RLP News

Call to Prayer for Nigeria, refugees: June 15-22

The RLP is observing a week of prayer for Nigeria from June 15 to 22. We also encourage members and friends to promote and participate in the annual World Refugee Sunday on either June 15 or 22.

Mervyn Thomas, RLP Chariman, said, "The news headlines in the past weeks have been filled with reports of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Many people aren’t aware of campaign of terror that this group has waged on northern and central Nigeria for the past 10 years. Nigeria is also witnessing a worrying surge in attacks by increasingly well-armed Fulani herders on Christian villages and individuals in four states, raising fears of linkage between the herders and Boko Haram.

There are also very real fears of another outbreak of deadly religiously-motivated violence as the 2015 elections approach. We want to see peace in Nigeria. Please join us in a week of prayer for Nigeria. Cry out for God’s intervention for an end to the violence and healing for this traumatised land."

Resources are avaiable at: www.csw.org.uk/prayfornigeria

In light of the fact that over 300,000 people have been displaced by violence since May last year, we also encourage RLP members and friends to observe World Refugee Sunday for those internally displaced people and refugees in Nigeria -- and around the world.

Resources, including a flyer in about 20 languages, are available at: www.refugeehighway.net/resources/world-refugee-sunday

RLP Calls for Tactics to End Human Rights Abuses in North Korea

The RLP released a statement in late April on the crisis in North Korea calling for release of all detainees, an independent tribunal, and sanctions against the responsible officials. Called the "Ottawa Statement on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea", it expresses concern about individuals imprisoned in the concentration camp system, victims of religious persecution, female victims of abuse, and North Korean refugees in China. According to the statement, drafted during the annual gathering of member organizations held in Ottawa in late March, the RLP calls for a response of strong international organization and governmental action in light of this comprehensive United Nations report.

The full Ottawa statement is available at: http://www.rlpartnership.org/downloads/statements/RLP_Statement_on_North_Korea_2014.pdf

And the full press release is available at: http://www.rlpartnership.org/downloads/press-releases/Press_Release_Ottawa_Statement_2014.pdf

Blasphemy laws and prison walls: policy brief

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a Policy Brief in March called "Prisoners of Belief: Individuals Jailed under Blasphemy Laws". The document assesses the growing use and application of blasphemy laws to punish expression deemed blasphemous, defamatory of religion, or insulting to religion. As the press release on the brief notes, these laws "violate international standards, which guarantee freedom of religion and expression, while also at times leading to increased discrimination and violence by extremists who seek to enforce their notions of truth on others." The policy brief also highlights individuals reportedly sentenced for the "crime" of blasphemy and who are currently serving prison terms around the world. Permalink here or directly download by clicking here (1 MB).

Washington Post op-ed on correctly counting martyrs

A thought-provoking opinion-editorial article was published in the Washington Post on November 12, 2013 titled, "A call for a more realistic reporting of Christian martyrs". The author, Judd Birdsall, is a former diplomat who served in the U.S. State Department in the Office of International Religious Freedom. Read the full article here.

"This past Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, an occasion that reminds Christians that many of their brethren are killed for their faith every year. But how many? On Tuesday the BBC published an article exploring the controversy over the dramatically large numbers of Christian martyrs published by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. According to the center, more than 100,000 Christians are martyred every year..."

"My colleagues and I produced an annual report on persecution worldwide that contained accounts of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of martyrs. Some Christian human rights organizations place the number as high as 1,000. Why is there such discrepancy? It all depends on how one defines 'martyrdom'..."

Report illustrates complexity of Arab Spring

On June 20, 2013, the Pew Research Center released an addition to their periodic report on Global Restrictions on Religion. The study by the non-partisan Washington D.C. based group shows that, unfortunately, religious liberty is less as a result of the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011 led many politicians and other world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, to optimistically say the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa could lead to greater freedoms, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. But a new study finds that the region's already high overall level of restrictions on religion - both from government policies and social hostilities - continued to increase in 2011. Read the full report and watch a great TEDx video on the subject.

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