Lawyers in China are currently partaking in a hunger strike to protest being blocked by the government's Communist officials from visiting a Christian pastor who is currently being detained by authorities. The lawyers argue that the police are violating state law by preventing them from accessing their clients.
Fifteen lawyers started their hunger fast Thursday to protest the pastor's detainment and have said that they will not stop the strike until they are able to see their client. The lawyers traveled to Nanle county in Henan to visit detained pastor Zhang Shaojie, the leader of a government-approved Christian church who was recently detained along with other church leaders under vague charges of obstructing government business. Two of Zhang's lawyers, Xia Jun and Liu Weiguo, told the Associated Press that they believe their client was arrested for resisting the attempts of the state to seize his church property.
"We strongly believe that this is a clear case of persecution of a religious group," Liu said in a phone interview with AP. more >>
North Korean media reported Thursday that the "worse than a dog" uncle of Kim Jong Un has been executed, describing him as a traitor who tried to overthrow the oppressive government.
State media announced Thursday that the leader's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had previously been considered a very powerful figure in North Korean government, was executed after "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state." The report announcing Jang's death called him a "traitor to the nation," "worse than a dog" and "despicable human scum."
Earlier this week, state media had announced that Jang had been removed from his position as No. 2 in the country after he allegedly participated in criminal acts including corruption, gambling, womanizing, and drug use while visiting a foreign country. He was also accused of abusing his power. Jang was married to Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of previous leader Kim Jong Il. more >>
The Evangelical broadcasting Organization, a public broadcaster in The Netherlands with a mission to bring Jesus Christ to TV, radio, Internet and magazines, has produced a new music video called "Justice Song," recorded in a burned Coptic Church in Egypt.
"We heard about what happened in Egypt, last august, when over a hundred of Christian buildings (many churches amongst it) [were] destroyed by radical Muslims," Marco van der Straten, EO-spokesman and executive producer of "Justice Song," shared in an email with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
"As a part of our human rights project, we decided to make a music video in Egypt, with a Christian Dutch artist (William Wixley) and an Egyptian artist (Rando Harvey). It's a song that expresses our feelings, we want to stand side-by-side with the persecuted Christians around the world. And it's a song about hope." more >>
International human rights group Amnesty International has obtained satellite images of North Korea that expose some of its largest prison camps, where hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are believed to be kept "in horrific conditions."
"The gruesome reality of North Korea's continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed. We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those prisoners of conscience held in political prison camps and close the camps immediately," said Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International's East Asia researcher.
Amnesty's detailed report said that the new findings are of "grave concern," as it shows that North Korean authorities are investing in and maintaining political prison camps – described as places of "systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations, such as forced hard labor, denial of detainee's food quota as punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." more >>
U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini was robbed at knifepoint at Iran's Rajai Shahr prison, the American Center for Law and Justice confirmed, sparking further fears for his life.
"Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives. Pastor Saeed's 'cell' is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day," ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow shared in an update earlier this week.
"He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene." more >>
The U.S. government is being criticized by the American Center for Law and Justice for releasing an Iranian nuclear scientist as part of negotiation talks with the Islamic Republic, while failing to strike a deal for imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans held in Iran.
"This is betrayal," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, according to Fox News. "A betrayal because not only did they not get the release of the three Americans, but they said they are working on this 'on the margins.' Our citizens are on the margins and then we are releasing an Iranian convicted on working on the nuclear issue."
The ACLJ, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., has spoken at length about the U.S.-Iran negotiations, and asked why the Obama administration did not insist on the release of the pastor, who is serving eight years in prison because of his Christian faith. more >>