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CSW: Burma and India

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Prayer needs for this week - Saturday 25 May

Dear Peter,

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. Psalm 20:1-2

This ancient blessing from Psalm 20 provides the perfect words for us to pray over those we work with this week. ‘Distress’ may be a rather mild word for imprisonment, torture or rampant injustice, but the invocation of protection from a powerful God is a resonant one, and still appropriate thousands of years after it was first written.

When we pray this blessing, we can also remember how God has answered similar prayers: for example, the release earlier this month of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The two men, who were sentenced to seven years in prison in Burma in 2018 after reporting on a 2017 massacre by the Burma Army and Rakhine Buddhist villagers, were among 6,520 prisoners who were released in a mass amnesty on 7 May.

This is wonderful news; however, the human rights violations that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo went to prison for reporting are still ongoing. According to our East Asia Team Leader, the state of human rights in Burma is among the worst it’s been in a decade, with ongoing atrocities being carried out against the Kachin, Shan, Ta’ang and Rohingya among others. Meanwhile, there are still political prisoners in jail, and those awaiting trial; only when they have been released and their charges dropped will Burma be making progress.

Our new report, Burma’s Identity Crisis, which we launched on Tuesday in parliament in an event for MPs and their staffers, shows how the Burmese government needs to act urgently to curb this rising violence. Vitally, it also makes specific policy recommendations to the UK government and the international community.

In summary, please pray:
  • Thanking God for the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
  • For grace and provision for the journalists and their families as they return to their lives.
  • For better protections of the rights of journalists and freedom of the press.
  • For an end to the atrocities currently being committed against the Kachin, Shan, Ta’ang and Rohingya.

This week’s Prayer Diary: India

Though India’s constitution includes protections for human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, the reality is that many religious minorities in India are subject to daily harassment and violence, against a backdrop of rising Hindu nationalism. The Christian minority in particular is experiencing an uncertain and frightening future in which their fundamental rights to worship, observe, practise and teach their religion or belief are under threat.

Sunday 26 May
Seven Christians from Kanyakumari District were verbally abused and physically attacked while distributing gospel tracts to local people. They were reportedly approached by a group of young Hindu men who told them that if they returned to the area they would be killed. They then had sacred ash and saffron powder (two ritual substances important for blessings in the Hindu religion) forcibly applied to their foreheads. Pray that God would protect them from any further attacks.

Monday 27 May
Today, please ask God to bless the work of human rights activist Tejaswi Ravinder, who told us that India needs leaders who will understand and protect religious rights.

Tuesday 28 May
Churches in the state of Uttar Pradesh are beginning to see law enforcement interrupt Sunday services on a regular basis. Over the last 24 months, this has escalated to a larger number of churches and is occurring more frequently. Pray for the protection of these churches, and that these interruptions would cease.

Wednesday 29 May
Pray for India after election results indicate that the BJP will retain power for another five years. The BJP is the political arm of the Hindu nationalist movement RSS, and rising Hindu nationalism has resulted in harassment, discrimination and violence for religious minorities across the country.

Thursday 30 May
On 13 January, the police blockaded Parisutham Zion Deva Shaba church in Tamil Nadu in order to prevent the Sunday service from happening. When the church’s leader, Pastor Jenson, attempted to file a complaint, he was verbally abused by the Superintendent Inspector. Thankfully, local groups intervened and the police did allow Pastor Jenson to file his case, which is currently being heard at the local High Court. Pray that the prayer meetings and Sunday services can continue, and that justice will be done.

Friday 31 May
At times, the authorities will side with the perpetrators of religious freedom violations, making it difficult for the survivors to receive help quickly or even at all. Survivors of communal violence in Gujarat in 2001 and Kandhamal in 2008 have yet to receive any kind of justice. Civil rights activist and writer John Dayal told us, ‘The state has seen one hundred or more cases of violence against Christians at prayer meetings or in churches and institutions. Police are either complicit or unconcerned.’ Today, pray that the police and other authorities would act with justice and mercy.

Saturday 1 June
Loving Heavenly Father, we lift each person named on this page to you, along with those we haven’t named, and ask that you would protect them from further attacks. Give them the courage to stand strong against violence and harassment, and help them to lay their fears at your feet.

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CSW is a human rights organisation specialising in freedom of religion or belief, and as Christians we stand with everyone facing injustice because of their religion or belief. CSW, PO BOX 99, New Malden, Surrey KT3 3YF. Registered Charity No. 281836


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Posted on 25 May 2019

Information on these pages does not necessarily reflect the views of St Andrew's URC Cheam

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