Australia played Sri Lanka in a One Day International yesterday, however the game was abandoned after the first innings and a small number of overs in the Sri Lankan innings. The game became something of a farce for a number of reasons, including the dismissal of two Australian batsmen for LBW after they had clearly hit the ball into their legs.
One of the batsmen, David Warner, was visibly furious with the decision, yet walked off following the umpire’s decision. The link below is to an article reporting on his official reprimand for dissent, which frankly I find disgraceful. Surely if an umpire makes a terrible decision you must expect some show of disappointment with the decision from the batsman being given out. This is truly a pathetic outcome for an umpire’s mistake – the batsmen is further punished.
LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Compass Direct News) – Pakistani minority rights defender Joseph Francis has been unjustly jailed by Islamists and others who oppose his work on behalf of Christians, according to the legal aid organization Francis directs.
An Islamist in Punjab Province who said he had converted to Christianity subsequently converted a young woman to Islam and married her, setting into motion a series of spurious charges when her parents brought her to Francis for counsel, according to the Lahore-based Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). Angered when her family brought her to Francis hoping he would counsel her away from Islam, Mehboob Basharat then arranged for baseless charges to be filed against Francis, director of CLAAS, for allegedly detaining her and setting her on fire, CLAAS officials said in a statement.
Francis was jailed on July 12 after Basharat filed specious charges against him for forging documents and concealing his travel out of the country while on bail. Those charges arose out of the previous case, in which Basharat arranged for the woman he converted to Islam to charge the CLAAS director and others with forcibly detaining and assaulting her in 2006 – even though she previously had told police she suffered no ill treatment at the CLAAS offices.
“His only crime was to help suffering parents of a young Christian girl who was taken away from her family,” according to the CLAAS statement.
Francis’ predicament began when Basharat went to Bishop Samuel Azariah of Raiwind diocese in 2006 and told him that he, his wife and two children had converted from Islam to Christianity. Since his conversion, he told Bishop Azariah, his Muslim family and friends had ostracized him, and he pleaded with the clergyman to employ him. Bishop Azariah gave him a job in the diocese and provided a living space for him on the church premises, according to CLAAS.
Though he never attended church services, Basharat started socializing with Christian families of the congregation and showed excessive interest in their daughters, according to CLAAS. Pastor Emmanuel Khokhar took note and gave Basharat a warning, according to CLAAS.
Basharat became close with Roma Masih, one of six daughters in a family at the congregation, and on Sept. 26, 2006 he took her to a Muslim education center called Jamia Naeemia Lahore, where she embraced Islam and took on the name Aisha; he later eloped with her, and on Nov. 26, 2006 they married under Islamic rites, according to CLAAS.
When her family found out, they went to Bishop Azariah, who referred them to CLAAS for help. Roma/Aisha’s parents, Khursheed Masih and Shamim Masih, asked Francis to talk with their daughter. Basharat, meantime, returned to Raiwind (25 kilometers from Lahore) to collect his first wife and children, at one point threatening Bishop Azariah when the clergyman tried to talk to him. On Dec. 23, 2006 Basharat allowed Roma/Aisha to go to her parents’ house. They immediately brought her to CLAAS offices, insisting that Francis keep her in the organization’s second-floor shelter for abused women.
“They said that if she stayed away from Basharat, maybe she will change her mind and come back to her family,” according to the CLAAS statement.
Roma/Aisha, some of her sisters and their mother stayed overnight at the shelter, and the convert told Francis that she was now a Muslim and did not wish to associate with “infidels.” Francis told Roma/Aisha’s parents that she now considered herself a Muslim and urged them not to insist on their daughter remaining with them, according to CLAAS.
Upon learning that the Masihs had taken their daughter to CLAAS offices, Basharat on Dec. 23, 2006 complained to police in Lahore that the Christian parents of his wife were detaining her. The next day, police summoned Francis. When he and Roma/Aisha arrived at the station that evening, Basharat and a crowd of 40-45 mullahs (Muslim clergy) were waiting for them.
Nevertheless, Roma/Aisha signed a statement at the police station saying that she had not been held hostage or detained against her will, that she went to CLAAS offices of her own free will and that no one misbehaved or ill-treated her there, according to CLAAS. She left with Basharat.
