Displaying items by tag: violence

Thursday, 15 July 2021 23:19

South Africa: looting and civil unrest

The following is from a report made with the help of seven pastors and a bishop in South Africa: ‘Please pray against a spirit of violence and disruption threatening the country’s peace and stability following the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma last week. The root of the ongoing situation is criminal rather than political. KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces are hotspots of riots and looting sprees, and it may spread to other regions. 45 people have died and 757+ arrested in 5 days. Forces fire rubber bullets and live ammunition to deter Johannesburg looters, Durban has unrest and shootings. Shops, businesses, schools and farms are looted and destroyed. Road traffic is attacked and they are on the crest of a third Covid wave. It is believed that this is a backlash to a lot of evil and corruption being exposed over the past year as well as Kingdom breakthroughs. Pray for South Africa to step into her prophetic destiny, with peace on every street.’

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 18 June 2021 05:26

Myanmar – ‘Rapidly deteriorating’

As of the 8th June, the United Nations said an estimated 100,000 people had been displaced in Myanmar's Kayah State by recent violence, including "indiscriminate attacks by security forces" against civilian areas. "The United Nations in Myanmar is concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation," the United Nations in Myanmar said in a statement.

The G7 nations issued a communique that "condemn[s] in the strongest terms the military coup in Myanmar, and the violence committed by Myanmar's security forces." It goes on to say that the G-7 nations "pledge our support to those advocating peacefully for a stable and inclusive democracy." It also says the G-7 governments will pursue "additional measures should they prove necessary," hinting at the possibility of additional sanctions.

However, the reality of life in Myanmar remains awful for many.  Thousands are in flight across Myanmar because of armed strikes and indiscriminate attacks and arrests conducted by the Tatmadaw, the armed forces of Myanmar, deepening a humanitarian crisis emerging in Kayah and Chin states. According to a community leader from Loikaw, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw “see the civilians as their enemies.”

“No one is safe from their attacks. Anyone they are suspicious of, anyone they think are against them, they will arrest, they will torture and some of them are even shot to death. It happens here every day, so people are hiding.” He said so far 50 have been killed in Kayah State, and many have been wounded. “Even peaceful protesters have been shot.”

The source in Loikaw said the Tatmadaw have attacked churches and homes with drone and air strikes, mortar and small arms fire, killing noncombatants and driving thousands into the nearby forests and mountains. “The church is under attack” in Kayah State, he said, both the “People of God” and church buildings.

Four churches of the Diocese of Loikaw have come under heavy weapons fire since mid-May. Now most church functions throughout the state have been shut down completely and many parishes are “totally abandoned.”

The Rev'd Susan McIvor has had links with the Church in Upper Myanmar since 1998 and visited many times. She has written this prayer for the current situation:

Loving God,

We pray for the people of Myanmar in their struggle for justice, peace and freedom.

We stand in solidarity with all who are calling for the restoration of democracy and an end to the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military against protestors and civilians.

We hold in our hearts those towns, cities and communities where the loss of life is great, and where it is no longer safe for people to go about their ordinary tasks.   We pray for those who have fled into the forests or neighbouring countries fearing for their lives or their loved ones.

We pray in solidarity with the minority Christian population in Myanmar.  We pray for all churches as they support their communities.

We pray for the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar, its colleges, healthcare and social development projects, grieving alongside our brothers and sisters as they count the loss of loved ones.  We pray that, in the face of atrocity, people will be strengthened by their faith and the knowledge of Your goodness and love. 

We pray for ourselves. 

When we feel powerless to change things show us how through our actions and our prayers Your love is made known.   

When we reach out to support people in Myanmar, give us words of wisdom, compassion and hope.

And when our hearts are breaking with despair for those we know in Myanmar, fill us with Your peace. 

