Hiding in plain sight in France: the priests accused in Rwanda genocide

Catholic leaders accused of acting as apologists for the slaughter by helping priests accused of murder in Rwanda evade justice

According to The Guardian, In 2005, the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), then in the process of convicting many of the political and military leaders who oversaw the genocide, issued charges against Father Wenceslas. The indictment was a catalogue of horror. The priest, it said, conspired with leaders of the extremist Hutu militia spearheading the killing of Tutsis. It alleges that he helped draw up lists of men to die, stood by as Tutsis were taken away and killed, allowed the militia to roam his church hunting for victims, and that he raped young women.

The same year as the ICTR indictment, a military court in Rwanda convicted the priest in absentia and sentenced him to life in prison for genocide.

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A BRIEF ABOUT WITCHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS IN UGANDA: A NEED FOR STAND UP FOR REASON CAMPAIGN 2015

Let's end “witchcraft” accusations and victimization in Uganda!

In Uganda, the persistence of superstitious and religious beliefs leads to accusations of “witchcraft,” and the violent persecution and deaths of innocent men, women and children accused.

A few dollars may not change your life, but it could save someone from becoming a victim of witchcraft” accusations.

AAI is partnering with its Ugandan affiliate, the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability (HALEA), to address this problem.

For more information about “witchcraft” persecution practices in Uganda – who the victims are, and how HALEA will tame witchcraft victimisation – please check here.

The Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability (HALEA) started in 2008 to empower the vulnerable and victimized people in Uganda such as teenagers, young mothers, prostitutes, LGBTI, witchcraft victims, women and children. We have been actively engaged in the empowerment of teenagers, young mothers and LGBTI people in the last six years, then realized that we need to also handle the challenge of witchcraft victimization that is on the rise in Uganda. Hence, we developed the “Stand Up for Reason” campaign.

WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?

The victims are children, teenagers, men and women. Anyone can be a victim depending on the prevailing situation. Children are being targeted as sacrifices for the appeasement of the so-called “gods.”

WITCHCRAFT PRACTICES/ TENDENCIES IN UGANDA

People claiming to be “witchdoctors” generally demand sacrifices on behalf of their “gods” and as a condition for the “gods” to answer the request of the clients who visit them to solve their problems. Children are the main victims. Hundreds of children disappear each year without a trace, and several others are found dead and mutilated, missing body parts such as the tongue, head, genitals, etc. Graves are raided in search of skulls for use in superstitious practices deemed “witchcraft.” Many people believe that these baseless practices are real, and that belief is reflected in public tax systems. Fetish items believed to hold magical, protective powers are displayed in offices. Furthermore, religious leaders and especially born-again pastors claim that “witchcraft” is real, and that “witches” have powers to destroy lives. They claim to have powers to heal people from “witchcraft,” and encourage them to destroy shrines belonging to those they deem “witches,” and in some cases, even sanction their murder. 

WITCHCRAFT VICTIMISATION INCREASES

In the last two years, the number of children lost through child sacrifices has increased from a dozen a few years ago, to hundreds in the last two years. At the same time, the number of people accused of “witchcraft” has increased. Property and lives have been destroyed and there is no hope that without serious intervention, this trend of violence and loss of lives will be reversed. It is against this background that HALEA seeks to intervene through the “Stand Up for Reason” campaign.

HOW HALEA WILL TAME WITCHCRAFT VICTIMISATION

HALEA will start by holding meetings with several stakeholders (media, business, religious and cultural leaders). Well publicized rallies to sensitize people about witchcraft victimization will be held. Petitions to several stakeholders will be made. Billboards will be erected and newspaper adverts, radio and television programs will be used to take the message to people. HALEA will closely work with the police and local authorities to ensure that areas rampant with victimization are sensitized, rescue teams are established, and victims are protected.

We will design, print and distribute “Stand up for Reason” stickers that carry information challenging religion and superstition, and warn against accusing people of “witchcraft” and killing them. We will disseminate the message them that supernatural powers do not exist, and that there is no need to sacrifice children or kill others, evict people, or destroy their property, because these practices are inhumane, illogical, unreasonable, not scientific and against the laws of the country. HALEA will assemble a team of lawyers to defend the rights of the victims of “witchcraft” accusations and persecution.

 A PICTORIAL ON WITCH CRAFT VICTIMISATION IN UGANDA

A traditional healer at his burnt shrine in Kayunga. The healers accuse police of failing to prosecute people they arrest masquerading as healers on pretext that there is no law under which they can charge them.

