Rome’s Corpus Christi procession for persecuted Christians

Rome’s Corpus Christi procession for persecuted Christians

Rome, June 4, 2015: Persecuted Christians were remembered during Thursday’s Corpus Christi procession in Rome, where Pope Francis told the thousands taking part to walk and pray in unity with those who cannot express their faith so openly.

“Let us feel united with them: sing with them, give praise with them, worship with them,” the Roman Pontiff said in his homily for Mass said in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran June 4, celebrated just before the procession.

“As we walk along the street, we feel in communion with the many brothers and sisters who are not free to express their faith in the Lord Jesus.”

The Pope also remembered those who have been martyred for their faith.

“We venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives in fidelity to Christ,” he said.

“May their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a token of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.”

During the procession for the feast of Corpus Christi, a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was carried slowly through the streets on top a white truck, protected by two deacons and illuminated by candles.

The procession began after the evening Mass in Saint John Lateran, Rome’s cathedral, and continued to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Thousands of people took part, including many of the prelates who concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father.

Pope Francis in his homily added that this procession can also be a way of “expressing our gratitude for the journey which God has made through the desert of our poverty, to free us from servitude, nourishing us with his love through the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.”

The feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

During the Mass, Pope Francis recalled how during the Last Supper, Christ gave his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine.

“With this ‘viaticum’ over flowing with Grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, extending God’s reign to everyone,” the Pope said.

“This Bread of Life has come down to us!” he said, adding that the never-ending awe which the Church has before of this reality fosters “contemplation, adoration, and memory.”

Pope Francis reflected a few lines taken from the Office of Readings for the feast: “eat (Christ’s Body), or you will have no part in him … drink (His Blood), lest you despair of your sinfulness.”

By not obeying the Lord’s Word, by not living together fraternally, by trying to be first, by not courageously giving witness to charity, by being unable to offer hope – in these ways, the Pope said, we separate ourselves from Christ.

The Eucharist, on the other hand, “is the bond of communion, the fulfillment of the Covenant, the living sign of Christ’s love, who was humiliated and annihilated in order that we may remain united.”

By taking part and nourishing ourselves with the Eucharist, “we are placed on a path which does not allow divisions,” he continued.

Christ’s presence among us under the appearance of bread and wine demands that “the power of love overcomes every wound,” he said. “At the same time, it becomes communion with the poor, support for the weak, and fraternal awareness for those struggling to support the weight of daily life.”

Pope Francis spoke of the “watering down” of our Christian dignity with “the idolatries of our time.” He gave several examples of this contemporary “idolatry,” including the viewing of oneself at the center of everything, arrogance, and not admitting fault.

“All of this degrades us, and makes us into mediocre, lukewarm, insipid, pagan Christians,” he said.

The Roman Pontiff also spoke of how we are transformed by the grace which comes from the shedding of Christ’s blood. “We always poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ frees us from our sins and restores our dignity,” he said.

“Although undeserving, we are able to bring with sincere humility the love of our Lord and Savior to our brethren.”

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/06/11/pope-leads-romes-corpus-christi-procession-on-behalf-of-persecuted-christians/

San Francisco prelate says gender transition a threat to faith

San Francisco prelate says gender transition a threat to faith

San Francisco, June 04, 2015: “The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” the controversial Archbishop Cordileone said at the start of an address in New York City at a conference aimed at promoting an older form of the Mass in Latin.

“Yet now we have the idea gaining acceptance that biological sex and one’s personal gender identity can be at variance with each other, with more and more gender identities being invented,” said Archbishop Cordileone, who is the point man in the battle against gay marriage for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Archbishop said a friend recently pointed out to him that a major university advertised housing “for a grand total of 14 different gender identities.”

“I’m sure even more will be invented as time goes on,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience of about 200.

“Those initials keep getting longer and longer,” he added, referring to debates over whether the LGBT acronym — for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — should include other categories.

Archbishop Cordileone did not mention Jenner by name, but his comments landed directly in the middle of a national debate that exploded on Monday when the Vanity Fair cover was published depicting Jenner for the first time as a woman — in satin lingerie and an alluring pose — and announcing she would now be known as Caitlyn, not Bruce.

Jenner, now 65, came to fame in the 1970s as a gold medal Olympian and then won a more dubious celebrity in recent years as part of the Kardashian clan of reality television stars.

