"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Voice of the Martyrs

BELARUS (Forum 18 News Service)
Two Baptists are set to have their personal property confiscated-in one case a car-while a third is having his pay docked after the three visited a hospital at Easter to sing hymns and hand out New Testaments. A local regional religious affairs official told Forum 18 that the Baptists had broken the law because-among other violations-they did not get the hospital authorities' permission to hold "a mass event with music and give out literature." Their other offenses included the fact that two of the Baptists are from Brest, which is outside the region where the hospital is located, and that they do not belong to a registered church. ( Click here )

Pray these believers will remain bold in their witness for Christ. Pray God will protect members of The International Union of Baptist Churches. Pray the Lord will have mercy on all in Belarus who call themselves Christians, drawing them into a deep and personal faith in their Savior.

JORDAN (Compass Direct)
The Supreme Islamic Court of Jordan has accepted Christian widow Siham Qandah's last possible appeal to disqualify the court-approved Muslim guardian fighting to take custody of her two minor children. Reportedly, the new Supreme Court has ordered the lower Islamic court handling the case to investigate the guardian's use of large sums of money ($17,650) from the children's UN-allocated trust funds. The children's Muslim uncle was given custody of the children in 1995, after an Islamic court produced a "conversion" certificate showing Qandah's husband had secretly converted to Islam three years before he died while serving in the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. Qandah first filed an appeal for custody of her children in 1998, when she discovered that large sums of money were being taken from the children's benefits.

Give thanks to God that He has given Siham Qandah one more chance to obtain legal custody of her children. Pray the lower court investigating the case will rule in her favor. Pray Christians worldwide will continue to intercede for Qandah until the issue is settled and her family can live without fear.

CHINA (Compass Direct)
There is now clear evidence of a crackdown on "illegal religious activities," especially unregistered Christian group activities, as well as a tightening of controls on academic and media activities related to religion. Even projects of the state-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) involving foreigners have been put on hold. Provincial governors have been ordered to report directly to Beijing on the state of religion in their provinces, a rare development showing the concern at the very highest levels that religion-and particularly Christianity-is perceived as a threat to political stability. ( Click here )

Pray people in China will continue to seek the Lord. Pray TSPM leaders will stand against government restrictions and boldly take a stand for Jesus. Pray government leaders, unwilling to give up their power, will surrender to the love of the All-Powerful One.

On Sunday, August 29th, Pastor Tran Mai was arrested at the Vietnam border. He was entering his country without a lot of people around to witness, and no one knows where he is now. Pastor Mai has been relatively safe in the past because of his "high profile" as a church leader. But considering the government's plans to crack down on house-church movements, there is a possibility they will not let anyone know his whereabouts for some time. Mrs. Mai is very sick and also in need of prayer.

Pray God will protect Pastor Mai, keep him safe, and bring him home quickly. Pray he will know the presence of Jesus with him under all circumstances. Pray God will heal Mrs. Mai and give His supernatural peace to all Pastor Mai's family. Pray the government leaders will come to know the joy of the Lord.

PAKISTAN (Christian Monitor/Pakistan Christian Post)
On August 14th, a day when Pakistan celebrates its independence from British rule, a Christian youth, Nasir Masih, was picked up by police on suspicion of theft charges. He was tortured for two days, denying the theft, which he never committed. His family members did not know his whereabouts until they were informed of his death on August 19th. ( Click here )

Pray God will comfort Nasir's family. Pray Jesus will give Nasir's family and friends the power to forgive those who tortured him. Pray the Holy Spirit will convict those who treated him so brutally and will lead them to Jesus' forgiveness and peace.


Can you put a price on the soul of a city?

Hell yes, barks Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the Big Apple itself! Sounding like a hustler hawking stolen goods on a streetcorner the mayor is telling any corporation that'll listen that he's willing –– even eager –– not only to sell the soul of New York City, but sell it on the cheap. His gambit is to peddle the naming rights of such city-owned landmarks as bridges, subway stations, tunnels, and parks, allowing the historic names of these public places to be plastered over with corporate monikers and logos.

How charming: Halliburton could take the Brooklyn Bridge, Viagra could put its stamp on Central Park, Wal-Mart could take the Grand out of Grand Central Station, Rupert Murdoch could rename the Times Square subway stop for his global empire, Donnie Trump could brand the Tri-borough bridge, and Nike could change Union Square to Global Sweatshop Square.

Bloomberg claims that his effort to corporatize the soul of the city is necessary because of severe budget constraints––yet, pathetically, his sell-off will raise only some $78 million...at best. That's an insignificant fraction of New York's $45 billion annual budget.

