RLPB 392. Uganda: More Terror in Eastern Region (plus Prisoner Update: Burma and Sudan)
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 392 | Wed 01 Feb 2017
UGANDA: MORE TERROR IN EASTERN REGION
plus Prisoner Update: Burma and Sudan
by Elizabeth Kendal
UGANDA: MORE TERROR IN EASTERN REGION
Located in Katira village in majority-Muslim Budaka District, Eastern Region, the 500-member Katira Church is no stranger to threats, intimidation and harassment. While Budaka District is becoming known for escalating violent persecution, attacks on the gathered church until now had been limited to cursing and stone throwing. On Sunday evening 15 January, about 80 believers — approximately 50 men and 30 women — were gathered for prayer when a mob of some 90 local Muslims attacked the church crying, ‘Away with the pastor’, angry with him because Muslims were converting to Christianity. Pastor Moses Mutasa was outside interviewing some visitors when the mob descended; he fled for his life and has not been seen or heard from since. Eight others are missing. Numerous believers were beaten and bound, and 15 of the women were raped. It took the police two hours to respond and only then did the attackers disperse.
The following morning, a large group of local Christians gathered, many deeply traumatised and all angry. Believing it necessary to demonstrate strength, they agreed they should retaliate by destroying a local mosque. Fortunately, the Reverend Musa Mukenye was able to defuse the tension and convince the local Christians to adopt an attitude of forgiveness while leaving matters of justice to the authorities. ‘This act is evil,’ Mukenya told Morning Star News, ‘and police should not relent until the attackers are arrested and charged in a court of law.’ Unfortunately, impunity has been a key factor in fuelling the escalating persecution of minority Christians, not only in Budaka District but throughout Eastern Region. [See MSN: ‘Uganda’]
Analysts have long argued that, whilst decentralisation has indeed led to a reduction in national-level conflict, this has been replaced with local-level conflict. For decades the government has been creating ever more and smaller administrative districts – their number rising from 34 in 1990 to 111 today – while concentrating power at the district level. This has inadvertently made life difficult for Christians living in majority-Muslim districts, where the rights enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution are increasingly being supplanted by fundamentalist Islam.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:
* God our heavenly Father will intervene in Katira; in mercy, may the missing be found, the wounded be healed, and the traumatised and grieving comforted.
* in grace, the guilty will repent and be redeemed; that Christ will continue to build his Church in Eastern Region.
* the God of justice (Isaiah 30:18) will move President Yoweri Museveni and Uganda’s central government to demand and ensure that the rights enshrined in Uganda’s Constitution apply in all of Uganda’s 111 districts.
‘For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him.’ (from Isaiah 30:18 ESV) and ‘Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’. (Amos 5:24 ESV)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
TERROR IN THE EASTERN REGION OF UGANDA
On Sunday 15 January some 80 believers were praying together in Katira Church in majority-Muslim Budaka District, Eastern Region, when a mob of some 90 local Muslims attacked, angry about Muslims converting to Christianity. Dozens of believers were beaten and bound and 15 women were raped. Police took two hours to respond — only then did the attackers disperse. The pastor, Moses Mutasa, and eight other church members are missing. The following day Reverend Musa Mukenye intervened to ease tensions and maintain peace. He has urged the police to arrest the attackers and bring them to justice. Unfortunately, impunity has long prevailed, which is precisely why persecution has been escalating. Please pray that God will bring healing and comfort to Katira, and justice to Eastern Region. (Isaiah 30:18b)
PRISONER UPDATE: Updates to RLPB 391 (25 Jan 2017).
REPORTING PERSECUTION IS A RISKY BUSINESS
BURMA: On 24 January the Burmese military handed over to police in Muse town the two Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) pastors they had abducted illegally and detained on 24 December. Police then charged pastors Dom Dawng Nawng (65) and La Jaw Gam Hseng (35) with ‘illegal association’, accusing them of spying for the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA). If found guilty, the pastors could face up to five years in prison. Zau Rau, an official from the KBC in Muse town, visited the pastors and confirms they are in good health. He also assured Morning Star News that the men are not spies and do not work for any armed group — they are simply pastors. ‘We will help them with legal issues,’ he said. The pastors had helped journalists document the bombing of Mong Ko township, Muse District. Please pray.
SUDAN: On 29 January a court in Khartoum handed down verdicts and sentences in the cases of Petr Jasek, Abdulmonem Abdumawla and the Reverend Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor. Jasek, a Czech aid worker, has been sentenced to life in prison for espionage. Abdumawla and Rev. Tawor have each been sentenced to 12 years in prison for abetting Jasek in the crime of espionage. The case relates to Jasek’s raising funds to assist in the medical treatment of burns victim, student Ali Omer. Abdumawla (a fellow student and Muslim convert from Darfur) had contacted Pastor Tawor (a Nuba pastor) who donated money for Omer’s treatment. When Sudanese authorities subsequently found a receipt for $5000 in Jasek’s luggage, they accused him of funding rebel groups in South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains. At the heart of the matter is the regime’s claim that the men were ‘spreading false rumours’ about persecution in Sudan. Their lawyers will appeal. Please pray.
Elizabeth Kendal is international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).