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/06/11/san-francisco-prelate-says-gender-transition-a-threat-to-faith/

Bishops distressed over sex attack on Catholic nun

Bishops distressed over sex attack on Catholic nun

New Delhi, June 22, 2015: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has condemned the sexual assault on a Catholic nun in a mission center in Raipur and sought adequate security for Christians in social service.

The bishops are “deeply distressed to learn of the sad news” of attack on a 47-year old nun belonging to the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, said Conference secretary general Bishop Albert D’Souza.

The nun, a qualified nurse, was in the Nursing Home together with two other girls. She was found early morning, gagged and tied to the bed after being brutally attacked and molested, the bishop’s statement said.

Reports quoting police said two masked men entered the nun’s room Friday night in search of cash and valuables and assaulted her after they failed to find their booty.

The nun lived with three aides at the infirmary and provided primary treatment to children and those who suffer minor injuries.

The survivor was initially taken to Government Ambedkar Hospital attached to Medical College, but she shifted to district hospital after media followed the survivor.

It said the CBCI “views these attacks on the nuns very seriously” and urges the federal and state governments “to act speedily to book the culprits involved in this heinous crime.”

It also wanted the government to “provide adequate security and protection to the Christian Missionaries whose selfless service to the poor has been widely acclaimed by the Indian public in general.”

“Such incidents of violence on minorities and especially women, tarnishes the image of our country in the international community, besides posing serious questions as to how far the minorities are safe and secure today in India,” the statement said.

– press release

Nun Gangraped by two in Missionary Hospital

Chhattisgarh, June 20, 2015: A nun working as a nurse in missionary run hospital was gang raped while she was alone at the night by two unidentified men.

The hospital comes between Vidhansabha and Pandari Police Station. But as per police jurisdiction the concerned area fall under Pandari- Police Station limits.

The incident took place on Friday night as the two men entered in her room and sexually assaulted her. The victim stated that both the men tied her hands and feet and then raped her.

The nun was admitted in government hospital for treatment and tests.

SP Rural Bhatt said, the primae facie of the crime scene gives an impression that the assailant burgled the nurse room in order to depict theft but when they found her alone assaulted her. The incident came to light when the lady came back to senses and police recorded her official statement.

The minority interest groups visualized the attack as an attack on their religion and expressed it as total failure of State Government in maintaining of law and order of the state.

Social Activist Goldy George said, this is not single attack on people belonging to Minority Class, a conspiracy is going in the country to miff the voice of people belonging to minority class. We condemn these types of activities and demand immediate arrest of culprits in the case, added the activist.

People of Christian fraternity planned to take out candle march protest on Saturday evening at Jaistambh Chowk.

Leader of Opposition of Congress Party, condemned the attack and said under the rule of Raman Singh government situation of law and order of state is deteriorating day by day, women and ladies are unsafe.

Former CM Ajit Jogi condemned State Administration and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.

Islamic State fighters release elderly Christian hostage in north-eastern Syria but intense fighting displaces Christians in Aleppo

Islamic State fighters release elderly Christian hostage in north-eastern Syria but intense fighting displaces Christians in Aleppo

Syria, 25 June, 2015: Four months after he was taken captive by Islamic State (IS) fighters in north-eastern Syria, 70-year-old Francois Sawa was safely released on 16 June and is in good health. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, Christian families are fleeing their homes after horrific fighting killed at least ten people, most of them children, and injured a further 150 on 15 June.

Just a few days later, two Armenian Christian men were also tragically killed in a mortar explosion in Aleppo on 20 June. One of the men who died was a visiting pastor from Armenia who had arrived only two days earlier. “All our congregation members are in agony,” said Dr Jany Haddad, Barnabas Fund’s partner on the ground in Syria, as he relayed the news.

With fighting coming from four fronts, thousands of Christians have fled the city in terror. Local Christians told Barnabas that there are now between 45,000 and 90,000 Christians living in Aleppo, down from an estimated 465,000 in 2010. At least 30 people were killed and many others injured only in the last week in Aleppo with bombing and shelling occurring almost daily. The situation across Syria is one of extreme concern; IS forces have again attacked parts of the north-eastern city of Hassake as well as the northern city of Kobane on Thursday (25 June).

