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PAKISTAN: Faisalabad: another Christian girl kidnapped and converted to Islam

Faisalabad: another Christian girl kidnapped and converted to Islam

The case came to light only thanks to a human rights activist. The girl’s father had gone to pick her up at school, but did not find her. Shortly afterwards, the kidnappers sent the family a video and documents claiming that the 14-year-old had converted to Islam of her own free will.

By Shafique Khokhar

 

AsiaNews (05.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/3s8Zzq1 – Another Christian girl has been kidnapped and converted to Islam in Pakistan.

 

Speaking to AsiaNews, Chashman’s father, Gulzar Masih, said that on 28 July, he had gone to her school to pick her up; not finding her, he had immediately gone to the police to report the disappearance of the 14-year-old.

 

A few days later, the kidnappers sent the family a video and documents in which the girl claims to have converted of her own free will.

 

Gulzar, a rickshaw driver by profession, went back to the police station to get some answers, to no avail.

 

The story came to light only after Lala Robin Daniel, a Faisalabad-based human rights activist, got involved. “Punjab authorities should do their job to free girls who are kidnapped,” he said.

 

Daniel called for legal action against the kidnappers. “As long as kidnappings continue undisturbed, girls and their families will feel unsafe.”

 

Muhammad Ijaz Qadri, district president of the Sunni Tehreek organisation, released a letter certifying Chashman’s conversion to Islam, whose “Islamic name from now on will be Aisha Bibi”.

 

Sunni Tehreek is part of the Barelvi revivalist movement, which aims to preserve Islam in the Indian subcontinent and to which 60 per cent of Pakistani Muslims adhere.

 

Next week, on 11 August, Pakistan will celebrate Minority Day. For that occasion, Daniel will organise a protest against Chashman’s abduction and other outrages, as well as against anti-Christian prejudice.

 

“We will not remain silent,” the activist said. “We shall ask the government to guarantee the freedom and security of religious minorities.”

 

Photo : AsiaNews.it

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website





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CHINA: Shenzhen, two Protestant pastors and 8 faithful arrested during a liturgical service

Human rights activists Cheng Yuan and his wife Shi Minglei were members of the Trinity Gospel Harvest Church. Cheng is in prison, accused of subversion against the state; Shi is in voluntary exile in the US, where she met with members of the US State Department. Cheng campaigned for an end to the one-child law, for the rights of the sick and disabled.

 

AsiaNews (26.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/2QwH8wU – Two Protestant pastors and 8 members of the community were arrested yesterday during a liturgical service. Security forces entered Trinity Gospel Harvest church where about 20 people were gathered and after interrupting the prayer service, they took the arrested away.

 

A video taken during the raid identify the two pastors as Cao Yuan and Mao Zhibin and shows them arguing with the security forces before being taken away.

 

According to Apple Daily, the reason for the arrests could be retaliation. The church community counts among its faithful Cheng Yuan, head of Changsha Funeng, an NGO of human rights lawyers, and his wife Shi Minglei.

 

Cheng was arrested last July; Shi, who is in voluntary exile in the United States, met with members of the US State Department on April 20. Shi voiced her suspicions pointing to the unprecedented nature of a similar raid and arrest and adding that her relatives had phoned her in the US to ask about her health and warn her against meeting with US government figures.

 

Changsha Funeng has been working for more than 10 years for health rights, non-discrimination, aid to vulnerable groups, including those with HIV, hepatitis, and the disabled. In the past, Cheng has also launched campaigns for the cancellation of the one-child policy and for the reform of the residence certificate system, which would allow migrants in cities to receive medical care and school for their children.

 

Last July, Cheng and two other members, Wuge Jianxiong and Liu Yongze, were arrested by public security officials and later charged with subversion against state power.

 

Photo : AsiaNews.it





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INDIA: Tamil Nadu, a Protestant pastor arrested, accused of burning Hindu gods

The half-destroyed images were found in the church enclosure of the Rev. John Britto, near Coimbatore. The complaint came from a neighbor who alerted the Hindu radicals. Sajan K George: “More and more often extremists are venting violence on pastors and faithful”.

