AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 16th DECEMBER 2013
- HUGE MASSACRE SUSPECTED IN NORTH KOREA’S KILLING FIELDS
- IRAN ABUSES THE RIGHTS OF CHRISTIANS
- CHINA ASKS THE CHURCH FOR HELP WITH CARING FOR THE NEEDY
- ANTI-CHRISTIAN SENTIMENT IN AMERICA GROWING A BREAKNECK SPEED
- FRANKLIN GRAHAM SAYS GREED, LUST AND ABANDONING GOD IS AT HEART OF AMERICA’S CRISIS
U.S.A. SURPASSES SAUDI ARABIA AS WORLD’S LARGEST SUPPLIER OF OIL
HUGE MASSACRE SUSPECTED IN NORTH KOREA’S KILLING FIELDS
The disappearance of up to 20,000 prisoners of conscience from North Korea’s concentration Camp 22, points to a possible huge massacre of an already brutalized population. The camp was thought to have once held more than 30,000 prisoners. According to a story by Robert Park published in the Chicago Tribune, satellite photographs indicate that guard posts, interrogation and detention facilities at the camp had been razed last year. By that time, those accused and exploited had been reduced to about 3,000. While an estimated 7,000 prisoners are believed to have been taken away by train to similar slave labor/death camps, the rest remain unaccounted for.
David Hawk of the Washington D.C.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) commented on Camp 22’s rapid depopulation, “If even remotely accurate, this is an atrocity requiring much closer investigation.” Park said North Korea’s reasons for shuttering this camp should not surprise anyone. Based on the testimony of former camp guards Ahn Myong-chol and Kwon Hyuk, worldwide attention has been focused on the horrors which took place daily at Camp 22. The most shocking revelations of inhumanity provided by Ahn and Kwon’s confessions, are claims of human vivisection, and chemical and biological weapon experiments on prisoners.
They include the murdering of whole families in gas chambers. The 2004 BBC documentary “Access to Evil” gave eyewitness testimonies and hard documentary evidence suggesting widespread human experimentation inside North Korea’s prison camps. The BBC’s Olenka Frenkiel spoke at length with Kwon, the former chief of Camp 22 and former military attaché at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, in addition to victims, North Korean officials, activists and outside observers. Park said Kwon told Frenkiel, “I watched a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber: parents, one son and a daughter.
The parents were vomiting and dying, but until the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing. When asked how he felt about the children who were being murdered in such a cruel manner, he candidly replied, “It would be a total lie to say I felt sympathy for the children. In the society and the regime I was under, I just felt they were enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them.” Park said the film confirmed testimony from camp survivors going back to the late 1990’s. Charges of human experimentation in North Korea continue to be further substantiated by more recent accounts.
In 2002, Dong Chun-ok, a researcher at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Centre said that in the Centre chemical and biological weapon experiments took place on “prisoners by using injections.” Another North Korean defector forcibly repatriated from China in 2004, Kang Byong-sop, had claimed to be the chief electrical engineer at a chemical factory in South Hamgyong. He said he had smuggled out official “letters of transfer” for inmates from Camp 22 to be sent to the chemical complex for the “human experimentation for liquid gas.” Kim Sang-hun, chairman of the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights said that he had known members of Kang’s family for years.
After carefully examining the papers, which carried the official stamp of North Korea’s State Security Agency, he was “absolutely convinced the letters are genuine.” Kang is believed to have been hunted and arrested with Chinese-North Korean collaboration on the Chinese-Laotian border with his wife and youngest son after smuggling the documents out of North Korea. He was forced upon repatriation to give a complete retraction and point-by-point counter-story, and has not been heard from since. Kim Sang-hun told Al Jazeera in 2009 that “Human experimentation is a widespread practice, a fact well known to the North Korean public.”
Im Chun-yong, a former member of North Korea’s elite special forces claimed that, “If you are born mentally or physically deficient, the government says your best contribution to society is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing.” His then commander had given up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally disabled, while another of his colleagues witnessed “a number of people” murdered via “poisonous gas”. In May 2013 Joanna Hosaniak of the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) headquartered in Seoul claimed North Korea was presiding over chemical and biological weapon experiments on disabled children.
