Thursday, July 31, 2014
By Elizabeth Kendal
At 11pm on the night of Sunday 13 April, Boko Haram militants invaded the Christian enclave of Chibok in the south of Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria. The attack, which lasted until 4am on the Monday morning, culminated in the abduction of around 270 girls who had been boarding at the local Government Girls Secondary School. [For background see Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 257, 22 April 2014.]
Now a spate of suicide bombings in which the all bombers have been teenage girls has caused a shroud of horror to descend upon the mothers and fathers of the Chibok abductees, who are left to wonder, "Could these be our girls?"
Sunday 27 July: KANO (one girl)
A girl estimated to be 15-years of age, blew herself up near a temporary university site. It is alleged she was targeting police; however she killed no-one but herself.
Monday 28 July: KANO (two girls)
A teenage girl joined a queue of women buying kerosene at the petrol station before blowing herself up, killing herself and three others and wounding six. Hours later a girl estimated to be 18-yrs of age blew herself up in a trade show / shopping mall, killing no-one but herself.
Tuesday 29 July: YOBE (two girls)
Two girls entered two mosques in the town of Potiskum, killing thirteen worshippers.
Tuesday 29 July: KATSINA (girl arrested)
Police arrested three suspects, believed to be members of Boko Haram; one of the three was a ten-year-old girl with explosives strapped to her body.
Wednesday 30 July: KANO (one girl)
A teenage girl blew herself up at the Kano Polytechnic, killing six and critically wounding six others. The victims were all students who had gathered to collect their call-up letters for the National Youth Service Corps.
Previously, on 25 June, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a bombing in Lagos which was also carried out by a female suicide bomber.
Nigerians spoken to by Nigerian Tribune wondered why Boko Haram might be using teenage girls as suicide bombers. Some posed the question, "How can we be sure they are not the Chibok girls kidnapped so long ago?"
Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili tweeted: “this new trend and serial pattern of female suicide bombers surely should particularly worry us. It worries me stiff because of our Chibok girls. Kano again and again. Female suicide bombers again and again - becoming trend. Our Chibok girls still in the enemy den. Are we thinking? Our Chibok girls really need to be rescued from the clutches of evil. We must all not stop praying and demanding that the Federal Government acts for results. We have no apology for being agitated. We have nothing to defend for crying out for their rescue.”
A human rights group has called on the Federal Government to conduct comprehensive forensic test of the corpses of the dead bombers so as to ascertain their identities.
"This," the group told the Tribune, "was to disabuse the minds of observers already insinuating that the female bombers may be from the kidnapped schoolgirls, who might have been hypnotised." Others have expressed fears that the Chibok girls might have been "indoctrinated or coerced" to become suicide bombers.
The fact is, the girls would not need to be hypnotised or indoctrinated. Their captors would only need to assure the girls that there is no escape, and, that if they fail to do as they are told then their mothers and sisters will be raped and their fathers and brothers will be killed. That would be enough to make a young girl kill herself. Islamic militants around the world have been exploiting young girls like this for years. The fact that some girls managed to kill only themselves could indicate that they might actually have been trying quite hard to not kill anyone.
Political blogger Japheth Omojuwa decried the use of young girls as suicide bombers and questioned whether Boko Haram might have simply found a way to save their men for combat.
The Federal Government attempted to douse anxiety on Wednesday by denying, without evidence, that the suicide bombers had anything to do with the Chibok girls. But not everyone is convinced.
As it turns out, the 10-year-old girl arrested strapped with explosives in Katsina State on 29 July, was a Muslim child in the company of her Muslim sister (aged 18) and a male. Personally, I suspect this case is a separate case, unrelated to the others.
The identities of the dead girls must be ascertained by expert forensic testing as soon as possible.
Regardless of who the dead girls were, they were still young girls.
That Islamic fundamentalist militants are willing to use young girls as bombs and human shields only proves that their ideology is not merely morally vacuous, but profoundly evil.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Pursuant to the publication of Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin 270 (23 July 2014), "A Test For India in Chhattisgarh", the following article is being released to provided background on Hindutva.
It will also appear in the Melbourne School of Theology Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths (CSIOF) Bulletin, issue 6 (2014)
By Elizabeth Kendal, June 2014
|Prime Minister Narendra Modi|
When the BJP appointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its presidential candidate in September 2013, many scoffed, doubting such a controversial, divisive and sectarian figure could lead the BJP to electoral victory. Most analysts believed the Indian electorate would never embrace Modi, especially not the minorities (who are fearful of him) or the educated middle classes (who should know better).
