PAKISTAN: Human traffickers prey on Christian girls drawn by false promises

by Sanawar Salam

In Pakistan, arranged marriage is a common practice. Human trafficking groups regularly take advantage of the custom to pose as "matchmakers" for Chinese men. They entrap Christian girls-and their often very poor families-with the promise of a secure future and a husband who supposedly will provide every luxury. But once the girls are married and moved to China, they face severe, repeated abuse and the loss of personal autonomy. For a time this is how Mehak Parvez lived, but she managed to escape. She agreed to tell her story to Aid to the Church in Need:

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Portrait of Mehak Pervaz who was trafficked to China.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Fresh conflict threatens new exodus of Christians from Syria• Bishop slams Western powers as violence spirals:  

 

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“The Kurds will lose because of the lack of support from the USA”
“I fear a new exodus of Christians”

WARNINGS that the fresh violence in north-east Syria could unleash a renewed – and potentially fatal – exodus of Christians from the region have come from a bishop who has accused the US and the international community of inflicting huge damage on the country.

Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo said he feared a massive exodus of Christians in Hassaké – where half of Catholics and Orthodox have left since 2010 – as well as Qamishli, in north-east Syria.

 

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Image: Father Francois Mourad and Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo celebrating Holy Mass in 2012.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

Speaking in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Emeritus Archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi highlighted his concerns for the region amid reports of thousands of Daesh (ISIS) fighters and their families on the run following a strike on Chirkin prison, Qamishli.

The Syriac Catholic archbishop warned that the Daesh fighters could infiltrate Europe via Turkey.

Turkey’s invasion of Syria strikes a blow against Christians

by Ed Clancy - Aid to the Chuch in Need USA

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S order to withdraw US troops from northeastern Syria effectively greenlit Turkey’s invasion of the region. With this shift in US policy, Turkey has been given an opening to reshape its borders and begin to carry out a multi-faceted strategy. As the crisis unfolds, one thing is clear: Christians and other minorities are again in the eye of the storm.

Northeastern Syria is home 30,000 to 40,000 Christians, Armenians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, as well as Syriac Catholics and Syriac Orthodox. Although suffering some restrictions, they have been living under the protection of the Kurds in an area that stretches 300 miles from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border. Kurds comprised the bulk of the Syrian Defense Forces that, alongside US troops, fought against ISIS.

In Pakistan, education holds the key for Christian advancement in society

Interview with Bishop Shukardin

by Joop Koopman

BISHOP SAMSON SHUKARDIN, OFM, heads the Diocese of Hyderabad, one of Pakistan’s seven dioceses. It is home to 60,000 Christians, half of whom are tribal people. The diocese operates 56 schools, accommodating more than 13,000 students. Christians and other minorities in Pakistan face a range of challenges from fundamentalist religious groups. Bishop Shukardin spoke with Aid to the Church in Need on a recent visit to the US.

 

 What has been the impact of the acquittal of Asia Bibi and her permission to subsequently leave the country?

The release of Asia Bibi is a big credit for the government. Pakistan’s Christians are very grateful to the present government. But there are a number of other cases like hers, but which do not draw the same publicity. This remains a big issue in the country. In the last 20-plus years, there have been more than 1500 cases of individuals charged under the blasphemy law, many of them from Muslim minority groups.

Bishop Shukardin, OFM Diocese of Hyderabad (Pakistan) and faithful. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

“We are not going to give up the fight for equality, justice and fraternity”

by Matthias Böhnke  

“The circumstances are difficult for the Christians in our diocese – we often come up against restrictions in the practice of our faith,” Dr Stephen Antony explained. The 67-year-old bishop of the diocese of Tuticorin in southern India and 53 other Indian bishops recently met with Pope Francis during an ad limina visit to Rome. He then went on to visit the international headquarters of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

According to the bishop, the government is working to transform the primarily Hindu country into a homogenous country with one language and one set of policies. A difficult to impossible undertaking in a heterogenous country with 29 federal states and the second most populous country in the world at 1.37 billion inhabitants. Some forecasts even predict that India may already overtake top-ranking China next year. The situation has worsened after this year’s parliamentary elections, which the nationalist governing party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi won with a surprising majority. “Our situation at the moment isn’t very encouraging. The government makes a lot of rash decisions, which makes things unpredictable. Politics only benefits the wealthy part of the population. The poor are left with nothing,” Bishop Antony deplored.

Bishop Stephen Antony Pillai

Bishop Stephen Antony Pillai Bishop of Tuticorin (India)
Photographer: Daniele Piccini Copyright Aid to the Church in Need

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