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Rwandan genocide victim learns to forgive, befriends man who cut off her hand

Alice Mukarurinda (R) shares her personal experiences as a Tutsi during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 with a group of reporters on Feb. 18, 2019, at her home in the village of Nyamata, Rwanda. To her left is World Vision staffer Goreth Mbabazi. To Mbabazi’s left is Emmanuel Ndayisaba, the man who cut off Mukarurinda’s hand. | WORLD VISION / BRIAN DUSS

NYAMATA, Rwanda — She had her hand chopped off, her head bludgeoned and saw her 9-month-old daughter split in two, but 25 years later, 48-year-old Alice Mukarurinda and the man responsible for cutting off her limb, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, are now good friends.

The two have preached the need for forgiveness and reconciliation that has encompassed the central African nation in the last quarter-century since one of the worst human rights atrocities in world history took place — the genocide against the Tutsi.

In April 1994, Alice and her husband were among the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis left to die after being beaten, hacked, speared, burned, smashed or shot to death by mobs of angry citizens and security forces driven by an extremist ideology pushed by officials in Rwanda’s Hutu-led government.

The goal was to “exterminate” their social class. Many were killed by their neighbors and friends they thought they could trust.

Although they were brothers and sisters in Christ, toxic propaganda incited the majority Hutus to try to completely drive the minority Tutsis (portrayed socially as tall, wealthy cattle herders favored by Belgian colonists) into extinction.

As the strong majority of the Rwandan population is uneducated, the ideology spread through propaganda radio broadcasts and newspapers. It corrupted the minds of many Hutus, including church leaders. Others were coerced into participating out of fear of their own lives.

In the span of three months beginning in April 1994, it is estimated that as many as 1 million were killed in the 90 percent Christian country with many of them massacred inside churches.

Most were Tutsis and others were moderate Hutus who refused to participate in the extermination of Tutsi “cockroaches” that the government at the time considered to be fake Rwandans.

Fortunately for Alice and her husband, they survived despite the physical harm they suffered. However, their baby daughter, her mother, her siblings and many of their neighbors were not as fortunate.

In April 1994, Hutus in the rural Eastern Province attacked Tutsis in Alice’s village. Married just over a year-and-a-half before that, Alice, her husband and her infant daughter sought to hide in a church in Nyamata, while her mother and siblings were hiding in another church that was ultimately burned down with them inside.

The church that Alice, her husband and daughter were hiding in was later torched to the ground but they were somehow able to escape to safety.

“Every day in that month, they were killing, killing, killing,” Alice said through a translator while speaking with reporters on a press trip to the country with the evangelical human rights NGO World Vision U.S., which has provided relief and development efforts throughout most of the country since 1994.

“[Many people] were coming with different weapons and they were just killing. By that time, there were many people who were involved in the killing — the soldiers and even the airplanes were around us checking where we are so that they could kill us all. We thought that is the end for us and that we would no longer survive.”

Alice tried to seek refuge and tried to hide in the water. At the time, Alice’s family and other local Tutsis couldn’t eat or sleep because they were constantly on the move trying to hide. Many died from hunger and horrible conditions.

On April 29 of that year, Alice’s family finally met their fate.

Alice Mukarurinda (R) shows the scar that remains from being speared in the shoulder by one of the colleagues of Emmanuel Ndayisaba (L). She also has scars remaining on her head in addition to the loss of her hand. The two are now are now good friends despite being victim and perpetrator during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. | WORLD VISION / BRIAN DUSS

“There were so many people that came with weapons given to them by the French government and they all came. There were machetes, there were axes, arrows … and bullets,” she said.

Alice was struck in the head with some kind of blunt force weapon that had a nail sticking out and she was speared in the shoulder. She also lost her hand in the process thanks to a chop from Emmanuel. Meanwhile, a group of men cut her child in two. Her husband was also attacked but he had less serious injuries.

“It has been much worse. It’s been a long time and that is why it doesn’t look as bad,” she explained as she showed the journalists her scars. “At that point [you are in another state of mind] so you don’t know who is doing what.”

The perpetrators believed that Alice was dead and dumped her unconscious body along with the mangled remains of deceased victims. Many of the bodies were ravaged by hungry dogs.