The release of Francois Sawa puts the number of those still being held at 227. One of 253 Christians abducted in IS raids against the mainly Christian villages that are clustered around the Khabur river, Francois Sawa was taken from his home village of Tel Shamiram on 23 February. Little has been heard about the situation of the Christians who remain hostage to IS. Twenty-three of the captives were released at the beginning of March and two elderly women were freed on 25 May.

Despite the fact that IS militants have been forced out of the villages in the Khabur area, the area remains unsafe. Islamists have destroyed many of the homes and churches and some have been booby-trapped. Barnabas has been helping to care for 1,200 Christian families who were forced to flee their homes after IS raided the villages.

But the situation for Christians in Syria is extremely precarious. Kidnappings such as the ones that took place in the Khabur area villages have led many Christians to decide to leave their beloved country in search of safety abroad.

Barnabas Fund is working with the Polish government, the Polish charity Esther Foundation, and local Polish churches to rescue Syrian Christians in extreme danger. Through our Operation Safe Havens, we are flying them to Poland and paying for their basic needs for one year, while Polish churches welcome them, and help them to find accommodation and jobs.

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/06/29/islamic-state-fighters-release-elderly-christian-hostage-in-north-eastern-syria-but-intense-fighting-displaces-christians-in-aleppo/

Pakistani Christian rescued from ‘bonded labour’ slavery

Pakistani Christian rescued from ‘bonded labour’ slavery

Pakistan, 25 June, 2015: The Organization for Legal Aid in Pakistan successfully petitioned at the end of May to have Mumtaz Masih recovered from unlawful detention by his Muslim employer, who had forced him into bonded labour.

Originally, Masih borrowed 200,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly £1,400) from a local Muslim in July 2013. In exchange, Masih had to take care of his farms and animals. As part of the agreement, Masih was required to remain on his employer’s property at all times except once a month when he would receive payment and could go home to visit his family. In July 2014 the employer stopped paying Masih, banned him from home visiting, and effectively turned him into a slave.

Masih’s wife, Alishba Bibi, became concerned about her husband’s absence and sought help. After a habeas corpus court case on 29 May, a court official was directed to find Masih, who was found on his master’s property in a locked room where he had been held for the last three days.

Although bonded labour is illegal in Pakistan, many poor Christians live and work in similar situations.

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/06/29/pakistani-christian-rescued-from-%E2%80%98bonded-labour%E2%80%99-slavery/

Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen: Muslims attend his Church & that his books sell a lot in Muslim countries

Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen: Muslims attend his Church & that his books sell a lot in Muslim countries

exas, June 23, 2015: Evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen shared in an interview this week that “a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims” recently visited his nondenominational megachurch in Houston, Texas, and indicated that his inspirational messages on “how to live a great life” resonate with people “in Muslim countries.”

“I have Muslims that attend our church and my books sell a lot in Muslim countries as well,” Osteen said during an interview with Jeremy Hobson for the “Here and Now” radio program published online Monday.

Hobson had mentioned that he heard Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel express the opinion that Christianity and Judaism had not done “a good enough job keeping an open conversation with Muslims” in the U.S. He then asked Osteen if he has conversations with Muslims, which prompted the preacher to share that he “certainly” does.

“You know, I don’t know, I don’t get too deep in those kinds of things,” Osteen added, “but our ministry is about reaching out to everybody, and so you know, I do have those conversations.”

“I had a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims here at the service about two weeks ago, sitting right on the front row. They came, and we have good, good relationships. And I think part of our ministry is, our main theme is Jesus says love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. And I don’t try to put people in a box — OK, they’re Jewish or they’re Catholic, they’re this or they’re that. I just say, ‘you know what, they’re somebody that God’s put in our path for us to love,’ and that’s our philosophy,” he added.

Osteen also touched on immigration, the End Times and the intersection of politics and religion in his interview with ‘Here and Now,” which you can listen to in the audio player below:

Osteen previously has shared that his messages are not only attractive to Muslims, but to atheists as well.

In a 2014 “Larry King Now” interview, King asked the megachurch pastor, also known for his megawatt smile: “Why would an atheist be a fan?”

“I think what they like, Larry, the principles that we teach is from the Scripture but they can help anybody you know, to reach dreams or to forgive or to have a good self-image,” Osteen said. “I know that I’m not a traditional pastor in terms of I’m just going down teaching scripture by scripture, because a lot of what I would teach is just how to live a great life.”