On Feb. 18, 2007, Basharat, Roma/Aisha and attorney Raja Nathaniel, a church-going attorney at odds with the local Christian community, held a press conference in which Basharat accused Bishop Azariah and Francis of abducting his new wife and forcing her to reconvert back to Christianity. Nathaniel, according to CLAAS, at times “has converted to Islam to marry young girls” and has several cases pending against him for illegally confiscating church property in Raiwind; CLAAS notes that in most of those cases it provides legal assistance to the church.
Three months after the press conference, under the guidance of Basharat and with the financial support of Nathaniel, Roma/Aisha filed charges at the Icchara, Lahore police station against her father, mother, three sisters, Bishop Azariah, Pastor Khokhar and Francis; she accused all of them of forcibly detaining her, mistreating her and attempting to burn her.
All of the accused obtained pre-arrest bail. In July 2007, Francis went to England at the invitation of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, along with prominent political leaders, to attend a three-day conference in London. Summoned to a bail hearing on July 14, 2007, he came back on July 15, 2007 and appeared in court the next day, according to CLAAS.
On Dec. 24, 2008 Francis learned that Basharat had filed a new case against him, accusing him of concealing his travel abroad while on bail and forging a medical certificate. Also charged were CLAAS employee Ashar Sarfaraz and Sarfaraz’s brother-in-law, Zulfiqar Wilson.
The forgery charges arose after CLAAS submitted a medical certificate indicating that Francis, who suffers from diabetes, was too ill to return quickly for the court hearing on July 14, 2007. CLAAS Program Officer Katherine Sapna said that former CLAAS staff members Aneeqa Maria Akthar and Justin Gill submitted the medical certificate, but Akthar told Compass neither she nor Gill submitted any documents related to the certificate and never went to the court. She added that CLAAS had not even assigned her to the case.
“When someone submits any document before the court,” she told Compass, “the court takes the submission by getting signatures of a person who submits the document, and certainly there are no signatures of mine.”
She acknowledged that she discussed the matter with CLAAS lawyers at the time – Akbar Munawar Durrani, Tahir Gull and Aric John – and that she suggested that if Francis were to try to return in time for the July 14 court summons, it would cause an undue hardship on him as a diabetic to appear in court after arriving in Pakistan from England early in the morning.
“It was just a suggestion, and it did not lead to [me committing] forgery,” she said. “Instead, Ashar Sarfaraz heard this and he went to the doctor himself who was treating Mr. Francis, without asking or telling any of us, and got the certificate. He also submitted the certificate himself in the court, and not the lawyers.”
On these charges Francis obtained pre-arrest bail on Dec. 29, 2008, and when CLAAS filed a petition in Lahore High Court for the dismissal of this case, the court set a hearing for June 8, according to CLAAS.
At that hearing, Basharat’s lawyer accused Francis not only of being in contempt of court by having traveled abroad while on bail but of using his influence to harass Roma/Aisha into forsaking Islam – the young woman’s remaining a Muslim notwithstanding.
Francis’ counsel tried to explain to the court that Basharat and his wife were “misleading the court by purposely making it a religious issue for their own vested interest.” They informed the court that his travel was not concealed but public knowledge, having been published in major newspapers, and that therefore Francis had no reason to prepare or submit any documents explaining his actions.
“But the court overlooked every argument and dismissed the petition for dismissal,” according to CLAAS’ statement. “On July 9, the same judge who dismissed the petition rejected Mr. Joseph Francis’ bail in this case and ordered the police to arrest Mr. Francis.”
This is not the first time that Pakistani courts have put their bias against Christians on display, according to CLAAS.
“Over the years, CLAAS has perused several such cases in which law was overlooked and justice was denied to victims on the basis of their religion, gender, political affiliation and social status,” organization officials said in the statement.
CLAAS urged proponents of human rights to write the Pakistani president, prime minister, foreign and interior ministers, chief justice, federal minister of Law Justice and Human Rights, and Pakistani Embassies around the world.
Report from Compass Direct News
Christians may face increased controls as government reacts to growth, public discontent.
BEIJING, February 4 (Compass Direct News) – Concerned by the growth of unregistered house church groups in an uncertain political and social climate, the Chinese government has ramped up efforts both to identify Christians and to portray Christianity as a subversive foreign force.
Sources told Compass that authorities in recent months have been quietly gathering data on church growth, with surveys at universities and workplaces pointedly asking whether respondents were Christians. The surveys seemed largely unconcerned about other religions.
