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FBI Joins Possible Terror Probe for Missing Malaysia Jet.


Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane’s doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remained a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam’s army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

“From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane,” Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar indicated that the plane may have turned back, but did not give further details on which direction it went or how far it veered off course.

“We are trying to make sense of this,” Daud said at a news conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar.”

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots are supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does a U-turn. “From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled,” he said.

Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight’s manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

“I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. “We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board.”

Hishammuddin declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation.

“Our focus now is to find the aircraft,” he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

Interpol confirmed that at least two stolen passports used by passengers on the plane were registered in its databases. It said no one had checked the databases, but added that most airlines and countries do not usually check for stolen passports.

Hishammuddin said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. was looking into the stolen passports, but that investigators had reached no conclusions.

In addition to the plane’s sudden disappearance, which experts say is consistent with a possible onboard explosion, the stolen passports have strengthened concerns about terrorism as a possible cause. Al-Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities.

Still, other possible causes would seem just as likely at this stage, including a catastrophic failure of the plane’s engines, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. Establishing what happened with any certainty will need data from flight recorders and a detailed examination of any debris, something that will take months if not years.

European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi’s passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed that “Maraldi” and “Kozel” were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them.

Having onward reservations to Europe from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed visas for China.

Meanwhile, the multinational search for the missing plane was continuing. A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships have been deployed to the area by Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States, in addition to Vietnam’s fleet.

Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the missing plane.

Two-thirds of the jet’s passengers were Chinese. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

After more than 30 hours without contact with the aircraft, Malaysia Airlines told family members they should “prepare themselves for the worst,” Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director for the airline, told reporters.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometers (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.

A team of American experts was en route to Asia to be ready to assist in the investigation into the crash. The team includes accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, the safety board said in a statement.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all Chinese teenagers.

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

Arise O Selfless Generation By M.B.O Owolowo.


“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nigeria is about to witness a generational awakening. The youth have a pivotal role to play in re-shaping the future of our great nation. When the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka referred to his generation as wasted, he stated: “I coined the term ‘wasted generation’ because of the scale of our ambition as young people; we were the renaissance people.”

What Soyinka’s generation wasted was an opportunity for a rebirth of the nation, a chance to set the nation on a path to global success.

Unfortunately, they can only rehearse in regret, and dream of what could have been. No doubt some in that generation played significant roles in nation building, as some played an equally significant role in nation damaging – an impact which is still being felt today.

Among the wasted generation are those who lost hope in the system and those who gave up the task of nation building, they became overwhelmed by the throes of personal survival. Such anomalies of inconsideration for fellow citizens, further entrenched the selfish ideology in our milieu – with selflessness becoming a rarity.

Following the wasted generation, emerged what has been referred to as the wasteful generation. The wasteful generation has learnt from the wasted generation – mostly in terms of perfecting the act of misgovernance. The wasteful generation is on a squandering spree, rather than be the reparative generation: repairing a polity damaged by decades of successive maladministration and characteristic malfeasance, they have worsened the situation.

Undoubtedly, whatever actions preceding generations take have a lasting impact on future generations, be it negative or positive, the hope is the negative impacts aren’t permanently irreparable. In Nigeria’s case, we have had a series of sequential regimes dominated by a special clique within a particular generation deciding the fate of the majority. With their corruption ethos, this aforementioned generation have been able to effectively infect other generations with their profligate lifestyle, and perpetuating malfeasance to a level where it has unfortunately been misconstrued as norm.

This generational mixture is characterised by wasting of opportunities, and failure to channel revenues from our abundant natural resources via the proper mechanisms for economic growth and infrastructural development. What pervades our polity is the entitlement mindset, dearth of public servitude and preservation of the corruption culture. A disheartening metamorphosis into some sort of mutative generation – where the goal is to out do one another in self-aggrandizement.
By all ramifications, they are certainly setting new records in achieving great larcenous feats. Back then, the late Fela Kuti sang against the corruption in the ruling class, in his 1980’s hit, Army Arrangement, he sang “2.8 Billion Naira Oil money is still missing”. Fast-forward to 2014, sadly, the same ‘oil money is still missing’. With the figure discrepancies being bandied around – from $48 Billion to $12 Billion to $10 Billion, to the latest $20 Billion – one can only weep! But that is if you have a conscience and truly care about the future of the nation.

