Thursday, June 19, 2003

Northern Uganda: Kony orders the LRA to target the Church.

Date: Thursday 19 June 2003
Subj: Northern Uganda: Kony orders the LRA to target the Church.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous, cult-militia that has been terrorising the predominantly Christian population of northern Uganda for the past seventeen years, in order to try and force concessions from the Ugandan government.

The LRA have claimed to want to establish a theocratic government based on the Biblical Ten Commandments. As such it is not uncommon to hear the secular media referring to the LRA as a "fundamentalist Christian group". Yet the signature trademarks of the LRA are torture and maiming - such as the chopping off of hands, lips, noses and ears, as well as rape, kidnap, murder and the cruellest, most degrading torments - horrors so shocking they are unspeakable.

ESCALATION OF TERROR

An escalation of LRA hostility led the Ugandan government to launch a military offensive in March 2002. In spite of the fact that the LRA presently consists of only around 300 soldiers and 400 abducted child soldiers, the Ugandan military's "Operation Iron Fist" has failed to curb LRA terror - rather, the terror has escalated. In fact Father Joseph Gerner of Saint Joseph's Mission in Kitgum says, "The rebels are all over. I would say practically the whole countryside is in their hands".

While more than 20,000 children have been abducted by the LRA for use as child soldiers and sex-slaves in the past 17 years - more than 5,000 of those have been taken since June 2002.

The church carries most of the burden of this suffering. Christian missions and aid organisations provide care and counselling for escaped and rescued child soldiers and assist with their reintegration back into society. The missions also run orphanages, schools and clinics, and provide safe havens for children afraid of being abducted. This is no small task. For example, over 5,000 people are presently seeking refuge at St Joseph's Mission in Kitgum, and Noah's Ark Children's Ministry Uganda (NACMU) in Gulu takes in around 1,200 children each night.

As the LRA has waged war on the government of Uganda, the church has been the primary sustainer of society and protector of civilians, as well as the primary peace-broker. Now however, the LRA has declared war on the church. (Link 1)

LRA ORDERED TO TARGET THE CHURCH

Kony has been using radio equipment stolen from Catholic missions to communicate with his soldiers. As this equipment is set to a specific mission frequency, other Catholic missions have been picking up Kony's transmissions. On 14 June at 6pm, Joseph Kony was heard giving this order to his troops: "Catholic missions must be destroyed, priests and missionaries killed in cold blood and nuns beaten black and blue."

The Ugandan Army also picked up the transmission and has confirmed it as authentic. An escaped LRA prisoner/child-soldier also corroborated the order.

This is a radical shift in the LRA's attitude to the church. Previously the LRA had been willing to place its trust in Acholi religious leaders to broker peace negotiations. Most Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI) representatives are representatives of the Catholic Church. Father Joseph Gerner of the Catholic parish in Kitgum said that Kony's recent statements had
revealed a very worrying shift in the LRA's rhetoric. "This is very strange, this change, given that before it was only the Catholic Church they said they would trust". (Link 2)

The Roman Catholic archbishop of the northern Ugandan town of Gulu, John-Baptist Odama said, "I'm only wondering why, suddenly, it has switched and changed into a religious war targeting specifically the Catholic Church and particularly the leaders of the Catholic Church, like the priests, the religious nuns," he said. "This to me has been a puzzle. Up to now, I have failed to understand." (Link 3)

Father Carlos Rodriguez, a Catholic priest in Gulu who is involved in the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI), explained that the LRA is furious that the peace efforts being made by the ARLPI have led to the defection of senior LRA commanders. (Link 2)

The WEA RLC Prayer ministry released a prayer posting on Tuesday 17 June 03 detailing the most recent LRA abuses as well as Kony's order, and requesting urgent prayer.

