Forced Conversion
Pastor Jose Papachen and his wife Sheeja were arrested in January 2023 in Uttar Pradesh, Their supposed crime? Giving Bibles to people. A complaint was filed with the police, accusing them of alluring people belonging to the Scheduled Caste and tribal communities into converting to Christianity.

Uttar Pradesh is one of twelve Indian states that have passed anti-conversion laws, and there have been calls for a nationwide anti-conversion law. In theory, these laws stop Hindus being forced or bribed to convert to other faiths. In practice, these laws are often abused to target and harass Christians and other religious minorities, or even to settle personal scores. There has been a steady rise in false accusations that Christians are trying to forcibly convert people from other faith backgrounds. There is no equivalent law about people being converted to Hinduism.

Pastor Jose and Sheeja were initially denied bail in March this year. On appeal, however, the Allahabad court in the southern city of Prayagraj said the couple could be instantly released and were not guilty of any crime.

Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law prohibits any attempt to force someone to convert to another religion (than Hinduism) through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by fraudulent means. The appeal court affirmed that Pastor Jose and Sheeja were not going any of these things.
A Reader, UP

‘All of Palestine is Under Attack’
For people around the world, it’s impossible to imagine the scale of death and destruction in Gaza.

In just two weeks, the Israeli military has killed over 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli warplanes have flattened entire neighbourhoods. Shell-shocked children are left to search for their parents under the rubble. Millions of Palestinians have once again been made refugees, bombed as they tried to flee. Surgeons are operating by the light of their cell phones, increasingly without anesthesia. This is genocide.This isn’t a war on Hamas. It’s a war on the Palestinian people.

While international attention is focused on Gaza, the Israeli government and extremist settler groups are taking the opportunity to accelerate the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israeli settlers are being armed by the Israeli state, and have become indistinguishable from Israeli soldiers. Both abuse Palestinians with impunity.

On October 12, as the last villagers of Wadi al-Seeq left their homes, driven out by ongoing settler terror, a group of Israeli “soldiers-settlers”—some dressed in military uniform and some in civilian clothing—took three Palestinian men captive.

For hours, the men were tortured: They beat them, forced them to strip down to their underwear, handcuffed and blindfolded them, urinated on them, extinguished cigarettes on their bodies, and attempted to sexually assault one of them.

Settlers have carried out dozens of attacks, setting Palestinian homes on fire, destroying their property, and shooting at them with live ammunition.

Over 90 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 26 children, have been murdered by the Israeli military and settlers since October 7.

They include 16-year-old Mohammad Rafat Mohammad Edwan, who was throwing stones at Israeli soldiers when he was shot with live ammunition. The bullet lodged itself in his lung, and four days later, on October 14, he was dead.

On October 12, 62-year-old Ibrahim Wadi and his son, 24-year-old Ahmad Wadi, were killed when Israeli settlers opened fire on the funeral procession of four Palestinians who had been murdered the previous day — three by Israeli settlers and one by an Israeli soldier.

And on October 19, 11-year-old Yousef Mohammad Omar Zaghdad was killed when the Israeli military fired a missile at a group of civilians inside Noor Shams refugee camp. Three other children were killed in the attack.
Assel Al Bajeh, The Wire

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Vol 56, No. 22, Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2023