The thieving forefathers and looting godfathers will definitely be proud of their successors, because they are surpassing them in every level of administrative sleaze and setting outrageous embezzlement records. Apparently, the wasted generation are competing with the wasteful generation in ravaging what’s left of our common wealth, like deranged scavengers.

It is truly disgusting that people see governance as a way of enriching themselves. Looting the public treasury and stealing our common wealth has become norm. What happened to dignity and shame? A shameless lot masquerading as leaders!
Some theorists posit the decadence has sunk to such a debauching level, those that often emerge for positions of authority are manifestations of our depraved society. Some of those at the helm of affairs, well over 3 decades ago, are till jostling for key government positions – even in their 80’s. These are the same set that called the younger generation, ‘leaders of tomorrow’. Unsurprisingly, some of the younger generation are hoping the tomorrow referred to isn’t the afterlife, as that tomorrow is yet to come to fruition. The reality is, the tomorrow has actually come, and it’s up to the younger generation to take charge of their collective destiny.

Since I was a child, we have been informed of Nigeria’s potentials. From the Jim O’Neil MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) economic prediction to whatever economic indices our huge potential is posited, we know, and have always known Nigeria has huge potentials.
Whilst those at the helm of affairs are busy ravaging the proverbial ‘spoils’, they have forgotten the laws of nature, karma and diminishing returns. They forget the consequences of their economic improvidence has impoverished an entire generation. They forget Nigeria has evolved rapidly from the era where those who siphon our common wealth get away unscathed. They forget that by the laws of evolution a new generation is emerging and woe betide any amongst this younger generation planning to perpetuate corruption in governance.

This emerging generation has to rise up to the challenge, change the status quo, stymie the societal putrescence and be ready to sacrifice for a better nation. This generation would be the selfless generation. The selfless generation are those willing to sacrifice their comfort and luxury for a better tomorrow; those who know the detrimental effects of insatiable greed; those who have felt the consequences of selfish rulers, and the aftermath of public servants generally disconnected from those they are supposed to serve.

The youth are in the majority, constituting about 70% of the nation’s population. The youth from all geopolitical zones must get involved in the political process and speak with one voice. The youth must be sincere and dedicated to the cause of change.

This emerging generation must be the selfless generation we urgently require to salvage the nation from its current abyss.

Change is very possible. Change is not utopian or some elusive dream. Change is a reality. Once the youth realise the power of their multitude, it can be positively harnessed to the benefit of society. The time is now and failure is not an option.

Arise, O Selfless Generation and Save The Nation!

– M.B.O 2013©
m.b.o.owolowo@gmail.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Nigeria’s New “MINTed” Hope By Okey Ndibe.


 

Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

During a brief trip to London last week, I was intrigued to realize that part of the news buzz pertained to Nigeria’s inclusion in a list of countries with prospects of becoming four of the world’s biggest emergent economies. The so-called MINT countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Jim O’Neill, an economist at the international investment firm, Goldman Sachs, popularized the acronym. He earlier coined the term BRICS countries, denoting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which he rated a few years ago as some of the globe’s emerging economic giants.
On Thursday, Peter Okwoche of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ended a short interview on my new novel, Foreign Gods, Inc., by asking what I thought about Mr. O’Neill’s rosy prediction for Nigeria.

Lacking the time to offer a detailed and nuanced response, I stated that Nigeria is endowed with extremely bright people, that the country is full of energetic and industrious men and women. By contrast, I added, the country has never been lucky in the department of leadership. To sum up, I invoked Chinua Achebe’s dire—but hardly contestable—conclusion that Nigeria has an amazing facility for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nigeria’s economic policy makers are understandably giddy about Mr. O’Neill’s flattering prognosis. I’d caution the infusion of a high dose of chastening realism into the premature celebration. A sense of history demands nothing less than a sober—and sobering—confrontation of the facts. Achebe was no economist, but the central fact of Nigeria’s journey, as far as economic development is concerned, bears out the late writer’s dim take on his country. In a sense, we could say that Achebe was the sounder economist and Mr. O’Neill, in inflating Nigeria’s odds, the fiction-maker.