Since then, the LRA have raided two camps for Internally Displaced People and murdered a Catholic priest (17 June). Then on Wednesday 18 June at around 3am they raided the Redeem Children's Home, an orphanage for girls run by the Sacred Heart Sisters, and kidnapped 15 Sudanese and Ugandan girls aged between 7 - 15 yrs. A military battalion rescued 6 girls, 9 are still missing. Later that day the LRA attacked a group of nuns in Gulu.

SUDAN ACCUSED OF SUPPLYING ARMS TO THE LRA.

From 1991 until recently, the LRA had an agreement with the National Islamic Front/Government of Sudan (NIF/GoS) - that they would support the NIF/GoS in their jihad against the Southern Sudanese, if the NIF/GoS would support the LRA. For many years the LRA received arms, training and funding from Khartoum.

Following a peace accord in Nairobi in 1999 Sudan and Uganda agreed to stop supporting each other's rebel movements: the GoS agreed to stop supporting the LRA in exchange for Uganda withdrawing support for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA).

However, on 1 September 2002, after the SPLA re-captured Torit, a strategic southern garrison town, from GoS hands, Khartoum alleged that Uganda had aided the SPLA. Some observers allege that this led to the GoS restoring its former pact with the LRA. (The GoS re-took Torit in Oct 2002.)

The relationship between the GoS and the LRA certainly appears to be restored and active, although Khartoum denies this. Recently escaped LRA soldiers report that the Sudanese Armed Forces are supplying guns, bullets, bombs, anti-personnel mines, anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and various other munitions to the LRA. (Link 4)

Uganda's Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ALRPI) says Sudan's army has been supplying the LRA officers with arms and ammunition since late last year. They believe that this accounts for the fact that in recent months violence against the civilian population of northern Uganda has escalated to unprecedented levels.

MORE TO KONY THAN MEETS THE EYE

There is even more to the LRA than this - literally more than meets the eye. Joseph Kony is a spirit medium. The WEA RLC Prayer posting of 14 May 2003 quoted a social worker who was helping former LRA child soldiers. She told the BBC that the children tell her that Joseph Kony gets possessed, and whatever Kony says when he is possessed comes exactly true. The children report that when Kony is possessed they are supposed to sing and worship. The social worker said, "I believe there is a deadly evil spirit misleading him" (link 5). There is little doubt the appalling blasphemy and extreme, inhumane cruelty and evil of the LRA is demonic.

The involvement of Khartoum and the demonic power associated with Kony and the LRA give a whole new dimension to the words of Ugandan MP, Ben Wacha, who on Tuesday 17 June questioned why the Ugandan Army's "Operation Iron Fist" had failed. "How can a few hundred people be more effective than 50,000 soldiers with their tanks and helicopter gunships equipped with night vision?" he asked. "Is it the LRA or somebody else?"

The Christian religious leaders in northern Uganda are courageously forging ahead with their peace initiatives despite the LRA's threats. (Link 6)

- Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Reports Say Uganda Rebels Kill 18, Threaten Clergy
By Paul Busharizi, Kampala, 16 June 2003
http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2935650

2) UGANDA: Lord's Resistance Army ordered to attack Catholic
missions. Kampala, 17 June 2003,
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN),
part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA).
http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=34784

3) Priest in Uganda Killed in Apparent Rebel Attacks
By Cathy Majtenyi in Nairobi, 18 Jun 2003.
http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=DA74A68E-2E34-45A0-96220
1DD7FF5E782#

4) President Accuses Sudan of Rearming Rebel Fighters
By Alfred Wasike And Dennis Ojwee, 16 June 2003
New Vision (Kampala)
http://allafrica.com/stories/200306160194.html

5) Uganda's rebel war. By Caroline Pare, 2 November 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/1003463.st
m

6) Uganda bishops undaunted by rising rebel violence
KAMPALA, 19 June 2003 (Reuters)
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L19148861.htm

See also:
Uganda's atrocious war, By Will Ross
BBC, Kitgum, Uganda, 12 June 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/africa/2982818.stm

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

PRAYER: LRA's Kony orders, "Kill all clergy"


