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“Reign of terror” against Christians in Central African Republic

Country/Region: Africa, Central African Republic

Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being targeted by Islamist militants who seized control of the country in March; they are being tied up, beaten and forced to hand over money to save their lives.

“Grave violations” are being committed against civilians in CAR
“Grave violations” are being committed against civilians in CAR
CC BY-SA 2.0 / hdptcar

A pastor in CAR said that “a reign of terror” is being conducted against Christians by the Seleka rebels who took over the country in a bloody coup on 24 March. A number of Christians have been killed or wounded.

The church leader said that the rebels have a hit list of pastors and other Christian workers, and that places of worship are being attacked. Christian property is being looted. In one incident towards the end of last month, Seleka troops seized all the collection money given at a gathering of church leaders.  

Many Christians have fled their homes to the countryside and are too fearful to return. More than 200,000 people are internally displaced, while 49,000 refugees have been registered in neighbouring countries.

On 10 May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report citing “grave violations” committed by the Seleka rebels against civilians, including pillage, summary executions, rape and torture.

Among the incidents described was a raid on a church in the capital Bangui. HRW said that this was one of Seleka’s first targets upon entering the city. The rebels fired into the air and robbed the worshippers.

HRW also recounted an attack on a funeral procession on the Ngaragba Bridge in Bangui on 13 April. As Seleka forces opened fire on the crowd, a church leader was killed as he appealed for calm. An eyewitness said:

[He] walked toward the Seleka elements on their pick-up raising a Bible in his hand and calling to stop shooting… [he] was shot dead by two Seleka fighters.

The crisis in CAR has largely slipped under the radar of the world’s media, and the predominantly Christian population feels abandoned by the international community.   

Last week, the United Nations envoy to CAR, Margaret Vogt, urged the Security Council to consider the deployment of a security force to “contain the current state of anarchy” and also the imposition of sanctions on rebels accused of severe rights violations.

She said that there was a “total disregard for international law, as elements of Seleka turn their vengeance against the population”.   

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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Daily prayer

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 16 hours ago

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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