This is not the first time Nigeria has been mentioned enthusiastically in prognoses of dramatic economic growth. Again and again, experts, foreign and homebred, had foretold that Nigeria was on the cusp of becoming a stupendous economic miracle. Each new prediction or declaration would trigger its own surge of elation. Nigeria’s policy makers and their sometimes over-pampered partners in the private sector would go into a spree of premature celebration, as if the word potential was interchangeable with reality, as if promise were the equal of performance. Each time, in the end, the outcome was embarrassing. Rather than rise to its potential, Nigeria always somehow found a way to stay stuck in the mud of failure and mediocrity, continuing to romance its worst nightmares.

Nigerians are all-too aware of their country’s missed opportunities. Many years have been lost to wasteful, visionless squander mania. Rampant, unchecked corruption has smothered many a promising grand idea. For many discerning people, Nigeria has become a huge graveyard: a cemetery littered with betrayed dreams, dashed hopes, and asphyxiated aspirations. We’re all too familiar with many dud promissory notes that came with such flamboyant names or phrases as “Green Revolution,” “Consolidating the Gains of SAP,” “Vision 2020-10,” “NEEDS,” “Dividends of Democracy,” and “Transformational Leadership.”

Read Nigerian newspapers or watch any Nigerian television station and you’re bound to realize that there’s zero discussion of the things that matter. It’s all about one empty-headed politician decamping from one political party to another; one squabble or another between two politicians or two political parties; one hireling or another warning that presidential power must stay where it is, or must be transferred to a person from a different geo-ethnic sector, or it’s hell-in-Nigeria; some pastor or imam declaiming that God whispered into his/her ears that Nigerians must fast and pray more (even though most of the populace is already on poverty-enforced fasting). Much of Nigeria’s public discourse is taken up by a tizzy of political rants and faux piety.

Greatness never comes by accident, nor is it imposed by divinity on an unwilling people. A country, like a person, must prepare—be prepared—for greatness. It starts with dreaming greatness, imagining it, contemplating what it must take, and deciding that the venture is worth the risk, that we’re willing to invest the time, intellect and material resources to translate the dreamed into reality.

Do Nigerians dream big? In words, they do, but not in deed. In the 1960s through the 1980s, Nigerian “leaders” used to speak of “this great nation of ours.” But even they have abandoned that species of bad joke! Now, they speak of “moving the nation forward” or “delivering the dividends of democracy.” But the rickety molue they claim to be moving forward is in reverse gear, headed, any moment, for a jagged gorge. Ask any Nigerian official what “dividends” they have delivered and you’re bound to hear such fatuous lines as, “I purchased 100 tractors to mechanize agriculture,” “I don’t owe civil servants any arrears of salaries,” “I bought chalks for all elementary schools in my state,” “I have commissioned 500 water boreholes,” etc, etc.

It’s the 21st century, but very little of the language of those who run (that is, ruin) Nigeria suggests that they are aware of what time it is. They’re conscious of the world, of course, but only in a slavish, opportunistic way. They, their relatives and cronies are at their best when they travel in style to the world’s most dazzling cities: New York, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Beijing, etc. Once in these cities, they unleash their rank consumerist impulse, eager to bask in the most garish of each city’s sensual offerings. But it never occurs to them that the goods that make them swoon, the services they lust after are products of other thinking people’s imagination and work.

Meanwhile, back home, the masses are steeped in grim lives, trapped by ignorance and disease. Last week in London, a friend showed me a Youtube video of a brackish lake in Nigeria swarmed by thousands of sick, desperate Nigerians who believe that the stagnant body of water has healing powers. I was incensed by the spectacle, the hysteria of ignorance. Then it dawned on me: this is what can happen—what happens—in a country bereft of any healthcare system.