Religious Liberty Prayer List - No. 224 - Tue 17 Jun 2003

*** includes some 18mths of prayer updates (below)

---------------------------------------------------
UGANDA: JOSEPH KONY (LRA) ORDERS, 'KILL ALL CLERGY'
---------------------------------------------------

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues its horrific reign of terror in northern Uganda, despite courageous peace-brokering efforts by church leaders, and the Ugandan Army's military offensive. The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, is a spirit medium and is driven by an evil spiritual power that is clearly greater than the Ugandan army or any human influence. For 16 years, the church and the predominantly Christian population of northern Uganda have suffered cruel, barbaric atrocities at the hands of this blasphemous, terrorist cult-militia.

RLP 219 reported that 50 LRA militiamen broke into a Catholic Seminary on 11 May, killing one and abducting 44 young seminarians, though three later escaped. Another four are confirmed hacked to death by the LRA when they could no longer walk after being tortured. The remaining 37 seminarians are still missing.

Even the nearly one million Ugandans who have been forced into refugee camps by the LRA rebellion are not safe from the endless terror. On 5 June the LRA clubbed 13 civilians to death in Pabbo Camp north of Gulu. In the early hours of Sunday 15 June, they attacked villages in Lira and Arpac districts, committing their signature atrocities - butchering faces and cutting off hands. At least eight people aged 6 to 61 died from machete wounds. Hundreds of homes were torched, and nearly 100 children were abducted for use as child-soldiers and sex-slaves.

Uganda's church leaders have defied Joseph Kony's threats and courageously keep trying to broker peace. Father Carlos Rodriguez of Gulu says several commanders deserted the LRA during recent peace meetings with church officials. Kony has responded by declaring war on all clergy and missions. Rodriguez says the LRA has since 'burned, bombed and desecrated churches on nine occasions'. Kony stole radio equipment from several Catholic missions and has been using it to communicate with his soldiers. It is set to a specific mission frequency, so other Catholic missions have been picking up Kony's transmissions.

On Saturday 14 June, Kony was heard to order his LRA soldiers: 'Catholic missions must be destroyed, priests and missionaries killed in cold blood and nuns beaten black and blue.' The Ugandan Army picked up the transmission and has authenticated it. An escaped LRA prisoner/child-soldier also corroborated the order.

Many Christians are therefore in front-line danger, such as the clergy trying to broker peace, Christian workers seeking to shelter children (like the Noah's Ark Children's Ministry Uganda - RLP 219), those trying to bring deep healing and deliverance to traumatised former LRA prisoners/child-soldiers/sex-slaves, and the Christian doctors and carers helping victims of facial mutilation.

(Recent LRA defectors report that Government of Sudan uniformed troops are supplying the LRA with truckloads of advanced weaponry and ammunition.)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* God to bind all the demonic spirits allied with Joseph Kony and the LRA, to keep drawing defectors from all ranks of the LRA, and effect the escape and rescue of hundreds of abducted children.

* divine protection and blessing for all clergy, nuns, and Christian workers, especially those in front-line danger.

* northern Uganda's pastors and teachers, that they will not lose faith or hope, but will be able to shepherd God's children through these horrific times.

* divine intervention to come from God's own mighty forces, with the Lord bursting through the LRA and ending its rebellion forever.

'The Lord has done it!' David exclaimed. 'He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!' So David named that place Baal-perazim (which means 'the Lord who bursts through'.) 2 Samuel 5:20

----------------------------------------

PRAYER UPDATES

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 225 - Wed 25 Jun 2003

NORTHERN UGANDA: where the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the blasphemous, terrorist cult-militia led by spirit medium Joseph Kony, has been wreaking havoc on the predominantly Christian population. The LRA has now declared it will target the Church specifically in revenge for its peace-making efforts.

