“In terms of the numbers of people involved,
the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact,
it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.”
So began the presentation by Aid to the Church in Needof their most recent global overview report on Christian persecution Persecuted & Forgotten? – A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith.
This report went on to point out that not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.
An especially notable example was China where intolerance was on the rise, as evidenced by a renewed clampdown on dissident clergy and the destruction of churches as well as crosses and other Christian symbols.
Saudi Arabia, was also singled out in the report as a country where a long-established pattern of some of the world’s worst oppression remained unchanged.
Elsewhere, in countries such as Syria and Iraq, the worsening situation facing Christians was primarily related to the impact of a surge in violence and intimidation which had peaked in preceding years, namely 2013-15. In both of these countries and in certain others, the overall situation for Christians was worse than in the previous two years, even though by summer 2017 the violence had reduced markedly.
This relates to crucial factors showing the profound impact of persecution, especially the ensuing displacement of Christians, the political consequences of destabilization and the loss of morale among the Church communities.
At a time in the West when there is increasing media focus on the rights of people regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality, it is ironic that in much of the secular media there should be such limited coverage of the massive persecution experienced by so many Christians.
The Report also concluded that:
- In Iraq, the exodus of Christians is so severe that one of the world’s oldest churches is on course to all but disappear within three years unless there is dramatic change for the better.
- This same exodus is threatening the survival of Christianity in parts of Syria including Aleppo, formerly home to one of the largest Christian communities in the whole of the Middle East.
- ISIS and other Islamist militant groups have committed genocide in Syria and Iraq.
- Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway. If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.
- The defeat of ISIS and other Islamists in major strongholds of the Middle East offers the last hope of recovery for Christian groups threatened with extinction. Many would not survive another similar violent attack.
- ISIS affiliate Boko Haram has carried out genocide against Christians in northern Nigeria.
- Christians have suffered increased violence and oppression as a result of a rise in religious nationalism. In India, for example, persecution has risen sharply since the 2014 rise to power of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- In worst-offending North Korea, “unspeakable atrocities” against Christians include enforced starvation, abortion and reports of faithful being hung on crosses over a fire and others being crushed under a steamroller.
An executive summary and full report can be accessed via the link below:
Another overview report has recently been presented by the Open Doors Organisation based in Santa Ana California
Among the chilling statistics presented are the following that
255 Christians are killed
104 are abducted
180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage
66 churches are attacked
160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned
The Worldwide ranking generated for the Report
listed the following as the 50 worst countries for Christian oppression as the following
1 North Korea 94 / 100
2 Afghanistan 93 / 100
3 Somalia 91 / 100
4 Sudan 87 / 100
5 Pakistan 86 / 100
6 Eritrea 86 / 100
7 Libya 86 / 100
8 Iraq 86 / 100
9 Yemen 85 / 100
10 Iran 85 / 100
11 India 81 / 100
12 Saudi Arabia 79 / 100
13 Maldives 78 / 100
14 Nigeria 77 / 100
15 Syria 76 / 100
16 Uzbekistan 73 / 100
17 Egypt 70 / 100
18 Vietnam 69 / 100
19 Turkmenistan 68 / 100
20 Laos 67 / 100
21 Jordan 66 / 100
22 Tajikistan 65 / 100
23 Malaysia 65 / 100
24 Myanmar 65 / 100
25 Nepal 64 / 100
26 Brunei 64 / 100
27 Qatar 63 / 100
28 Kazakhstan 63 / 100
29 Ethiopia 62 / 100
30 Tunisia 62 / 100
31 Turkey 62 / 100
32 Kenya 62 / 100
33 Bhutan 62 / 100
34 Kuwait 61 / 100
35 Central African Republic 61 / 100
36 Palestinian Territories 60 / 100
37 Mali 59 / 100
38 Indonesia 59 / 100
39 Mexico 59 / 100
40 United Arab Emirates 58 / 100
41 Bangladesh 58 / 100
42 Algeria 58 / 100
43 China 57 / 100
44 Sri Lanka 57 / 100
45 Azerbaijan 57 / 100
46 Oman 57 / 100
47 Mauritania 57 / 100
48 Bahrain 57 / 100
49 Colombia 56 / 100
50 Djibouti 56 / 1
The full Report, entitled World Watch List2018
can be downloaded via the following link,
THE CASE OF PASTOR ANDREW BRUNSON IMPRISONED IN TURKEY
Meanwhile in just the last month there have been grave further developments in the case of the American pastor Andrew Brunson imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016 without trial. Prosecutors have now demanded life imprisonment in an official indictment presented to Izmir’s 2nd Criminal Court in March 2018.
Bizarrely, Brunson is accused of being “a member and executive” of the Islamic movement led by self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused of orchestrating the failed July 2016 coup attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.
In the words of the reports on this in Christianity Today:
According to the semi-official news agency Anadolu Ajansi, the formal indictment also charges the pastor with establishing links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and obtaining espionage information for political and military purposes.
If the indictment is accepted by the court, formal trial proceedings are expected to be set in motion against Brunson. To date, neither the pastor nor his lawyer have been allowed any access to the legal file of investigations conducted by Turkish authorities into his case.
Commenting on the indictment, the two vice chairs of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga, said:
USCIRF urges President Trump and others in the administration to redouble their ongoing efforts to secure Pastor Brunson’s release. No stone should be left unturned in our efforts on behalf of this unjustly imprisoned American.
We call again for his immediate release and, if this is not forthcoming, for the administration and Congress to impose targeted sanctions against those involved in this miscarriage of justice.
“USCIRF is appalled that Turkish officials are seeking a possible life sentence for Pastor Brunson and are accusing him of leadership in a terrorist organization,” they added.
“The government of Turkey has detained Pastor Brunson largely based on a purported ‘secret witness’ and secret evidence, which they refuse to make public. The Turkish government should reverse course immediately and we urge the international community to condemn this indictment.”….
His daughter, Jacqueline, appealed to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last week to help secure her father’s release. Declaring that he had been “falsely imprisoned for far too long,” his married daughter noted that Brunson decried that he had “still not been formally charged with any crime”.
“I know the allegations against my father are absurd,” Jacqueline said, as shown in a video posted by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“He is not an armed terrorist trying to overthrow any government. My father is a peaceful pastor,” she said.
Noting that she had grown up in Turkey, she added, “My family loves and respects the Turkish people, and my father has been dedicated to serving them for over two decades.”
Jacqueline said she was allowed to visit her father at his Izmir prison last August. “It was hard to see him so broken, so thin, so desperate,” she told the UNHRC assembly. She then read a note Brunson had written just a week ago.
“Let it be clear. I am in prison not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am—a Christian pastor,” he wrote.
“I desperately miss my wife and children. Yet I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me. My deepest thanks for all those around the world who are standing with and praying for me.”
(See for a link to this report, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/march/pastor-andrew-brunson-turkey-indictment-life-sentence.html)