by Aidan Clay
Saudi men have been imprisoned and suffered lashings for converting a woman to Christ
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two men accused of helping a young woman flee Saudi Arabia after her conversion to Christianity were sentenced to prison terms and lashes with a whip by a Saudi court on Sunday. The case comes weeks after an independent U.S. government advisory body listed Saudi Arabia among the top violators of religious freedom.
A Lebanese Christian man was sentenced to six years in prison and 300 lashes and a Saudi man was sentenced to two years and 200 lashes by a court in Khobar, a city in eastern Saudi Arabia, for their involvement in a Saudi woman’s conversion to Christianity and her escape abroad, Reuters reported. The men, who worked with the young woman known as Maryam at an insurance company, were arrested last July after a complaint was filed by her father. Maryam fled to Sweden several months ago and is reportedly applying for asylum.
by Adrian Chen
American Kenneth Bae, sentenced to prison in North Korea for 15 years
When North Korea announced it had sentenced imprisoned American tour operator Kenneth Bae to 15 years hard labor earlier this month, it gave no details about his crime other than he had attempted to “overthrow” the North Korean government. But now North Korea has presented more details about Bae’s crime. They say he smuggled anti-government propaganda into the country, and preached the overthrow of the regime as part of a Christian missionary-backed plan called “Operation Jericho.”
The report from the Korean Central News Agency paints Bae, a devout Christian, as the leader of a plot to undermine the government, according to a translation by NK News. “Operation Jericho” was launched in 2006 by Youth With a Mission (YWAM), an international evangelical Christian organization Bae belonged to, according to KCNA. It consisted of mobilizing 250 of Bae’s “followers” to infiltrate an area of North Korea near the border and create what the government calls an “anti-government coalition.” KCNA claims they based their operation in a hotel.
by Melissa Nordell
Organizations such as Open Doors International, Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern work to defend the human rights of persecuted Christians around the world, to send financial assistance, to advocate for their rights and release from imprisonment, to create awareness of their plight, and to send Bibles and food to the oppressed and refugees.
By Corey Bailey
Trafficked children in Bangladesh
More than 140 children have been rescued from Islamic training centers (madrassas) in Bangladesh in the last nine months, with a majority of the children targeted because of their Christian faith. The females, accounting for nearly half of those rescued, report that they were used for forced labor and sex slavery.
By Jerry Dykstra
“We will all pray together in Syria, but we need every Christian in the world to pray. Please pray that the problems will come to an end and those causing the problems will stop. Pray that Syria will find Jesus.” –Open Doors contact in Damascus.
According to a press release by Open Doors, a day of prayer for Syria has been set up for Saturday, May 11th, for Believers everywhere to join in prayer with the Christian Church within Syria.
By William Stark
Mass grave near Jos, filled with Christians killed in early March
With countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Somalia topping the list as some of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians, it’s hard to imagine that none of these countries hold the highest Christian death toll. In 2012, that shameful distinction went to Nigeria where almost 70% of Christians killed globally were murdered.
Because Nigeria’s federal government has proven unable to protect Christians in northern Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group from southern Nigeria, has pledged to protect Christians by attacking Muslims and Islamic institutions. The possibility of religious war, coupled with these overwhelming statistics makes Nigeria the deadliest place on earth to be a Christian.
President Sein of Burma
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the European Union (EU) has announced it is lifting all remaining economic sanctions against Burma despite regular incidents of violent discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities.
The European Union and other Western governments had maintained sanctions against the Burmese government for years due to concerns over massive human rights violations until the nominally civilian government promised to begin making reforms in 2010.
A large number of “prisoners of conscience” are currently being held in Iranian prisons, including some Christians, without anyone being aware of their situation.
This claim was made by the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, who have reported that the Bahar daily paper, affiliated with Iranian reformist parties, have published an interview with Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former Iranian president, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“This was the first published interview with her after her release from prison,” said Mohabat News.
Kim Tae Jin, refugee from North Korea
Kim Tae Jin finds it difficult to talk. The contrast between his life in North Korea and his life now in Seoul are too great. “The most difficult thing for me,” he says quietly, “is making decisions. Freedom of choice is unknown in North Korea. The Party told us what to do. We were treated as a group, not as individuals,” recalls Kim. “As I got older my doubts grew about the propaganda the government fed us.”
With the hope of a better life, Kim fled to China. There he heard about Jesus for the first time when a Christian gave him a Bible. After four short months, Kim was arrested and repatriated back to North Korea where he was sent to camp number 15… the dreaded Yodok labor camp.