UPDATE: RLP 224, on northern Uganda and the LRA, was released on Tuesday night, 17 June 03. That Tuesday, the LRA raided two camps for displaced people and murdered a Catholic priest. On the Wednesday they raided an orphanage and kidnapped many young girls. Later they attacked four nuns in Gulu. There was little significant LRA activity reported in the week that followed, but on 24 June, the Catholic church-run Lwala Girls Secondary School in Soroti was raided by the LRA and about 100 girls abducted. We must remain vigilant in praying that the demonic forces associated with Joseph Kony and the LRA will be bound, and for the release of kidnapped children. May God bless the Acholi Christian leaders' peace initiative and cause more LRA defections. Since RLP 219 in May 03, several LRA commanders have defected during church-run peace talks, which is why Kony issued orders to target the Church. Since we prayed last week, Kony's deputy has requested peace talks, and senior LRA commander Vincent Otti has sought a cease-fire. Pray that God will bring the LRA reign of terror to a just end.

-----------
extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 234 - Wed 27 Aug 2003

UGANDA: VIGILANT PRAYER REQUIRED AGAINST THE LRA

God is answering our prayers about the blasphemous, terrorist cult-militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). They have not been able to carry out their threat to 'kill all clergy', an order given on 14 June 2003. LRA soldiers are defecting - 106 in July - or are dying in battle with the Ugandan army, including commanders and a senior witchdoctor. Large numbers of kidnapped children are being rescued - 640 in July. However, children are still dying and being kidnapped, the LRA still wreaks havoc and creates terror, and Joseph Kony (a greatly feared spirit-medium) still controls them.

In mid July, when the LRA forced abducted 9 to 15-y-o child soldiers into a river to test its depth, 45 of them drowned. An LRA massacre in Soroti district recently claimed some 60 lives. On 17 August, LRA soldiers slashed to death 13 former abducted child soldiers who had been rescued and were living freely in Lira district. Though the army arrived and prevented further deaths, some 40 children were abducted. President Museveni responded by challenging the LRA to come for him instead of the children. On 24-25 August 03, the LRA attacked Teso region, slaughtering 50 people in Akeriau village alone. In late July, an army raid found a map marked with most of the Catholic locations in the Katakwi district marked on it, indicating that Kony still intends to target the church. Kony is presently setting up more bases in Southern Sudan.

God said to the people of Jerusalem in Isaiah 22:11 (NLT), 'All your feverish plans are to no avail because you never ask God for help.' Pray for the Ugandan government, particularly President Museveni, to publicly turn to God for help.

----------------------------

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 238 - Wed 24 Sep 2003

UGANDA: and the troubles in the north due to Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terror. In the August Update, we requested prayer 'for the Ugandan government, particularly President Museveni, to publicly turn to God for help', quoting Isaiah 22:11.

UPDATE: On 10 September 03, President Museveni and other MPs joined the Soroti Pastors and Elders Forum and people of the north in a day of prayer and fasting in Soroti town. And God is answering prayer. On 8 Sep, the UPDF (Ugandan Army) found three underground LRA armouries. On 16 Sept 03 in Gulu, the UPDF dug up more ammunition stocks, including 84 bombs. Over 250 children were rescued during September, many being seriously ill. Also, Sudan has permitted the Ugandan Army once again to pursue the LRA inside Sudan. As well, 'New Vision' newspaper (Uganda) reported on 17 Sep that over 100 LRA rebels, including six senior commanders, had surrendered in the past month. Please continue to pray for God to bring peace, restoration, reparation and reconciliation to Northern Uganda. Pray for the Church as it leads the way, and that Joseph Kony's occult-inspired terror will end forever.