The saving grace here might be that Bloomberg's soul sale could fail for lack of buyers. Take the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. What corporate PR department wants to put the company name on a roadway that is constantly jammed to a standstill and cursed daily by thousands of commuters? Then again, maybe Rolaids would want it.

Bloomberg might know the price of the city's soul, but he knows nothing about its value. Our public resources ought to be named for the uniqueness of their place or for people we consider heroes or otherwise worthy of our public acclaim––not for faceless, faraway corporations interested only in another space to plaster with ads. To fight such corporate intrusion into our civic lives, go to www.commercialalert.org.

Jim Hightower

Our Dead and Injured Children

Beslan was barbaric - so has been Russia's reign of terror in Chechnya

The bloody denouement to the Beslan tragedy was barbaric: no other word will suffice. There could never be any justification for terrorists who we are told shot fleeing hostages in the back - nor for those who died at the hands of the ill-judged Spetsnaz operation. I have been asked many times about Chechen involvement in this appalling bloodbath. Of course there can be no denying the direct link between the Beslan tragedy and the war in Chechnya. The president of North Ossetia, Alexander Dzasokhov, made it clear that the terrorists' only demand was an end to the war in Chechnya and the withdrawal of all the Russian forces from our country.
For the past five years that has been the sole concern of the Chechen nation, led by its legitimate, elected president, Aslan Maskhadov: to end the fighting and force Russian troops to leave Chechnya.

Ten years ago Chechnya had a population of 2 million. Today it is 800,000, and Vladimir Putin has an army of what we estimate to be up to 300,000 Russian soldiers in Chechnya inflicting a regime of terror. Many Chechens are refugees and many others have simply disappeared, often in the night. At least 200,000 Chechen civilians have been killed by Russian soldiers, including 35,000 children. Another 40,000 children have been seriously injured, 32,000 have lost at least one parent and 6,500 have been orphaned. These are figures supported by reports of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, and we believe they are conservative. This is how Putin's soldiers treat Chechen civilians.

We feel trapped on a treadmill which is not of our own making. In 1990, at the height of Mikhail Gorbachov's perestroika, we were told that our republic would be put on an equal footing with others in a renewed Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union collapsed and in 1993 Russia decided that if it was to recreate its empire within the former frontiers, it could start with us. There was no justification for Russia invading Chechnya either in 1994 or in 1999.
In 1993, four years after our declaration of sovereignty, Russia arbitrarily included the Chechen Republic as part of its territory in the new constitution of the Russian federation. It did this in spite of the way things were, de facto and de jure, for Chechnya and its neighbours. Unlike other formerly autonomous Soviet republics, the Chechen republic did not give in to the many threats intended to force it to sign the federal treaty with Russia.

When Putin unleashed the dogs of war on Chechnya in order to occupy it for a second time, he christened his attack a "counter-terrorist operation in the northern Caucasus". Many of us did not realise the significance of that then. Now, with hindsight, we can see that the idea was to discredit the very notion of statehood for Chechnya. While a minority of Chechens regarded Putin's onslaught against us as justified, the majority of the nation has kept faith with its elected president, Maskhadov.

Five years have passed since then, and little has changed. Especially since September 11 2001, President Maskhadov's government has systematically disowned any links with international terrorism. Such assurances, however, have not been enough: the lack of any evidence of links between us and any international terrorist network has failed to dent the firmly held views of Putin and his friends.

Putin has been blaming every act of terrorism in Russia on the Chechens and by his linking our efforts to achieve freedom with monstrous acts of terrorism, each more terrible than the last, Putin and his government are trying to force us to renounce any claims to independence. The Kremlin will not, however, succeed. Freedom for Chechnya is in our blood and in the struggle that stretches back for centuries. President Maskhdov and his supporters, including myself, will never endorse or support terrorism to achieve this independence. Our aim is to strive for a peaceful resolution to an end to the barbaric injustice that is being dealt out to the Chechens by Russia's government.

Putin is keen to get the international community to see the situation in Chechnya as part of the war on international terror. He hopes the outside world will leave him alone to inflict his regime of terror on the Chechens. The international community knows that the situation in Chechnya is quite different, so why does no one intervene? We are keen to participate in mediation to bring an end to this dreadful situation for the Chechens. We call on the international community to step in and help bring peace to both Chechnya and to Russia.

· Ahmed Zakaev is Aslan Maskhadov's representative and was deputy prime minister in the Chechen government elected in 1997. He was granted asylum by the British government in 2003