Park said the U.N. Commission of Inquiry, chaired by former Australian High Court Judge Michael Kirby, is now underway. After hearing numerous testimonies from escaped victims, Kirby was moved to tears. Park said a “full-fledged international inquiry” will be incomplete without careful examination of all existing forms of evidence which suggest that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to cross “clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades.” Robert Park is a former prisoner of conscience who entered North Korea in 2009 to protest against genocide and crimes against humanity taking place within the country.
Source: ASSIST News Service
IRAN ABUSES THE RIGHTS OF CHRISTIANS
Iran’s continued mistreatment of its Christian minority was raised at a recent meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Attieh Fard, a lawyer specialising in human rights, urged President Hassan Rouhani to make good on his promises to the United Nations in New York by releasing the 42 Christians known to be in jail and the 45 awaiting trial. Fard said these figures represent only known cases and that the number is likely to be much higher, but that many have remained silent due to threats by the government. In doing so, she said in her September. 24 report, the Iranian government had infringed its national and international legal obligations.
At least 300 Christians have been arrested in the past three years in Iran, with the most common charges being actions against public security and propaganda against the regime. Many of these Christians were arrested while taking part in “house churches” to worship and pray together. “In bringing about these charges against Christians, both the government and the judiciary have made an error of law and fact because Christian gatherings either at homes or churches are mainly formed for Christians to worship together and to read and study the Bible, not to change the regime, and they do not have a goal of any political activity. So these are wrong judgments,” said Fard.
Fard added that similar gatherings were run by Shia Muslims to study the Qur’an and pray, but that these meetings had not been judged to have been a threat to national security. Fard said that some Christians who are imprisoned are forced to listen to the Qur’an and put under “great pressure” to convert to Islam. She said that some of them are tortured and have their possessions confiscated. Then after they are released, they often lose the right to education or employment. Article 26 of the Iranian Constitution gives the right to religious minorities, including Christians, to form societies and to meet together. As such, Fard said house churches are legitimate entities.
Many pastors have been arrested, while even those released are often kept under a kind of house arrest, according to Fard. Rev. Robert Asseriyan, who was arrested earlier this year, is one such example. Since his release, Asseriyan has been prevented from speaking with any other Christians, she said. “Some church leaders who are not arrested are threatened by the government that unless they cease their activities or stop going to churches, either they, or their families, will be harmed,” she said. Iran has announced that it is committed to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including Article 18, which ensures the right of any individual to change religion.
However, Fard said that the government has “repeatedly arrested Christians who have converted from Islam, confiscated their properties and forced them to quit their job or forced their employers to fire them”. Fard shared the example of one teacher who had been working for the Ministry of Education for 30 years. After he was found to be a Christian, he was fired. Some Christian women have lost custody of their children after their divorces from Muslim men because they are judged as Christians to have forfeited their rights. In one case, the judge told a mother of a two-year-old daughter that she could retain custody of her daughter if she became Muslim.
Many Christians are forced to marry in Muslim ceremonies and to conduct Islamic funerals for Christian family members. Fard also mentioned that Christians are both prevented from inviting non-Christians to attend services but also from accepting any non-Christians who wishes to attend. Fard concluded: “It is obvious that the Islamic government has taken actions to prevent access of both Christians and the public to Christian societies, churches and Christian literature, despite the Christians’ constitutional, national and international rights. Iran has said it’s committed to its international obligations, so it should start to take measures to protect these constitutional rights.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
CHINA ASKS THE CHURCH FOR HELP WITH CARING FOR THE NEEDY
The Chinese government has welcomed the role of the Church in providing social care in the country. China’s leaders have met in Beijing to discuss the economic and political agenda for the next decade, in which it seems the Church will play a vital role. “The government welcomes the support of the Church,” said government official Wang Xinhua at a recent Shanghai conference on the role of Christianity in China, sponsored by the Bible Society. “We lack the resources to meet all the needs that we face, so we need religious organizations in order to do so.” Mr.Wang said that the “beliefs” and “love” of the Church were an “advantage” to society.
He added that China’s charitable sector was facing “a crisis of confidence” due to corruption scandals, saying that the Church was a less corrupt partner to the government. Leading academic Prof Choong Chee Pang told the conference: “Many social problems have their root causes in social injustice, the abuse of power, inequality, the widening gap between the rich and the poor due to mismanagement of the resources, corruption and bribery.” In an outspoken move, the Professor said that, as the Church took up the challenge of providing social care across China, particularly among the elderly and poor, it must not lose its prophetic role.