Modi gained notoriety in 2002, when, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he failed to intervene in Hindu pogroms that left as many as 2000 Muslims dead. Then in 2003, Modi enacted the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act -- one of India's most draconian anti-conversion laws. In February 2006, Modi oversaw an enormous Hindutva campaign in Gujarat's Dang's district, home to the largest concentration of Christians in Gujarat. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus were bussed into Dangs for a non-traditional kumbh mela (Hindu pilgrimage) which was supposed to culminate in an anti-Christian pogrom. The vilification and incitement to violence was pervasive, blatant and shocking. Hindutva ideologues popularised the slogan – "Hindu Jago, Christio Bhagao" (Arise Hindus, throw out the Christians) – while their cadres ensured all Christian homes were physically identified. Christians believe that the only reason a massacre or purge did not ensue was because God intervened "in answer to the prayers of many". (See Religious Liberty Monitoring (RLM): 2006, Jan, Feb, March)
To shift attention away from his image as a sectarian figure, Modi exploited Gujarat's economic development to market himself as India's most successful pro-business administrator – an economic saviour who would raise living standards. Rather than blame the systematic racism of the Hindu caste system for the poverty endemic amongst the minorities, Modi blamed the Congress Party while holding out the "Gujarat model" of economic development as the means by which the BJP would raise living standards for all. Running with the slogan, "saab ke saath aur saab ka vikas" (with all, and for everyone's development), Modi was offering the minorities exactly what Congress had failed to deliver: opportunity, as distinct from welfare. [See: RLM post of 2 Oct 2013 – The Modi Operandi of Narendra Modi.]
So what is Hindutva?
Narendra Modi is a self-confessed and proud hinduwadi (supporter of hindutva, i.e. militant Hindu nationalism).
Hindutva is an ideology which maintains that India -- indeed the entire subcontinent -- is the homeland of the Hindu race. Denying that there ever was an Aryan invasion, hindutva does not recognise the mostly animist, tribal adivasis (literally: first inhabitants) as the indigenous people of India. Rather, it labels them vanvasis (literally: forest dwellers) and counts them as Hindus, maintaining that the Hindu race is indigenous to India.
Further to this, Hindutva defines a true Hindu as one who acknowledges that India is both his Motherland and his Holy Land. Hindutva maintains that an Indian (a Hindu) who does not recognise India as his holy land cannot be a loyal citizen, for their loyalties are divided.
The missionaries of Hindutva work tirelessly to persuade the traditionally animist adivasis (tribals) that they and the Hindus really are "one people, one nation, one culture" -- i.e. one race. They work to convince the tribals that they are really Hindus whose religion has become corrupted over time. At the same time they Hinduise the adivasis' animistic practices so they don't need to change their practice, just see it as Hindu and self-identify as Hindu.
As for Christians, who belong mostly to scheduled tribes and scheduled castes (also known as Dalits or Untouchables), the Hindutva missionaries tell them that they too were originally Hindus, only their ancestors were either forcibly or fraudulently converted by foreign-invader Christian missionaries.
To motivate the scheduled tribes (8.6 percent) and scheduled castes (16.6 percent) to identify as Hindus, Hindutva holds out the prospect of elevated status; essentially replacing the racial apartheid of caste with religious apartheid -- paving the way for second-class tribals and dalits to become first-class Hindus, superior to any and every non-Hindu.
As a further motivation, and to dragnet the Hindu vote, Hindutva propagates fear, demonising Muslims and Christians as invaders, occupiers and separatists that threaten both social cohesion and national security. Muslims are stereotyped as prolific breeders and terrorists while Christians are accused of being complicit with foreigners in international conspiracies aimed at weakening India through religious conversions. [See: Preparing the Harvest, a report by V. K. Shashikumar, Tehelka (magazine), January 2004.]
As a pro-independence revolutionary, V.D. Savarkar (1883-1966) -- regarded as the "Father of Hindutva" -- spent many years in prison during British rule. It was in prison, that Savarkar formulated his Hindutva ideology and wrote what is essentially the handbook on Hindutva. Though he despised the Muslims of the Khilafat movement with whom he was imprisoned, I would suggest that Savarkar's Hindutva (first edition, 1923) has actually been deeply influenced by Islam.
