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USA: Presbyterian Church takes first vote on banning ordination of openly gay men

USA: Presbyterian Church in America takes first vote on banning ordination of openly gay men

By Anugrah Kumar

 

The Christian Post (04.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/2SNNbhP – The Presbyterian Church in America has voted to change a rule in its governing document that would disqualify all gay men from serving in its ministry.

 

The resolution to change the rule, “Overture 23,” was passed 1,400-400 at the denomination’s 48th annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri, last week.

 

“Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same-sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same-sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office,” the amended rule states.

 

The amended rule will go to local church bodies for a vote before the second round of convention balloting next year following which the language would be placed in the PCA’s “Book of Church Order.”

 

The Washington Times quoted Chris Norris of the Calvary Presbytery as saying during the debate: “Sanctification begins with one’s identity as a new creation in Christ. … Taking a gay identity flies in the face of the new creation.”

 

The denomination also affirmed “Overture 37,” which refers to pastoral candidates.

 

“…Careful reflection must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires,” it states.

 

“The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin. … While imperfection will remain, he should not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness (e.g., homosexual desires, etc.), but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus,” it adds.

 

During the annual convention, the PCA also endorsed Lifeline Children’s Services as its “preferred adoption and orphan care ministry” due to its “commitment to the sanctity of life” and not Bethany Christian Services, which recently announced it would be offering its services to LGBT couples.

 

The endorsement of Lifeline came three months after the Michigan-based group Bethany, which is the nation’s largest Protestant adoption and foster agency, announced it would begin placing children with adults who identify as LGBT.

 

In a statement to The Christian Post at the time, Nathan Bult, senior vice president of the historically evangelical organization, said that faith in Jesus is at the “core” of their mission,” but they were “not claiming a position on the various doctrinal issues about which Christians may disagree.”

Photo credits: Getty Images





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USA: Arizona Governor enacts new abortion restrictions

By Howard Friedman

 

Religion Clause (28.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/3gZTFUj – Yesterday Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1457 (full text) placing additional limits on abortion in the state. The new law bans abortions sought because of a genetic abnormality of the fetus, except in medical emergencies. It prohibits performance of abortions in facilities run by or located on the property of public educational institutions, except when necessary to save the life of the mother. It prohibits the use of public funds for research that involves fetal cells. It prohibits mail delivery of abortion-inducing drugs. It requires that bodily remains from a surgical abortion be disposed of by cremation or burial, and gives the mother the right to determine the method to be used. ADF issued a press release announcing the bill signing.

 

Photo credits: Camelback





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USA: Gender identity and women’s rights activists in conflict

HRWF presents you hereafter an article published by Brandon Shiowalter in the Christian Post on 9 March under the title “Hundreds of women unite to protest against Biden’s transgender executive order, Equality Act”

By Brandon Showalter

 

The Christian Post (09.03.2021) – https://bit.ly/3eozApz – A diverse coalition of women’s rights campaigners numbering into the hundreds protested against the Biden administration’s executive order allowing boys who identify as female to compete in girls’ athletic competitions, among other moves to enshrine transgender policies into law.

 

On Monday, some 200 women hailing from all across the United States descended on the nation’s capital to participate in Women Picket-DC, a nonpartisan event to protest an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 20 that enshrined “gender identity” into federal law.

 

The event intentionally coincided on International Women’s Day and was held on the corner of 15th Street and Constitution Avenue adjacent to the National Mall near The Ellipse. Many held placards urging senators to reject the Equality Act, a pending update to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would enshrine gender identity as a category into the federal legal code.

 

Dawn Odell, a conservative Catholic mother, traveled from Washington state to lend her voice in support of women’s rights, and to oppose social and medicalized gender-transitioning of children and trans-activist initiatives like Drag Queen Story Hour at libraries and in school curricula.

 

“There are so many ways where kids are being taken advantage of, and completely and irreparably altered forever, and their lives ruined by this transgender movement. It’s awful,” Odell said in an interview with The Christian Post.

 

“I see an entire generation of people in ruin, not able to have kids, not able to have any meaningful relationship at all,” she added. “It’s changing everything.”

