UK Politicians Highlight Nigeria’s ‘Unfolding Genocide’

UK Politicians Highlight Nigeria’s ‘Unfolding Genocide’

Orpington, England (ANS) – Christian charity Release International has welcomed a new report by UK parliamentarians highlighting the religious element behind much of the growing violence in Nigeria. The report warns of the risk of an unfolding genocide and calls for UK aid to be linked to efforts to protect Nigerian villagers from attacks by Islamist extremists.

Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria on Wednesday (Jan. 8, 2020) PHOTO: File

Release says the new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? is the result of an investigation by 100 UK parliamentarians from a wide range of political parties.

It describes attacks on churches and Christians which killed more than 1,000 in 2019. A partner of Release International, which supports victims of violence, estimates 30,000 have been killed since the conflict began in the 1980s. The United Nations put the death toll at 27,000.

In recent years, Fulani militants have taken over from Boko Haram terrorists as the number-one killers in the region. These herdsmen, searching for grazing lands reduced by global warming, have slaughtered farmers and driven them from their homes.

‘But this is not just about resources,’ says Paul Robinson, the Chief Executive of Release International.

‘This report acknowledges the religious dimension to much of the violence, which can no longer be ignored. This report shows these attacks can no longer be simplistically caricatured and written off as “herder-farmer violence”.’

According to the APPG report, many of those attacks have been carried out by militants shouting ‘Allah u Akhbar’ [Allah is greater] and ‘Destroy the infidels.’ The heavily armed extremists have destroyed more than 500 churches in Benue State alone.

The APPG report urges the world to face up to this religious dimension, however uncomfortable: ‘Commentators must not shy away from describing conflicts as motivated by religion or ideology when that is the case.’

Adds Paul Robinson: ‘Release joins with British parliamentarians in urging the world to wake up to the unrelenting Islamist violence in Nigeria.’

The report argues that in killing and driving out Christian villagers, the Fulani militants, wittingly or unwittingly, are serving the same agenda as Boko Haram. The stated aim of the terrorist group Boko Haram is to turn Nigeria into an Islamist state. Its spokesman has declared: ‘This war is against Christians.’

The APPG report stated: ‘While not necessarily sharing an identical vision, some Fulani herders have adopted a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and demonstrated a clear intent to target Christians and symbols of Christian identity such as churches.’

In the APPG report, Co-Chair Baroness Caroline Cox said: ‘While the underlying causes of violence are complex, the asymmetry and escalation of attacks by well-armed Fulani militia upon these predominately Christian communities are stark and must be acknowledged.

‘Such atrocities cannot be attributed just to desertification, climate change or competition for resources, as [the UK] Government have claimed.’

And Vice Chair of the APPG, Fiona Bruce MP, added: ‘Targeted attacks against churches and heightening religious tensions indicate that religious identity plays a role in the farmer-herder conflict.’

‘These attacks are taking place with impunity,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘And there is a growing religious dimension to these attacks. Nigeria must act to stop the violence.’

Release has been providing support, including trauma counselling, to victims of violence in Nigeria. Through its international network of missions, Release International is active in some 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.

Source: ASSIST News



Militant extremists kill 57 villagers in attacks on mainly-Christian north-east Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 57 people were killed in renewed attacks by jihadists on villages in the mainly-Christian north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the end of May.

Members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist militant group active in the region for more than two decades, attacked Samboko village on 26 May, murdering with machetes more than 40 villagers and looting food and other valuables.

A day earlier, on 25 May, the extremists attacked the nearby village of Makutano, killing at least 17 people.

More than 700 people have been killed in Ituri province, where the two villages are located, since 2017, according to the UN. The north-east region has seen a surge of violence since October 2019, when the army launched a large-scale offensive against the ADF.

In January, the ADF murdered Pastor Ngulongo Year Batsemire, 60, after he refused their demands to convert to Islam. On the same day, militants murdered at least 30 people in a raids on four villages in the Beni region. Barnabas contacts reported that rise in the violence caused many Christians to flee.

Source: Barnabas Fund




The world’s first trial of Syrian state torture.

We are asking for prayer for Wafa Mustafa (pictured below) and friends of hers from Syria, whose family members and loved ones are among the 130,000 people who have disappeared, believed to have been detained and tortured by the Syrian regime, ISIS, and other armed groups.

