Displaying items by tag: prison
500 riot police officers entered a prison after a riot broke out at the facility, in the municipality of Cantel. At least seven prisoners were killed in the fight between rival gangs: most of them were beheaded. The prison, 125 miles from the capital, was built to house 500 inmates but has more than 2,000. Police sources told local media one of the inmates had ordered the attack on rival gang members in retaliation for the murder of his wife, who had been shot dead by two men on motorbikes hours earlier. According to the source, this man is serving a sentence for murder. Almost half of the roughly 3,500 violent deaths a year in Guatemala are carried out by gangs.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of joining a London protest twelve years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service. Her husband said she has not been taken to prison yet; she plans to appeal against the sentence. Mr Ratcliffe said, ‘The threat is there, and it is bigger than we were fearing. I think the worst case got a bit closer.’ He maintains that his wife was imprisoned as leverage for a debt owed by the UK over its failure to deliver tanks to Iran in 1979; also, her case may be caught up with the negotiations over limiting Iran's nuclear material enrichment. Her sentence may indicate that the Iranian regime is unhappy with the negotiations taking place in Vienna. Things could get worse for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other jailed dual nationals.
Many Christians in Iran are paying a high price for their faith in Jesus. They have lost jobs, homes or even custody of children. Some have been physically abused. Many are rejected by friends and family, and some are unjustly imprisoned in Iran’s notorious prison system. Prayer strengthens our brothers and sisters and reminds them that they are not forgotten. In a letter from prison, Pastor Farshid Fathi writes, ‘I sense the fragrance of your prayers as a cool breeze on my heart and it strengthens me from afar’. For the region’s Christians, SAT-7’s Persian TV channel presenters will also mark the New Year (Nowruz) festival on 20 March by highlighting the new life we have in Christ.
While working at an Afghan eye hospital, Dan took a fortnight’s trip to Iran which turned into a nine-week nightmare. He was falsely charged with spying and being a missionary and imprisoned in a small dark room, being interrogated and beaten by prison guards. Then he recalls, ‘As I lay on the ground, all of a sudden, the room fills with this glorious light. And I turned around to see what was going on, and there was Jesus. It was at that lowest point that He met me.’ Jesus provided strength to continue and even befriend the guards who beat him, and the courage to boldly proclaim his faith in front of his accusers and an Iranian judge. ‘I preached and told everyone who Jesus is and how much he loved them.’ Not long after he was released. He now trains people to serve in missions.
Freddie O’Neil grew up in care, was abused by the system as a child, and became an adult not knowing what God, family and love are. He is now a convicted rapist based in the secure John Howard Centre. He found Jesus in prison and immersed himself in the Gospel, but when he was transferred to the centre he realised there were no Sunday services or any Christian input during the week. He said, ‘I relied on this so much for my well-being that I raised the question, but they just laughed and ignored me.’ Friday prayers for Muslims happened every week, so he asked the Christian Legal Centre for support. After letters, discussions, and threats of court proceedings, all Christian patients at the centre now have a Sunday communion service, and the centre allows them to exercise their faith in Christ. See also the article on ‘Prisoners and faith communities’ in the UK section.
The Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) is a Catholic charity providing support for prisoners and their families, by helping people make a fresh start and minimising the harm caused by imprisonment. It removes barriers between prisoners and the outside world, and influences policy and legislation in most prisons in England and Wales. In a bid to crack down on crime, Boris Johnson wants to create 10,000 extra prison places and end automatic early releases of prisoners before they finish their sentences. However Pact believes that the key for successful rehabilitation comes from connections with faith communities. It says the PM's solution is a plaster for a bullet wound: ‘If young people carry knives, because they're frightened and others are carrying knives, they're not going to stop carrying a knife, because the sentence is going to be longer. They’ll stop carrying a knife if they feel safe in their communities.’ See
Ralph Findlay was moved by God to offer a lifeline to some of the UK’s most vulnerable men and created the Christian charity called ‘BLAST Foundation’ to offer inmates and ex-offenders vital training and support, to help free them from the vicious cycles that can result in a lifetime behind bars. As BLAST nears its tenth birthday, a milestone has been marked by a growing awareness of the insufficient assistance available to former prisoners, as well as much-welcomed success stories of lives turned around. They are slashing reoffending rates by building relationships in prison, out through the prison gate and on into the community. Pray for more Christians to support the rehabilitation of prisoners through prayer, volunteering, mentoring and giving.
It is estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are imprisoned in horrific labour camps in North Korea. Hea Woo was held in one such camp. When she arrived, she saw a sign there saying, ‘Do not try to escape, you will be killed’. She said they mercilessly kicked her and beat her. ‘Death was a part of our daily life. The bodies were usually burned and the guards scattered the ashes on the path we walked down every day. I always thought, one day the other prisoners will be walking over me. God helped me to survive. He gave me a desire to evangelise among the other prisoners! He showed me whom I should approach. God used me to lead five people to faith. We met secretly, often in the toilet, because it was so disgusting that the guards never went there. I taught them Bible verses and songs. We sang noiselessly.’
Four Christians in the eastern state of Jharkhand, in prison since May on charges of forced conversion, have been released. Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said their troubles began when the father of one of the believers said they had attempted to physically force him to convert to Christianity. Police had said that Somaru Manjhi's daughter, Sumanti, was to be married on 30 May. The 65-year-old man said he was beaten with a bamboo stick by Sumanti, her fiancé Rupash, and two Christian missionaries after he opposed his daughter's desire for a Christian wedding. VOMC said, ‘We are pleased to report that after investigation, the four falsely accused Christians have been released from police custody. However, while praising God for their release, we remain mindful of their need for God's help and protection as they return to their communities and families.’
Activists in a Casablanca prison keep having their court cases postponed. They are affiliated to Hirak, a protest movement that emerged in October 2016 after a fish vendor was crushed to death by a truck as he tried to retrieve fish that authorities had confiscated. See Since that article, however, the government has acknowledged Hirak’s grievances - better infrastructure, jobs and health-care - but hundreds of protesters remain behind bars, 54 of them accused of threatening the internal security of the state. Authorities are also trying seven reporters who covered the protests and commented on religion and religious freedom. The official response to Hirak's demands was to propose building roads, hospitals, and a cancer treatment centre (Moroccans have a high incidence of the disease). When the national human rights council reported human rights violations and torture, the justice minister announced an investigation, but no follow-up has been made public.