To fully appreciate the Hindutva view of Christianity,
watch the Hindutva documentary:
watch the Hindutva documentary:
An Invasion through Conversion
A video by the Dharma Raksha Samiti, Bangalore (2008)
Hindutva has turned India into a tinderbox of communal tension such that today it takes very little to ignite a fire of sectarian hatred that quickly rages out of control.
The goal of Hindu nationalists has always been to secure power at the centre and establish India as a Hindu State where the power and privilege of the Hindu elite will be preserved and non-Hindus relegated as second-class citizens to be subjugated, contained and repressed.
The Hindutva family
The umbrella body dedicated to the advancement of Hindutva is known as the Sangh Parivar.
The Sangh Parivar comprises the following:
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteer Corps).
The RSS is a truly massive nation-wide paramilitary force. Founded in Nagpur in 1925 with the mission of creating a Hindu state, the RSS has propagated a militant form of Hinduism as the sole basis for Indian identity. The RSS has access to virtually unlimited funds, as well as a vast network of swayamsevaks (volunteers) and pracharaks (agitators) who can be mobilised in a moment. Great for politics and persecution.
The founder of the RSS, Madhav Golwalkar, wrote, "foreign races . . . must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture . . . or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment - not even citizen's rights."
Nathuram Godse, the assassin who shot and killed Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948, was a member of the RSS. In the dock alongside Godse's was his co-accused: V.D. Savarkar, the "Father of Hindutva". While the foot-soldier Godse was executed, the well-connected Savarkar -- believed to be brains behind the assassination -- was acquitted on a technicality.
In February 2003, when the Hindu nationalist BJP were in power, they hung a portrait of V.D. Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament House, directly opposite the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi.
On 28 May 2014, a day after his inauguration as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi paid tribute to V.D. Savarkar on the 131st anniversary of his birth.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, World Hindu Council)
The Bajrang Dal
The Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad (VKP)
The VKP an offshoot of the RSS comprising militant hinduised tribals.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
The BJP is the political wing of the Sangh Parivar. Founded in December 1980, by 1991 it was India's main opposition party.
1998: In March 1998, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won the Lok Sabha (federal parliamentary) elections. Running with the slogan, "One People, One Nation, One Culture", and campaigning on a platform that included obtaining nuclear weapons and advancing Hindutva. Persecution escalated immediately, and between January 1998 and February 1999, police recorded 116 incidents of violent persecution against Christians -- more than in all the previous 50 years of independence combined. The increased persecution went unremarked (outside Christian media) until Feb 1999, when Bajrang Dal militants ambushed and murdered Australian missionary Dr Graham Staines and his two sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6), burning them alive in their car in a tribal district of Orissa.
2004: The BJP-led NDA's first term in office was marked by significant economic development, so political analysts the world were bewildered in 2004 when the BJP was not returned to power. Described in the media as a "shock loss" and "unexplainable", analysts put the BJP's loss down to a widening of the gap between rich and poor that had left multitudes disillusioned. Others maintained that the BJP had diverged from its Hindutva path, losing many Hindutva supporters in the process (when in reality, the BJP's coalition partners had kept it hamstrung). It must be noted, that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won the May 2004 Lok Sabha elections by the slimmest of margins.
2009: By mid 2008, disillusionment with the Congress-led UPA government was widespread. In July 08 the UPA survived a no-confidence vote by the slimmest of margins. As 2009 approached, the BJP was favoured to regain power at the centre.
Then, in late November 2008, Islamic militants from Pakistan staged a daring terror attack in Mumbai that left more than 160 dead. While Prime Minister Singh responded with a cool, diplomatic head, negotiating with Pakistan to ensure the killers would be brought to justice, the BJP responded with rhetoric so belligerent that it scared off every swing voter and doubtless many supporters as well. The BJP's election loss in April-May 2009 was not a sign that support for Hindutva was waning; it was proof that Indians did not want to risk war with Pakistan.
All the while, the VHP's tireless cultural work has met little resistance from secular forces reluctant to tackle Hindutva for fear of losing Hindu support. As such, despite the BJP's election losses, despite a decade of Congress-led rule and despite the denials of numerous analysts, Hindutva has continued to gain ground. Today Hindutva's ascendency can no longer be disputed.
The 2014 election results will have grave consequences for India's more than 71 million Christians (5.8 percent; although many believe the number is closer to 9 percent) whose persecution will now be sanctioned at the highest levels.
|photo: Gospel For Asia|
Elizabeth Kendal is a religious liberty analyst and author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012). She is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the CSIOF, and the Director of Advocacy at the Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
-- the status quo will end in genocide.
