Congolese bishops request UN action on Kabila
ROMAN CATHOLIC bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have urged the UN to press President Joseph Kabila to stand down, as agreed by the RC hierarchy and all parties when a presidential election, which has not taken place, was due at the end of December, the Crux news site reports. Several people have since been killed during protests against President Kabila’s remaining in power. The Secretary General of the Congo Bishops’ Conference, Fr Donatien Nsholo, told the UN Security Council last month: “To stem the worsening humanitarian situation, the United Nations needs to get more involved, and help in the organisation of credible elections. The Congo bishops are convinced that only credible, transparent, and peaceful elections can give the Congolese people a legitimate government that is capable of standing up to the multi-faceted crises rocking the country.”
Vietnamese rights activists to stand trial
A VIETNAMESE pastor, Nguyen Trung Ton, and Christian human-rights lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, were among six men who were due to stand trial yesterday, accused of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government” under Article 79 of the Vietnamese penal code, which carries a maximum penalty of capital punishment, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. Nguyen Van Dai, who has represented victims of human-rights abuses, including religious minorities, was arrested in December 2015. Pastor Ton was released after two years’ house arrest in 2013, but was rearrested last July after joining the Interfaith Council of Vietnam, which advocates religious freedom.
President of Egypt urged to uphold religious freedom
RELEASE INTERNATIONAL is calling on Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was re-elected as President of Egypt on Tuesday, to demonstrate a “clear commitment” to protecting Christian minorities and safeguarding freedom of religion. President Fattah al-Sisi began his second term after a low-turnout election in which his opponents, alleging intimidation, declined to stand. Egypt has the largest remaining Christian community in the Middle East, despite continuing persecution, Release International has said.
Punjabi court acquits 20 men of Christians’ murder
A COURT in Lahore, Pakistan, has acquitted 20 men of the murder of a Christian couple, Shama and Shahzad Masih, who were attacked by a mob of 1200 Muslims and burned to death in Punjab in November 2014 (News, 20 November 2015), Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. The couple were dragged from their home and beaten in front of their two children, before being thrown into a brick kiln and burned. Mrs Masih was falsely accused of having burned pages of the Qur’an. In May 2015, the anti-terrorism court charged 106 suspects for the murders, and, in November 2016, 13 men were sentenced for their involvement.