1

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

RUSSIA: 15 Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison terms since 1 January

15 Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison terms since 1 January

HRWF (25.05.2022) – The release of the Danish Jehovah’s Witness Denis Christensen yesterday after five years spent in prison is the tree that hides the forest. Indeed, the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses goes on unabated in Russia. Two of them were sentenced to heavy prison terms on the eve of the release of Christensen: Andrey Vlasov, a handicapped person, to 7 years (!) and LyudmilaDhchekoldina to 4 years and 1 month.

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison terms in Russia in 2022 (Update)

 

 

23 May 2022: Andrey Vlasov, 53 years old (7 years)

23 May 2022: Lyudmila Shchekoldina, 45 years old (4 years and 1 month in a penal colony)

26 April 2022: Andrey Ledyaikin, 34 years old (2 years and 2 months)

19 April 2022: Konstantin Samsonov, 45 years old (7 years 1/2 years)

18 March 2022: Valeriy Rogozin, 60 years old (6 years and 5 months in a penal colony)

Denis Peresunko, 54 years old (6 years and 6 months)

Sergey Melnik, 57 years old (6 years in a penal colony)

Igor Egozaryan, 57 years old (6 years in a penal colony)

07 February 2022: Yuriy Saveliyev, 68 years old (6 years + 1 year of restricted freedom)

02 February 2022: Anatoliy Gorbunov, 64 years old (6 years)

25 January 2022: Anna Safronova, 57 years old (6 years)

20 January 2022: Yevgeny Korotun, 52 years old (7 years + 2 years of restricted freedom)

20 January 2022: Andrei Kolesnichenko, 52 years old (4 years + 1 year of restricted freedom)

19 January 2022: Alexei Ershov, 68 years old (3 years)

17 January 2022: Maksim Beltikov, 42 years old (2 years)

 

Andrey Vlasov, a disabled Jehovah’s Witness sentenced to 7 years in prison  

On May 23, 2022, the judge of the Central District Court of Prokopyevsk Pavel Kotykhov found 53-year-old Andrey Vlasov guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist community and sentenced him to seven years in prison. He was taken into custody in the courtroom.

Addressing the court with the last word, Vlasov said: “My physical condition is limited . . . Due to stiffness in movement, without outside help, I cannot take care of my legs: put on socks, take care of my feet and toes. All this is done by my dear [wife] Natasha. I am in constant need of medical treatment and supervision.”

In July 2020, Ivan Sablin, an investigator with the Federal Security Service of Russia for the Kemerovo Region—Kuzbass, opened a criminal case against Andrey Vlasov. Ten days later, the FSB searched his house and workplace. The investigation went on for almost a year. In June 2021, the Vlasov case was submitted to the Central District Court of the city of Prokopyevsk. Although there is not a single victim in the case, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to 8.5 years in prison.

Vlasov spent two days in isolation, a year and 10 months he was under house arrest. Andrey said: “I am limited in movement, my life revolves on 30 square meters of an apartment.” Despite the fact that the believer never violated the detention regime, the court repeatedly extended his preventive measure. All this had a negative impact on his health, however, the court continued to restrict Vlasov from visiting medical institutions.

The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believer insists on his complete innocence.

In the Kemerovo Region, 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted for their faith. Three of them received suspended sentences. Sergey Britvin and Vadim Levchuk have already served their terms in a penal colony.

Russian law enforcers mistakenly interpret the usual exercise of the constitutional rights of believers as extremist activity. Although the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation banned the activities of legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this court did not in itself prohibit the practice of this religion.

 

In the Krasnodar Territory, the Court sent a woman to a penal colony for four years

On May 23, 2022, Olga Marchenko, a judge of the Pavlovsky District Court of the Krasnodar Territory, sentenced 45-year-old Lyudmila Shchekoldina to four years and one month in a penal colony. The woman was taken into custody in the courtroom. The court equated her ordinary religious practices with participation in the activities of an extremist organization and involving others in it.

The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed. Shchekoldina insists on her complete innocence.

Although Lyudmila Shchekoldina’s health has recently deteriorated and she needs a surgery, the prosecutor asked the court to find the believer guilty under Articles 282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and sentence her to 4.5 years in prison.