The following post provides supplementary material for:
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 268| Wed 9 July 2014
PAPUA, INDONESIA: DESPERATE FOR CHANGE
By Elizabeth Kendal
As noted in RLPB 268, "Papua's predominantly Christian, indigenous ethnic Melanesians desperately need change. However, it is highly unlikely that Islamists or the TNI or all the corrupt business and political elites who reap financial gain from Islamist and TNI business in Papua, will simply give up their ambitions and economic rewards for the sake of those often regarded merely as 'black infidels'.
|courtesy: World Team|
"On the other hand, if there is no reform, if things just quietly go on as they are, then the demise -- the genocide -- of Papua's indigenous peoples is within sight. Of course for many that merely spells 'problem solved'. Such thinking is an evil the Church cannot abide. For 'the Lord's portion is his people', they are 'the apple of his eye' (see Deuteronomy 32:9-11).
INDONESIA ELECTIONS, JOKOWI, AND PRABOWO
Lowy Institute for International Policy
Prabowo and human rights
Inside Indonesia (April-June 2014)
Jakarta 1998 was bad, but Prabowo likely had more blood on his hands in East Timor
By Gerry van Klinken
The business of politics in Indonesia
Inside Indonesia (April-June 2014)
Democratic institutions are increasingly burdened by the illicit transactions and collusive practices of politico-business elites
By Eve Warburton
INDONESIA-PAPUA: prospects for reform
OTSUS PLUS: THE DEBATE OVER ENHANCED SPECIAL AUTONOMY FOR PAPUA
IPAC (Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict) Report No. 4
25 November 2013
‘Otsus Plus’ for Papua: What’s the point?
Cillian Nolan (IPAC), Jakarta | Opinion | 7 March 2014
For background see Religious Liberty Monitoring, label: Papua
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, July 2008
West Papua Report, December 2013
PERSPECTIVE: Religious Changes Afoot in Papua
by Charles Farhadian, PhD
"Islam is growing so rapidly not only because of the large numbers of Muslim transmigrants arriving daily to the region, but also because of conversion of Christian Papuans to Islam. . . . Muslim missionaries have made great strides in compelling Christian Papuans to change their religion, despite Indonesian laws that prohibit proselytization. At least two villages in the highlands of West Papua have converted from Christianity en masse to Islam.'
Documentary: Papua's New Dawn?
By Mark Davis for SBS Dateline, 3 June 2014
(27 minutes, transcript available)
Includes a meeting with outspoken church leaders, Socrates Yoman and Benny Giay.
Islamisation of Papuan children
Lured with promises with free education, Papuan children are transported to Java, held captive in Islamic boarding schools, forcibly converted to Islam, given Muslim names and indoctrinated in puritanical Salafi Islam. Years later, only once fully Islamised, these Papuan youths are then returned to Papua as Muslim missionaries. Those who have escaped tell of harsh conditions and cruel punishments. Investigative journalist Michael Bachelard believes the number of children affected is in the thousands.
They're taking our children
Michael Bachelard, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 2013
"A six-month Good Weekend investigation has confirmed that children, possibly in their thousands, have been enticed away over the past decade or more with the promise of a free education. In a province where the schools are poor and the families poorer still, no-cost schooling can be an irresistible offer.
"But for some of these children, who may be as young as five, it's only when they arrive that they find out they have been recruited by 'pesantren', Islamic boarding schools . . .
"These schools have one aim: to send their graduates back to Christian-majority Papua to spread their muscular form of Islam.
"Ask the 100 Papuan boys and girls at the Daarur Rasul school outside Jakarta what they want to be when they grow up and they shout, "Ustad! Ustad! [religious teacher]." . . .
Papuan children taken to Jakarta to be converted to Islam
Michael Bachelard, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 2014
This report includes video footage of interviews with two young Papuan boys who had escaped the pesantren and made their way back to Papua, scarred and confused. They report forced conversions, harsh conditions in captivity and cruel punishments.
"Their story is more evidence that Christian children are being taken from West Papua and converted to Islam - a practice officially denied after being revealed in Fairfax Media's Good Weekend magazine last year. It also makes clear for the first time that knowledge of the practice reaches high into the upper echelons of Indonesia's political elite. . .
"On arrival at the port in Jakarta, Demianus says the group was taken to a nearby mosque. The children were made to dress in Islamic clothes and taught to say the 'syahadat', the prayer to convert them to Islam. From then on, Demianus was told, his name would be 'Usman'. His original name was 'haram,' or forbidden, the clerics told him.