-----------------------

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 244 - Wed 29 Oct 2003

NORTHERN UGANDA: LRA NOT FINISHED YET

The intense spiritual battle continues between the blasphemous terrorist cult militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA, led by spirit medium Joseph Kony) and the people of God (local church and intercessors worldwide). Time is certainly running out for the LRA. God is answering prayer, with kidnapped children being rescued and rebels defecting. However on 20 October 03, desperate LRA rebels were hunting for 'juju', occult charms they believe bring spiritual power. Near Soroti town, they ambushed and killed a man, Michael, with his sons, Moses and Samuel, and collected their organs, to be dried and worn as juju. Please pray for God to bring the LRA to an end. Pray especially for the Church in Northern Uganda as it leads the way in prayer, peace negotiations, refugee care, and rehabilitation.

------------------------------

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 256 - Wed 28 Jan 2004

UGANDA: On 31 December, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader and spirit medium, Joseph Kony, killed 21 of his wives and children as they tried to escape his LRA camp in Sudan because they were starving. Many rebels, who are mostly kidnapped children and have known no other life, have deserted the LRA ranks in response to a government amnesty. The UPDF (Ugandan army) recently killed the LRA's chief army commander, Yadin Tolbert Nyeko, who ranked below only Vincent Otti and Joseph Kony. WHile the army claims to have virtually defeated the LRA, Acholi Archbishop John Baptist Odama says, 'The LRA presence in the north is still strong. They are still killing people in Lira, so I don't know what the UPDF thinks it is doing claiming they have nearly defeated them.' (22 January 04)

------------------------------------------

extraced from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 260 - Wed 25 Feb 2004

UGANDA: LRA MASSACRE IN LIRA

On Saturday 21 February the blasphemous terrorist militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacked a camp for displaced people in Lira, Northern Uganda. These people are mostly Christians being primarily cared for by the Church. The LRA attacked with heavy weapons (source unknown), torched some 500 huts and then swept through the camp killing civilians. The death toll is presently 213. There are multitudes of burn victims. The LRA commit these
atrocities in the name of our LORD. LRA leader Joseph Kony, a spirit medium, claims to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Every spiritual breakthrough in Northern Uganda seems to be met with an increased level of demonic, occult-inspired terror. Whenever the army boasts of killing rebels, we need to remember these rebels are mostly abducted children who never wanted to be there and will now never return home. One Catholic priest described the children as 'acting under the effect of a collective hypnosis ... acts beyond any human imagination'. It is Joseph Kony himself who must be stopped, if not by the military, which for some strange reason has been unsuccessful over 18 years, then by God's intervention. Please pray for God to deliver the Ugandan people from this evil.

Isaiah 59:14-20 excerpts: 'The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. So his own arm worked salvation for him. According to what they have done so he will repay. For he [the Lord] will come like a pent-up flood.'

--------------------------------

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 265 - Tue 30 Mar 2004

UGANDA: SUDANESE FIGHTING LRA

In early March, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) militants killed several Southern Sudanese and stole some 3,000 head of cattle in Torit district. As in Northern Uganda, the predominantly Christian population in Southern Sudan has suffered terribly at the hands of this blasphemous terror militia over many years. A ceasefire with the Government of Sudan (GoS) has freed up the Southern People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to join the fight against the LRA. Now the SPLA and the Ugandan military (UPDF) are united in their determination to rid the region of the curse of the LRA for all time. The Islamic GoS, which formerly funded, trained and armed the LRA to terrorise South Sudan and North Uganda, has also turned against them. The GoS recently agreed to arrest Joseph Kony, the spirit-medium leader of the LRA, and hand him over if they find him in GoS territory. Please continue to pray that South Sudan and North Uganda will soon be delivered of this demonic terror. May they see the arm of God bring victory and peace.