At the same time, Communist Party officials have called meetings at various institutions in the capital to discuss supposed dangers of foreign religious influence. On Dec. 20 officials called a meeting at one of Beijing’s most prestigious cultural colleges to lecture faculty members about such dangers. A Christian teacher forced to attend told Compass that the lecturers distorted historical facts to impress upon her and her colleagues that Buddhism, Daoism and Islam were “indigenous” and therefore safe. The teacher noted that Islam, having come from the Middle East, could hardly be regarded as indigenous to China, and that Buddhism originally came from India but later took on Chinese characteristics.
By contrast, the officials told the teachers that Protestantism and Roman Catholicism were foreign and hence potentially “subversive.” Party members warned participants to be on guard against these faiths.
China’s leaders have warned that 2009 will be marked by increased unrest and demonstrations as public anger mounts against increasing unemployment and corruption. Also disconcerting to the government is Charter 08, an online pro-democracy initiative launched in mid-December and signed by an increasing number of Chinese Netizens. It calls for an end to the one-party system, an independent court and freedom of speech. Many of the original signatories were well-known pro-democracy lawyers and intellectuals, but the list now includes computer technicians, construction workers and farmers.
In response to these signs and portents of unrest, the government has begun to increase political and social control. Christian leaders told Compass they did not feel a huge crackdown was necessarily imminent, but they said the overall political climate had become more tense and that this would almost certainly affect unregistered house church Christians.
House church leaders in Beijing told Compass that conditions now seemed even “tighter” than in the period leading up to the Olympic Games last August. In previous years Christians rented halls and conference rooms for large-scale Christmas events, but last year’s Christmas celebrations were deliberately low-key.
A house church leader in a major northeastern city confirmed this general sense of caution. He added that he had seen an internal document leaked from the local Religious Affairs Bureau, dated in early January, which warned against “subversion” by supposedly hostile Christian forces from overseas.
The leaders were generally optimistic about the continuing work and growth of the church, with one Beijing pastor claiming more than 1,000 new converts were baptized last year in his group alone.
Chinese officials last November had initiated talks with Protestant house church Christians, raising hopes for greater freedom.
Meetings organized partly by the China State Council’s Research and Development Center brought together academics and lawyers, many of them house church members, and a delegation of six Protestant house church leaders from Beijing, Henan and Wenzhou. As the Times of London reported in January, however, no Catholic representatives were invited; the Communist Party remains in a political standoff with the Vatican. (See Compass Direct News, “Officials Reach Out to House Churches; Raids, Arrests Continue,” Dec. 9, 2008.)
At the time, church leaders involved in the discussions were cautiously optimistic. Pastor Ezra Jin of Beijing’s Zion Church told the Times, “The government … has understood that the Protestant church is not an opposition force but a force for stability and harmony.” He added that the government wanted to evaluate whether house churches posed a threat to the regime and to ask why they rejected the leadership of the Three Self Patriotic Movement, an official body appointed to oversee Protestant churches.
Despite these talks, house church raids and arrests have continued. On Jan. 16, Public Security Bureau officers forcibly removed pastor Zhang Mingxuan from fellow pastor Hua Huiqi’s house in Beijing and put him on a bus to Henan province, warning him not to return, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported.
Zhang had gone to visit Hua’s ailing father, Hua Zaichen. For years the elderly Hua and his wife, Shuang Shuying, have suffered harassment for their work with the unofficial church. Authorities have now denied Shuang, currently serving a two-year prison sentence, permission to visit her dying husband.
On Jan. 2, police raided a house church meeting in Urumqi, Xinjiang province, detaining 50 people. Later that day, 48 of them were released without charge; another was released after paying a 500 yuan (US$73) fine, and the last was sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention, according to CAA.
On Dec. 3, 2008, members of the Taikang County Domestic Defense Protection Squad burst into a private home in Chuanhui district, Zhoukou municipality, Henan, and arrested 50 Christians gathered there, CAA reported. About 20 of the detainees were sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention while leaders Tang Houyong, Shu Wenxiang and Xie Zhenqi were sentenced to one year of labor and re-education.
Some house church Christians have become more vocal in their calls for justice and religious liberty. For example, following the district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit on behalf of Tang Houyong and his companions, Tang’s wife filed a motion to dismiss the Chief Justice of the court for violating legal procedures.
With the specter of serious political and social unrest looming before officials in the face of China’s economic recession, such Christian protests could add to the government’s unease over the growing number and influence of house church Christians.
Report from Compass Direct News