The criminal case against Lyudmila Shchekoldina was initiated on April 23, 2020. A week later, a series of searches took place in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Krasnodar Territory, and Lyudmila also became a victim. The accusation against the believer was based on a report by intelligence agent Ilchenko that the woman tried to involve him in the activities of an extremist organization. This is how he described their conversations about the Bible.

The case of Shchekoldina was investigated by the investigative department of the Federal Security Service of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory for a year. On May 13, 2021, the case went to court. It was examined by Judge Olga Marchenko of the Pavlovsky District Court of the Krasnodar Territory, the same judge who sentenced one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Vladimir Skachidub, to 4 years in prison.

Russian human rights activists and the world community consider the criminal prosecution for the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses incompetent and strongly condemn it.

 

Andrey Ledyaikin sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison

 

On 26 April 2022, the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region sentenced Andrey Ledyaikin to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

 

In July 2020, FSB and Investigative Committee officers, accompanied by two OMON fighters, arrived at Andrey Ledyaikin’s place of work, in the administration of Seversk, to pick up a believer for a search of his home. After the Seversk Investigation Department opened a criminal case against Ledyaykin in March 2021, he was forced to resign. Three days later, the court chose a preventive measure for him in the form of a written undertaking not to leave the place and proper behavior.

 

In June 2021, the Ledyaykin case was submitted to the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region. It was considered by Judge Yekaterina Soldatenko. The accusation was based on the testimony of FSB agent Kira Klisheva, who testified against 5 more Jehovah’s Witnesses in Seversk. The prosecutor requested 4.5 years in a general regime colony for the believer.

 

 

Jehovah’s Witness Konstantin Samsonov sentenced to 7.5 years in prison

On April 19, 2022, Maksim Mazikin, judge of the Neftekumsk District Court of the Stavropol Territory, sentenced Konstantin Samsonov to 7.5 years in prison, he was arrested in the courthouse. Aleksandr Akopov and Shamil Sultanov each received a fine of 500,000 rubles, which has already been paid off on account of the time served in the pre-trial detention center. A written undertaking not to leave was taken from them.

Even before the initiation of a criminal case, Neftekumsk believers faced an armed raid during a friendly meeting, surveillance and repeated searches. In December 2018, Samsonov, Akopov and Sultanov ended up in a pre-trial detention center. A. V. Astakhov, senior investigator of the FSB department of the Stavropol Territory, accused them of extremism (part 1 of article 282.2 and part 1 of article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

After a year of imprisonment, the court replaced their arrest with a ban on certain actions. For more than two years, due to the restrictions imposed, they have been forced to wear special sensors that record their movements. Akopov could not receive the medical care he needed, and Samsonov could not work in his specialty (his family lives off the savings made before his arrest).

The ECtHR, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are just some of the organizations condemning the repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

An appeal in Volgograd upholds the sentence of four Jehovah’s Witnesses 

On March 18, 2022, the Volgograd Regional Court upheld the conviction of Valeriy Rogozin, Igor Egozaryan, Denis Peresunko and Sergey Melnik.

In September 2021, the court of first instance sentenced Rogozin to 6 years and 5 months in a penal colony, Peresunko to 6 years and 3 months, and Melnik and Egozaryan to 6 years in a penal colony. The verdict has entered into force, but believers can appeal it in cassation.

When the criminal prosecution began, the wife of Denis Peresunko died of COVID-19, and the believer himself was placed in a pre-trial detention center for 5 months. He was on disability and the resulting stress exacerbated his condition. A long stay in the pre-trial detention center also seriously undermined the health of Valeriy Rogozin. Egozaryan and Melnik are raising their underage sons.

In 2019, law enforcement officers arrested four believers and accused them of organizing extremist activities, and later two of them — Peresunko and Rogozin — also of financing it. At the same time, recordings of religious meetings of Volgograd Jehovah’s Witnesses, at which they discuss Bibles, sing songs and pray to God, were used as material evidence of their “guilt.”

Source of the detailed individual cases: https://jw-russia.org/prisoners.html

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

RUSSIA: A Danish Jehovah’s Witness released after five years in prison

A Danish Jehovah’s Witness released after five years in prison

By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

The European Times (24.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3LIfYd3 – After five years spent in prison, Dennis Christensen was released this Tuesday 24th May. He is expected to be deported to Denmark on Wednesday morning.