'The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.' (Proverbs 15:29)
'Let the wicked fall into their own nets...' (Psalm 141:10a)
'...blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.' (Psalm 144:15b)

--------------------------

extracted from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 269 - Thu 29 Apr 2004

UGANDA: LRA UPDATE

Small bands of desperate Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) soldiers have been raiding towns and refugee camps in the far north of Uganda frantically seeking food and medicines. This has forced some 20,000 Northern Ugandan and Southern Sudanese refugees to flee their homes and crops in terror, creating a humanitarian emergency. A 19 April 04 newspaper column by Joachim Buwembo, editor of the Sunday Vision of Kampala, reports the churches of southern Uganda have suddenly been 'awakened' to the suffering in the north. He says this is an 'evolution of attitude' for the people of the south after a decade of relative indifference. Buwembo reports that the LRA and their leader, spirit medium Joseph Kony, and the suffering of the northerners are now the talk of southern Uganda and the focus of church prayers. He reports that suddenly 'impatience with [Kony] is giving way to desperation and finally reflection. Southerners have now taken the matter to Jesus. They want divine intervention.' Praise God for this 'awakening' and pray for God to answer 'the prayers of many' and bring this terror to an end.

---------------------------

extraced from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 295 - Tue 26 Oct 2004

UGANDA: LRA NEARLY FINISHED

The blasphemous terror militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by spirit medium Joseph Kony, has terrorised, brutalised and traumatised the mainly Christian people of Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda for 18 years. Some 20,000 children have been abducted and more than 1.6 million people have been displaced. In May 2003 the WEA RL Prayer ministry embraced it as a religious persecution issue because the victims are predominantly Christian and the LRA is clearly occult. Christians worldwide took up the prayer challenge and an incredible spiritual conflict ensued. By May 2004 the battle was almost over. The north has been relatively peaceful for several months now and there is talk of redevelopment starting. Multitudes of children have been rescued and LRA commanders have defected in droves, leaving only a small yet troublesome LRA remnant. The Ugandan Army captured Kony's chief bodyguard in mid September, and his most senior field commander, Lt-Col Otim Latin Munu, on 13 October. LRA leader, Joseph Kony, and LRA deputy chief, Vincent Otti, remain at large. Please continue to ask God to bind the demonic forces driving Joseph Kony and the LRA, and bring the LRA terror to an end.

Friday, June 6, 2003

Pakistan: Islamisation or dictatorship or both?

Date: Friday 6 June 2003
Subj: Pakistan: Islamisation or dictatorship or both?
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


Pakistan's central government and the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six pro-Sharia, pro-Taliban Islamist parties who rule the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and hold the balance of power in the National Assembly, are on a collision course. However, President Musharraf and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quid-e-Azam (PML-Q) need MMA support in order to break the political deadlock, over President Musharraf's 'Legal Framework Order' (LFO) that President Musharraf issued in by decree before that last election. The situation opens the door for the MMA to use their own Islamisation and Constitutional amendments package as political leverage.

--------------------------------------------------
THE MMA AND THE BALANCE OF POWER

On 21 August 2002, before the 10 October 2002 elections, President Musharraf announced that he had issued a decree - the Legal Framework Order - that amended the constitution, giving him sweeping powers to sack a prime minister, dissolve parliament and set up a National Security Council, on which four military chiefs and eight civilian political leaders would sit, and which he, as president, would head, giving the armed forces a permanent role in the country's governance.

All opposition parties, including the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), opposed the Legal Framework Order (LFO). However, the October 2002 election resulted in the pro-Musharraf party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quid-e-Azam (PML-Q) winning the largest number of seats. The opposition accuses Musharraf of manipulating the poll by passing laws blocking Mr Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N and his fellow exiled former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto of the PPP, from returning to power on the grounds they have served twice before as prime minister.

In spite of the fact that the Pakistan Muslim League-Quid-e-Azam (PML-Q) won the most seats, they did not win enough to govern outright. The result was a hung parliament. Of the 324 seats in the National Assembly, Musharraf's PML-Q now holds 118, Bhutto's PPP holds 81 and the MMA secured an astonishing 60 seats enabling the MMA to hold the balance of power.