Syrian campaigner Wafa Mustafa sits between pictures of victims of the Syrian regime as she holds a picture of her father, during a protest outside the trial against two Syrian alleged former intelligence officers accused for crimes against humanity, in the first trial of its kind to emerge from the Syrian conflict, on June 4, 2020 in Koblenz, western Germany. – Wafa was part of the resistance against the Syrian government and had to flee Syria once her dad was arrested. She came to Germany in 2016. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty Images)

Wafa herself picks up the story:

Today is a big day as I am once again outside the courthouse in the German town of Koblenz to witness the world’s first trial of Syrian state torture. Two members of Assad’s regime are on trial for murdering and torturing thousands of detainees and it’s the first week that survivors are finally speaking out against their oppressors in court.

It’s a crucial first step towards accountability in Syria, that might eventually expose a chain of command that goes all the way up to Assad. But at the same time, people are still suffering in inhumane cells to this day. We must not wait until they are killed by COVID or tortured to death to start seeking justice.

I am a member of Families for Freedom, a women-led movement of Syrians like me searching for our family members amongst the 130,000 people who have been detained and tortured by the Syrian regime, ISIS, and other armed groups.

Together we are pushing the international community to do more to free all detainees and missing persons and to hold those responsible to account.

So many families wanted to be here with me today but couldn’t travel due to coronavirus restrictions. Instead, I’ve come alone with photos of their fathers, sisters, brothers and daughters in the hope that our calls for freedom will be heard. 

These photos of our loved ones, snatched from us and missing from every birthday meal and family moment, are the closest we can get to representing them here at the trial.

My father is a human rights defender and I have learnt from him and I will never stop demanding freedom for those detained. I will continue to campaign until my dad is standing by my side and able to speak up for justice using his own voice. 

Could you sign Families for Freedom’s petition demanding the release of Syria’s detainees?


In hope and solidarity,

Wafa



Jihadists kill 58 people within 24 hours in attacks targeting Christians in Burkina Faso

Christians were among those targeted and killed when armed jihadists launched three separate attacks within 24 hours in Burkina Faso that left at least 58 dead.

Fifteen were killed when a convoy of traders, including children, was attacked while travelling from Titao to Sollé, in Loroum province, on 29 May.

On 30 May, armed Islamist militants opened fire at random in a cattle market in Kompienga province, killing at least 30 people and injuring many others.

On the same day, a humanitarian convoy was attacked by extremists in Barsalogho, Sanmatenga province, claiming the lives of six civilians and seven soldiers. Another 20 people were injured and a number were reported missing.

A Barnabas contact reported that it was clear from the testimony of a survivor that the militants were targeting Christians and humanitarians taking food to an internally displaced people (IDP) camp, where many mainly-Christian villagers had taken refuge after fleeing prior jihadi violence.

A survivor described how he was travelling in an ambulance in the convoy when it was attacked. The survivor said, “The driver shouted ‘forgive, forgive, we are also followers of the prophet Muhammad’. One of them [the gunmen] turned to his fellows saying ‘they have the same religion with us’.” The attack on the vehicle was apparently then halted. 

Violence by Islamist extremists has surged in Burkina Faso in the last year, causing thousands to leave their homes. The increase in vicious attacks targeting Christians began in April 2019 in the northern town of Silgadji when a pastor, his son and four members of his congregation were shot in cold blood for refusing to convert to Islam.

From Barnabas Fund contacts

Source: Barnabas Fund



Nigerian pastor and Calvin Seminary grad gunned down with his wife on their farm

Emmanuel and Juliana Bileya | Facebook/Hausa Christians Foundation

A Nigerian Christian pastor who graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in Michigan was gunned down along with his wife Monday while working on their farm in the Taraba State of Nigeria. The couple leaves behind eight children ages 1 to 19. 

The Rev. Emmanuel Saba Bileya and his wife, Juliana, who is said to be pregnant, were killed by gunmen who have yet to be identified, according to a statement released by the Hausa Christians Foundation.

“It was an attack on the pastor and his wife on their farm. While they were working on the farm, suddenly armed men came and opened fire on them, leading to the death of the pastor and his wife,” a spokesperson for the state police said in a statement shared by the foundation. 