 

Dennis Christensen has served five years of his six-year sentence. This is because his two years in pretrial detention counts as three years towards his sentence.

 

He was the first to be arrested and sentenced to prison following the April 2017 Russian Supreme Court ruling that liquidated the Witnesses legal entities. He has been in prison the longest, although in recent years others have been sentenced to longer terms, as much as eight years.

 

Dennis Christensen was born in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1972 into a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In 1991 he graduated from the courses of carpentry and in 1993 he received a diploma of construction technician at the Higher School of Craftsmen in Haslev (Denmark).

In 1995 he went to St. Petersburg to volunteer in the construction of Jehovah’s Witnesses buildings in Solnechnoye. In 1999 he moved to Murmansk where he met his future wife Irina, who by then had become a Jehovah’s Witness relatively recently. They got married in 2002, and in 2006 decided to move south to Oryol.

On February 6, 2019, the Zheleznodorozhny District Court found Christensen guilty of extremism. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison to be served in a penal colony located in Lgov (Kursk region). On May 23, 2019, the Court of Appeal upheld this verdict.

 

Christensen Timeline

  • May 25, 2017, he was arrested and detained when heavily armed police officers and Federal Security Service (FSB) raided a peaceful weekly religious service of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Oryol, Russia.
  • May 26, 2017, he was ordered to be held in pretrial detention.
  • February 6, 2019, he was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.
  • May 23, 2019, he lost his appeal.

 

2017 Russian Supreme Court Ruling

The April 20, 2022, Supreme Court ruling, albeit grossly unjust, simply liquidated all of the Witnesses’ legal entities, Local Religious Organizations (LROs), in Russia and Crimea, declaring them “extremist”. During the 2017 Supreme Court hearing, the Russian government claimed that individual Witnesses would be free to practice their faith. However, the government’s claim of allowing freedom to worship has been inconsistent with its actions.

o   Additional references (link1link2)

Home Raids, Criminal Cases, and Imprisonment (Russia + Crimea)

1755 homes raided, almost one per day, since the 2017 Supreme Court ruling

625 JWs involved in 292 criminal cases

91 total in prison, over 325 have spent some time behind bars

o   23 convicted and sentenced to prison

o   68 in pretrial detention facilities awaiting conviction or have been convicted but awaiting results of first appeal

 

Longest, harshest prison sentence

 

Photo : Dennis Christensen was the first Jehovah’s Witness to be convicted on extremism charges in Russia.Courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

PAKISTAN: Two Sikhs shot dead in Peshawar and an Ahmadi stabbed to death

Two Sikhs shot dead in Peshawar and an Ahmadi stabbed to death

On May 15, unidentified assailants came on a motorbike and killed two peaceful merchants. On May 17, Ahmadi Abdus Salam was killed in the village called L Plot, in Punjab

By Massimo Introvigne

Two Sikhs shot dead in Peshawar

Bitter Winter (17.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3x2JzbZTwo Sikh traders, Ranjit Singh (42) and Kuljeet Singh (38), were peacefully sitting in front of their shops in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on May 15, when two men arrived on a motorbike, opened fire, and killed them.

In September last year, another Sikh shopkeeper had been similarly killed in Peshawar.

In Pakistan, the persecution of the Sikhs starts from statistics. The community reports there can be as many as 50,000 Sikhs in the country. Scholars believe they are around 20,000, but the government maintains they are less than 7,000.

Numbers are dwindling because of a long history of harassment, forced conversion, destruction of places of worship—and homicide.

As usual, Pakistani authorities condemned the double homicide. From Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, all offered condolences to the Sikh community and promised justice.

However, rarely is justice delivered in these cases. The root cause of the crimes is the activity of Islamic Sunni extremist organizations that regard the Sikhs as dangerous enemies of Islam and disseminate hate speech.

Until these organizations and their campaigns of hate are not stopped, violence against religious minorities cannot but continue.

Abdus Salam was killed in the village called L Plot, in Punjab

Bitter Winter (19.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/38cRniQInternational protests do not seem to have any effect. The persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan continues, at different levels.