 

By Nirmala Carvalho

 

AsiaNews (08.11.2019) – https://bit.ly/34Imsn3 – A Pentecostal pastor from Tamil Nadu was arrested on charges of insulting Hindu religious sentiments.  A neighbor reported him after finding the burnt images of some Hindu gods in the fence at his church near Coimbatore.  Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews: “We cannot have independent confirmations whether it was really the pastor who burned the images, or whether they were placed there by people with ulterior motives.  If this were the case, it would be unacceptable and wrong to lack respect for the faith of others”.

 

The reverend is called John Britto, he is 53 years old and is originally from Madurai.  According to the newspaper The Hindu, on 2 November the neighbor would have found the burnt remains of Hindu gods and would have lulled other people.  Later the complaint was lodged by an activist from “Hindu Munnani” [a Hindu local organization founded to protect Hindu religion and monuments, ed.].

 

Sajan K George protests: “Some members of the Hindu extremist group Munnani are venting violence against shepherds in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.  The fundamentalists guard the reverends and Christian churches.  In the past, they raided prayer centers, abusing community members.  They beat ministers of the cult, even harassed women with obscene words, turned the church upside down and finally grabbed the Bible, setting it on fire in the middle of the road”.

 

He continues, “in March 2018 there was a great protest in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Aid in Anjalnagaron to denounce religious fanaticism against the Christians of Madurai.  5 thousand people took part in the meeting.  The forum approved a resolution to stop violence in the name of religion”.

 

All religions, conclude the Christian activist, “teach their faithful to respect the religion of others.  There must be respect for all religious beliefs and practices. Unfortunately, we are instead witnessing a growing intolerance towards the Christian faith”.





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CHINA: Rape, abuse and sterilisation in Xinjiang’s ‘boarding schools’ for Uyghurs

A former inmate speaks out. “The screaming, pleading, crying, is still in my head,” she says. According to the UN, around a million minority Muslims are being held in facilities built by Beijing in the region. For Chinese authorities, they are necessary to fight extremism.

 

AsiaNews (01.11.2019) – https://bit.ly/2NcuQW3 – Tursunay Ziyawudun is 41-year-old Uyghur woman. For months, she was held in a facility that Beijing calls a “boarding school”, which activists and international organisations describe as internment camps. Here, Ziyawudun says, “camp authorities regularly ‘took women to the hospital and operated on them so that they no longer could have children’ or ‘forced them to take medicine’.”

 

According to United Nations estimates, Chinese authorities are holding about a million Uyghurs as well as members of other Turkic Muslim minorities. Since 2017, they have been implementing a “scorched earth” policy in Xinjiang, claiming that the facilities exist to keep people away from extremism, and are a vital tool in the fight against separatism and religious extremism.

 

To stop possible radical influences from Afghanistan and Pakistan, China tightly controls mosques, young people, and the religious life of local Muslims. Here is the testimony of a former inmate.

 

Female detainees at internment camps in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are routinely forced to take medication that affects their reproductive cycles, and are tortured, denied treatment for health problems, and subjected to sexual and other forms of abuse, according to a former inmate.

 

Tursunay Ziyawudun, a 41-year-old Uyghur woman from Kunes (Xinyuan) county, in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, spent a total of nine months at one of the region’s vast network of camps, where authorities have held up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harbouring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas beginning in April 2017.

 

Ziyawudun had married an ethnic Kazakh doctor from Kunes named Haliq Mirza in June 2008 and five years later the couple relocated to Kazakhstan, where they had a son and set up a medical clinic. While Mirza was granted Kazakh citizenship, authorities repeatedly refused Ziyawudun’s applications because she is Uyghur, she told RFA’s Uyghur Service from Kazakhstan where she now resides.

 

On Nov. 13, 2016, Ziyawudun returned to Kunes county to stay with her family and during the ensuing months saw authorities implement several new policies targeting Uyghurs, including the confiscation of their passports and the criminalization of those who had travelled abroad.

 

Authorities took Ziyawudun to an internment camp on April 11, 2017 without offering her or her family a reason, amid a rollout of a new policy of mass incarceration in the region, she said, although “the situation was not so severe, as it was only when they had just started arresting people” and she was released after one month, in part due to poor health.