By early November, a coalition had formed between all those parties opposed to Musharraf's constitutional changes (the LFO). On 11 November however, Musharraf met with the MMA vice president, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, for over two hours. Mr Ahmed told President Musharraf that the MMA was ready to accept him as president if he took back his constitutional package (LFO) and left the post of the Chief of the Army. Musharraf would not accept. Yet - by 13 November 2002, the MMA and the pro-Musharraf PML-Q had "narrowed their differences" and the MMA was agreeing to be "flexible". This paved the way for a PML-Q / MMA coalition government to be formed.

THE VALUE OF LEVERAGE

To this day however, the constitutional issues have not been resolved and there is debate about whether the constitutional amendments made by the Legal Framework Order (LFO) are valid. On top of this, the MMA, which rules the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in its own right (holding 68 of the 124 seats) has, as of Monday 2 June, officially adopted Sharia law in NWFP. They have also passed the Hasba Act that enables them to establish a Department of Vice and Virtue, Taliban-style. Militant youths are pulling down billboards, trashing music stores and wreaking havoc across the NWFP. All 24 local governors - 'nazims' - have handed in their resignations to President Musharraf. Musharraf has responded by sacking the NWFP's chief secretary and inspector general of police over their enforcement of Sharia. This has put the NWFP, MMA government on a collision course with the pro-West central government.

All the meanwhile, the PML-Q president, Chaudry Shujaat Hussain, was trying to strike a deal with the MMA, to convince the MMA to co-operate with the PML-Q and break the political deadlock over the Legal Framework Order.

The strategic hour had arrived for the MAA to bring out its greatest weapon - its political leverage. The MMA has agreed to an about-face on the LFO, saying they will be willing to relax their opposition to the LFO and accept Musharraf as President, in Army uniform, provided the government is willing to accept the MMA's Islamisation package.

THE MMA'S ISLAMISATION PACKAGE.

This Islamisation package extends beyond the NWFP. The MMA's Islamisation package contains 17 demands - 7 are related to the LFO, and 10 are related to Islamisation. These demands include: a revision of media policy to bring it in line with Islamic values, the setting up of commissions and institutions to streamline the education system and economy according to Islamic teaching, the promotion of the shalwar kameez, (long smock with lose-fitting trousers) as the "national uniform" (to be made compulsory in all schools and colleges), Friday to be a weekly public holiday, and that Musharraf's Madrassa Ordinance be repealed and madrassa's be removed from the "watch list".

Another demand of the MMA is an amendment to Article 2 of the Constitution - "Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan", to include that all laws will be in conformity with the Quran and Sunnah as per the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology, to ensure that no legislation contrary to the Sharia is carried out in the future. (The Council of Islamic Ideology was set up in the 1970s to ensure that all laws would be in accordance with Sharia, but it has always had a limited role.) The MMA also demands that all recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology be discussed in the parliament and amendments be made in the constitution accordingly to ensure the supremacy of Sharia in the country.

A further MMA demand is the removal of the President's power to pardon a person sentenced by the High Court in Hadood (or Hudood) cases. The Hadood Ordinance criminalizes non-marital rape, extramarital sex, and several alcohol, gambling, and property offenses. The Hadood Ordinance however, makes it necessary for a woman who has been raped to produce four adult male Muslim eye-witnesses to the crime who are willing to testify in her favour or else she, the rape victim, is imprisoned until the courts determine her fate.

The PML-Q president, Chaudry Shujaat Hussain, claims that while 10 of the MMA demands have been already agreed to, the rights of women and minorities will be ensured.

President Musharraf has summonsed the National Assembly to meet in Islamabad on 7 June 03 for the announcement of the national budget. Security will be high as disturbances from those opposed to the LFO are expected.

President Musharraf has two options - to rule by dictatorial decree and reign in the MMA, or to yield and be manipulated by the MMA.

-----------------------

After the October 2002 elections Benazir Bhutto said, "The military want to hold a red rag up to the West and say 'Look West, you need a military dictatorship, because if there's not, then pro-Taliban parties are going to come to power'. The MMA is a frightening scenario because when you create genies, genies get out of hand. What we have seen in the MMA is a genie of frightening proportions." (AFP 13 October 2002).