The Ahmadis are part of a movement founded within Islam by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Conservative Muslims accuse Ahmad of having considered himself a “prophet,” whereas Islam teaches that no prophet can appear after Muhammad. The Ahmadi formula for Ahmad, “at the same time a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet [ Muhammad],” is not enough to establish the Ahmadis’ orthodoxy in the eyes of Muslim clerics.

This is not a theological dispute only, and the hatred disseminated against the Ahmadis by both Muslim radicals and the Pakistani government itself continues to kill.

On May 17, at 5:45 pm, an Ahmadi called Abdus Salam, son of Munawar Ahmed, left his home in the village called L Plot in the District of Okara, Punjab. A young boy, Ali Raza alias Mulazam Hussain, son of Badhir Ahmer, suddenly attacked him and stabbed him to death.

The young boy is a student at the local madrassa. He had no personal quarrel with Abdus Salam, and the only explanation for the crime is that it was motivated by sectarian hatred against the Ahmadis. The assassin has left the village and, at the time of this writing, is still at large.

Abdus Salam leaves behind a widow, two young boys of 6 and 4, and a baby girl of one and a half year. It is the last victim of a cruel and senseless war.

Photo : Protest march after the homicides in Peshawar. From Twitter.

***********************************************

Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.

 

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

PAKISTAN: Hearing at the EP of a Christian couple, formerly sentenced to death

Hearing of a Christian couple, formerly sentenced to death in Pakistan, at the European Parliament

By Manel Msalmi and Willy Fautré

HRWF (23.05.2022) – On Wednesday 18 May 2022, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, a Christian couple sentenced to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges in 2014 and kept on the death row until their acquittal in June 2021, were welcomed with open arms at the European Parliament to testify about their ordeal.

The event was organized by MEPs Peter van Dalen and Carlo Fidanza, co-chairs of the Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious tolerance and attended by other MEPs, such as the Vice President of the European Parliament Othmar Karas (EPP Political Group) and Charlie Weimers (ECR Political Group).

The conference started with an exchange of views between the Christian couple who after their acquittal was granted asylum in a European country. They said they were grateful to Europe for welcoming their family and guaranteeing their safety and security.

 

Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar said they were “happy and relieved to be free.” They were grateful to the three members of the EP Intergroup on FORB – Peter van Dalen (EPP), Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR), Joachim Kuhs (ID) – who had filed a written parliamentary question about their situation on 10 February 2021 which was addressed to Josep Borrell, High Representative/ Vice President of the European Commission.

 

They also thanked the European Parliament which on 29 April 2021 had adopted a Resolution on Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan, focusing in particular on their personal case saying in its very first point:

 

“whereas Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, a Christian couple, were imprisoned in 2013 and sentenced to death in 2014 for blasphemy; whereas they have been accused of sending “blasphemous” text messages to a mosque cleric insulting the Prophet Muhammad, using a sim card registered in Shagufta’s name; whereas both the accused have consistently denied all allegations and believe that her National Identity Card was purposely misused;

 

the European Parliament

Strongly condemns the imprisonment and sentencing of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, as well as the continued delay of their appeal hearing;

calls on the Pakistani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them, and to provide them and their lawyer adequate security now and upon release;

calls on the Lahore High Court to hold the appeal hearing without delay and to strike down the verdict in accordance with human rights;”

 

681 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the resolution: only three MEPs opposed it.

 

The pressure exerted by the EU institutions was finally successful as the Christian couple who had spent eight years in prison was released a month and a half later.

 

The intervention of Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar was followed by their lawyer’s, Saif Ul Malook, who shared his views and thoughts regarding blasphemy laws. Saif Ul Malook was also the lawyer of Asia Bibi, arrested in June 2009 and sentenced to death by hanging in 2018. After the visit of Jan Figel, EU Special Representative on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her based on insufficient evidence. Saif Ul Malook lives under high protection and goes on receiving death threats accusing him to be a ” traitor of Islam”. He said that he is ready to defend faithful of Christianity and Islam in the same way because in each of these two religions, “God asks to save the innocent and protect life,” according to him. “To save a life is to save humanity,” he said.