I’d like to hear Mr. O’Neill stipulate a recipe for Nigeria’s emergence into economic greatness. Nigeria has a high supply of thinkers, of experts in every field, including economic policy. But the hordes of unthinking, grub-obsessed politicians who dominate the political sphere are consistently threatened by expertise.

I don’t know of any country that rose to economic powers via fasting and prayers. And yet that’s the formula most treasured by Nigerian politicians who exhort their victims to fast and pray. Luck can only carry a person or a nation so far. And Nigeria has long exhausted its stock of luck, even if it somehow keeps borrowing some more.

The “N” in Mr. O’Neill’s MINT will become yet another mirage unless Nigerians find a way to reverse the toxic culture that validates corruption and venerates mediocrity.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Obama Grounded, Cancels Asian Trip During Shutdown.


Image: Obama Grounded, Cancels Asian Trip During Shutdown

By Elliot Jager

The sky’s the limit for Barack Obama. The U.S. government shutdown has forced the president to cancel trips to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the PhilippinesNBC News reported.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to make these visits in Obama’s place, starting on Oct. 6.

With no fiscal crisis to hold him back – and no democracy to constrain his policies – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Wednesday in Indonesia as part of a regional tour that will assert his country’s interests as a power on the ascent. Forbes reported that bilateral trade between China and Indonesia has mushroomed to $66 billion in 2012. Beijing‘s bilateral trade with Malaysia has hit $95 billion.

Obama will miss the chance to address the Fourth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a program launched in 2009 by the president himself to spur job creation through entrepreneurship by connecting young innovators with resources and ideas,according to  organizers.

In 2010, an earlier fiscal crisis and the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico forced Obama to cancel two foreign trips.

His most recent trip abroad was to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit in September. That trip, which also included a stop in Sweden, cost the president politically when his plans for military intervention in Syria lost steam. While he was away congressional opponents in both parties gained the upper hand, Politico noted.

As president, Obama has visited 40 countries making some 60 trips.

The White House website reported that the president has no public appointments scheduled Wednesday.

Over at US.gov, the Federal government‘s portal, visitors are informed: “Due to the lapse in federal government spending, this website is not available.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience.” Though, helpfully, surfers can scroll and click around to find out all the things they – like Obama – can no longer do.

Related Articles:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Reuters: Troubled Vatican Bank Could Close All Embassies’ Accounts.


VATICAN CITY — The Vatican bank is likely to close all accounts held by foreign embassies, following concerns about large cash deposits and withdrawals by the missions of Iran, Iraq, and Indonesia, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

The Vatican’s financial watchdog, which examined the transactions in 2011, believed the embassies’ justifications for the transactions were too vague or disproportionate to the amounts — up to 500,000 euros at a time — these people said. In one case, a large cash withdrawal was said to be for “refurbishment,” one person added.

Now the bank and the watchdog want to reduce the possibility that the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), as the bank is called, could be an unwitting vehicle for money laundering and other illicit finances.

Four people with knowledge of the matter said the closure of the accounts was likely to be a key recommendation of a broad review that Pope Francis has ordered of the bank, whose scandal-tainted history has long been an embarrassment for the Holy See.

The review is set to be completed by the end of the year.

It is the thorniest part of nascent efforts by the world’s smallest state to open itself up to more outside scrutiny. The process ostensibly began under the former Pope Benedict, but was thwarted by conflicts among Vatican officials and an Italian money-laundering investigation.

The IOR is a private bank — currently with about 7.1 billion euros in assets under management — whose stated goal is to hold and manage funds for religious orders of priests and nuns, Catholic charities, Vatican employees, and other Catholic institutions.

But the number of account holders has swelled to 19,000 over the years and diversified beyond the original categories with the right to hold accounts.

Fewer than two dozen of the 180 countries accredited to the Vatican have accounts at the IOR; many Western states such as the United States and Britain do not.