- Elizabeth Kendal

Links: here are two articles that, together, cover the issue
reasonably well.

"Standoff Paralyzes Pakistan Parliament" by Paul Haven
Associated Press, 4 June 2003
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-2748717,00.html

"MMA proposes 17-point agenda to settle LFO issue"
Paktribune. Islamabad, 31 May 2003
http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.php?id=27050

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Iraq: An Iraqi Pastor Speaks.

Date: Wednesday 4 June 2003
Subj: Iraq: An Iraqi Pastor Speaks.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


Christianity Today Magazine's June edition features an editorial entitled, "The Mother of all Liberties". This editorial most correctly comments that, "Religious freedom and democracy hang in the balance for Iraq's 22 million people."

The editorial goes on to say, that unless full religious freedom is forthcoming in Iraq, then a "costly military victory will be incomplete." It also notes that Christians are worried that a new Shi'ite-dominated regime could eliminate even the limited freedoms they had under Saddam Hussein. (Link 1)

Their concern is well founded, as the threat to religious liberty in Iraq is very real. An Iraqi pastor who recently spoke to the WEA RLC describes the situation for Christians in present-day Iraq as frightening.

AN IRAQI PASTOR SPEAKS

"After the terrible regime of Saddam Hussein there is now a power vacuum in Iraq that many groups are trying to fill. Unfortunately, many of these groups would like to have an Iraq without any Christian presence at all. We feel the pressure growing every day and we are really afraid. Many Christians have left the country but most of us want to stay. This is our country and we love it.

"Nobody knows what the future will look like, but I see it as very important that those who have the power would guarantee religious freedoms from the very start. There is a tremendous power struggle going on behind the scene.

"A powerful Shi'a political group in Iraq plans to establish its own radio station and start broadcasting. This is a big step towards promoting the influence of that group. Mr Grebawy, head of the Centre for Public Islam has said that he has permission, "to start the broadcasts", which will be financed by Hawza, a grouping of Shi'a schools in the city of Najaf. It worries us Christians very much that the broadcast will be from the al-Hikmah mosque in the suburb of Baghdad. I understand that they have plans to extend the broadcast all over the country.

"Considering the fact that the Shi'as are about 55 % of the population, this will have a very strong impact on people's attitude towards Christians. Asked what political messages they would be broadcasting on their TV channel, Mr Grebawy said that the political content of the broadcasts would be, 'that religion is politics and politics is religion'. That sounds to me like Iran!

"Practically all Shi'a leaders are calling for the establishment of Islamic law (Shari'ah). Two key religious leaders Mr Moqtada Sadr in Kufa in the south and Sheikh Mohammed al-Fartousi in Baghdad have called for Islamic law to be applied to both Christians and Muslims.

"Another disturbing sign is that Christian women who go out without head-coverings have been threatened. Shops owned by Christians that sell alcohol have been burned down and some Christian shop owners have been killed."

These killings also have been reported by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in an article entitled "Liquor Store Attacks May Underscore Rising Islamic Concerns" (Link 2).

A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

The Iraqi pastor interviewed, concluded with this appeal, "Many Christians in Iraq think that the door now is open to work for a multi-political, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Iraq, but that the door of opportunity will be closed in less than four months from now. If the American and British troops leave the country without a new government based on democratic principles in place, we are afraid that we will have a country that will either split into several parts or that will head straight into religious turmoil where minorities like Christians will be under attack from all sides. Both Europe and the U.S. have a great responsibility to see to it that this will not be the future of a people that has already suffered so much during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein."

- Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) "The Mother of All Liberties"
Full religious freedom for Iraq is not negotiable.
A Christianity Today editorial | posted 06/02/2003
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/006/27.30.html

2) "Liquor Store Attacks May Underscore Rising Islamic Concerns"
By Valentinas Mite, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 3 June 2003.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/06/03062003165741.asp