Zprávy HCJB 15.6.2004

   Paul van Buitenen, evangelikální křesťan bojující proti korupci v Evropské unii (EU), získal křeslo v Evropském parlamentu ve volbách, které se konaly 10.-13. června v 25 členských státech EU. Van Buitenen, bývalý úředník finančního odboru EU,kandidoval za novou stranu Evropská transparentnost a dostal 7,3% hlasů. Tato strana vyšle dva z 27 holandských zástupců do evropského parlamentu ve Strasbourgu. Van Buitenen odhalil jeden z největších korupčních skandálů v historii EU. Po jeho odhalení museli v roce 1999 všichni členové komise EU rezignovat. Van Buitenen řekl, že jeho křesťanská víra mu dala odvahu zveřejnit všechna porušení zákona a ustát ten obrovský tlak od svých nadřízených. Doufá, že jako zástupce bude mít větší politický vliv než jako civilní zaměstnanec. Van Buitenen říká, že chce využít svůj mandát k efektivnějšímu boji proti korupci. Jedna myšlenka je zřízení úřadu, kde by občané mohli ohlásit špatné hospodaření a zneužití peněz z daní. Zároveň navrhuje jmenování zvláštního vyšetřovatele, který by se zabýval případy možné korupce a podvodu v rámci EU. (IDEA)
   100+ CHINESE HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS ARRESTED IN NEW CRACKDOWN The China Aid Association has learned that more than 100 leaders of the China Gospel Fellowship (CGF) were arrested Friday, June 11. The arrests took place at Wuhan City, Hubei province, in east-central China while the church leaders were meeting together. Eyewitness said about 50 police officers believed to be from the Public Security Bureau raided the meeting at about 2 p.m. and arrested all of the participants, including one of the senior CGF leaders, 39-year-old Xing Jinfu. He had been arrested at least three times previously for his church activities. In 1996 he was sentenced to three years of re-education through labor for his "illegal preaching." The location of those arrested is still unknown. On the same day, well-known CGF pastor Shen Xianfeng was also put under house arrest in a residential area of Wuhan City after police offices searched his house. The CGF, established in the mid-1980s, is one of the five major Chinese house church groups with an estimated membership of 5 million. (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) VIETNAMESE POLICE DETAIN OUTSPOKEN MENNONITE CHURCH LEADER Vietnamese police arrested Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, general secretary of the Vietnam Mennonite Church, after ransacking the building that houses his office, church and home on Tuesday, June 8. Police reportedly restrained Quang's wife and children while they ransacked the Mennonite offices in Ho Chi Minh City. The police seized personal papers, legal documents, money, computers and human rights files. A trained lawyer, Quang also heads the legal committee of the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship, a group of house churches. One Vietnamese observer said that Quang has been an uncompromising activist for religious freedom in Vietnam, opposing and exposing discrimination and persecution. "More than any other Protestant activist, he has documented harassment and persecution, not only against Mennonite house churches but against other groups who seek his assistance." He carefully documents violations of freedoms supposedly guaranteed Vietnamese citizens under its own laws and affirmed in international agreements that Vietnam has signed. Human Rights Watch has called for Quang's release, adding that his arrest "appears to be part of the Vietnamese government's mounting repression of activists who promote human rights or religious freedom." On May 21 leaders of the Vietnam Mennonite Church wrote a report on the increasing levels of harassment and persecution being experienced by the Mennonite congregation in Dong Nai province. (World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission/Compass) DUTCH EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN ELECTED TO EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Paul van Buitenen, an evangelical Christian fighting against corruption in the European Union (EU), has won a seat in the European parliament in elections held June 10-13 in the 25 EU member states. Van Buitenen, former financial officer in the EU bureaucracy, won 7.3 percent of the Dutch vote with his new party, European Transparency. The party will send two of the 27 Dutch deputies to the EU parliament in Strasbourg. Van Buitenen uncovered one of the biggest fraud and corruption scandals in EU history. Following his revelations, all members of the EU Commission were forced to resign in 1999. Van Buitenen said his Christian faith gave him the courage to uncover abuses and to withstand enormous pressure from his superiors. He hopes that as a deputy he will have more political influence than as a civil servant. Von Buitenen says he wants to use his mandate to promote more effective measures against corruption. One idea is to install an office where citizens can report mismanagement and misuse of taxpayers' money. He also proposes that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate cases of possible corruption and fraud within the EU. (IDEA) TURKISH AUTHORITIES REJECT LEGAL ZONING STATUS FOR LOCAL CHURCH A local committee of the Turkish Ministry of Culture has rejected zoning status recognizing the Diyarbakir Evangelical Church as an official place of worship. Pastor Ahmet Guvener was informed last month that Turkish law requires places of worship be situated on at least 2,500 square meters (0.6 acres) of property. The Protestant church property covers only 116 square meters (979 square feet). Ironically, word of the zoning rejection came just three days after the May 12 landmark decision in which Guvener was acquitted on criminal charges of trying to open an "illegal" church. The Turkish state prosecutor had called for Guvener's acquittal, stressing that Turkey's agreements with the European Union guaranteed all Turkish citizens the right to conduct public and private worship. In a June 11 appeal to the Ministry of Justice, Guvener wrote that "any obstacles to the free expression of a citizen's beliefs and the opening of places of worship for the exercise of their beliefs must be lifted." (Compass) STATES IN INDIA BEGIN DISMANTLING ANTI-CONVERSION LAWS Hindu lawyers are trying to convince the Tamil Nadu government not to repeal standing anti-conversion laws, says Mission India's John DeVries. Other Indian states began doing just that -- along with trashing a national version -- after elections led to the country's first non-Hindu government. "The minorities in India -- the Muslims, the Christians, the tribals, the Dalits -- are all very excited because it looks like the pressure is off," DeVries says. "So it's no shock to see believers already in place for outreach. I don't personally expect persecution to end overnight because India is composed of states that are somewhat autonomous, and the [Hindu nationalist] Bharatiya Janata Party is still in control in some of these states. However, there will now be recourse for those who are persecuted." (Mission Network News) * "The Voice of the Great Southland," the shortwave station operated by HCJB World Radio-Australia since January 2003, airs more than 59 hours of weekly Christian programming across South Asia. Programs go out in nine languages: English, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Nepali, Tamil, Chattisgarhi, Hmar and Meeitei. Most of the programming in the Indian languages is produced at HCJB World Radio's studio in New Delhi. Additional releases from Australia, primarily in English, reach the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and East Asia. NEED, OPPORTUNITY OPEN UP OUTREACH IN CENTRAL AMERICA, CARIBBEAN Worldwide Christian Schools' Steve Guerink says a combination of need and opportunity opens doors for outreach in Central America and the Caribbean. These are areas where families are looking for education to break out of generations of poverty. As a result, the ministry is looking for teams to help build schools in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. "The schools that we're working with are in poor, developing communities, and without our assistance and help, there's no real good way that they can receive the gospel of Christ through Christian education." While some teams have already left, spots are open for fall and winter mission trips. "The most important element is not whether you are skilled in a trade, such as construction. The most important part about going on a missions trip is, 'Do you have a servant's heart?' and 'Are you willing to go and be used of God?'" (Mission Network News)

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