Another view on why Osteen might be so popular with those outside of his conservative Christian faith was recently presented in an opinion essay published in the Jewish Journal.

“He does not proselytize in a loud, Bible-thumping sort of manner. Instead, with a calming, reassuring voice, he delivers words of faith, hope and optimism based on a biblical foundation,” wrote the author, who identified as “Jewish, and intend to remain Jewish.”

The writer added: “… I have to admit that there were times when I felt that pastor Osteen had put his finger on the pulse of my current challenges, and offered comments that gave me some degree of immediate solace.”

Osteen’s messages and sermons are not a hit with everyone, particularly other conservative Christians. Critics have for years claimed that Osteen’s messages are too focused on positive thinking and personal prosperity, and light on sin and repentance. The Texas pastor, whose popular inspirational and self-help books include Your Best Life Now, You Can, You Will, Every Day a Friday, and Become a Better You, has responded on more than one occasion to such criticism.

“There’s enough pushing people down in life already. When they come to my church, or our meetings, I want them to be lifted up. I want them to know that God’s good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God’s created them to be,” Osteen said in one television interview.

Osteen welcomes about 52,000 worshippers weekly to Lakewood Church, according to a press release from his ministry. The church also says that it is “one of the nation’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse” and that its pastor reaches millions of people through his television program that airs in more than 100 different countries.

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/06/29/megachurch-pastor-joel-osteen-muslims-attend-his-church-that-his-books-sell-a-lot-in-muslim-countries/

Why we must listen to Rohini Salian?

Why we must listen to Rohini Salian?

June 27, 2015: Rohini Salian is a legend in the world of public prosecutors. Every policeman knows her name. So do the lawyers and judges of the city of Mumbai. She is single-minded in her commitment to her duties and, above all, everyone knows that she cannot be bought.

Salian’s lament on being asked to go soft on Hindu extremists accused of terrorist acts frightens us to believe that the country is steadily being led on to the path trodden by our surly neighbour on our western border. The masterminds of the 26/11 attacks are treated like heroes in Pakistan.

We are not there yet, but if hidden hands nudge the judicial system to free murderers of the saffron variety, we will be soon.

A day before he was shot dead by Pakistani terrorists who had clandestinely sailed from Karachi to Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, an outstanding IPS officer of impeccable integrity as well as high intelligence and abilities, had come to meet me. He was disturbed by the reactions of some BJP leaders, particularly L.K. Advani, to the turn his investigations had taken in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which he headed at that time, had initially suspected jihadi fanatics. Such thoughts would come naturally to any policeman those days as Muslim groupings like Simi had been responsible for several terrorist acts across the country.

But, the ATS had suddenly, unexpectedly and, I must add, fortuitously come across incontrovertible evidence, which included taped conversations, to prove that the Malegaon blasts, as well as the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts that killed nearly a hundred people, were conceived, planned and executed by a group of fanatical Hindus bent on revenge. It is the duty of law enforcers to seek the real offenders and ensure that they are dealt with by the law of the land. Politics, religion, caste, community have no role to play in the pursuit of truth and justice. It is true that such lofty ideals are often forgotten but fortunately there are still police officers who act according to their conscience and the Constitution. Hemant Karkare was one such officer.

I went through some of the evidence he had gathered. I was staggered. I could understand the anger that prompted the perpetrators to embark on their misconceived journey. But a police officer has to do his duty, which is to stick to the truth and the letter of the law. I advised Karkare to abide by his “dharma”. I offered to speak to Advani if required. I was sure that Advani would appreciate the fact that Karkare was doing what any true gentleman and patriot would be expected to do.

Unfortunately, Ajmal Kasab and his brainwashed companions snuffed out the life of a good man. Karkare was not around to pursue the case but his successors carried on the investigations and filed the chargesheet against the real culprits in court.

Salian is one public prosecutor who can be equated to Karkare, albeit in a parallel arm of the judicial process. As Karkare was to probity in investigations, Rohini is to probity in prosecution. She sticks to the truth and to her duty. In her, the powerful people who want to scuttle the case for ideological reasons have caught a Tartar.

Hemant had approached Salian because he knew that she was not a person who could be influenced by money or any other inducement. And she was competent. It is this same Rohini Salian whom the powers that be now want to remove from the case because she is not willing to budge from the path of duty and truth. Shame on those who are attempting to interfere in the course of justice. They do not realise the damage they do to the rule of law, to which, incidentally, they pay lip service.

