10th Anniversary Message on the Abduction of 276 Chibok School Girls

Ten years ago, the terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from Chibok Secondary School. Fifty-seven of the girls escaped while they were being ferried into the Sambisa forest. Two of the girls later escaped and were found by a vigilante group before being handed over to the military. Not too long after, 102 girls were freed by the Federal Government of Nigeria during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Most of the girls in this group were enrolled to restart their education at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola.

After being held captive for upwards of 8 years, 21 girls escaped from their captors under different circumstances. It is estimated that about 91 young women are still unaccounted for. It has been reported that about 30 of the girls have died from snake bites, complications during birth, collateral damage from military operations, or other natural circumstances such as illness. Unfortunately, the girls who have this information have been warned not to discuss it. Read more here.

21Wilberforce Welcomes New President

Wissam al-Saliby has been appointed President of the 21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center. Al-Saliby is an internationally recognized expert in international religious freedom and human rights who brings more than fifteen years of experience in advocating for religious freedom at the United Nations, training and capacity building for human rights in the Middle East and around the world, and strategic leadership and organizational development.

“Wissam brings years of experience advocating for religious freedom for all at the highest levels, said 21Wilberforce Board Member Knox Thames. “Wissam’s heart for the suffering has been widely recognized, especially his leadership and expertise that brings together meaningful government engagement and substantive grassroots training. With religious persecution spreading like a plague, 21Wilberforce, under the leadership of Wissam and the 21Wilberforce team, will continue to have a profound impact that protects religious freedom around the world and helps many who have faced the pain of persecution. Read more here.

Kachin Baptist Pastor Samson Detained Again After Release

Rev. Hkalam Samson was among 3,300 prisoners released from Myitkyina Prison in a junta amnesty on Wednesday, April 17th. In a cruel turn of events, the former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention and chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly was rearrested just 24 hours later. Military intelligence personnel and men in uniform returned to the home of Rev. Hkalam Samson at 9 pm after evening service.  SAC security personnel had taken Rev. Samson back to the Myitkyina prison guest house to stay overnight or beyond.  The family asked for Rev Samson’s wife to stay with him at the prison guest house and this request was granted, but she has since returned to her home.

According to a Baptist Convention member who spoke on the condition of anonymity for safety reasons, the three were taken after they were told they needed to answer some questions. Read more here.

U.S. Congress Finally Appropriates Funds to Help Burma

Following a landslide election win by the pro-democracy NLD party on 1 February 2021, the Burmese military seized control of Burma. In Myanmar, what started as civil disobedience quickly became a civil war. The Rohingya and many of Burma’s largely Christian ethnic groups have endured decades of abuse, persecution, and ethnic violence. The Biden administration has formally determined that Myanmar’s military has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya minority. Read more here.

Taking Action on the Thai-Burma Border

21Wilberforce partners with a seminary on the Thai-Burma (also known as Myanmar) border that is working to help address a crisis that displaced people fleeing a new military offensive by the Karen National Union. This recent occurrence forced the Myanmar military junta to surrender the strategic border town of Myawaddy last week. They provided the following update from the frontlines where they work from the city of Mae Sot in Thailand, right across the border from Myawaddy.

“Kawthoolei Hope Theological Seminary (KHTS) is helping to address the influx of war victims in the volatile and crisis-ridden Thai-Myanmar border region. The situation has reached a critical point, with escalating violence and displacement posing imminent danger to thousands of lives. Read more here.

Helpful Links:

Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual event on Wednesday, May 1st at 10 am ET on their 2024 Annual Report. This year’s report commemorates the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Watch online.

In Defense of Christians organized a Congressional briefing on the ongoing atrocities against Christians in Nigeria. Watch here.

Unanswered questions continue to surround the violent death of a Baptist minister in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state. Read more here.

Christianity’s long history in Algeria is threatened. Algeria uses a discriminatory law to crack down on religious minorities. As the government closes churches and slows down the registration process for religious groups, Algerian Christians are finding life increasingly difficult. Read more here.