 

The debate was followed by some reflections on the situation in Pakistan by Jean -Paul Van der Walle from “ADF International” and Jan Dirk Van Nifterik from the Dutch foundation “Hulp Vervolgde Christenen” (Help Persecuted Christians).

 

Mr Joel Voordewind, a former MP in the Netherlands, argued that the EU should “stand with the minorities who are affected by the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.” He added: “We are not talking about numbers but we are dealing with people.” Individual cases give a face to the numbers of victims who are killed, beaten and even stoned or burnt to death. The question is “What can we do as politicians to make a change?”. The answer is “EU resolutions. They are useful to fight against blasphemy laws and the Human Rights Council in Geneva must support the European Parliament resolutions for freedom of religion and against the death penalty.” According to a research by an Australian university on the death penalty, 1600 people have been in jail in Pakistan on the grounds of blasphemy, the majority of them being Muslims. Twelve countries still have death penalties for non-believers on apostasy and blasphemy.

 

MEP Peter Van Dalen is working on an EU resolution supporting a UN resolution against the death penalty to put pressure on the 12 countries whose laws allow death sentences in cases of change of religion. The resolution will be introduced by the EPP Group. A draft of the EU resolution will be discussed in July 2022 in the plenary session as an emergency.

 

The lawyer of the Christian Pakistani couple, Mr Malook, stressed that the EU should be firm with the imams coming from Pakistan and vigilant about their teachings.

 

In their last remarks, the couple and their children said that they are happy and thankful to the EU for welcoming them as they feel that they are free for the first time in their lives.

 

MEP Peter Van Dalen, as a co-chair of the Intergroup on freedom of religion and belief, regretted in his conclusion that unfortunately left-wing MEPs are reluctant in bringing freedom of religion issues on the agenda and sometimes block EU resolutions introduced by the EPP Group. And he added that the European Parliament wanted the EU to review Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP+ status as long as there is no substantial improvement of its human rights and religious freedom record.

Photo : MEP Peter Van Dalen

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

INDONESIA: Clerical body ‘sorry’ for false apostasy claims

Clerical body ‘sorry’ for false apostasy claims

North Sumatra branch of Ulema Council sparks row after official said conversions were rampant in local district

By Katharina R. Lestari

 

UCA News (17.05.2022)- https://bit.ly/3Pv35Gn – A provincial branch of Indonesia’s highest Muslim clerical body was forced to apologize on May 17 after coming under fire from local authorities and Christians for indirectly accusing religious minorities of apostasy.

The row began several days earlier when the North Sumatra branch of the Ulema Council claimed that a district in the province had a very alarming rate of apostasy cases.

Muhammad Hatta, who heads the council’s local religious propagation desk, said over the weekend that he was informed about a large number of Muslims abandoning their faith in Langkat district.

Despite a lack of concrete data confirming this, he claimed that “it was very alarming.”

According to him, there were attempts to convert local Muslims to other faiths through marriage and other methods.

“Sometimes a couple professing Islam and another religion get married the Islamic way but after the Muslim is forced to adhere to his or her partner’s religion,” Indonesian language news portal detick.com quoted him as saying.

He pointed to a case in which a 30-year-old Muslim woman was allegedly forced to convert to Christianity after marrying a Protestant man in the district.

However, his claims were fiercely denied by a local official and a Catholic Church leader.

The acting district head, Syah Afandin, acknowledged a Muslim woman had converted to Christianity but asserted that “she was the only one” and “there are no attempts at organized apostasy.”

He said Hatta’s remarks were very inflammatory, “because what really happened was that the Muslim woman dated the Christian man, left her parent’s home for six months to be with him, converted to Christianity, and was married to him by a Protestant pastor.”

He also said the Muslim woman’s parents had filed a police report which was rejected as they had no authority to deal with the case.

Speaking with UCA News on May 17, Reverend Ahmad Sajli DK Pinem, general secretary of the North Sumatra chapter of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, criticized the said the local Ulema council claim was blown out of proportion.

Commenting on the conversion of the Muslim woman he said: “Conversion is a personal affair. It has nothing to do with others.”

He said the woman’s family might be disappointed with her decision. “Or perhaps they want something else. I do not know.”

He also called on Christians in the district not to be provoked by the Ulema Council’s claim about large-scale conversions he said.