"From the port, the children were taken to different Islamic boarding schools - pesantrens - in Jakarta and the nearby city of Bogor. . .
"As the ethnic Melanesian Christian majority in West Papua is gradually outnumbered both economically and socially by migration from other parts of Indonesia, Papuans see the removal and Islamisation of children as a direct assault on their identity.
"But a Muslim bloc within Indonesia's national human rights organisation, Komnas HAM, has made it difficult for the body to mount a full investigation of the issues raised by Fairfax Media - including the existence of a small but active network of agents and middlemen who seek out vulnerable children and bring them to pesantren. It's unclear if these men are paid for their work, or who might be funding it, but there is a suspicion that oil money from Saudi Arabia may play a role."
According to one of the traffickers, "All the children are Christian, [and they are] destined for conversion."
Finally, the following piece in the Melbourne AGE not only sets out the appalling situation faced by Papuans, but recommends policy changes.
Time for Jakarta to afford Papuans the dignity they deserve
By Bobby Anderson, The Age, 4 July 2014
Papua has "the last great remaining tracts of virgin forest in south-east Asia. Its wealth in coal, gold, copper, oil, gas and fisheries is colossal. A single mine there is Indonesia’s largest taxpayer.
"Migrants from across the archipelago flock to Papua, which hosts the highest economic growth rate in Indonesia. They fill unplanned cities like Jayapura and Timika to bursting; they drive the machinery, staff the hotels and shops, and work the plantations that are transforming once-virgin land into deceitfully green circuit boards.
"Papua's wealth does not, however, accrue in the lives of its daughters and sons. The indigenous population generally lacks access to health and education services. Papuans have the lowest life expectancies in Indonesia, the highest maternal and child mortality rates, the lowest educational levels, the highest rates of tuberculosis, and an HIV infection rate that is 10 times the national average and climbing. They are the poorest, the sickest, and the quickest to die. . .
". . . Papua’s indigenous population is perhaps 2 million: 1.25 per cent of the population of Indonesia. The next president may have a hard time diverting attention to Papua. But he needs to. A ministerial-level government development body that assumes responsibility for myriad national, provincial, and district-level services is needed in order to centralise health, education, and other services at provincial levels. This entity would play a co-ordinating role in leading other urgent reforms: curbs on migration are urgently needed, and some migrants may need to be sent back. A moratorium on pemekaran [the splitting of territories] is required. The religious foundations providing health and education services need to be legitimised and funded. The corporate social responsibility portfolios of companies involved in extractive industries require oversight from and synchronisation with such an entity, in order that Papua’s wealth may accrue palpably in Papuan lives.
"This entity must also issue sensitive policy recommendations: on the legality of separatist symbols, on the Papuanisation of the police, on lifting unofficial curbs on Papuan military enrolments, and on changing the military’s territorial command structure, which is completely inappropriate for Indonesia’s modern defence environment. The insurgency is so small that it is a law-and-order issue.
"Such an entity would report to the governors of Papua and Papua Barat, as well as to the president. It would be staffed by technocrats, and driven by Papuans. My experience shows that for every few no-show civil servants, there exists a responsible one. Papua’s rural schools may be absent of teachers, but they also host unpaid volunteers. Such people not only need inclusion, they need authority.
"This entity would also play a role in reconciliation. . .
"But the dead need naming. Suffering must be acknowledged. For Jakarta, this is the least expensive step, and the most politically costly. In the absence of such a truth-telling exercise, fictitious claims will remain credible, especially given government restrictions on foreign reporters. Many a politician naively hopes that this national wound will heal itself. It will not. Papua’s Memoria Passionis compounds over time.
Or the incoming president can ignore the issue. Perhaps the problem will fade; not with a bang, but a whimper. Immigration has already rendered Papuans a minority in their land, and more migrants arrive daily.
The longstanding failure of health and education services in indigenous areas will hasten their demise. Many believe that this is policy. Or perhaps Papuan frustration will foment into a new insurgency, and the current amateurs will be sidelined by an entity that can raise funds and access quality weapons: an era of roadside bombs and burning fuel depots.
"If the next president is serious about Papua, then he must treat Papuans with both the seriousness they deserve and the dignity that they have been denied. For there exist no military tactics that can defeat insurrections in human hearts: another way is needed."
Bobby Anderson works on health, education, and governance projects in eastern Indonesia and travels frequently in Papua province.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)