Foreign briefs

02 November 2011

Christian pastor on death row given Islamic literature

CHRISTIAN Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said last week that the Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who faces the death penalty for refusing to recant his Christian faith, “was recently presented with Islamic literature, allegedly as part of an official campaign to convert Christian prisoners”. CSW said that he had been advised not to read the literature, “as he would later be asked questions” about it, and any criticism of the contents “would open the way to charges of blasphemy”. The lawyer acting for Mr Nadarkhani said last month that he was “optimistic” that the sentence would be revoked (News, 7 October).

Iraqi government ‘preparing massacre’ at Camp Ashraf

CAMPAIGNERS say that they have evidence of plans by the Iraqi gov­ern-ment to carry out a massacre at Camp Ashraf, the refugee camp in Iraq that houses 3400 Iranian exiles. The campaigners were scheduled to present their evidence at a meeting in Parliament yesterday, which, they say, shows “evidence . . . of new military-style measures being undertaken by Iraqi forces in preparation for a further assault against residents”. A cross-party group of MPs and peers last week called on the governments of the UK and the United States and the European Union to propose a draft text to the UN Security Council approving the stationing of UN security forces at Camp Ashraf. David Amess MP said that the camp had become a beacon of hope “for the millions who demand freedom . . . for Iran”.

Liberian churches mediate in election dispute

CHURCHES in Liberia are mediating between the ruling party and the main opposition group, who have reached an impasse after the opposition an­nounced a boycott of a presidential run-off election scheduled for Tues­day. The Revd Tolbert Jallah, a Lutheran minister who is General Secretary of the Fellowship of Churches and Councils in West Africa, told Ecumenical News International on Thursday of last week: “The churches are now moving between the parties to ensure that they go back to the process, so that the election process comes to an end with one person or one group emerging victorious.” A run-off was declared after a general election last month in which none of the 16 candidates won more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Tearfund: ‘confusing messages’ on global corruption

THE charity Tearfund said last week that civil-society organisations around the world were receiving “confusing messages” about their position in tackling corruption. Paul Cook, Tearfund’s advocacy director, said that some states were blocking the “active participation of civil-society organisations in some meetings that discuss the implementation of the [UN] Convention” [against Corruption]. The “unique perspective” of such groups needed “to be brought to every part of discussions”.

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