Holding a Save Women’s Sports flag, Beth Scaer, a computer programmer from Nashua, New Hampshire, told CP she believes Biden’s executive order is destroying women’s sports.

 

“Whenever a man can come in and take a spot on a woman’s team or on a podium, you’re depriving women of their rights. Men are bigger, stronger, taller. They can destroy women in sports. It’s totally unfair,” she said.

 

Charlie Rae of Raleigh, North Carolina, the writing lead for the Women Picket-DC rally, said the central issue is that the public views gender identity as a human rights cause when it in truth assaults human rights.

 

“It changes our already existing structures of human rights,” Rae said. “And I think that a lot of people mean really well, and they want to protect people and implement human rights. That’s why we’re here too. But gender identity as a concept — transgenderism, the medicalization, the altering of our social policies and institutions — it doesn’t protect people.”

 

“We’re here because we want to protect people,” however they identify, she stressed.

 

The protesters’ efforts are nonpartisan because they’re rooted in “basic common sense,” Rae stressed. “And that doesn’t have a political party — to know that women are female.”

 

Lead organizer Courtney Piper, who was one of the four speakers at the event, told CP that the narrative of self-declared gender identity has been systematically rolled out in the last 15-20 years and asserted that its propaganda is fueled by massive amounts of money and has spread throughout school systems and government entities.

 

“The general public truly is under a mass hypnosis and deceit,” regarding this issue and others, she said.

 

“It’s the inverse of material reality and spiritual reality. Women are here today to expose the truth and speak truth to power,” Piper declared.

 

When asked what she and her fellow compatriots plan to do should the Senate vote to pass the Equality Act, which Biden has promised to sign into law, Piper said their efforts would never stop.

 

“If indeed it does [pass], we won’t stop fighting. We are going to continue to roll out action after action until our voices are heard and our demands are met,” she said.

 

In remarks before the crowd with the Washington Monument in the background, Suzanne Vierling, a psychologist from Southern California, noted that the sex-based rights of women should be in cement and not even debated, given the hard-fought gains. She drew analogies between present scourges against women to previous ones, particularly black women who were once enslaved.

 

“Today we have come full-circle, back to women as chattel, if we don’t fight. It doesn’t seem possible. But today, while the woman is erased as a woman in the name of the law, woman is now stretched out on a platter, stretched out for use, for profit,” she said.

 

“Yesterday’s slave woman who endured gynecological medical experiments is today’s girl-child being butchered in a booming gender-transitioning sector. Ovaries removed, pushing her into menopause and osteoporosis, uncharted territory, and parents’ rights and authority decimated,” Vierling added.

Facing the White House and flanked by a participant holding a banner with a quote from the suffragist movement in the early 20th century that read: “Mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty?” Kara Dansky, a radical feminist attorney who serves on the steering committee of the U.S. chapter of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, addressed the Biden administration, demanding that the Jan. 20 executive order be reversed.

 

“Mr. president, whether or not you understand it, you have issued an executive order that is set to erase women and girls as a protected category under federal administrative law. Men are not women, even if they say they are; even if they say they identify as women. Women, also, are not men, even if they say they are,” Dansky declared.

 

She went on to express gratitude for a December 2019 tweet by Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling, who voiced support for Maya Forstater, a British woman who was ousted from her job for stating opinions online about the reality of biological sex in the context of the U.K.’s Gender Recognition Act.

 

That short post on social media from the beloved author was a game-changer, Dansky continued. Rowling has since spoken out at considerable length about her concerns about how radical transgender ideology is diminishing women’s rights.

 

Dansky then quoted from Biden’s inaugural speech, in which the president spoke of the importance of rejecting a culture in which facts are manipulated and manufactured.

“Mr. president, I agree. Please stop manipulating and manufacturing facts,” Dansky asserted, speaking of gender identity ideology.

 

She continued: “Mr. president, are you willing to protect the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls or do you stand with men who pretend to be women? The time to decide is now. Mr. president, we ask you: How long must women wait for liberty.”