The North Sumatra chapter of the MUI finally issued a clarification on May 17 following the criticisms.

Its chairman, Zulkifli Ahmad Dian, apologized for the confusion and said the district had in fact recorded no mass apostasy attempts.

Photo: An official at the North Sumatra branch of Indonesia’s Ulema Council claimed many Muslims were being converted to other religions through marriage. (Unsplash)

Further reading about FORB in Indonesia on HRWF website





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1258

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1259

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1260

CHINA: The tragic arrest of Cardinal Zen (90)/ Appeal for strong response of Rome

The tragic arrest of Cardinal Zen (90)

“BE NOT AFRAID!”

FOREF Appeals For Strong Roman Catholic Church Response To Arrest Of Cardinal Zen

By FOREFEUROPE

 

FOREFEurope (17.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/39DXoWfThe Vatican should more forcefully oppose the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, a retired Hong Kong archbishop who has courageously opposed human rights violations, and Western governments should sanction responsible Hong Kong officials, urged a Vienna-based, independent human rights organisation.

 

“Cardinal Zen courageously risked his own freedom and security for the principle of human rights, but the Vatican’s response has been cautious, appearing almost indifferent,” according to Dr. Aaron Rhodes, president of the Vienna-based Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe and Senior Fellow in the Common Sense Society.

 

“The Bible urges us to ‘Be not afraid.’  The Church should not be afraid of Communist China, and should use its moral authority to denounce the arrest, and China’s other massive degradations of human dignity,” he said.

 

Zen was detained by Chinese authorities on 11 May 2022, and charged with “collusion with foreign forces” under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2020.  Zen was a Trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which assisted protesters to pay their legal fees.  Arrested along with three colleagues who also supported the Foundation, Zen was later released on bail, but faces harsh penalties if convicted.

 

On 11 May, a Vatican statement said the Holy See had “learned with concern” of the arrest.  Further comment from Vatican officials said the Church was “very displeased” and expressed the hope that the incident would not “complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue between the Holy See and the Church in China.”

 

Other Catholic leaders have shown more moral clarity:  The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, said that Hong Kong has been “transformed into a police state,” and that China’s “blatant” abrogation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, was “appalling.”

 

Dr. Ján Figel, former European Union Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief, told FOREF, “Human dignity is a foundational principle of our universal brotherhood and fundamental human rights. Regrettably, dignity of any dissenting person is brutally abused by Chinese and Hong Kong’s power holders today.”

 

 Antonio Stango, President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights, said, “The extension to Hong Kong of the suppressive system of mainland China is just a further step in the regime’s program of annihilation of any remaining freedom of conscience, in blatant contrast with international human rights law.”

 

 The arrest of Cardinal Zen was also denounced by Stand With Hong Kong Vienna.  The group told FOREF that the arrest “shows how the arbitrary regime weaponizes the vagueness of Hong Kong’s national security law to induce terror in anyone who wants a democratic Hong Kong.” 

 

 “It is time that Magnitsky-type sanctions be applied to Hong Kong officials responsible for these arrests, and for destruction of the general Rule of Law in the city,” according to FOREF’s Executive Director Peter Zoehrer.

 

Zoehrer also expressed the hope that the Vatican will critically review its 2018 arrangement with the  CCP, which gives the CCP veto power on the appointment of Chinese bishops, and arrangements which, under new CCP rules, “stipulate that CPCC-aligned clergy actively support the ruling Communist Party. Article 3 requires them to ‘support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party’ and “the socialist system,” as well as to ‘practice the core values of socialism.’” 

 

“No one should underestimate the challenges faced by the Church in China, but religious freedom means nothing if it is compromised to maintain the presence of institutions,” he said.

 

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, told FOREF: “Cardinal Zen is being persecuted for being a long-standing critic of the government in Beijing, for speaking out for Catholics in mainland China and for more democracy in Hong Kong. This is a shocking repression measure to which the Vatican’s timid reaction is inadequate.”


For more information:

Dr. Aaron Rhodes: aaronarhodes@gmail.com, @Rhodesaaron

Peter Zoehrer:  office@foref-europe.org, @FOREF_EU

Further reading about FORB in China on HRWF website


Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1308

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1309

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1310