On March 24, the anniversary of the killing of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, the 16th Day for the Commemoration of Missionary Martyrs is celebrated. The event is observed all over Italy, with vigils of prayer and fasting at which many young people participate. The ecumenical list of martyrs, including Catholics and non-Catholics.
Rome (AsiaNews) - This year, the theme selected by the missionary youth movement and by the Pontifical Missionary Works is "…for you and for all". These words are a quotation of the words that the priest says in the Mass, at the consecration of the chalice, which are in turn a quotation of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper.
AsiaNews follows with great interest the situations of persecution of the Church in Asia. Our readers and correspondents include some martyrs, like Fr Andrea Santoro (Turkey) and Fr Ragheed Ganni (Iraq).
We therefore believe that we are offering a welcome service to our readers by presenting here an ecumenical list of martyrs, including Catholics and non-Catholics. In many nations (Russia, China, Vietnam, Kenya . . .), ecumenism and the unity among Churches has emerged precisely from the sharing of a common fate. In this long list, Iraq and India stand out for the number of Christians killed there. The martyrs renew the gift of Jesus to the world ("…for you and for all"). This long list is a sign of suffering, but also of hope: it tells us that the gift of Jesus is alive and present among the hidden scars of our planet.
Bae Hyung-kyu, age 42, a South Korean Protestant, was killed by the Taliban in the district of Qarabagh, in the province of Ghazni, after being kidnapped together with 24 members of the Saemmul Community Church, of which he was the leader. He was killed on his birthday.
Shim Sung-min, age 29, a member of the group of South Korean Christians kidnapped in July, was found dead on July 31 in the province of Ghazni, killed by the Taliban kidnappers.
Fr Wolfgang Hermann, age 46, a German Catholic fidei donum priest, was killed on April 10 in Belém, in the northern part of the country, by a young man who had broken into his house to rob him.
Fr Mario Bianco, a Catholic Consolata missionary, age 90, died on February 15 in Manizales from wounds he suffered after robbers entered his house.
Fr José Luis Camacho Cepeda, age 54, a Peruvian Catholic priest, was fatally stabbed in his house in Bogotà on March 11.
Humberto Mendez, age 63, and Joel Cruz Garcia, age 27, two Pentecostal pastors, were kidnapped and killed on July 6 by the 17th brigade of the FARC guerrillas in the village of El Dorado, in the southern district of Huila.
José Climaco Chocué Camayo, age 44, a volunteer with the Catholic non-governmental organisation "Italia Solidale", was killed on September 25 in the Cauca valley, at the hands of assassins. He had received numerous death threats from the "Black Eagles", a paramilitary formation, because of his defence of the indigenous population of the Cauca.
An evangelical Christian suffered the death penalty in early January for possessing and distributing copies of the New Testament.
Sadak Jamak and Karam Andraus, two Coptic Christians, were killed in early October in the village of El Kosheh, 390 kilometres south of Cairo. The authorities classified it as a generic "episode of violence".
Magos Solomon Seemere, age 30, a Christian member of the Rema Church, a group not recognised by the government, after four and a half years of prison died in the barracks of Adi-Nefase from the effects of torture suffered after his first arrest in 2001, for proselytism activities.
Ajja Delge, an evangelical Christian, was killed on January 5 by unknown persons in the city of Kofele, an area with a large Islamic majority.
Teddese Tefera Akufo, an evangelical Christian from Jimma, in the region of Oromiya, was stoned to death on March 26 by Wahhabi Islamic extremists, who kidnapped him while he was proselytising and brought him forcibly into a mosque, where they killed him as a "warning" to other Christians.
Fr Fransiskus Madhu, age 30, an Indonesian missionary of the Institute of the Divine Word, was assassinated on April 1 in the village of Mabungtot, in the diocese of Tabuk, on the northern island of Luzon. He had been in the Philippines since 2005.
Julia Campbell, age 44, an American Catholic and a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps, was found dead on April 18 in the village of Batad, in the province of Lagazpi City, where she had been teaching English in a boarding school for a few months. A freelance journalist, she had written for the New York Times and People. The alleged murderer, Juan Donald Duntugan, confessed and is currently on trial.
Justin Daniel Bataclan, a 20 year-old Catholic seminarian of the Society of St. Paul, was shot to death on June 7 by a thief who had broken into his house in Cubao, Quezon City, in the metropolitan area of Manila.
