Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- China Marks Earthquake Anniversary
- Pakistani Christians Face Discrimination at Relief Camps
- Cuban Pastor's Trial Finally Set After Year in Jail
- New Building Site Found for Indonesian Bible College
China Marks Earthquake Anniversary
CNN reports that China's Sichuan province marked May 12 with a moment of silence, remembering the thousands of people killed in a devastating earthquake one year ago. Almost 90,000 died in the 7.9 magnitude quake, many of them children killed by collapsing school buildings. China's President Hu Jintao attended memorial services in Yingxiu Township, where mourners remembered children with white and yellow silk flowers. Today, rebuilding continues for the 15 million people who were displaced. The earthquake "hit a large area of Sichuan, more than 100,000 square kilometers, and impacted more than 15 million people," said Jiang Li, vice minister of civil affairs, who was at the frontline of the massive rescue and relief efforts. "I think the Chinese government responded very quickly, so it's very positive in terms of rescue efforts." Still, 17,921 people were never found.
Pakistani Christians Face Discrimination at Relief Camps
The Christian Post reports that even among the hundreds of thousands fleeing skirmishes in Pakistan's Swat Valley, religious minorities are second-class citizens. The U.N. reports that more than 360,000 people have escaped fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters, including thousands of Christians. But while Muslims have been welcomed to relief camps by local authorities, Christians have been kept at arm's length during food and shelter distribution, and even prevented from registering as displaced people. Christians say U.N. officials have been little help because of the language barrier. According to estimates, hundreds of Christian families remain trapped in the Swat Valley because they cannot afford transportation to leave.
Cuban Pastor's Trial Finally Set After Year in Jail
ASSIST News Service reports that a Cuban pastor will finally face trial next week in the city of Camaguey, Cuba, after spending a whole year in prison. Government prosecutors are asking that Pastor Omar Gude Perez, who was initially detained on May 22, 2008, be given a seven-year sentence. Perez is officially facing criminal charges, but there are strong indications that he is being targeted due to his leadership role in a fast growing Christian organization. State prosecutors first attempted to charge Pastor Gude Perez with "human trafficking." These charges were dropped in March 2009 after a court in Camaguey found that they were without evidence. Regardless, Perez was not released and new charges of "illicit economic activity" were filed mid-April.
New Building Site Found for Indonesian Bible College
Compass Direct News reports that officials of the Arastamar School of Theology (SETIA) in Jakarta are considering the purchase of a new campus site after violent protests last July led to the eviction of 1,400 students and staff members. Indonesian officials on May 1 inspected land for the new campus site and promised to issue a building permit. But SETIA would be required to obtain permission from potential neighbors in Bambu Apus district, East Jakarta, before the school could be built. Since the protests by neighbors of the original campus in Kampung Pulo last year, some 1,200 remaining staff members and students have moved to three separate emergency locations across Jakarta, in some cases living in leaking tents and holding classes under trees.