20 March 2019
For the full reports please follow the links.
14 Feb. – World Watch Monitor
Another Colombian pastor killed, leaving the church ‘terrified’
A Colombian pastor was killed as he left his church last week in the northwest of the country, in a region that has been plagued by violence from armed groups, local sources told World Watch Monitor.
Pastor Leider Molina, 24, had just finished preaching in his church in Caucasia, Antioquia state in northwest Colombia, on Friday, 9 February. As he stepped outside he was hit by five bullets.
Molina was known as a passionate preacher and an active youth leader working for his church and city, 670km north of the capital Bogotá, the source said.
2 Nov. 18 – World Watch Monitor
‘I am currently under threat of death for preaching’ – Colombian pastor
Violence in Colombia has killed 200,000 people and caused around 7 million to flee their homes over the past 50 years, making them the world’s largest internally displaced group of people, World Magazine reported last week.
Violence is especially severe in rural areas. At the border with Venezuela, the magazine spoke with Pastor Juan Martinez, a former member of a cartel who left the group at 16 when he became a Christian.
The pastor says that, along with other spiritual leaders in the area, he is under constant threat of attacks by gangs that demand control over the region and see pastors as an obstacle for establishing their influence.
3 Dec. 18 – Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Report warns of ongoing and worsening human rights violations
CSW’s new report on Colombia concludes that “there is no question that violations of human rights, including attacks on the civilian population and severe restrictions on religious freedom, continue or have grown worse in many parts of the country,” despite the 2016 peace agreement.
The report details a wide range of violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and freedom of conscience, the majority of which take place in the context of a wider armed conflict and criminal violence in the country. Violations documented include prohibition of or severe restrictions on religious activity, and threats, extortion, assassination and forced displacement of church leaders. This includes the murder of a 55 year old pastor by an illegal armed group in Antioquia.
Extracts from the Restrictions on freedom of religion or belief section are listed in our full notes.
They cover the following sub-sections:
- Freedom of assembly
- Illegal armed groups exerting control
- Attacks on religious leaders
- Death threats
20 Feb. Iran: Arrests of Christians continue – Open Doors
Christians in Iran continue to be arrested, following a major crackdown on believers over the New Year period.
In January, Sina Moloudian (26) was violently arrested in his house. Sina was reportedly told that he had been ‘under surveillance for months’.
The same week, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad (64) was also arrested. A follower of Christ for 40 years, he is no stranger to persecution. Ismaeil has contacted his family, but he does not know where he is being held, nor on what charges.
Iranian Christians have also requested prayer for Simin Soheili and Yaser, two converts who have been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since the end of January. Simin has been informed she will be charged with disturbing public order, propagating Christianity and connecting with foreign entities. She is facing a ten-year prison sentence.
Iranian Christians have requested prayer for an appeal hearing, to be held tomorrow (19 February), in the case of Assyrian Christian Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh.
On 6 January 2018, Shamiram was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by Judge Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court for acting against national security and acting against the regime by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to ‘act as spies’.
We recently requested prayer for Assyrian Christian Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, facing an appeal hearing on 19 February. She is appealing a five years sentence, handed down on 6 January 2018, for acting against national security and acting against the regime by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to ‘act as spies’.
At the appeal hearing, the judge was reportedly confused as to whether her case was to be combined with two other cases. The other cases involve Victor Bet Tamraz (Shamiram’s husband), their son Ramiel Bet Tamraz and Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari, Hadi Asgari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi as well as two others.
Asia Bibi’s youngest daughter has appealed to Pakistan’s Prime Minister to let her mother leave the country, according to press reports. She’s encouraged Asia to have faith that God will bring her out.
Asia Bibi, who has been declared not guilty of blasphemy charges by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, is still reportedly unable to leave the country. Release sources say she is in good health, contrary to other reports.
She is said to be in protective custody to keep her safe from vigilantes as she endures an agonising wait to fly to freedom.
According to the The Mail on Sunday, Asia’s daughter Eisham has appealed to Pakistan’s prime minister to let her mother leave the country.
Earlier this month, Saima Iqbal, a 35-year-old Pakistani Christian mother of three, was abducted by a Muslim man and allegedly forced to convert to Islam.
Naveed Iqbal, Saima’s husband, told local authorities that his wife was abducted from their home outside of Islamabad by a man named Muhammad Khalid Sati. After returning home from a night shift, Mr. Iqbal was shaken by his wife’s disappearance. He soon made a compliant to the local police, reporting the incident.
Mr. Iqbal said, “The police did not take immediate action in respect of my application. They lodged a police First Information Report (FIR) only after I threatened to harm myself.”
See our full notes for links to reports about Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India and China.