Open Doors Releases 2005 Persecution Report, Notes Increases

Open Doors released this week a review of the persecuted church worldwide in 2005, which showed increased persecution of Christians in countries such as North Korea, Indonesia, and Eritrea.

The countries North Korea and Indonesia, in particular, have made headlines around the world not only over the atrocities against Christians, but also for severe human rights violations. As a result, Open Doors ranked the closed, authoritarian country of North Korea at the top of its 2005 World Watch List of countries where persecution is most severe for the third year in a row. The oldest on-going ministry to the persecuted church estimates that in North Korea, about 400,000 Christians have faced daily persecution, including tortures and public killings.

Indonesia – the country with the largest Muslim population in the world – also witnessed severe Christian persecution over the past year with widespread church closures, arrests of Christians, and recently, the beheadings of teenaged Christian girls.

In the highly-publicized Christian persecution case that occurred a few months ago, Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun were arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment for running a “Happy Sunday” program for children. The three Christian women, jailed since Sept. 1, were accused by Muslim fundamentalists of proselytizing Muslim children.

Moreover, the beheading of three Indonesian Christian high school girls, aged 15-19, on Oct. 29 shocked the world. The girls were killed by five unidentified men in town of Poso where there has been a long-standing Christian-Muslim clash.

The heads of the girls were found in a plastic bag with a warning that read “100 Christian teenagers would be killed,” reported Church Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

And recently, on Dec. 8, an Islamic militant torched a church in the Indonesian Province of North Sulawesi.

Open Doors also highlighted the African nation of Eritrea for its Christian persecution.

In the small Eastern African country of Eritrea, 26 pastors and 1,700 evangelical church members are now in prison, with some of them even tortured by government military forces, according to reports. The number of Christians in prison is twice that of the year before.

Moreover, some religious prisoners are being held in metal shipping containers without legal representation.

There have also been near-weekly reports of multiple police raids on Christian weddings and the mass arrests of all those present at the ceremony.

After having served the persecuted believers worldwide for the past 50 years, “there is more work that needs to be done” for Open Doors, noted the ministry’s president, Dr. Carl Moeller.

“Persecution of God’s Church is on the rise and we must be ready,” he said at the conclusion of Open Doors’ review. “We need to be ready to go and to pray. We need to press on in 2006 – partnering together to support our brothers and sisters in Christ.”