Reuters has learned that the Financial Information Authority (AIF), the Holy See’s financial watchdog, wrote to the IOR in the second half of 2011 expressing its concern over several cash withdrawals and deposits by the embassies of Iran, Iraq, and Indonesia, according to the people with knowledge of the situation.

The transactions — which were registered at the Vatican border in line with Vatican and European Union (EU) requirements that amounts of more than 10,000 euros in cash or equivalent be declared at customs — caught the eye of the AIF because of their origin, frequency and amounts.

Iran, Iraq, and Indonesia are classified by international institutions and governance bodies as countries at high risk of financial crimes. The Holy See’s regulators also thought the justifications for the withdrawals, including one that simply said “personnel,” were vague, these people said. It was not clear where the money for the cash deposits came from.

The Iranian and Iraqi embassies to the Vatican said they had no comment on the cash movements or the concerns raised by regulators.

The Indonesian ambassador to the Vatican, Bahar Budiarman, said that his embassy takes out up to 10,000 euros at a time from its IOR account and that the money is destined for personal use and petty cash. For bigger amounts, wire transfers are used, said Budiarman, who has been ambassador since early 2012.

An IOR spokesman stated in emails that the bank does not comment on matters concerning the AIF and that the IOR had no comment on the possible closure of embassy accounts.

The AIF said that “it does not give details about cases it investigates and does not comment on the. . . . review of the bank.”

The review of the IOR has gained momentum under Pope Francis, who became pontiff in March this year. In June, he created a special commission to advise him on how to reform the bank, and has not ruled out closing it altogether.

“If [Pope Francis] pulls off a restructuring of the IOR and gives it real oversight and transparency, it would go a long way towards convincing people that he’s serious about reform,” said John Thavis, longtime Vatican analyst and author of The Vatican Diaries.

IMPROVING STANDARDS

The Vatican moved to improve its financial transparency in 2010.

That effort immediately hit a stumbling block when Rome magistrates investigating possible money laundering froze 23 million euros held by the IOR in two Italian banks.

The IOR said it had been transferring its own funds between accounts in other countries. IOR officials told Italian magistrates at the time the money would be used to buy German securities, back then a safer bet than Italian securities, according to prosecutor’s documents seen by Reuters. The magistrates later unfroze the funds, though the investigation continues.

Separately, AIF officials noticed in the summer of 2011 that large sums of money were moving several times a month in and out of the bank accounts held by the embassies of Iran, Iraq and Indonesia, according to the people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Withdrawing and depositing cash is not illegal, and embassies may legitimately transfer money in and out of the Vatican provided they offer sufficient details on the origin of the money and purpose of the transaction.

But international financial standards require banks to carry out thorough checks on the origin of large cash transfers and on the effective beneficiaries to rule out the possibility of money laundering, tax evasion, and other financial crimes.

Checks are heightened if the transactions involve countries, such as Iran and Iraq, considered by international regulators to be at high risk for financial crimes, and if high-level diplomats are involved.

Regulators working at the AIF at the time pressed the IOR for details about the transactions. The IOR replied, but referenced only the Iranian transfers and did not provide any further details about them, according to the people with knowledge of the situation. It did not mention the other two countries.

The AIF dropped its inquiries, according to these people. One top Vatican official briefed about the situation says the response was “silly” and that the AIF should have tried to follow up. The AIF management has since changed.

Earlier this year, Ernst Von Freyberg — a German lawyer hired in February to run the IOR — told colleagues that embassy accounts were potentially dangerous, and that he wanted to close them, according to a person with knowledge of the event. But the proposal was blocked by the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State, whose officials feared the move might hurt diplomatic relations, this person said.

A report by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering committee, said last year that while the Holy See had taken steps to improve standards, more needed to be done. The committee, which carried out the review at the Vatican’s request, is due to conduct a new assessment later this year.

The bank is also coming clean on possible illicit financial activities. The Vatican has said it detected six possible attempts to use the IOR to launder money last year, and at least seven in the first half of this year.