 

“So-called gender identity is a corporate takeover of humanity, and you, Mr. president, are complicit. Get it out of our laws. Get it out of our schools. And stop mutilating children’s healthy bodies.”

 

“Mr. president, the jig is up. The emperor has no clothes. Women are tired of waiting for liberty. Mr. president, rescind the order.”

 

Photo credits: The Christian Post





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USA: Letter to President Elect Biden about int’l religious freedom

5 January 2021

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals, who are scholars, religious and secular leaders, human rights advocates, and practitioners to urge you to prioritize U.S. leadership in the area of international religious freedom. We ask that your administration affirm and strengthen the governmental structure created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) and the Frank R. Wolf IRFA of 2016. We also ask that you nominate a qualified Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and appoint others to key IRF posts as soon as possible.

We are participants in the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable, which is a multi-faith, inclusive model that has proven it is possible to engage cooperatively and constructively across deep religious and policy differences and to increase mutual understanding, respect, trust, and reliance through joint advocacy actions. Central to our efforts is our non-sectarian, non-partisan approach that identifies problems around the world and builds upon common ground and multi-faith consensus to develop joint initiatives.

 

Founded in 2010, we have actively supported the international religious freedom initiatives of both the Obama and Trump administrations working closely with successive Ambassadors at Large: Suzan Johnson Cook, David Saperstein, and Sam Brownback.  We have also worked with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and have actively engaged in assisting various executive branch bodies, such as Treasury and USAID, in developing policies responsive to IRF issues. Participants in the IRF Roundtable are currently working to replicate our inclusive model and operationalize a global network of roundtables. There are currently 31 religious freedom roundtables and partners in the global network.

We look forward to working closely with your administration to continue this work that has led to foreign policy wins, including:

  • A multi-government campaign that resulted in the release of more than 2,000 prisoners of conscience around the world.
  • Increased international awareness and pressure on China due to its campaigns against religious/ethnic minorities and efforts to “Sinicize” all religions.
  • Interventions in Syria and Iraq to stop genocidal attacks and war crimes against religious minorities.
  • Roadmaps to reform and major legal and policy advances in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Sudan.
  • The launch of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, a dialogue led and organized by religious leaders of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, working together to emphasize the peaceful expression of faith and the renunciation of violence.
  • The establishment of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religions or Belief (IPPFoRB).
  • The creation of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance with 32 like-minded member states.

While we hold an extremely broad diversity of theological views and political positions, we all agree on the importance of international religious freedom. It strengthens cultures and provides the foundation for stable democracies and their components, including civil society, social harmony, and economic prosperity. As such, it is also an effective counter-terrorism weapon, key to US national security interests, as it pre-emptively undermines religious extremism. History and modern scholarship make it clear that where people are allowed to practice their faith freely, they are less likely to be alienated from the government, and more likely to be good citizens.

 

Such conclusions are increasingly bolstered by empirical research. Dr. Brian Grim, a noted expert on society and religion, found a strong correlation between government restrictions on religion and religiously-motivated violence.[1]Further, an exhaustive study by academics from Harvard, Notre Dame, and Georgetown found “that religious communities are most likely to support democracy, peace and freedom for other faiths, and least likely to take up the gun or form dictatorships, when governments allow them freedom to worship, practice and express their faiths freely and when religious communities in turn renounce their claims to permanent offices or positions of policy-making authority.”[2]

 

The current state of international religious freedom, however, is one of deepening crisis—government restrictions on religion rose to a record high in 2018, while religion-related social hostilities fell slightly but remained near peak levels, according to Pew Research Center’s 11th annual study of restrictions on religion.[3]

Further, situations such as the Rohingya genocide in Burma, mass imprisonment and exploitation of Uyghurs and other faith groups by the Chinese government, ISIS genocide against Yazidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq, religious conflicts and violence in Nigeria, and the spike in terrorist attacks in many parts of Africa only underscore the importance and urgency of expanding and strengthening U.S. international religious freedom policy, engagement, and leadership.