Fr Florante Rigonan, age 48, the pastor of the Catholic parish of St Isidore in Pinili, in the northern province of Llocos Norte, was the victim of an ambush on August 27, after celebrating evening Mass.
Martin Ambong, age 48, pastor of the Jesus Is Lord Ministries church, died after being stabbed 16 times on October 26, in the Barangay Perez area of Kidapawan City, in the southern province of North Cobato. The killer was a member of the pastor's own community.
Fr. Paul Bennett, age 59, an Anglican priest, married and the father of two children, was killed on March 14 in Trecynon, near Aberdare in Wales. The killer was 24 year-old Geraint Evans, a satanist who confessed to the crime.
Enrique Alberto Olano Merino, a Catholic Marist brother, was murdered on June 9 in Guatemala City, by common criminals.
Bansi Lal, age 18, a Pentecostal Christian, was thrown from a moving train last January 9, while she was returning from a prayer meeting in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Suspicions are crystallising around the militants of the ultra-Hinduist formation Bajarang Dal.
S. Stanley, age 58, a former employee of the public administration and the owner of the house used as a domestic church, was stabbed to death on February 10 in Kalliyoor, near Thiruvanandapuram, the capital of the southern state of Kerala. The murder was committed by a few intoxicated young men who had been chanting anti-Christian slogans outside of the victim's house.
Goda Israel, age 29, a Protestant pastor who graduated from the Emmanuel Bible Institute in Rajasthan and was the supervisor of 15 domestic churches for Emmanuel Mission International, was found dead on February 20 in the district of Krishna, in the state of Andra Pradesh. He had been threatened by Hindu fundamentalists because of his evangelisation activity.
Manzoor Ahmad Chat, age 29, an evangelical Christian who had not yet been baptised but was affiliated with the Church of the Voice in Salem in Kashmir, was eliminated by Islamic fundamentalists who kidnapped him, decapitated him, and on April 14 left his severed head in front of a mosque. Suspicion centres around the hizbul militants, the "freedom fighters", Muslim fundamentalists active between Pakistan and India.
Hemanta Das, age 29, a Hindu who had converted to become a Baptist Christian, was beaten to death on June 28 in Chand Mari, near Guwahati, in the northern state of Assam. According to Ngul Khan Pau, secretary of the Council of the Baptist Churches in northeast India, Das was the "first martyr of Assam".
Ajay Topno, age 38, an evangelical and an employee of Trans World Radio, was killed on September 19 near the village of Sahoda, in the district of Ranchi, Jharkhand state. Hindu fundamentalists in the area had earlier threatened to strike the Christians, "guilty" of obtaining conversions from Hinduism. The local press attributed the killing to the separatist group of the Jharkhand Liberation Tigers, but they denied it.
MC Elias, age 47, a Christian policeman who belonged to the Salem Voice Ministries, was killed on October 26 on the university campus of Changanassery, in the district of Kottayam, Kerala state. He had worked to calm the discord between two student groups. According to the interior minister of Kerala, "activists of the BJP", the fundamentalist party of Hindu origin, were behind the murder.
Sudroo, a Christian pastor in the village of Mandwa, in the district of Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh state, was the victim of an attack by a Hindu fundamentalists on November 20.
Vipin Mandloli, age 27, an evangelical Christian who had converted from Hinduism, was shot to death on October 14. It is believed that three Hindu priests eliminated the man, and offered his life to the goddess Kali.
Nine Christians were killed during the violence that broke out in the state of Orissa during the Christmas season: seven were assassinated on December 27, five of whom died when a group of Hindu fundamentalists attacked the homes of Christians in the village of Barakhama, in the district of Kandhamal; two other deaths were caused by the police, who fired upon Christians who demonstrated against the assaults; another two Christians had died during previous clashes.
A young secretary of a medical clinic in Mosul was killed on January 9, while she was returning to the city of Bartella.
A Christian of the parish of St. Paul in Mosul was assassinated on January 10 at the door of his home, while he was resisting a robbery attempt.
Isaac Esho Alhelani, age 64, an Assyrian Christian and the former vice-director of Iraqi Airways, was shot to death by Islamic extremists on February 8 in Mekanik, near Baghdad, while driving in his car with his wife.
Fawzeiyah and Margaret Naoum, two elderly Chaldean Christian sisters in Kirkuk, were killed in their home on March 26 by unknown persons: there were no signs of robbery in the house.
Fr Ragheed Ganni, age 32, a Chaldean priest in Mosul, was assassinated at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Spirit after celebrating Mass.
Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid, and Wahid Hanna, all three Chaldean deacons, were killed together with Fr Ganni. They were his personal bodyguards, given the serious deterioration of security in Mosul because of the actions of Islamic terrorists against the Christian minority.
Two Christians were assassinated on June 19, in the neighbourhood of Nour in Mosul.
Zuhair Youssef Astavo Kermles, age 49, and Luay Solomon Numan, age 21, Christians of Mosul, were killed in a terrorist ambush on June 27. Both were members of the organisation Nation Union of Bet-Nahrin.
Samir Estephan Mikha Duda, an Assyrian Christian of Baghdad, was killed by unknown armed men on October 3.
Franso Ishak, an Assyrian Christian of Baghdad, was assassinated in the capital on October 7.
Bassam Yousif Elias, a Christian of Mosul, was killed after the Sunday liturgy on October 7, which he had attended in the church of al-Tahira.
Maro Awanis, age 48, the mother of three daughters and a member of the Armenian Church, was killed on October 9 in Baghdad in an ambush conducted by men with their faces covered.
Geneva Jalal, age 30, an Armenian Christian, was assassinated in Baghdad on October 9.
An Iraqi Catholic husband and wife from Mosul were killed on October 23, after hosting a prayer meeting in their home.
Twenty-seven Christians were eliminated during the months of September and October in the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk: this information comes from Lucas Barini, spokesman of the Christian Peace Association, according to reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Fr Martin Addai, age 46, a Catholic missionary of the order of the White Fathers, was assassinated by bandits on March 10 in Nairobi.
Fr Humberto Macias Rosales, age 52, a Catholic priest of Aguascalientes, was killed on the evening of May 1. He had already received death threats, and had even been stabbed for his efforts on behalf of young people trapped in drug addiction.
Fr Fernando Sanchez Duran, a Catholic pastor in Santiago Tlaltepoxco, north of Mexico City, was kidnapped and found dead on July 22; he had been very well known for his work on behalf of drug addicted young people in the area.
Fr Ricardo Junious, age 70, a Catholic priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, born in Chicago, in the United States, but who had lived in Mexico City for years, was found dead on July 29 in the rectory of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the San Rafael neighbourhood, with signs of torture and strangulation. He was very dedicated to helping the young victims of alcoholism and drugs.
Christianah Oluwatoyin Olusase, a Christian teacher at a school in Abuja, in the northern state of Gombe, was beaten to death by some Muslim students who accused her of having profaned the Qur'an. The incident goes back to the middle of March.
Nine Christians were killed between the end of September and the beginning of October in the northern state of Kano. A group of Muslim fundamentalists attacked a secondary school in Tudun Wada, and carried out a massacre on the basis of the rumoured "blasphemy" committed by some Christian students. A local policeman says there were "many horribly mutilated corpses".
Sadiq Masih, age of 45, a Protestant, was beaten to death in his home on July 30, by some members of the Chaudri family, for whom he had worked. Because of the abuse that he suffered on account of his Christian faith, he had quit his farming work for the Chaudris.
Arif Khan, age 50, a Baptist bishop in Rawalpindi, and his wife Kathleen, age 45, both American citizens, were assassinated on August 9 in Islamabad. A Christian couple from the city of Wana were arrested for their murder, on the charge of ordering the double homicide for reasons "of honour": but according to local Christian sources, this is a false reconstruction of the incident. The direct author of the crime was shown to be a Muslim, Said Alam.
Bo Brekke, age 50, a Norwegian Christian and the head of the Salvation Army delegation in the country, was assassinated on September 27, in his office in Lahore. He had been in Pakistan for a year; it seems that the homicide was linked to a robbery.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Fr Richard Bimeriki, a Catholic priest of the parish of Jomba, in northern Kivu, died on April 7, Easter Sunday, from wounds he suffered in an attack that took place in his parish on March 12, by men in military uniform.
Oleg Stupichkin, age 41, an Orthodox priest, was killed on January 5, the vigil of the Orthodox Feast of the Nativity, in his church of Neivo-Shaitansky, near Yekaterinburg. The assassins were two icon thieves; the priest leaves behind a wife and four children.
Fr Pyotr, an Orthodox priest, was stabbed to death on March 4, just before presiding over the evening liturgy at his church in Voronezh.
The Orthodox monk Avenir Smolin, age 29, rector of the Church of the Ascension of Our Lord in Furmanov, in the region of Ivanovo, was killed by a burglar on August 21.
