Amnesty launches writing campaign for release of four Iranian Christians

From left: Victor Bet-Tamraz, Amin Afshar-Naderi, another fellow prisoner Kaviyan Fallah-Mohammadi, and Hadi Asgari.
Amnesty International has called for the release of four Iranians sentenced to a combined total of 45 years in prison “solely for practising their Christian faith”. Its report calls for urgent action from the Iranian government to “quash the convictions and sentences of Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiram Isavi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and . . . Read More

Religious freedom violations in Asia increasing – UN rapporteur

Pakistani Christians experience an increase in violence such as a suicide attack on the Bethel Methodist Church in Quetta in December last year that killed more than ten and injured dozens of people. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Religious freedom in Asia is “eroding”, with an increase in religious fundamentalism across much of the continent, according to the UN’s religious freedom rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed. Shaheed spoke during an event, hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, on the back of the 4th Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference. “Freedom . . . Read More

China’s head of religious affairs warns of ‘domination’ by ‘foreign forces’

People leaving the church after a service in Shenyang, north-eastern Dongguang province. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
China’s head of religious affairs has warned that the country’s religious groups must not be “dominated” by “foreign forces”, reports Reuters. “There is no affiliate relationship between our country’s religions and foreign religions. Our country’s religious groups and religious matters do not accept domination by foreign forces,” the religious affairs . . . Read More

China: Christian summer camps closed down, priests dismissed

Authorities make holding summer youth camps like this one held in 2008, increasingly difficult. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
China has closed several Christian summer camps for children and dismissed two priests for holding a camp, reports Catholic news agency UCAN. The two priests belonged to one of the only two unregistered Catholic churches in Tianshui diocese, in China’s northwest Gansu province. After their dismissal, the Tianshui Municipal Ethnic . . . Read More

Non-state actors behind most religious freedom violations in Indonesia – report

Young people join protests against the former Christian Jakarta governor Ahok who was convicted of blasphemy in May last year. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The number of religious freedom violations in Indonesia grew again in 2017 and for the first time non-state actors were the worst offenders, reports the Jakarta Globe. Last year 213 incidents were reported, 4% more than the year before, according to the annual report of the human rights group Wahid . . . Read More

Hindu extremist violence on the rise in southern Indian states

Good Fruit Ministries church in Sangameshwar village of Siddhipet District, Telangana state was demolished by a bull dozer on the directions of uppercaste Hindus who follow Vaastu shastra.
Religious freedom advocate ADF India has noted a rise in incidents of religiously motivated violence in India’s two Telugu language-speaking southern states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, including the brutal murder of an elderly Christian woman. So far this year, ADF India says it has verified 17 incidents of anti-Christian persecution . . . Read More

US commission calls for Iranian Christians’ release after ‘new miscarriage of justice’

From left: Saheb Fadaie, Youcef Nadarkhani, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Mohammad Reza Omidi.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of an Iranian pastor and three of his church members, after they were taken to prison last week to serve ten-year sentences for “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity” and running “house . . . Read More

‘When religious freedom is protected, women’s rights are strengthened’ – US ambassador

‘When religious freedom is protected, women’s rights are strengthened’ – US ambassador
There is a strong link between religious freedom and the facilitation of women’s rights, according to the US Ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich. In an article for Fox News, Gingrich argues that “when religious freedom is protected, women’s rights are strengthened and societies flourish”. “Female victims of religious discrimination . . . Read More