Campaign speaks up for Vietnam’s prisoners of conscience
THE charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has joined an international campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including those detained for their religion. The campaign, “Now!”, which was launched by 14 organisations on Saturday, estimates that there are at least 165 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including Christians from ethnic-minority and indigenous groups, who have been subject to violations of religious freedom, such as harassment, forced eviction, beating, and imprisonment. “In addition, a significant number of human rights defenders in Vietnam belong to religious communities,” CSW’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, said.
Kenyan Church launches peace-building project
THE Anglican Church of Kenya has launched a peace-building initiative to reconcile the Kipsigis and Maasai communities in the Trans Mara district after an escalation of violence in the region, the Anglican News Service reported last week. After the killing of a Maasai businessman, Ben Meronyi, and the subsequent murders of 11 Kipsigis people, in September, the Anglican Development Service (ADS) in Kenya and the Transmara archdeaconry in Kericho diocese organised meetings between the communities to seek to illuminate the root causes of the violence and how to achieve a sustainable peace. “The Church has sought to explore how trade and inter-marriages can be used as an avenue for inter-communal interaction and sharing of resources,” an ADS spokesman said. The initiative has been recognised by the government of Kenya.
Protect North Korean defectors, CSW says
THE Chinese government must prevent the deportation of ten North Korean defectors, including a three-year-old, who were arrested by police in Shenyang on 4 November, or their lives will be at risk, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said. The individuals, their families in South Korea, and the South Korean embassy have appealed for the government to consider their case on humanitarian grounds. China considers North Korean defectors illegal economic migrants and has a policy of forced deportation if discovered. But the chief executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, warned: “Even if [they are] not actually executed, the conditions of torture and abuse in North Korean detention centres and prison camps are so severe that imprisonment amounts to a death sentence.” This week, a North Korean soldier was shot five times by 40 of his comrades as he fled over the border to South Korea. He was in a stable condition on Tuesday after critical surgery, Associated Press reported.