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News Turkish Government

News Turkish Government Seizes Churches 1 | TURKEY Following months of conflict, the government of Turkey recently seized six churches in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, The churches were wide-ranging in denomination, representing both Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox faiths. They also ranged in historical significance, one dating back 1,700 years, while another was only built in 2003. However, all of these church buildings are now property of the predominantly Muslim nation of Turkey. Christian communities in the southwestern region of Turkey have suffered from regional conflict. Many Christians have been prevented from accessing their churches due to violence in the city center of Diyarbakir. According to Turkey’s Minister of Environment and Urban Planning, the churches were seized in order to protect the area due to the fighting. However, many local Christians have expressed concern, many believing that the decision was motivated by a desire to either acquire or destroy the buildings for ulterior motives. At present, there are no established plans to return the church buildings to their owners. 1 3 2 4 6 7 5 Chinese Law Restricts Non-Profits 2 | CHINA The government of China is considering a new law that would significantly restrict non-profit groups. The law would prohibit these groups from participating in any activities which the government considers a threat to national security. This would also require international non-profits to be sponsored by Chinese entities and allow the Chinese government the authority to control their funding and day-to-day operations. The danger in this new law is that it would give the government a very broad interpretation of what it means to threaten national security. This would then make it simple for them to revoke the operating status of religious and humanitarian organizations. It would also open up the opportunity to charge non-profit employees as threats to the state if their political or religious ideologies conflict with that of the Chinese government. Although China has been moving in the right direction toward ensuring basic human rights throughout recent decades, recent crackdowns led by President Xi Jinping are a serious setback. According to reports, since 2013, the communist government of China has been responsible for the forcible removal of 2,000 church crosses. We, as an international community, must raise our voices and demand that the Chinese government protect basic religious freedoms and human rights for the wellbeing of their citizens. Wycliffe Bible Translators Killed in Middle East 3 | MIDDLE EAST In mid-March, a group of militants murdered four Wycliffe Bible translators working in the Middle East. The attackers stormed the Wycliffe office, fatally shooting two translators and two others died as they protected the lead translator. The attackers also ransacked the office, destroying all visible office equipment and translation resources. This report corroborates many others which indicate that ISIS burns literature with any mention of Christianity. Thankfully, by the grace of God, the hard drives containing the current translation work on eight different projects remained intact and the ministry stated that they would increase their efforts to share the Gospel in this region. Wycliffe has called for prayer regarding this tragedy, for the victims and their loved ones, the ones who committed the heinous act, and the remaining team members as they move forward in their ministry. 6 PERSECU ION.org JUNE 2016 INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN

70 Killed in Pakistan on Easter Sunday 4 | PAKISTAN On March 27, Easter Sunday, suicide bombers from an offshoot group of the Pakistani Taliban attacked a park, killing at least 70 people and wounding more than 300 others in Lahore, Pakistan. This event signifies the second deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan’s history, only falling shy of the 2013 attack on All Saints Church. A spokesman from the group responsible for the attack publicly took credit for the bombing and threatened to carry out further attacks. Persecution Suspects Released in Kenya 5 | KENYA Christians in Kenya are demanding justice following the acquittal of two suspects who had been charged in the 2014 attack in Mpeketoni, which killed 60 people. The assaults took place on June 15 through 17 and targeted police stations, markets, churches and crowded villages. One of the suspects was accused of transporting the attackers while the other was accused of charges related to planning and carrying out the attack. Local Christians have reported to ICC that this court decision was shocking to the community and has left Christians in the area doubtful about whether the government is prepared and willing to protect them. PERSECU ION.org INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN Churches Burned in Ethiopia 6 | ETHIOPIA According to reports, more than 2,000 Christians in Ethiopia are without a place of worship, following local riots which led to the burning of several churches. The attackers were protesting government marginalization and that Christians were allegedly converting people away from Islam. One church leader noted that the churches were threatened anonymously to stop converting Muslims approximately a month before the arsons took place. Relief Groups Banned from Visiting 7 | THAILAND According to an investigative report conducted by the BBC, Thailand has denied humanitarian groups and family members access to the detention centers where many Pakistani Christians are being held. A significant portion of these refugees are asylum seekers who had to flee their homeland due to religious persecution. The report also revealed the horrible conditions of these detention centers, which include insufficient food supplies, poor sanitation, cramped quarters, and unclean water. Many families in these detention centers report that they have been waiting for years to be assessed for asylum by the U.N. In the meantime, they are unable to access proper education, work, or healthcare and cannot return to Pakistan due to safety concerns. 7

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