AMEN

More / Sources: The United Nations, Americamagazine.org, Methodists UK

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Friday, 11 June 2021 09:19

Burkina Faso: militants kill 160

Gunmen killed over 160 people in Solhan village, still reeling from a coup and instability. It was the worst attack on civilians in years. Heavily armed militants executed members of a local defense force, killed civilians, destroyed houses, and burned the local market to the ground. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Villagers who fled are returning to bury the dead and clear charred sites that used to be homes. The country declared three days of national mourning. Government officials, blaming the attack on ‘barbaric’ jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and IS, vowed to ‘neutralise the terrorists’ responsible. Al-Qaeda and IS fighters move regularly between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The attack is consistent with other militant assaults on villages. Children and elderly are often burnt in their houses because they can’t escape.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 June 2021 21:09

Bank Holiday knife crime

Six people, including a 13- and a 14-year-old, were arrested for stabbing to death a 14-year-old boy in Birmingham. The victim was chased towards the nearby McDonald's by youths who fled from the scene after he collapsed. In London’s Hyde Park a 17 year old was chased by a group of males armed with large knives. He fell and was kicked and stabbed; one onlooker screamed ‘He bored him’ (street slang for stabbing. In South London a 23-year-old man is fighting for his life after being stabbed in the face. In north London a flowerstall man in his 50s was stabbed to death in a brutal daylight attack. Pray for more resources to be provided for teachers, social workers, and youth workers to help children and youths explore themes around knife crime and educate them to make better choices.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 20 May 2021 21:52

Football and religious affiliation

Many more arrests will follow after Rangers supporters shouted anti-Catholic slogans and songs and damaged property in Glasgow. Violent clashes led to five police officers being injured and thirty rioters arrested. Thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square to celebrate Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011. Images later showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags, and spent flares after flag-draped fans attacked each other and threw dangerous missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers. Nicola Sturgeon described the scenes as disgraceful: she was ‘angry on behalf of every law-abiding citizen. In normal times, violence, vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice on display would be utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it is also selfish beyond belief.’

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 20 May 2021 21:24

Venezuela: thousands fleeing violence

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Colombia in the past month to avoid fighting. They are running away from intense armed clashes between Venezuela’s army and Colombia’s rebel groups. Refugees say they were pushed out of their homes by the military and describe human rights abuses, disappearances, and home break-ins. A prominent Colombian guerrilla fighter, Jesus Santrich, was killed in Venezuelan territory as part of the ongoing conflict. For a video of the extent of the troubles go to. Venezuela's ongoing economic and political turmoil could result in the biggest displacement of people in the world in recent years. It is an issue that has repercussions for the whole region. While many countries have acted to deter migrants, Colombia has taken a step in a radically different direction, granting nearly a million undocumented Venezuelans the right to stay for ten years.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 13 May 2021 20:16

Indonesia: Christian farmers murdered

On 11 May four Christian farmers from the remote village of Kalimago, Poso regency, were murdered by five sword-wielding attackers. The terrorists ambushed a group of farmers who were harvesting their coffee plantation. The victims were aged between 42 and 61. A fellow-farmer saw the suspects carrying firearms and sharp weapons approach the victims before he fled and informed the police, who later said the witness identified one attacker as a fugitive and a member of the IS-linked Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) terrorist group. The attack was motivated by robbery and to terrorise local residents. One of the victims was decapitated in this particularly brutal attack. In November, the same Sulawesi-based terrorist group burned down a Salvation Army church and Christian homes, and hacked four Christians to death and beheaded one. The authorities have not been able to capture the fugitives despite months of efforts.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 13 May 2021 16:09

Myanmar – ‘Future lies in darkness’

The situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate.  The devastation is highlighted by Khaing Sandi Win Min, First Secretary at Myanmar's Permanent Mission in Geneva and a member of the Civil disobedience movement opposed to the Military Junta. See here.  She writes that since the military coup, Myanmar’s security forces have viciously attacked those protesting peacefully against the military’s seizure of power on February 1. Even away from the streets, the people of Myanmar have been forced to endure brutal human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by the state’s security forces. Each day and night has become a nightmare for the people. The future of Myanmar lies in darkness.

The systematic and targeted acts of the military and security forces have led to the deaths of more than 750 people, including dozens of children. The junta has also arbitrarily arrested, charged, and sentenced more than 3,400 people. While in custody, many have been subject to various forms of torture, and, in the case of women and girls, sexual harassment and assault. The death toll is increasing daily. The security forces are also targeting the family members as hostages, in order to track down those wanted for participation in anti-coup protests.