“The Church needs to be a prophet and a servant,” he said. “This is not a problem in a free or democratic society, but in other societies it can be a sensitive issue. It is hard for the Chinese Church to play the role of a prophet especially with a critical voice.” Though it is the world’s second biggest economy, China is facing a social care crisis, particularly in caring for an increasingly elderly population. By 2040 nearly 20 per cent of China’s rural population will be aged over 65. At the conference, the government called on the Church to provide care for the elderly, as well as offering drug prevention and rehabilitation, and work with those living with HIV.
Pu Ti Hua has already benefited from the social care provided by China’s churches. During the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, she and her husband were made homeless. They joined around 200 people who sought sanctuary in the local church in their town. For the first time I felt the warmth of these people and their love. I had been totally shaken, but I found peace there. I lost everything: my home and all my belongings. It was very difficult. I felt terrible. I had nothing but the church helped me get over it.” Today Ti Hua and her husband live in two rooms above the church. Here they return the kindness done to them by cooking food for church members three days a week.
Source: Assist News
ANTI-CHRISTIAN SENTIMENT IN AMERICA GROWING A BREAKNECK SPEED
Hostility against Christian in America is growing at an alarming rate, according to a new survey from the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute. The Liberty Institute’s Jeff Mateer noted that while last year’s survey was based on 600 cases, “the survey we are releasing right now is almost 1,200. So we’ve almost doubled in just one year.” One such case involved college student named Audrey Jarvis, who was asked twice to remove her cross, or at least hide it, at a student orientation. “My supervisor came up to me out of nowhere and asked me to remove my cross necklace because he thought it would be offensive to incoming freshmen,” she recalled.
Jarvis received an apology from her college, but couldn’t forget how hurtful the man was to her. “I think he was just kind of ignorant to the fact that his words could offend me in attempting to not offend somebody else,” she said. In another case, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk got in trouble with his lesbian commanding officer when she ordered him to answer how he felt about gay marriage. “This is about religious freedom because I expressly stated that I had a religious conviction that wouldn’t allow me to answer the question the way it was posed to me,” Monk said.
Former NFL running back Craig James became a victim of growing anti-faith sentiment when just one hour into a new job as a FOX Sports analyst, he was booted off the air. James and the Liberty Institute who is fighting the case insist it was because a top network manager disapproved of a statement James made about gay marriage 15 months before in a political debate. James said “And I’m being punished for my religious beliefs. This is not about me,” James said. “This is about an American who was sacked by his employer on the basis that ‘We can’t allow you on our network because of your belief and definition of what marriage is.'”
With some 1,200 such cases now documented Mateer says he’s frightened for his country. “What we’re seeing is instead of religious liberty being protected as affirmed by the First Amendment, people of faith, particularly Christians, are the targets of discrimination,” Monk says that Christians facing hostility must hold steady, mostly for other believers. “They need to see us stand firm in our faith,” he told CBN News. “And when they see that, I think we’ll see a turn of events.” Mateer noted that when believers fight back, they almost always win. So only by meekly accepting defeat will the enemies of religion triumph.
Source: CBN News
FRANKLIN GRAHAM SAYS GREED, LUST AND ABANDONING GOD IS AT HEART OF AMERICA’S CRISIS
Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, cites what he feels are at the heart of a crisis in America; greed, lust and wickedness—and the fact that the government has removed God from its consideration. “Our government is in trouble; our country is in trouble,” said Franklin. “We are in moral decay; we are in economic decay.” Graham noted that the greed and lust in their hearts cause them to fight amongst each other, and “don’t know right from wrong.” Franklin added that “Nobody—the president, the Senate, the Congress—nobody is saying, ‘Let’s call on the name of Almighty God.’ Why? Because we’ve taken God out of our government. We don’t want Him.”
Source: CBN News
U.S.A. SURPASSES SAUDI ARABIA AS WORLD’S LARGEST SUPPLIER OF OIL
The United States oil output has climbed by 3.2 million barrels per day to 7.5 million barrels per day. The huge increase has put the U.S.A. at the top as the world’s number one supplier of oil—surpassing Saudi Arabia as the leader. The expansion of supplies has reportedly come from the “shale revolution,” using the somewhat controversial method of fracking to tap into rich deposits in North Dakota and Texas, as well as bountiful shale beds in the northeast. Energy analysts claim that the U.S. growth rate is greater than the total growth of the next nine fastest growing countries combined. The U.S. position as the largest oil supplier in the world looks to be secure for many years.”