What is worse is that by their covert attempts to get the culprits off the hook, they are encouraging jihadists to strike again, something they are already good at. Another negative fallout will be the licence it will give to evil-minded investigators and prosecutors, both of whom are proliferating in ever-increasing numbers, to revel in injustice and corruption. And then, there is the ultimate price we will pay: losing the moral right to condemn Pakistan when it protects men like Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

Mr. Julio Ribeiro Our leaders need to think of these consequences before they covertly try to sabotage the course of justice. They should desist from making our great country in the image of our neighbour. And finally, they should respect the memory of that fallen martyr, Hemant Karkare, instead of cocking a snook at his noble efforts to bring the true offenders to book.

* The writer, a retired IPS officer, was Mumbai police commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab

Dalit Christians file complaint with UN against the Vatican

Dalit Christians file complaint with UN against the Vatican

New Delhi, June 30, 2015: Christian Dalits in India filed a complaint on Tuesday with the United Nations accusing the Holy See of not doing enough to curb discrimination faced by “untouchables” within the Catholic Church.

A delegation of 22 people from the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) and Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi (a collective of human rights activists) submitted the complaint at the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan in Delhi.

“We have submitted seven copies of the complaint to Rajeev Chandran, assistant director of the UN Centre in New Delhi addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and different human rights organizations,” Mary John, president of the DCLM, told ucan.

The complaint accuses the Vatican and the Indian Catholic Church leadership of caste-based discrimination “by way of allowing it directly and indirectly in their spiritual, educational and administrative places”.

The delegation asked the UN and other organizations to urge the Holy See to eradicate the caste discriminatory practices and to withdraw the Permanent Observer position of the Holy See in the UN if the Vatican does not take the necessary steps.

Dalits, or untouchables, are the lowest caste within Hindu society. Huge numbers of Dalits have converted to Christianity and Islam over the decades, though in reality the religions offer limited protection from societal prejudice.

“The discrimination against Dalit Christians in the Catholic Church is a human rights issue and it would be right if we approach the UN to find a solution to it,” John said.

Kudanthai Arasan, president of the Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi, said Dalit Christians routinely face discrimination in their daily life.

“There are separate cemeteries for Dalit Christians. Even in the church there are separate seating arrangements for those from the Dalit community and others. The festival choir processions do not enter the streets where Dalit Christians live,” he said, adding that in some churches even the dead body of a Dalit Christian is not allowed inside for funeral Mass.

While Dalit Christians form 70 percent of the total Catholic population in India, said John, their representation in the Church leadership is only 4-5 percent.

He added that Dalits are not recruited for the priesthood and are rarely permitted to be appointed as bishops.

Out of about 200 active bishops in India, only nine are from the Dalit community.

“We have raised our voice time and again to end this practice in the Indian Church, but our pleas have been falling on deaf ears,” he added.

The Dalit Christians also blamed the top bishops’ body in India — the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) — for not pursuing the issue with the Holy See.

“They do not take our case seriously to the Vatican. The CBCI has come out with declarations terming caste-ism as sin but they themselves are practicing it,” John said.

However, Fr Joseph Chinnayyan, CBCI deputy secretary general, told ucan that the organization has never received any complaint of discrimination against Dalits in the Catholic Church in the past.

He said that as far as the Dalit Christians’ complaint about the issue to the UN is concerned, “we are not aware of any such complaint and will only respond once we receive any communication about it”.

Ask God for a repeat performance

Ask God for a repeat performance

There is no problem that is too big or too small for you to pray about.
Chronicles 20:5-6 says, “King Jehoshaphat went and stood before them and prayed aloud.”
That’s a good thing to do!

It’s important when the odds are stacked against you to pray a certain way that is different from the way you normally pray.

Jehoshaphat gives us a model of the three things you need to pray when you feel overwhelmed.

1. Remind yourself who God is.

Bigger God“O Lord God of our ancestors, you rule in heaven over all the nations of the world.
You are powerful and mighty, and no one can oppose you” (2 Chronicles 20:6).

Before you talk to God about the problem and focus on it,
remind yourself that God is bigger than the problem you are facing.

