Catching Our Eye

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  • 500 days since Chibok girls’ kidnap

    Published: Aug. 27, 2015

    It’s been 500 days this week, since the radical Islamic group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in the predominantly Christian village of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria. 

    Since then, little has been heard of their fate: some are presumed to have been forced into marriages, or used as suicide bombers, and only a handful have managed to escape.

    #Bring Back Our Girls has launched a week of action, which includes notably prayers, meetings with the Chief of Defence Staff, and a candle light procession in Abuja, the capital.

    According to Rev Samuel Dali, the President of the Ekklisiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), 176 of the kidnapped girls are from his denomination.

    Speaking to local media, Rev Dali also said that over 8,000 members of his church had lost their lives and 70 percent of church facilities in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States had been destroyed. Some 90,000 EYN church members are reported to have been displaced by the insurgency.

    Source: The Guardian

  • ISIS’s humanitarian crisis continues

    Published: Aug. 27, 2015

    A year after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the “appalling, widespread and systematic deprivation of human rights” by the Islamic State, the situation remains much the same, according to Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens.

    In a blog titled ‘The Continuing Humanitarian Crisis in ISIS-held Areas’, Wadlow adds that “the policies of ISIS leaders are deliberate violations of world law and ethical standards”, which have “increased religious sectarian attitudes”.

    “World law as developed by the UN applies not only to the governments of member states, but also to individuals and non-governmental organizations,” he says. “ISIS has not been recognized as a state and is not a member of the UN. Nevertheless, the Association of World Citizens is convinced that the terms of the aforementioned declaration apply to ISIS and that its actions are, in the terms of the declaration, ‘inadmissible’.”

  • Attackers ‘search for Christians’ in Burkina Faso

    Published: Aug. 26, 2015

    Suspected Islamic militants attacked near the West African nation's border with Mali on Monday, wounding at least two people as they said they were targeting Christians, a witness and a security official said.

    Witness Alassane Hamidou told Associated Press that he had gone to a police station in Oursi about 50km from the Mali border; when he knocked on the door, three masked gunmen inside told him to lie down on the ground.

    "There are no police here now – it is Boko Haram from now on," the assailants said, according to Hamidou. "We are looking for Christians – and you are spared because you are a Muslim."

    Even though the attackers mentioned Boko Haram it’s not known whether they had any connection to the Nigeria-based group. Such a claim is unusual in Burkina, which has largely been spared the jihadi violence destabilizing nearby countries. However, a Romanian security officer working at a mine in Burkina Faso was kidnapped nearly five months ago.

    Source: Associated Press

  • Freed pastors finally back in S. Sudan

    Published: Aug. 25, 2015

    The two pastors and their families detained at Sudan’s Khartoum airport as they tried to return home following their release from prison are finally back in South Sudan.

    Yat Michael and Peter Yen flew to South Sudan’s Juba airport on 19 August from Khartoum. They appeared to be in good health and were welcomed by leaders from their South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. They were taken to an Evangelical church in Hai Jebel, Juba for a thanksgiving service.

    “This is a great day for our pastors,” one church member shouted.

    Michael and Yen had been on trial for, amongst other things, “spying” before being freed on 5 August. They had already spent almost eight months in prison, but had they been found guilty, they could have faced the death penalty.

    Source: Radio Tamazuj, CSW

  • Another ancient Assyrian monastery bulldozed

    Published: Aug. 21, 2015

    Photographs posted Thursday on Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State depict the demolition of the third Assyrian Christian monastery destroyed in the past six months by jihadist fighters.

    The 5th century Mar Elian Monastery in Syria’s western Homs province was located on the outskirts of Qaryatain city, captured by IS militants two weeks ago from Assad regime control. 

    An estimated 60 Christians were believed to have been captured inside the Mar Elian Monastery 7 August, when some 100 Assyrian families were kidnapped in the city. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 110 hostages from Qaryatain, not all of them Chrsitian, have been transferred by IS forces to the militants’ de facto Raqqa capital.

    Long a pilgrimage site for the region’s Christian communities, the Syriac Orthodox monastery was built in 432 A.D. over the tomb of St. Elian. The monastery had been restored in the 17th century by the Syriac Catholic community and then renovated 10 years ago by Italian Jesuit priest Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio. The cleric was kidnapped in July 2013, as was his successor, Rev. Jacques Mourad, in May 2015. The fate of both priests remains unknown.

    During March in neighboring Iraq, IS reduced to rubble sections of the 4th century Mar Behnam Monastery, near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh. The same month, graphic photos showed IS militants near Mosul smashing and defacing crosses, statues and Christian murals at the St. George Chaldean Catholic Monastery, first founded in the 10th century by the Assyrian Church of the East.

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