The few people that remained alive in the pile of death, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (the rebel group that ultimately took power and ended the genocide in July 4, 1994 when it overtook the capital of Kigali) rescued them and took them to receive medical help.

“They didn’t know some people were still alive, so [I] was taken sometime after others were taken,” Alice explained. “They couldn’t tell who was alive or dead. Their bodies were filled with [maggots].”

Although Alice was born into a family with 11 siblings, just her and another sibling survived but are left with disabilities from the genocide.

She said that all the doctors had been killed so it was hard to get treated but they did the best they could. Alice had no mobility or movement on half of her body because of the damage. It took her two months to learn how to move again and for her brain to function the way it used to.

She was taken to an IDP camp where she was reunited with her husband.

Source: The Christian Post



PASTOR IN MYANMAR ABDUCTED BY ARAKAN ARMY

Christians in Rakhine State Face Increasing Danger

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on February 13, Pastor U Thar Tun was taken from his home in Buthidaung township, Rakhine State, by members of the Arakan Army (AA), a Buddhist rebel group. According to his wife, Daw Hla Sein, the insurgent group initially demanded that they leave their home to talk, so the family complied with the orders. However, the insurgents then tied up the pastor and dragged him away. She soon informed the local authorities and the police are now investigating the abduction.

U Thar Tun, the 50-year-old pastor of Mara Evangelical Church, is from the Myo ethnic group, one of the most common minority groups from Rakhine State, Myanmar. The father of five received his theological education from Mizoram State in India.  He has been serving as a pastor in his church for many years and, although his church could not financially support him, he still takes a leadership role in church activities. He is also involved in local community development.

A colleague from the area told ICC, “He is innocent and actively involved in social and ethnic Myo people activities. He acts with truth and love for the oppressed people and he also protects them. Even though there is only [a] slim chance, I would like to request his immediate release from the people who had taken him. He is a valued member of our community.”

His congregation and fellow Myo people are very concerned about his disappearance. Some locals believe that he will not be coming back.

The fighting between the Burmese Army and the AA resumed last December. AA is a Buddhist rebel group known for its intolerance of other religious groups, particularly Muslims and Christians. A month ago, Pastor Tun Nu from Rakhine State’s Sittwe District was also abducted by the AA and his death was confirmed earlier this month.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While a lot of attention has been paid to the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State, it is alarming to see Christian persecution on the rise in the area. We urge the Burmese government to negotiate the release of Pastor U Thar Tun, given that his life is at risk in the hands of the Arakan Army. This evil act cannot be tolerated or ignored.”

Source: International Christian Concern (ICC) persecution.org



Uzbek woman killed by husband because of her Christian faith

An Uzbek mother was killed by her husband on 9 February because she had recently become a Christian.

“Umida”, a Muslim-background Christian, was attempting to flee the country to seek refuge in Istanbul with Christian friends, when her husband confronted her at Tashkent Airport and slit her throat.

Previously, the man had locked Umida in their home to prevent her from going to church and banned her from seeing their two-year-old son after discovering she had asked a friend to get her an Uzbek Bible.

Umida’s parents had taken their daughter to live at their home and allowed her to go to church but she continued to receive threats from her husband.

Friends of Umida have asked for prayers for her parents and her son.

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Union republic, is officially secular but more than 90% of the population is Muslim. Churches are required by law to register, but stringent requirements make it nearly impossible for most churches to do so. Uzbek Christians (who are converts from Islam and their children) face frequent persecution including violent raids on meetings and homes.

From Barnabas Fund contacts

Source: Barnabas Fund



Christian in Sri Lanka Arrested after Reporting Threat on His Life, Watchdog Group Reports

Nattandiya, Puttalam District, North Western Province, Sri Lanka. (Wikipedia)

False assault allegation filed against him, according to organization.

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Police in Sri Lanka arrested a Christian who reported a Buddhist mob’s threat on his life, according to an advocacy group in the island country.

In Nattandiya, in Sri Lanka’s North Western Province, six area Buddhists on Jan. 26 threatened to attack the Christian if he refused to stop inviting a pastor to lead Bible studies at his house, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) reported.

The next day (Jan. 27), the Christian (name withheld for security reasons) filed a complaint about the threat on his life at the Marawila police station, in Puttalam District. This upset the six Buddhists, and with others they formed a mob on Jan. 29 that headed toward his house with intent to assault him, the NCEASL reported.