King Jehoshaphat realizes that three enemy nations are coming at him,
yet he stops and says, “You’re bigger than all the nations, God.
You are bigger than anything I will ever face.”

2. Remind yourself of what he has done in the past.
Count your blessingsThink of the times when God has helped you and the miracles he’s already done in your life.

“When your people Israel moved into this land,
you drove out the people who were living here and gave the land to the descendants of Israel,
your friend, to be theirs forever” (2 Chronicles 20:6).

Jehoshaphat recalled all the ways God had worked in Israel’s past.

3. Ask God for help now.
HelpHow about a repeat performance, Lord?
Do it again! In verse 9, Jehoshaphat mentions three kinds of situations: war, epidemic, and famine.
He says, “None of this is too hard for you.
You’ve helped us in the past, so do it again!”

His prayer is built around three questions:

Are you not?

Did you not?

Will you not?

“Are you not God?” Yes, you are in charge, and you’re big enough to handle it.

“Did you not help us in the past?” Yes, you did help us in the past.

“Will you not do it again?” Yes, you will do it again!

That’s the way you need to pray when you’re overwhelmed.

No matter what the situation is, remind yourself first who God is, what he’s done, and then ask him to do it again.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to talk about your problem.

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/07/03/ask-god-for-a-repeat-performance/

Persecution of Vietnamese Christian montagnards is “state policy”, says human rights watch

Persecution of Vietnamese Christian montagnards is “state policy”, says human rights watch

Vietnam, June 06, 2015: “Vietnam’s official media made it shockingly clear that persecution of religious minorities is state policy,” said Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Asia director, Brad Adams, after the advocacy group released a report on Friday (26 June). Compiling interviews with Vietnamese ethnic Montagnards seeking asylum abroad, the report reveals the government’s deliberate actions to persecute the ethnic minority because of their desire to follow Christianity.

“I was hit everywhere; they even used electricity to shock me,” said one of the Christian Montagnards interviewed by HRW. “The police hit me with their hands on both sides of the face… The police told me if I continued going to church, then the police would continue arresting me.” Labelled an “evil way” religion by communist Vietnam, these followers of Christianity are the victims of constant surveillance, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and abuse under detention.

According to HRW, an official media report released in January said that the Vietnamese authorities had organised a campaign to “deal seriously with their leaders and core members”. And in the same month, General Tran Dai Quang, a government minister in the Central Highlands (where most Montagnards reside), called on security forces to “actively fight” followers of unauthorised Christianity.

The threat to Montagnard Christians in the Central Highlands of Vietnam is causing many to flee into neighbouring Cambodia and Thailand, where they seek a place to worship Christ in freedom, a reality that even the Vietnamese officials recognise.

Reaching Cambodia, however, they are deported back into Vietnam despite the fact that this goes against the 1951 UN Refugee Convention of which Cambodia is a signatory country. According to the report, over the past year Cambodia had sent back at least 54 Montagnards “without allowing any opportunity to seek refugee status, and had denied at least another 109 the possibility of registering there as asylum seekers”.

In Thailand, a press conference that was due to coincide with the launch of the report on 26 June was cancelled just minutes before it was set to begin. The decision to stop the conference was said to have been to protect diplomatic ties between Thailand and Vietnam. HRW, however, is concerned that Vietnamese authorities may have requested Thai officials to intervene in an attempt to prevent the issue from ever being heard.

But this recent campaign against the Montagnards is sadly nothing new. In 2001, hundreds of ethnic Montagnards fled across the border into Cambodia after a government crackdown led to numerous arrests of Montagnards demanding greater religious freedom and the return of their lands which had been seized by the authorities.

Ethnic Montagnards are an originally animist people group who began converting to Christianity in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1990s, house churches mushroomed and today they are a predominantly Christian ethnic group. In addition to being persecuted for their Christian faith, Montagnards also believe they are targeted because of their allegiance to the U.S. in the Vietnam War. “The war is over but they still punish us because we fought alongside the Americans,” said Rong Nay, head of the Montagnard Human Rights Organisation (MHRO). “Until today,” he said, “they accuse the Montagnards of [attempting to] overthrowing the government of Vietnam… How can we overthrow it? We have empty hands.”

http://www.persecutedchurch.info/2015/07/03/persecution-of-vietnamese-christian-montagnards-is-%E2%80%9Cstate-policy%E2%80%9D-says-human-rights-watch/