As you recently wrote in The Christian Post, “every person on earth is equal in rights and dignity… It is the same creed that is at the core of our American experiment and written into our founding documents – that we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights… We have to strive harder to come together, and to love our neighbors as ourselves… We must again become a nation that defends the inherent dignity of every human, upholds the blessings of liberty, and provides a haven for those fleeing violence or persecution.”

As you emphasized, we need new approaches to defend and advance religious freedom and we encourage your administration to work on these issues through cooperative engagement with a focus on human dignity and pluralism.

We encourage your administration to work with us in the global movement that is building around religious freedom; to consolidate and expand recent improvements in the US IRF infrastructure, strengthen U.S. IRF policy, and make a major contribution to international justice and stability, fundamental human rights, economic growth, and U.S. national security.

To those ends we respectfully recommend the following actions:

  • Ensure Key IRF Offices & Positions are Filled
    • State Department: Stress the mission and vital role of the IRF Office throughout the U.S. government. Advance IRF as a whole-of-government effort in coordination with USCIRF, USAID, Treasury, DoD, and other agencies.
    • IRF Ambassador: Appoint a highly qualified Ambassador in the first 100 days of your administration (someone with visibility and rank, who can engage at high levels both domestically and abroad). We urge you to allow the current IRF Ambassador, Sam Brownback, to serve until your appointment to this office is confirmed so this important post does not remain vacant (as we urged the prior administration to retain former Ambassador David Saperstein.)
    • S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF): Appoint Commissioners on a timely basis, including the first White House appointment by May 14, 2021. Engage with USCIRF as a valuable resource on FoRB information and policy recommendations to advance religious freedom.
    • Senior Advisor for IRF on the National Security Council: Appoint a Senior Advisor for IRF on the National Security Council, who serves as the head of the interagency efforts on IRF, in the first 100 days of your administration.
  • Advance Multilateral Engagement on Religious Freedom
    • Annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom: Support and participate in this annual global gathering of governments, faith communities, and civil society. While the U.S. hosted the first two events in 2018 and 2019, Poland hosted the third in 2020 and Brazil has agreed to host the fourth in 2021.
    • International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance: Strengthen and expand the now 32-member multi-lateral Alliance and ensure cooperative engagement and coordination of actions with the Global Network of Religious Freedom Roundtables and the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
  • Fortify Religious Freedom Frameworks
    • National Security Strategy of the United States: Expand and strengthen the human dignity and religious freedom sections in the National Security Strategy.
    • Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom: Expand and implement the plans to prioritize IRF in the planning and implementation of U.S. foreign policy and in the foreign assistance programs of the State Department and USAID.
  • Empower Civil Society Action
    • Weekly IRF Roundtable Meetings: We hope your Senior Advisor for IRF and your Ambassador-at-Large for IRF and their staffs will continue the tradition of regularly participating in our weekly IRF RT meetings along with USCIRF and Congressional representatives. Prior to COVID-19, our in-person meetings were attracting an average of 150 representatives of all faiths and none. Since COVID-19, we have continued to meet virtually every Tuesday and the meeting has become increasingly global in nature. More than 900 people from more than 50 countries, with a wide range of faiths and beliefs, have participated in these meetings.
    • Annual National Summit on IRF: Consider supporting and participating in an annual national IRF summit in collaboration with the IRF Roundtable and civil society.

By implementing these recommendations and working with IRF civil society advocates and the growing IRF global movement, you will strengthen your planned foreign policy initiatives to build strong bilateral and multilateral partnerships, advance global security in the fight against persecution, religious extremism and terrorism, and send a clear message in support of the inherent dignity of every human being.

We stand ready to serve as a civil society partner and resource to help your administration build on the more than two decades of bipartisan tradition of supporting IRF and advance this universal freedom to the next level.

Respectfully,

Greg Mitchell

Chair

International Religious Freedom Roundtable

[1] Brian Grim, “The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century.” (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

[2] Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott and Timothy Samuel Shah, “God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.” (New York: Norton, 2011), p. 18.

[3] Government restrictions on religion around the world reached new record in 2018, Pew Research Center.





