Persecution and Freedom News

Muslim World speaks out against Rohingya Persecution

The Muslim World is speaking out against the persecution of the Rohingya people. Government leaders and religious organizations in countries from Turkey to Myanmar’s neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed concern and attempts to provide aid to Rohingyas has been blocked by the military.

An article published Sept. 6 by the Anadolu Agency, a Turkish news agency, quotes a report from the Burma Human Rights Network claiming persecution of Muslim’s all over Myanmar is on the rise under the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

And in an article published by Catholic news agency UCA News, President Widodo of Indonesia said he would be  lobbying U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Chairman of Advisory Commission on Rakhine State Kofi Annan, as well as the Myanmar government to end the crisis and to grant access to humanitarian aid which was blocked once more last week.

United States Commission for International Religious Freedom Report, 2017

The introduction to the 2017 Report United States Commission on International Religious Freedom states…

You cannot have religious freedom without: . . .

the freedom of worship; . . .

the freedom of association; . . .

the freedom of expression and opinion; . . .

the freedom of assembly; . . .

protection from arbitrary arrest and detention; . . .

protection from interference in home and family; and . . .

You cannot have religious freedom without equal protection under the law.

The report is freely available at the Commission’s website


As atheist China warms to the Vatican, religious persecution ‘intensifies’

From an altar in a dingy backyard four hours from Beijing, Paul Dong is conducting mass.

He’s also breaking the law. Dong and his parishioners are among millions of illegal Christians worshiping in officially atheist China.
According to a new report from US-based NGO Freedom House, persecution of Chinese Christians and other faith groups has “intensified” in recent years.
“Combining both violent and nonviolent methods, the (Communist) Party’s policies are designed to curb the rapid growth of religious communities and eliminate certain beliefs and practices,” the report said. Read more at CNN…

The Dire Consequences of the Imprisonment of Ilham Tohti

Source: Uyghur American Association

The nomination last week of the imprisoned Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is welcome  recognition of the role this courageous individual has played in working for the fundamental rights of a beleaguered people, a people subject to one of the harshest regimens that China visits on any nationalities or collective groups within its borders.

But the persecution of Ilham Tohti serves as an example of how China’s repressive policies create damage and danger that go far beyond its own borders. There are good reasons for international concern and outrage over Ilham Tohti’s imprisonment. Read more at China Change….

Myanmar forces raped Rohingya women: HRW

Myanmar government forces committed rape and other sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls during security operations in northern Rakhine State in late 2016, Human Rights Watch said today.

Myanmar government forces committed rape and other sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls during security operations in northern Rakhine State in late 2016, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Myanmar government should urgently endorse an independent, international investigation into alleged abuses in northern Rakhine State, including into possible systematic rape against Rohingya women and girls, the human rights watch said.

Myanmar army and Border Guard Police personnel took part in rape, gang rape, invasive body searches, and sexual assaults in at least nine villages in Maungdaw district between Oct. 9 and mid-December last year.

Survivors and witnesses, who identified army and border police units by their uniforms, kerchiefs, armbands, and patches, described security forces carrying out attacks in groups, some holding women down or threatening them at gunpoint while others raped them.

Many survivors reported being insulted and threatened on an ethnic or religious basis during the assaults. Read more at The Daily Star… 

Trump’s toughest problem (and our biggest threat): The incredible rise in Christian persecution

The greatest threat to the United States and to world peace during the administration of President Donald Trump will be the enormous rise of persecution of Christians and religious minorities.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Source: Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

In America we call it the “first freedom,” but in a growing number of countries individuals are not permitted to decide for themselves what their faith will be, or even to choose not to believe.

And the clock is ticking.

Religious intolerance was the root cause of nearly every major crisis of the Obama administration. The president steadfastly refused to admit its role in the Islamic State caliphate and other humanitarian crises for fear of stoking religious extremists, choosing instead to attribute these to tribal or criminal elements. But the truth cannot be denied. Religious intolerance is real and spreading at an alarming rate. Read more at Fox News…

Congress Passes Key Bill to Combat Religious Persecution

Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) in brown jacket, and Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) visit the 212 MASH Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Camp Bedrock, Bosnia-Herzegovina during their visit to the area. US Army via Flickr CC BY 2.0

A key religious freedom bill that would bolster the State Department’s ability to help counter terrorism and the increasing persecution of religious minorities throughout the world has been sent to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, which is named after the former Virginia congressman who spent over two decades advocating for persecuted religious minorities across the globe.

The legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., in the House in 2015 and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the Senate in 2016, was co-sponsored by over 100 lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle and aims to strengthen and modernize the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

The House passed the legislation on Tuesday after it passed through the Senate unanimously last week. Read more at The Christian Post….

Muslims and Christians in Burma still face persecution

Burma Army and hardline buddhists continue destruction of homes and places of worship, and threats to their lives

European Commission officials visit camps for internally displaced Rohingyas in Burma. Credit: Evangelos Petratos EU/ECHO, Pauktaw via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
European Commission officials visit camps for internally displaced Rohingyas in Burma. Credit: Evangelos Petratos EU/ECHO, Pauktaw via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Throughout the country’s history, Burmese officials have maintained control “through a divide and rule strategy, pitting Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims against each other,” said Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a Dec. 13 discussion in Washington, D.C.

“The plight of both Rohingya Muslims and Christians results from successive governments that have both perpetuated and supported religious violations,” Fr. Reese continued. “It’s time for Burma to defend religious freedom,” he urged. Read more at Catholic News Agency….

The persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan and beyond

A mob has attacked a mosque belonging to the Ahmadi sect in Pakistan, raising concerns about a growing religious intolerance in the country. But Pakistan is not the only Muslim nation where Ahmadis face persecution.

Ahmadi mosque, Chakwal. source: Rabwah Times Twitter
Ahmadi mosque, Chakwal. source: Rabwah Times Twitter

As Pakistanis marked the birthday of Prophet Muhammad on Monday, thousands of religious fanatics attacked a mosque belonging to the minority Ahmadi sect. In what appears to be a well-coordinated attack, the hardliners besieged the Ahmadi place of worship in Chakwal, set the mosque furniture on fire, and wounded several people inside the building. According to Mahmood Javed Bhatti, a local police official, armed men also opened fire on Ahmadis and clashed with security forces.

“A mob attacked the worship place, threw stones and shot gunfire. Police could not stop them because of weak deployment,” Saleemuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, told the Reuters news agency.

The spokesman said the mosque was built by the community in 1860 and has been in use since then. Read more at Deutsche Welle….

Philippine missionaries call for tribal people abuse probe

Appeal comes after various groups call for ‘self-governance’

Philippine missionaries call for tribal people abuse probe

A student activist displays a placard calling for an end to attacks on tribal schools during the observance of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

A group of missionary sisters called on government and church leaders in the Philippines to look into the situation of tribal people who have been complaining of abuse and discrimination.

Sister Famita Somogod of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said the church has an “obligation to combat discrimination” and should “always side with those in the margins.”

The nun issued the statement following calls by various tribal groups for “self-governance” during a three-day meeting of 12 indigenous people groups in the southern region of Mindanao last week.

Sister Somogod also urged the government to “investigate and act” on human rights violations perpetrated against tribal communities. Read more at….