Some people seek the services of witchdoctors to keep themselves in officeWitchcraft practices creeps into public offices. The need to secure a job has become so critical, some Ugandans are resorting to witchcraft. As those with jobs seek the services of witchdoctors to keep themselves in office, those without also turn to the same to oust them.We also note that pastors and religious leaders insight witchcraft  claiming it exists and in sighting people to  fight he so called witches. Children are the most vulnerable as some witchdoctors sacrifice them as a ‘practice’ to solve heir client’s problems. In the photo below is  Peter Sewakiryanga, showing the scars on Sembatya’s head a child who was rescued from the hands of a witch doctor who had wanted to sacrifice him.

Graves are being raided by people who believe in witchcraft and they claim that skulls help them to cure certain ailments. In some cases, children are sold to witchdoctors by their own parents or people close to them.In the photo is Levi Tugwana being detained at Bushenyi police station.

 

The man above, Levi Tugwana was  arrested by police in Bushenyi trying to sell off an eleven months old baby for sh600, 000  to pay off his debts.

 

The practice of invading graveyards is common in the central region of Uganda.

In the photo below, a  mob is seen  following a man suspected to be a witch. He was to be lynched if the police had not intervened in time.

In the photo below, a banana plantation of a suspected witch was destroyed by a mob and evicted the victim, a one Tereza of Karambi village..Her house was also demolished.T


In the photo above, another victim, Arinaitwe had her hand broken and her finger hacked, she was just lucky to escape alive.

HALEA’S CONTACT INFORMATION

PLOT 41, ENTERPRISE HOUSE, MAKERERE HILL ROAD

Website: www.haleauganda.org

Email Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone: +256  751- 420 810, +256 772 57 66 35

Contact Person:  KATO MUKASA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HALEA. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A god of “ridiculous miracles”

WRITTEN BY JO STEPHANIE, AAI NEWS TEAM

Earlier this month Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean televangelist, visited Zambia for what was dubbed the Zambia Miracle Night. He was accompanied by his wife, Prophetess Beverly Angel.

It is unclear exactly how many people attended the event but Lusaka’s Olympic Youth Development Centre was filled to capacity with people hoping for a miracle.

And if reports are to be believed there were many miracles. A man was reportedly cured of deafness after fourteen years, while others claimed to be cured of diabetes and high blood pressure. Most notably were reported cases of HIV being cured, though the number of cured patients wasn’t specified.

In such cases one cannot discount the power of the placebo effect. People went to the event expecting a miracle and believed they were going to see someone endowed with special powers from God. The mind is a powerful thing and such ‘miracle healings’ are more likely a result of a strong belief that healing is coming rather than a miracle bestowed by a gifted preacher or prophet.

Zambia Red Cross medical personnel were reportedly on hand to test patients before and after the healing and claimed that diseases were in fact cured at the event. However there was no mention of a follow-up. For all we know the above-mentioned conditions could have returned. And specifically in the case of patients being cured of high blood pressure this is problematic as our blood pressure can change throughout the day. A healthy reading at one point in the day does not mean one has been cured of low or high blood pressure. But swept up in the fervor of the event the faithful do not stop to think of such things.

But let us for a moment imagine that people were genuinely cured of their illnesses at this Miracle Night. There are over 35 million still infected with HIV – why should we be impressed that one or two were cured when millions more continue to suffer from the disease? And a bigger question is that if God existed then why would He allow so much disease and suffering to persist in the first place? Why praise God for healing a few people when billions continue to fall prey to disease? Non-believers often question how a benevolent, all-knowing and all-powerful god can allow suffering to persist and do nothing about it. This is a valid question which so far has not been adequately answered by religious apologists. Furthermore, why are miraculous healings more likely to happen at special events such as the one in question in Zambia? If faith healing were a reliable alternative to modern medicine then we would replace doctors with preachers.

Prophet Uebert Angel, the televangelist who performed the 'healings', is one of a growing number of millionaire African preachers with several entrepreneurial ventures. He attained British citizenship but has since moved back to Zimbabwe and grown his ministry, Spirit Embassy, from there and opened branches around the world. Much is known about his educational background and business ventures but as a Forbes Africa article about the ‘prophet’ noted, “there is still a lot about him shrouded in mystery.” After the miracle night Angel tweeted that it was a night of “ridiculous miracles,” and I’m inclined to believe him. Apart from diseases being cured, some audience members claim ‘miracle money’ appeared in their pockets and unexplained prepaid credit in their mobile phones. I agree that this is ridiculous because surely if there is a God there are better ways for Him to make his presence known. A kind and loving God would do more than give a few random people free phone credit and a little money in their pockets. If God were to come out of the woodwork and prove His or Her existence beyond a reasonable doubt and eradicate poverty, for instance, then sure, I’d be impressed. But we cannot let ourselves be impressed/fooled by unverified reports of miracle money. We cannot be sure those people were not planted in the audience to testify to false miracles. And more importantly there is no irrefutable evidence of faith healing working. We do have many cases though of people worsening their conditions or even dying because they chose faith healing over conventional medicine.

