Christians in Asia continue to fight abuse of power


Human rights activists in Pakistan have strongly rejected a bill that seeks to define religious minorities as non-Muslims. The new definition of the Minority Bill stems from a request by a Hindu parliamentarian last month.

National Assembly member Keeso Mal Kheeal Das urged the state to refrain from using the word “minority” when referring to non-Muslims. The bill recommends a constitutional amendment, declaring that labeling a large part of the population as minorities is unconstitutional, discriminatory and undoes the sacrifices of communities, which risk being treated as second-class citizens.

Peter Jacob, director of the Center for Social Justice, speaks at a conference on minorities in Lahore on June 25. (Photo: Center for Social Justice)

At a conference on June 25, Christian and Muslim leaders expressed their frustrations as “imposing a negative or collective identity” instead of a preferred religious identity. Some have argued that this decision reflects a dangerous trend towards self-exclusion and reverse discrimination. In Islamic Pakistan, religious minorities, including Islamic sects like the Ahmadis, have fought for religious freedom amid extremist threats and political powerlessness.

In 1974 Pakistan declared Ahmadis non-Muslim, triggering relentless episodes of oppression and violence against the community. National census data shows that the minority population has shrunk while abuse and persecution by radicals remains high.

In Bangladesh, an explosion in the capital Dhaka left seven dead and some 50 injured, highlighting the failures of regulatory bodies to curb recurring accidents and loss of life in the country. The explosion destroyed a building and damaged seven neighboring buildings in the Moghbazar district of central Dhaka last Sunday.

The strong impact triggered an electrical transformer and set three public buses full of passengers on fire. A gruesome scene befell Dhaka Community Hospital as dozens of people rushed for treatment with bloody bodies amid a frantic search for beds, blood and medical supplies.

Investigators inspect a building in the Moghbazar area of ​​Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, after it was badly damaged in a massive explosion on June 27 that left seven people dead and some 50 injured. (Photo: Piyas Biswas)

The cause of the explosion is still unknown. Police investigators and firefighters are trying to find the cause, with the main suspicion of a gas leak. Deadly explosions are nothing new in Bangladesh. Last September, some 26 Muslims died in a gas explosion at a mosque in Narayanganj district, near Dhaka.

In 2016 and 2017, boiler explosions at two factories near Dhaka left some 44 dead and many injured.

In Thailand, the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a massive increase in child pornography. Police have carried out a series of raids and racketeering which produce and distribute child pornography.

In the latest case, police arrested a 28-year-old man who admitted he ran a website on Russian social media and networking platform VK which had over 100,000 subscribers and had a secret group where users can view pornographic content featuring underage and vulnerable girls. young women for 300 baht, or about 10 US dollars.

Clothing and other evidence are on display at a police press conference in Bangkok on February 16 to announce the arrest of the owner of a modeling agency for child pornography and sexual abuse. (Photo: AFP)

In January, a 44-year-old Israeli was arrested in the capital Bangkok for illegal possession of child pornography. In February, a 28-year-old Thai man, who ran a children’s modeling agency in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok, was arrested for producing and distributing pornography involving underage boys.

Last year, Thai police received nearly 170,000 complaints from residents about online child pornography, a 40% increase from the previous year.

A prominent Catholic bishop in the Philippines has criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for a gradual loss of good governance and decency in the nation. Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Bishop Pablo Virgilio David celebrated a Requiem Mass for former President Benigno Aquino last Saturday with several Jesuits and clergymen in Quezon City in Manila.

Aquino died on June 24 from kidney failure and complications from diabetes and his body was quickly buried amid Covid-19 restrictions. Bishop Villegas delivered a homily in which he urged the nation to restore good and decent governance which has been dying since Duterte came to power.

Kris Aquino (center) places the urn of his brother, the late President Benigno Aquino, inside a grave during his funeral in Manila on June 26. (Photo: AFP)

He noted that leaders should be servants, not bosses. The prelate hailed the late Aquino as an icon who dreamed of making the Philippines a better society. Many Catholics saw it as a political declaration aimed at the country’s upcoming elections.

Duterte became the 16th President of the Philippines in 2016. His regime has been criticized for failing to reduce poverty, human rights violations, including thousands of extrajudicial killings during a drug war , controversial remarks and verbal attacks against the opposition, rights defenders and churches.

Christians in Indonesia’s troubled Papua Province have rejected the central government’s decision to oust the native Papuan governor as a ploy to perpetuate unrest and push through unpopular policies.

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