Under Myanmar’s junta, fundamental freedoms, including the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to privacy, and private property rights, have been all but swept away.

All of Myanmar’s people – whether protestors, social influencers, those joining the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), or those simply trying to keep their heads down – are living with fear every second, every minute, and every hour.  With the economy in a state of collapse, The U.N. World Food Program has estimated that in the coming six months, hunger will hit 3.4 million people in Myanmar, especially in urban areas.

Christians in Myanmar continue to asking fellow believers to join in prayer for their nation following the military takeover in February.  It is particularly difficult to live as a Christian in Myanmar at present.  Churches have been raided in the wake of the coup, which has been followed by a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy supporters and protesters. 

PENTECOST EDITION 2021 03bMany Christians have also lost their livelihoods as well as seeing their Churches raided on a regular basis.

Pastors have been doubly hard hit by the pandemic because Covid-19 has prevented Christians from going to church, meaning the pastors are unable to collect the tithes that pay their livelihoods and building rent. Christians in Myanmar have told Open Doors of their fears of night raids on their homes by security forces. Another described "living in fear" on a daily basis.

The cost of food and basic necessities has doubled in the crisis, with many Christian families going without enough food to eat and being unable to go to work for fear of their safety. See here

As we stand with our Brothers and Sisters, we look to these prayer points which have been shared with us:

1. Civil war is breaking out in various places and civilians and ethnic armed groups are fighting back. They are filled with anger from decades of injustice.

Please pray for Godly ways to challenge this military dictatorship.

2. Food prices have gone up 30% and banks are struggling with cash. People have to stand in line half the day just to get access to Limited amounts of cash. The poor and internal refugees are heavily hit.

Please pray for the church to be active in sharing God's goodness and practical blessing.

3. Youth are without a future. Schools and universities have been shut for over a year. Many are distraught. drugs, human trafficking and joblessness are causing a heavy toll on this generation.

Please pray for healthy and inspiring opportunities for the new generation. That they may encounter God's purposes for their lives and a vision in this crisis.

4. The harvest fields are ripe like never before. Many are hungry for Truth, Justice and answers that they are unable to find in Buddhism and Hinduism and Islam.

Please pray for the church to be active, engaged and inspired to be salt and light and transform this nation.

5. We haven't heard from the elected govt for over 100 days.

Please pray that they may encounter God, have a vision of Righteousness for Myanmar and that they may lead with Godly principles of govt.

6. There is fear in the general public. Many are arrested at night and snatched from their homes. The army is using heavy weapons to target civilians.  If they lose a battle with ethnic armed groups, they retaliate by shooting at villages from the air. Many are hiding in jungles as a result.

Please pray for protection and failure of weapons and plans that aim to cause havoc amongst the innocent.

The army in Burkina Faso needs to contain spreading violence by al-Qaeda and IS. More than thirty men, women, and children were killed by 100 rebels burning down homes and shooting people trying to escape. Survivors are praying for peace and are very afraid. One week earlier two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist were killed, and a soldier went missing when an anti-poaching patrol was ambushed by rebels. Another 18 people were killed in a different village. Last year the government enlisted volunteer militiamen to help the army, but they incurred retaliation by the rebels attacking them and the communities they helped. Armed groups have driven religious and ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to boost recruitment among marginalised communities. The UN said worsening violence has led to one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 15 April 2021 22:05

Northern Ireland: church leaders plead for unity

Protestant and Catholic church leaders said the causes of the recent violence were complex and deep-rooted, and have appealed for politicians to provide a unified response to the recent ‘heart-breaking’ scenes of violence. In a joint open letter, they called on them to ‘renew their commitment to peace, reconciliation and the protection of the most vulnerable’. Almost ninety police officers have been injured in rioting in the past week. The leaders' plea is addressed to NI ministers, the British and Irish governments, and the EU. They called for the entire NI executive to approach the EU and UK government to deal with the Brexit fallout and the Irish Sea border, and for politicians to express their support for the police. Much good work on the ground has been undermined as tension has risen and confidence has plummeted.

Published in British Isles
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