 

However, Ziyawudun was unable to obtain a passport and could not join her husband in Kazakhstan, and on March 10, 2018 was again detained without reason.

 

This time, she said, the situation at the facility had become much worse, and many of the dozen women she shared quarters with endured poor treatment, including forced sterilization.

 

“There were women who were inside for one year and during that entire time they never had their monthly period,” Ziyawudun said, adding that camp authorities regularly “took women to the hospital and operated on them so that they no longer could have children” or “forced them to take medicine.”

 

“I was taken to a hospital to undergo a [sterilization] operation, but because I have always suffered from a gynaecological condition the doctor said I could suffer complications that include death, so they spared me,” she said.

 

Ziyawudun also described torture, and suggested that her minders wanted to find out why she and her husband had moved to Kazakhstan.

 

“Their methods of torture were always different, but a common practice was to tie you up on a metal chair during interrogation,” she said.

 

“They cut off our hair, after pulling it through the bars of [our cell], including that of elderly women. We were all handcuffed, shackled, and frequently called out for interrogation. The screaming, pleading, crying, is still in my head.”

 

In addition to forced political indoctrination and what she called “brainwashing about how the U.S. is the enemy,” Ziyawudun said that women in her cell were made to monitor one another for transgressions of camp rules and were regularly fed either a substandard diet or nothing at all.

 

She also described wilful negligence on the part of camp authorities who she said often ignored detainees’ requests for medical treatment.

 

“They didn’t care—there were cases of women suffering from infections who could not pass water, and there were elderly ladies in their 70s or 80s who couldn’t walk properly, but they just left them to suffer,” she said.

 

When asked about recent reports by former detainees of rape and other abuse in the XUAR camp system, Ziyawudun broke down.

 

“We were all helpless and unable to defend ourselves,” she said.

 

“We all went through all kinds of mistreatment, but even when we saw such abuse, we were powerless to do anything about it.”

 

Camp officials would come in the middle of the night and take women away, she said.

 

“They would shout, ‘Get up and come with us,’ and after that, we would never see them again,” she said. “I later learned that several people died in the hospital.”

 

According to Ziyawudun, at one point, authorities dragged the women out of the cell and informed them that they would be charged with crimes and sentenced to prison in show trials.

 

“The poor women cried and screamed in horror, but [the guards] didn’t care about their pleading,” she said.

 

“Some women received sentences of between five and 10 years. Elderly women were crying out, asking, ‘What is happening to my life now? How can I spend 10 years in prison? What life do I have left? What have I done to be given a prison sentence?’ They cried so helplessly.”

 

Ziyawudun said that of all the women in the cell, only she and one elderly lady were spared from allegations of crimes committed, adding that she believes officials were afraid to charge her because her husband is a Kazakh national.

 

Eventually, Ziyawudun was released from the camp on Dec. 25, 2018, and said that on returning to the home of her family she could see the toll that Beijing’s policy of mass incarceration was taking on the Uyghur community.

 

“Women who were let out turned to alcohol, saying that they had been forced to renounce their God,” she said.

 

“We wondered what we had done wrong to deserve such treatment. As a people, we couldn’t face such reality, so many people numbed themselves by drinking alcohol.”

 

While Ziyawudun was later given her passport and allowed to return to Kazakhstan to join her husband and their son, she told RFA that many of her relatives back in Kunes county have since been taken to internment camps themselves.

 

“Nearly all of my family and friends are in their hands,” she said. “I cannot imagine what kind of horror they are going through.”

 

While Beijing initially denied the existence of internment camps, China this year changed tack and began describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization, and help protect the country from terrorism.

 

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

 

Mass incarcerations in the XUAR, as well as other policies seen to violate the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslims, have led to increasing calls by the international community to hold Beijing accountable for its actions in the region.

 

In September, at an event on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said that the U.N. has failed to hold China to account over its policies in the XUAR and should demand unfettered access to the region to investigate reports of the mass incarceration and other rights abuses against Uyghurs.


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