Before they could get near his house, a friend notified the Christian of their approach and tried to stop them, resulting in a fight in which one of the Buddhists was injured and received hospital treatment, a source said.

“Exact details are not known, however, his injury was not very serious,” the source told Morning Star News.

The Christian was not present at the fight, but the injured Buddhist filed an assault complaint against him, the source said. Police arrested the Christian, who remained in custody at this writing.

Violence and Harassment

Violence and harassment against Christians have been persistent in Sri Lanka, where the population is about 70 percent Buddhist and 13 percent Hindu, with attacks by Hindus on the upswing.

In Western Province’s Kalutara District, officers last month summoned a pastor of the New Covenant Life Centre at Millaniya to the Millaniya police station after a temple monk and several villagers complained that he was leading worship without official permission, according to the NCEASL.

The station chief ordered the pastor to stop religious activities until he received approval from the local divisional secretary, even though such approval is not required, a source said.

In the country’s Eastern Province, unidentified motorcyclists on Jan. 12 disrupted the worship service of Gethsemane Gospel Church in Kurumanveli, Batticaloa District, NCEASL reported.

Shouting obscenities, the mob called for the pastor to come out of the church building. He refused and later filed a police complaint at the Kalawanchikudi police station. Police investigated but told the pastor to settle the matter, and he reached an undisclosed agreement with the instigators.

Cases of intimidation, discrimination, threats, violence, false allegations, legal challenges, demands for church closures, police inaction and demonstrations persist in Sri Lanka but are rarely reported in mainstream media. The NCEASL recorded six cases against Christians since the beginning of January – three threats, two cases of discrimination and one false allegation. In January 2018, the alliance recorded eight cases, and five cases in January 2017.

In 2018, NCEASL reported a total of 86 cases of violence against Christians in Sri Lanka, compared with 93 incidents in 2017, 80 incidents in 2016 and 90 in 2015. The highest number of incidents recorded in 2018 came under the category of threats against Christians, with 20 cases, according to NCEASL figures.

This was followed by 19 incidents of violence; 14 of intimidation; 12 each of discrimination and demands for closure of worship places; three of false allegations; two each of police inaction and registration of cases against Christians; and one each in the categories of legal challenges and demonstrations.

Sri Lanka ranked 46th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch Listing of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, from its previous rank of 44th.

Source: Morning Star News



Another Colombian pastor killed, leaving the church ‘terrified’

Churches like this one in Cordoba and in neighbouring Antioquia are a threat to armed groups because they discourage young people to get involved with criminal activities. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

A Colombian pastor was killed as he left his church last week in the northwest of the country, in a region that has been plagued by violence from armed groups, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

Pastor Leider Molina, 24, had just finished preaching in his church in Caucasia, Antioquia state in northwest Colombia, on Friday, 9 February. As he stepped outside he was hit by five bullets.

Molina was known as a passionate preacher and an active youth leader working for his church and city, 670km north of the capital Bogotá, the source said.

The Caucasia region has suffered an escalation in violence for the last 4 months, according to the source. Armed groups fight for control of drug trafficking routes and the ownership of illicit crops.

“Communist guerrillas, paramilitary groups, criminal gangs and drug cartels all see the Church as an enemy to be eradicated because, thanks to the preaching and courageous action of leaders and pastors, many young people have renounced armed conflict and illegal activities,” the source said.

Last September two other pastors in the region were killed. Pastor Galarza, a social and religious leader, was shot death in front of his family.

And, as World Watch Monitor reported, Pastor Elfren Martínez Pérez, 55, was murdered outside his home after he refused to help members of a neo-paramilitary group with transport.

The church in the area is terrified, according to the source. “Some Christians have fled with their families, while others have decided to stay awaiting the government intervention. Church leaders, however, continue their work despite the death threats,” said the source.

 

Despite the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the country’s largest armed group, the FARC, killings have not stopped.

“The peace process with FARC has stalled”, said Rossana Ramirez, an analyst with Open Doors International’s World Watch Research unit.

“In the coming months, it is likely that priests, pastors and church communities will continue to experience pressure and violence ‘as normal’”.

Colombia, although a majority-Christian country, is 47th on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Source: World Watch Monitor