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Call to the EU: “Assist Belarusians Seeking Democracy and Human Rights. Do more”

  • Reform movement facing crushing regime violence
  • THE EU AND ITS MEMBER STATES NEED TO DO MORE, The Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe and Human Rights Without Frontiers say.
  • Other NGOs requested to join their call to the EU. Send an email to secretariat.brussels@hrwf.org with the sentence

”BELARUS: THE EU AND ITS MEMBER STATES NEED TO DO MORE, I SUPPORT”

 

FOREF/ HRWF (20.11.2020) – Two international human rights organizations appealed to authorities in the European Union and the United States to assist the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, which they said was being “subjected to increasingly harsh brutality by the dictatorial regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka.”

 

“The citizens and leaders of democracies cannot allow security, police and prison officials of a European country to ruthlessly detain, torture and even beat to death peaceful demonstrators who want nothing more than the internationally-guaranteed right to a free and fair election,” wrote the Forum for Religious Freedom–Europe and Human Rights Without Frontiers.

 

“They must do whatever it takes to convince Lukashenka, and those who support him from abroad, to listen to and respect the Belarusian people’s demand to embark on needed political reforms, starting with a new, honest election.”

 

Since protests began in August, massive numbers of Belarusians from all walks of life have been arbitrarily detained, ill-treated, jailed or fined.

 

The OMON, or Special Purpose Police Force under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, assisted by police troops and even civilian regime employees have become more and more savage. Eventually, six young men have been killed, of whom at least two were beaten to death in the street or right outside their homes. It is believed that Lukashenka himself gave strict orders to use all means necessary to make the protests stop, thus sanctioning unrestricted violence.

 

According to the Viasna Human Rights Center, an independent monitoring group  (http://spring96.org/en), as of 15 November, 25,800 persons had been detained; on 15 November alone, 1,127 persons were detained. Approximately 24,000 of those detained had been sentenced to short prison terms (»administrative arrests«) for up to 15 days and/or fined. The state has initiated approximately 900 criminal cases against protestors. Hundreds have already been tried and sentenced to years in prison.

 

More than four thousand (4,000) complaints about torture and other grave abuses by the police and prison staff have been filed. Not one was investigated. Lukashenka told the country’s prosecutors on 9 September that, in times like these, “We don’t care about the law.” (https://nashaniva.by/?c=ar&i=258800&lang=ru)

 

But as violence against peaceful demonstrators has increased, international attention has decreased, a vector that serves repression not only in Belarus, but in other autocratic lands as well.  With the integrity of democracies, and indeed democracy itself on the line, robust support for the reform movement is of utmost urgency. While Lithuania and Poland strongly support the Belarusan movement against the dictatorship, Western governments and the EU need to do more.

 

 

Background:  One Stolen Election Too Far

 

For 26 years, Belarus (population: 9.8 million) has been ruled with an iron fist by Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who has kept many Soviet institutions (including the KGB) and an essentially Soviet economic system in place. For many years Belarus has had no forceful opposition, since those who could have threatened the president’s position have disappeared or been forced into exile in the late 1990s.

 

The country has been able to survive economically by maintaining strong ties with Russia, which has in effect subsidized Belarus’ economy and thus kept the president in power.

 

Elected in 1994, former state farm manager Lukashenka held a referendum in 1995, after which Soviet symbols were resurrected; Belarus is the only post-Soviet state that has kept the former Soviet flag and coat of arms. The referendum also effectively ensured that the national language, as during Soviet times, retained an inferior status vis-a-vis Russian.

 

In 1996, Lukashenka held a second, fraudulent referendum, which gave him literally unlimited, powers. Every official in government, the health system, the education and cultural institutions, in industry, military, police, and even the courts is appointed by Lukashenka, making him a bona-fide dictator. He openly refers to himself as the people’s »Daddy,« to whom all are indebted.  Lukashenka has built up a large security apparatus to repress freedom and change. The police, especially the riot police (OMON) and the internal security forces (the armed forces of the Ministry of the Interior) are very large in size and also armed and equipped as if the country were facing an imminent danger of a major civil war.

