Displaying items by tag: Asia
We prayed for Sri Lanka in April.l Please continue praying as protesters across the country are torching houses and businesses belonging to various ministers and MPs belonging to the ruling Rajapaksa family. During this week’s violence and looting PM Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned, and a luxury holiday resort owned by his son was torched by a mob. Over 200 people were injured and eight murdered in three days. The protesters want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda’s brother, to leave office. He has grossly mismanaged the economy, and they insist he must stand aside. In his first national address since protests began last month, he offered to cede some of the president's power to parliament but ignored calls to resign. Security forces are shooting law-breakers and looters on sight, and thousands of police and riot squads are patrolling the streets with tear gas and water cannons.
John Lee replaced Carrie Lam as Hong Kong's leader after a closed voting process in which he was the sole candidate. His appointment is seen as China’s move to tighten its grip on the city. Mr Lee, a staunch Beijing supporter, oversaw the violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protestors in 2019. He was intensely criticised for sanctioning police use of water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protestors. In 2020, he backed a controversial national security law which criminalised most forms of political protest and opposition and reduced the city's self-government. He maintained that ‘the law would help restore stability from chaos’. His staunch support of Beijing's policies has stoked fears that his leadership will usher in an era of tighter Chinese oversight of the semi-autonomous region. China persecutes Christians, and on 11 May Hong Kong's national security police arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen and four others who ran a now-disbanded humanitarian fund for protesters: see
Health workers in Pakistan are marking children’s fingers as having had a polio vaccination, when in reality parents have refused the vaccine after believing conspiracy theories that they are harmful, blasphemous, or a plot to sterilise Muslims. This is the biggest challenge - to eradicate the crippling virus in one of its last haunts. Deteriorating security along the border is making the situation worse, as militants cross from Afghanistan - the only other country where polio is still circulating. After two years free of polio Pakistan has two poliovirus cases. They were also paralysed, raising further concerns that there may still be hundreds of cases in the region. On average, only one in 200 infections leads to paralysis. Bill Gates, who invests billions in the polio fight, said ‘it would be tragic if the disease made a comeback because it would spread back across the world and eventually you have what you had before 1988 - hundreds of thousands of paralysed children.’
In late April, North Korea confirmed its first Covid cases and suspended overland trade with China (which had been resumed in January) after a surge of Chinese cases. The reclusive nation has repeatedly shunned international offers of vaccines, and has been forced into two years of strict isolation to stop the pandemic from crippling the already weak healthcare system. But blocking commerce with China, their largest trade partner, has upset an economy damaged by decades of mismanagement and punishing international sanctions. A serious lack of rainfall in the second worst drought since records began is disrupting farming and food supplies. Despite alarm over Omicron spreading, Kim Jong-Un has ordered scheduled construction, agricultural development and other state projects to continue, decreeing that ‘single-minded public unity is the most powerful guarantee that can win in this anti-pandemic fight.’
There is nothing more horrifying than acts of terror. As wars rage and radical terrorists aim to harm those who are unlike themselves, the biggest casualties are often people who wanted nothing to do with the violence. Innocent, everyday people have their lives stolen from them over their heritage and religion. This is what is happening in Israel right now. Radical terrorists have been attacking Israel in recent weeks, and two Arab members of the Israeli police were recently killed by these actions. Iranian groups of Hamas and Islamic jihad are looking to bring violence and war to the streets of Israel, and the result has been renewed waves of terrorism throughout the country. Thousands of people are vulnerable and scared for their lives. We can pray for ‘Vision for Israel’ as they respond to the situation and help victims and survivors of terrorism.
People's Embrace is a Facebook page helping soldiers defect. The banner says 'Assistance to police and military personnel’. Myanmar is engulfed by an increasingly deadly civil war, which began when the Tatmadaw, the armed forces, seized power last year. Now, with hundreds of volunteers, an underground network armed with Facebook and Telegram accounts is helping disillusioned soldiers and police officers to defect. ‘We advertise on Facebook that those who want to leave should contact us on Telegram.’' said Mr Lay via an online link from an undisclosed location inside the country. With the Tatmadaw out to infiltrate their network, he is wary of divulging many specifics about how they operate, but several ex-Tatmadaw soldiers have broadly described how the operation works. These activities come with massive risks: if they were captured they would be executed. Myanmar's civil war has turned increasingly violent after the overthrow of the civilian government (NLD).
A study by Tel Aviv University found anti-Semitic incidents dramatically increased across the world last year. The USA, Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK experienced the sharpest rise fuelled by radical left- and right-wing political movements and incitement on social media. The report's release coincides with Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, 28 April, commemorating the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany across Europe during World War Two. It is based on the analysis of dozens of studies from around the world, as well as information from law enforcement bodies, media, and Jewish organisations. Anti-Jewish hate crimes in New York and Los Angeles were almost twice that of the previous year. In France, anti-Semitic incidents increased by almost 75%. The gravest concern is the dark web, which shelters extremists. Anti-Semitic content is freely and openly spread, but is only accessible through special illegal browsing software.
On 25 April Turkish philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala was found guilty of attempting to overthrow the government and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. He had spent the last 4½ years in prison without being convicted. The sentence is the most severe to be given. He will be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. He said, ‘The aggravated life sentence demanded against me is an assassination that cannot be explained through legal reasons.’ Human Rights Watch said the sentence was ‘the worst possible outcome to this show trial’. Amnesty International said, ‘We have witnessed a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. This verdict deals a devastating blow not only to Osman Kavala but to everyone who believes in justice and human rights activism in Turkey and beyond. The decision defies all logic. Prosecuting authorities have repeatedly failed to provide any evidence that substantiates the baseless charges. We call for his immediate release as he appeals these draconian verdicts.’ See
Last week a Christian pastor was arrested on false charges of conversion activities in Uttar Pradesh and tortured for 24 hours. ‘I could not walk out of the police station. My two legs were swollen badly. There was so much pain. I could not move from one place to the other. Whenever there was a phone call about my arrest, the police increased the intensity of lashes with the belt and sticks. They beat me on three occasions while demanding I say “Jai Sriram” (Glory to Lord Rama).’ Local sources said the pastor and his family were visiting relatives and worshipping with them when a police van arrived after a neighbour complained. The police abused the family and arrested the pastor and his uncle. They took turns physically torturing them at the police station. At midnight his uncle was released when officers learned he was not a Christian.
In March the anti-Taliban group NRF started preparing a 2022 spring offensive against the Taliban government. Meanwhile tensions with Pakistan are high due to Pakistan security forces being targeted from Afghanistan. Islamabad has accused Kabul of doing little to stop this. Taliban-affiliated fighters (TTP and ISIL) have for years been operating along the porous border between the two countries, carrying out numerous attacks inside Pakistan. Now Pakistan’s air raids inside Afghanistan in response to the killing of its soldiers have raised tensions even higher. On 27 April the Taliban warned Islamabad of ‘consequences’ after nearly 50 people had been killed by Pakistani air raids in the border provinces. Pakistan has not confirmed being responsible for the raids, but Afghan residents have protested in the streets saying those killed were civilians. IS affiliates have also carried out attacks inside Afghanistan, posing a major security threat to Taliban rule.