In South-East Asia progresses persecution of Christians

Association Open doors publishes a world index of persecution of Christians. Its Director Michel varton talks about the repression of the past that continue to grow worldwide particularly in the middle East, Black Africa and South-East Asia.

As every year, the international human rights organization “Open doors” standing on guard to protect the interests of the oppressed Christians publishes the index of the persecution of Christians. If 2015 was particularly difficult for Christians (7 per 100 thousand deaths in a year), 2016, was less bloody, even given the significant growth of persecution in South-East Asia. In an interview with Le Figaro, Director of the Association in France Michel varton (Michel Varton) talks about the main trends of the index.

Le Figaro: What is the main result of the new index of the persecution of Christians?

Michel varton: this year we observed a General increase of persecution worldwide. In 21 of the 50 countries punishable 100% of Christians. We conduct research in accordance with different criteria allowing to establish this figure. What struck us is the growing persecution in the South-East Asia. A lot of talk about the middle East and Black Africa, but from the point of view of intolerance the third focus is South-East Asia. We are seeing increasing violence in India (assaults, beatings, rape): we believe that 15 Christians are attacked every day. The cruelty and intolerance of the Church is growing in Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh and Bhutan. There is a resurgence of nationalism and feelings of national belonging in most of these countries, regardless of tradition — be it communism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

— And China?

— China remains at the same location in 2015. The rise of Christians in China is the largest in history: over 40 years the number of Christians increased from 600 000 to 100 million. The Chinese government is very concerned about this growth of the Church and trying to control it. Until 2008, the harassment was very serious, but since 2008, the rise of the rights of Christians.

— The number of killed Christians around the world has decreased by 80 %. How can you explain such a sharp decline?

— We are talking about the current situation. I must say that 2015 has been especially severe, when out of 7 thousand 4 100 killed, thousands were killed in Nigeria. In 2016, the Nigerian government assessed the situation and declared war on Boko Haram. But nomadic pastoralists Paul continue to persecute Christians and expel them from their villages.

Mostly Christians are persecuted in Muslim countries. This is a recent trend?

— Obviously, there is a return to the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries with sustainable growth of Islamic extremism since 1970. In some countries, individual groups mimic the “Islamic state” (organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.) as, for example, in Bangladesh or Africa. Islam is less tolerant and it is a global phenomenon. Today in some Muslim countries, Christian women are harassed if they go outside with their heads uncovered.

— It is better if the situation in Shiite countries like Iran?

— In terms of religious tolerance Shia better than Sunni. We welcome the return of Iran into the world economy and forget that the fundamental right to freedom and religion there is trampled. There tolerant of the ancient Armenian and Chaldean churches, but the Iranian government does not accept the existence of indigenous churches. 600 000 Muslims converted to Christianity are persecuted and are in prison.

— North Korea tops the list. Why? What forms accept prosecution in this country?

Sixteenth time in a row, North Korea tops the list. Mode uses a mixture of communism, a philosophy of independence and the cult of the dynasty. There just isn’t there freedom of religion. To believe is prohibited. If they know the person believes in God, he just disappears, falls into the camp with their children, parents, brothers — the whole family. Tens of thousands of Christians are in camps or internal exile. And let’s not forget that North Korea was a Christian country, Pyongyang was called “Jerusalem of the East”. There are even the remains of this Church that are deep underground. According to some estimates, the Korean Christian community counts 300 thousand people, who continue to secretly believe.

— C what are you appealing to the international community? What can be done to alleviate the plight of Christians?

It is important that the Western countries after centuries of wars and persecution, to win back the right to freedom of religion would have a clear picture on this issue, especially in relations with other countries. We cannot close our eyes to religious freedom for political or economic reasons.