 

Lukashenka was reelected five times, each time claiming a larger percentage of the electorate than the previous one. In the run-up to the election on 9 August 2020, as expected, all potential serious competitors were sentenced to lengthy jail terms.  But then these candidates’ wives registered themselves as candidates, a strategy not seen as a serious threat to Lukashenka’s continued rule, because the candidates were women.

 

In the event, the opposition rallied behind one candidate, Sviatlana Cihanouskaya. The day following the election, the Central Electoral Commission announced that Lukashenka had won with 80 percent of the votes, a Soviet-like margin, which only reinforced the conviction of a majority that fair elections, and democracy itself, do not exist in Belarus.

 

Hundreds of thousands of voters, assisted by the »Golos« (Vote) website (https://belarus2020.org/home), which was able to produce statistically significant data, immediately reacted; large crowds, most of them women, took to the streets to protest this gross injustice, demanding Lukashenka’s resignation, as well as fresh, honest elections.

 

Since that time, marches of similar size have shaken the capital city of Miensk. They have been mirrored in all towns and even villages. The largest protest march was on 23 August with approximately 250,000 people taking part (www.DW.com).  Almost the same number was again achieved on 25 October (www.RFERL.org ), the day after the president-elect, Sviatlana Cihanouskaya, presented the regime with an ultimatum to leave or face countrywide strikes and civil disobedience.

 

Numerous workers at large and small government owned industries went on strike, in spite of threats of dismissal and even criminal charges. These strikes, and also »work slow« or »work by the rules« actions, present a real danger to the regime, given its chronic economic weaknesses.

 

Unprecedented are the marches of senior citizens, with tens of thousands of participants, the marches of grandmothers, and those of women and girls. The latter, in order to avoid being beaten or detained, began walking in small numbers carrying flowers rather than traditional white-red-white flags or dresses in those colors.

 

Also remarkable were the marches of disabled persons and their caregivers. Disabled people (e.g. in wheelchairs) are a rare sight in Belarusan streets, but now they, too, wanted to do express their desire to live in a free society.

 

The OMON arrested hundreds of participants at the large Sunday marches, and kept them in police lockups and pre-trial detention facilities (SIZO). The first wave of prisoners were tortured and kept in inhuman conditions. They were beaten with batons and kicked with heavy boots, insulted and humiliated. They were kept in cells overfilled to 4-8 times their regular capacity, and denied drinking water and sanitary facilities. Their families were denied information about their whereabouts.

 

One of the most famous cases was that of a woman basketball player, Yelena Leuchanka. She was eventually released and described the conditions in the prison: 19 women in a six-cot cell were deprived of matrasses. The sewage was cut off. She had a chance to meet the warden and asked what the reason was for making the lives of the detainees miserable, and who had given that order. The  warden replied that he had given the order himself, to make sure that the detainees for the future refrain from actions that would send them back to prison. (https://charter97.org/ru/news/2020/10/31/399039/)

 

Yet, the huge marches have continued unabated, while the number of arrests and detentions has increased. There were more and more »security« forces deployed in the streets. Most of them wear black SWAT uniforms with no identification marks. All wear balaclavas to mask their identity. Eventually, water canons, some with orange-colored water,  were employed. Scores of overfilled police busses took those arrested to the detention facilities, in which conditions have gradually worsened. Hundreds of relatives stood for hours on end in lines at the prison gate to give food and essential hygiene wares to their jailed loved ones.

 

All categories of citizens have protested in the streets. Many of those who held important functions in society like physicians, university professors, lawyers, journalists, musicians, and top athletes were detained. Their sin: having taken part in an »unauthorized mass event« or »carrying unauthorized symbols« (meaning the traditional white-red-white flag). Some have been even arrested for gathering in their court yards to listen to music and sing and dance.

 

For more information:

 

Dr. Aaron Rhodes, President, FOREF – aaronarhodes@gmail.com

Mr Peter Zoehrer, Executive Director, FOREF – office@foref-europe.org, Phone: +43 (0)6645238794

Mr. Willy Fautre, Director, HRWF – w.fautre@hrwf.org


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