July 18, 2019

SYRIA: Car Bomb Attack on Church

Bomb attack on Syrian-Orthodox church in Qamishli - Photo: Voice of America www.voanews.com/
Photo: Voice of America

On July 11th, the Syrian-Orthodox church in Qamishli was the target of a car bomb attack. Although there were no known fatalities, at least eleven people were injured. Cars and buildings in the area, including the church facility, sustained serious damages. According to one source, the injuries would have been far worse had the attack happened 30 minutes earlier when the vespers (evening prayers) had ended.

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CUBA: Defenders of Religious Freedom Blocked from Meetings

Alain Toledano Valiente - Photo: Facebook / Alain Toledano Valiente
Alain Toledano Valiente
Photo: Facebook /
Alain Toledano Valiente

The United States Department of State has been hosting a Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom event in Washington, D.C. from July 16th to 18th. Representatives from around the world have gathered together to discuss this major issue. For some representatives from Cuba, however, attendance was blocked by the Cuban government.

Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre, an independent journalist and outspoken advocate for religious freedom in the country, was detained on July 12th and has not been heard from since. Attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful, and his cell phone appears to be disconnected. The reason for his detention is unknown.

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CHINA: Pastor Cao Faces a "Paper Trial"

John Cao - Photo: Ben Cao via ChinaAid www.chinaaid.org
John Cao
Photo: Ben Cao via ChinaAid

American pastor John Cao and his co-worker, Jing Ruxia, were detained in 2017 after being accused of "organizing illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China (see our previous report). Pastor Cao was sentenced to seven years in prison and Jing to one year. Although the accused pastor has appealed the sentence, the hearing has been pushed back several times.

Last week, the hearing was scheduled for August 22nd. However, Pastor Cao's lawyer received notice on July 12th that there will be no hearing after all; instead, the lawyers must submit any arguments on paper by July 17th. The court would then consider the arguments and render a decision. ChinaAid founder Bob Fu has condemned the process as a "sham" and a "trial session on paper only."

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