Fr Salvador Herandez Seller, age 75, a Catholic priest, died on April 11 following wounds that he suffered in an ambush at his house in Murcia. He was a chaplain for immigrants.
Fr Tomas Perez, age 75, a Catholic pastor in Villafranca de Cordoba, was found dead in his home on July 16. His body showed clear signs of violence.
Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, age 38, pastor of the Tamil Mission Church in Jaffna, was killed by government security forces on January 13. According to the army, he was transporting explosives and would not obey an order to stop on the road; the members of his church deny it.
Fr Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brow, age 35, a Catholic priest, was found horribly mutilated on March 14 in Pungudetheevu, a coastal area near the city of Jaffna. He had disappeared in 2005 after denouncing the massacre carried out in a school by the army, in an attack against the separatist rebels of the Tamil Tigers.
Fr Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith, age 40, a Catholic priest and the coordinator of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Mannar, was the victim of roadside bomb on September 26, near the refugee camp in Vidathalvu.
Fr Allard Msheyene, age 42, a Catholic priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, died on October 6 following an attack in the area of Msogwaba.
The Egyptian Daniel Girgis, age 37, the Sudanese Markous Tiya, Rihab Kafi Jadeen, and another young man (not identified), all evangelical Christians, were assassinated by unknown persons on April 27, after holding a meeting of Christian formation in Torogoi, in the Nuba mountains. The four were members of the Bahry Evangelical Church in Khartoum. According to local Christian sources, suspicion is focused on Islamic fundamentalists, irritated by the evangelisation activities of the Christian group.
Adam Adam, a humanitarian worker for the NGO Action by Churches Together, a partner of Caritas, was killed on June 17 by three armed men. He was one of the leaders of the refugee camp in Khamsa Degaig, near Zalingei, west of Darfur, where 100,000 displaced persons are staying.
On September 27, five young people were killed by a militant of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) who blew himself with a grenade after entering a church in Khorfulus, 40 kilometers southwest of Malakal, in the Upper Nile state. Their names: Donguei Matok Chan, age 8, Dhieu Nyandual, 20, Nyaniok Ryak Chol Ayoum, 11, Nyawyly Kon Rwaj, 11, Simon Chol Charles Thon Arob, 17.
Rami Khader Ayyad, age 32, a Palestinian Protestant, was killed on October 7 in Gaza; his corpse showed clear signs of torture. Khader managed the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, connected to the Palestinian Bible Society. The shop had suffered an attack the previous April, and the men had received various death threats. Fr David Maria Jaeger, the former spokesman of the Custody of Holy Land, called Ayyad "a martyr".
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Kelvin Austin, age 34, leader of the independent church Mantle Sword of the Spirit, was shot to death on March 21 in the area of Moruga. The reverend had frequently felt that he was in danger, and had asked for protection from the authorities.
Necati Aydin, age 35, Ugur Yuksel, age 32, both Turks, and German citizen Tilmann Geske, age 46, all evangelical Christians, had their throats cut on April 18 in the headquarters of the Zirve publishing house in the city of Malatya, where Turkish language Bibles and Christian books were published. The alleged assassins are currently on trial: they are seven young nationalists who are believed to have connections to radical Islam.
Vin Y Het, just over 20 years old, a Christian of the ethnic Hroi minority, died on April 20 in Son Hoa, in the coastal province of Phu Yen, from a beating during interrogation by police, who wanted to make him renounce his faith. He leaves behind a pregnant wife and two young children.
TOTAL VICTIMS: 123
COUNTRIES INVOLVED: 126
Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, North Korea, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Great Britain, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vietnam.
VICTIMS BY COUNTRY
1. Iraq: 47
2. India: 18
3. Nigeria, Sudan: 10
4. Colombia, Philippines: 5
5. Pakistan: 4
6. Mexico, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey: 3
7. Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Spain: 2
8. Brazil, North Korea, Eritrea, Great Britain, Guatemala, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, the Palestinian territories, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam: 1
SOURCES: Aciprensa, AFP, Aina, AsiaNews, Assist News, Avvenire, BBC, BosNewsLife, CAFOD, Caritas Internationalis, Catholic News Agency, Catholic News Service, Catholic World News, Compass Direct News, Christian Aid, Christian Post, Christianity Solidarity Worldwide, CNN, Eglises d'Asie, Ekklesia, ENI, Independent Catholic News, Interfax, International Christian Concern, United Nations, Reuters, Sir, SVM News, Ucanews, Voice of the Martyrs Canada.
List compiled by Lorenzo Fazzini