Picture: from spiritembassy.org

Cape Town to shut pro-gay mosque

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, which also allows women to lead prayers, must close, a local official has told the BBC.

A City of Cape Town councillor says the newly established Open Mosque has violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.

The mosque officially opened its doors on Friday despite criticism from members of the local Muslim community.

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Court topples Uganda’s anti-gay law

By Emma Margolin

According to msnbc, Uganda’s Constitutional Court has nullified a draconian anti-gay law that carried, among other penalties, life-long prison sentences for so-called “aggravated homosexuality.”

In a decision Friday from a panel of five judges, the court found Uganda’s recently-enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act “null and void” because it was passed without a quorum of the necessary one-third members of parliament present. Ugandan officials have not yet announced a decision on whether they’ll appeal the ruling to the nation’s Supreme Court.

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An Atheist Elementary School in western Uganda

By Hank Pellissier

Brighter brains institute interviewed the founder of the first atheist school in Uganda, in western Uganda, near Ruwenzori National Park - just 22 miles from the Congo border - there’s a recently established ”atheist” school, called Kasese Humanist Primary School.

Brighter Brains Institute: Are you the founder? When did you get the idea to start the school? How did you get the initial funding?

Bwambale M Robert:Yes, I am the founder of Kasese Humanist Primary School. I first founded Kasese United Humanist Association in the year 2009 with a vision to spread free thought in my area.

Atheist Alliance International was the first organization to send a team of 4 volunteers - they came to a pilot school we opened in Kilembe under the name Kilembe Valley Humanist School. This school was relocated to Kasese a year later (in 2011) to serve a wider semi-urban population. We renamed the school to be Kasese Humanist Primary School.

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“Africa Has Too Much Religion”: the Amazing Journey of John Adewoye

WRITTEN BY MARK KOLSEN, GUEST WRITER OF AAI NEWS TEAM

John Adowye’s story is almost unbelievable. A gay Catholic priest who could never overcome his fear of hell, he left Nigeria for the United States, hoping he could turn straight. After three futile years, John not only has accepted his sexual orientation but has become a strong, critical voice of religious oppression.

A gay Nigerian boy who enrolled in seminary and became a priest to escape bullying? Who didn’t grasp Catholicism’s anti-gay doctrine until the age of 22? And who, fearing the fires of hell, immigrated to the United States after reading an Exodus pamphlet promising him he could “convert” from gay to straight? Yet, a Nigerian who today says, “Africa has too much religion”?

John Adewoye’s life story includes these, and many other, remarkable events.

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More Than 60 Women, Girls Escape Islamist Abductors in Nigeria


Maiduguri, Nigeria:  More than 60 women and girls abducted last month by Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria have escaped their captors, sources said on Sunday.

According to ND TV, local vigilante Abbas Gava said he had "received an alert from my colleagues ... that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home" late Friday.

A high-level security source in the Borno state capital Maiduguri, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed the escape.

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Nigerian atheist freed from mental ward, held for blasphemy against Islam, gets death threats

According to Daily Journal, Nigerian atheist released from the mental ward to which his Muslim family committed him by force said Thursday he is getting death threats for blaspheming against Islam.

Mubarak Bala, a 29-year-old chemical process engineer, said he is in hiding in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria where Shariah law holds and some interpretations have blasphemy punishable by death.

He has been incarcerated in a mental health institution by his family after saying he had lost his belief in God.

"People are threatening me, I mean life-threatening threats," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He said he was too frightened of drawing attention and wouldn't allow an AP video journalist or photographer to come to his hiding place.

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Nigeria: 'Boko Haram' attack villages near Chibok

According to BBC News Africa, four villages in north-eastern Nigeria have been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants who targeted at least one church.

Some unconfirmed reports say 40 civilians and 6 insurgents were killed as militants and vigilantes clashed.

It is the latest assault on villages near Chibok, the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April.

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Nigerian man is locked up in a mental health institution after saying he is an atheist

According to The Guardian, a Nigerian man has been incarcerated in a mental health institution by his family after saying he had lost his belief in God.

Mubarak Bala, 29, is said to have been forcibly medicated for "insanity" for nearly two weeks, despite a doctor's opinion that he has no psychological problems.

Campaigners are calling for his release and say the case highlights the fact that atheists are a persecuted minority in many African countries.

Bala's Twitter account uses the handle "ExMuslim", and his profile says: "Chemical Process Engineer. I stand for Truth & Justice. Religion insults human conscience & reason, duped me that I have another lifetime. Agnostic Atheist."

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