Bileya served as a pastor at a Christian Reformed Church in the Donga local government area. Bileya received a Master of Theology from Calvin in 2014 and served for the last five years at Veenstra Theological Seminary in Donga, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

“In what is being noted as systematic direct war against Christianity in Nigeria, pastors, Christian leaders and seminarians are either being kidnapped or killed every week,” the Hausa Christians Foundation statement reads. “Christians in Nigeria have been the target of many attacks by the vicious Boko Haram jihadist Islamist terrorists, herdsmen attacks and many other kidnappings in recent times.”

In a statement released through a spokesperson, Taraba Gov. Darius Ishaku condemned the murder of the pastor and his wife. Ishaku said he sympathizes with the surviving members of Bileya’s family and members of the Christian Reformed Church in Nigeria. 

“The killing of the pastor and his wife is wicked and inhuman,” the governor’s statement reads, according to Nigeria’s This Day newspaper. “Killings of this nature have happened too often recently in Southern Taraba communities and this is unhelpful to the ongoing efforts of the government to achieve lasting peace among communities in the area.”

Biyela was a doctoral student at the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies, a nondenominational graduate school in Jacksonville, Florida.

He enrolled at IWS in 2014 and was in the final stage of his doctoral program. He took a thesis course in 2019. 

“It is with a broken heart that IWS announces the deaths of D.W.S. student Emmanuel Bileya, his wife Juliana, and their child in utero, whose name is known only to God,” an IWS statement reads. “Their martyrdom was the result of an ongoing ethnic war in their home country of Nigeria.”

According to IWS, Emmanuel and Juliana will receive Christian burials on Friday. 

According to IWS, Biyela wrote an explanation of the escalating tribal conflicts ongoing in his local area as recently as two weeks ago. 

According to IWS, Biyela wrote: 

“This war has been going on for about a month now in my area, since April 2020. Another tribe has destroyed our churches and rumoured that they plan to come to destroy the church where I am working at, which is in a town called Mararraba located in Donga LGA of Taraba State in Nigeria. For some time now, many people have fled the town for safety including my family but I have remained in Mararraba praying and hoping for God’s restoration of peace and protection of the town and church….

The truth is that the war started from a farm dispute. One man, a member of my branch church kindly gave part of his farmland to a man from another tribe to farm. But this year, 2020, the man encroached more into the farmland, of which the owner disagreed. A farm dispute resolution committee with a membership of both tribes was set up to resolve the issue. Although yet to be resolved, the man from the other tribe invited 200 other people who came with guns and forcefully went ahead to farm on the land. When the owner saw them and tried to stop them, they beat the life out of him to the point of death….

While we were trying to calm the situation in town, youths retaliated by beating a man on his farm. After this, 4 of my church members who decided to leave the village and go to different peaceful village to look for a job were shot: 2 were killed, 2 survived. I buried the 2 boys. In summary, the people from one tribe attacked my village 2 times without success but succeeded on the 3rd attempt, they killed some of the villagers and burnt down the whole village with our branch church and the pastorium.”

A fellow Nigerian IWS student who spoke with Biyela five days before his death told IWS that Biyela “mentioned that he sent his children to the headquarters town of his church, but that he and his wife had stayed back.” 

According to IWS, that decision saved the children’s lives. 

“Born on Christmas Day of 1968, his family gave him the name Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’” the IWS statement continues. “For all in the IWS community who were blessed to meet Emmanuel, share a class with him, or enjoy a meal alongside him, it can truthfully be said that ‘God with us’ was an apt name for him.”

The institution states that the deceased student’s humility and gentleness “spoke to all of the voluminous love of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.”

“Without fail, any email or letter from Emmanuel would begin the same way: ‘Calvary greetings,’ IWS noted. “This constant reminder of Christ’s death was, as Emmanuel well knew, also a reminder of Christ’s victory over the grave.”

“We know that at this time, Emmanuel would want those of us who grieve to place our focus not solely on these tragic deaths, but ultimately on the victory over death that Christ has secured for all who place their faith in Him.”

IWS will release more details on how people can help support Biyela’s children. 

Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. 

Estimates suggest that over 620 Christians have been killed in Nigeria by radical herdsmen and Islamic extremists so far in 2020 as thousands have been killed in recent years. 

While the government has maintained that the escalation of violence is a result of ethnic conflicts between predominantly Christian farming and predominantly Muslim herding communities, advocates for Christians contend that religious elements are a factor. 

Source: The Christian Post