width of persecution and that it continues to expand. From Xinjiang to Sichuan, from state-sanctioned groups to underground churches, from verbal threats to imprisonment, believers in China are constantly watched and persecuted, as documented in ICC’s latest incident report. The international community should not appease Beijing and let it get away with its blatant disregard for human rights.”

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