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Free your prisoners. The Aid to the Church in Need report on persecuted Christians around the world

“It is time for the world to hear their stories; it is time to tell the truth to those in power so that those who defy the law detain innocent people are finally brought to justice.

It is time for governments to act. It is time to demonstrate in defense of our communities of the faithful, vulnerable, poor and persecuted. We must not stop until the oppressor finally hears our cry: “Free your prisoners”.

Thus ends the preface by Asia Bibi – a Christian unjustly sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan and remained in prison for almost ten years – to the report that Aid to the Church in Need has dedicated to the persecution against Christians and other minorities in the world, entitled Free your prisoners.

This report explores particular case studies, which examine the specific situations of four countries – China, Eritrea, Nigeria and Pakistan -, but in the introduction it gives a measure of the extent of the phenomenon: “according to the Pew Research Center, the unjust detention of Christians – both by States and by non-governmental subjects – emerges as a violation of human rights in 143 countries where there are serious harassment of the faithful.”

The current health emergency for Sars-CoV-2 makes the situation of Christians even more complicated: the closure of the courts and the suspension of legal activities further extend the time of justice, while some governments take advantage of the anticovid measures to impose further restrictions and a greater control over minorities and their meetings.

The report also underlines that Christians are not “the only minority of faith to suffer unjust detention”: it refers to the situation of Uyghur Muslims in China or of the almost two million people, mostly Muslims, who in 2019 in the state of Assam in northeastern India, they were threatened with detention or deportation.