In one case, a prelate who had close ties to the IOR was arrested in June on suspicion of plotting to smuggle 20 million euros in cash into Italy from Switzerland to give to rich friends in southern Italy. The prelate, who will be tried in December, says he was not acting for personal gain.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Indonesian Pastor in Tortured Psychological State Over Case Against Him.


Palti Panjaitan
Indonesian pastor Palti Panjaitan was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.

An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.

Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve last year.

The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.

However, some eight months after the incident, the case goes on and the pastor was deemed too psychologically fragile to attend his latest hearing last month.

The Asian Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to the Indonesian national police on Thursday imploring them to drop all charges against the pastor and questioning the logic of the local police.

The AHRC stated the case against Panjaitan was “fabricated” and “lacking evidence.”

“With no evidence to support the case against Rev. Panjaitan, we are questioning the legal and moral reasoning of your officers at Bekasi District Police in being so persistent in this case,” AHRC wrote.

The human rights group also claimed the pastor was “more a victim than a perpetrator of a crime,” referencing the hostility of many local residents against the pastor and his congregation.

This position was seconded by Panjaitan’s lawyer, Thomas Tampubolon, who said at a July 29 press conference that there was no case to answer.

Panjaitan, who was questioned twice by police, said he acted in self-defense and that his accuser was only trying to defame him.

“It is slander,” he said. “Abdul Aziz, with [other] Islamic hard-liners, tried to gang up on me. When he approached, I held him [with] both hands in order to protect myself and my wife. That’s the truth.”

The pastor also said Aziz and others had prevented members of his congregation from reaching the church on Christmas Eve and had pelted them with rotten eggs, animal feces and raw sewage.

A separate case has been filed against Aziz, who was accused of “committing unpleasant acts,”  the very same accusation Panjaitan faces. The crime carries a penalty of up to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 Indonesian rupiahs, or $30.

Aziz faced additional charges of hampering a religious service and making death threats, but these were later dropped. He admitted saying to the pastor: “I’m going to cut your throat.” However, he claimed he was not aware he acted illegally and the charges were dropped.

Both Panjaitan and the Asian Human Rights Commission have questioned whether the local police have bowed to popular pressure by refusing to close the case against the pastor.

Christians make up about 16 percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people, most of whom are Muslim. As many as five churches have been forcibly closed or demolished in Bekasi alone since 2005.

Panjaitan’s HKBP Filadelfia has been conducting its services outdoors since being forced to close in January 2010. The church won its court case against the local government in June 2011 in the Supreme Court, but the local authorities have failed to authorize the church’s reopening.

For two years, the church has held services every other week, alongside the congregation of the GKI Yasmin church, in front of the state palace.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Peter Youngren Targets 2.6M Muslims With Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Peter Youngren
This week, Peter Youngren will conduct a gospel festival on a huge open field that can accommodate hundreds of thousands in Makassar. (World Impact Ministries)

The Bible has been translated into the Makassar language, and the Jesus film is also available. Still, there has never been a breakthrough for the gospel among this people group of 2.6 million, where less than 1 in 5,000 is a believer.

This week, Peter Youngren will conduct a gospel festival on a huge open field that can accommodate hundreds of thousands right in the center of their capital, Makassar, located in southern Sulawesi, in Indonesia.

Youngren’s gospel campaign director, Johan Olehall, reports from Makassar: “Since arriving here, I have come to understand that the fear of demons is very big in the everyday life of the Makassar people. The good thing is that they are fascinated about miracles and seeing people healed, as they never experience this within their Islamic religion.”

All the churches in the city of Makassar, mostly Chinese, are working with the gospel festival team in this outreach.

“While there are 400 to 500 believers in total among the Makassar people,” Olehall comments, “there is no Makassar church as such. These few believers are spread into various churches with other ethnicities.”

Two lay ministers, who are from the Makassar people, report how extremely difficult it is for new believers to “come out as Christians.” One of the lay ministers was almost killed when he first mentioned the name of Jesus in his village, but now he reports improvement. Many within the Makassar people ask for prayer in secret when someone in their family is sick.

“This is what we live for, to make Jesus known where people have never had a chance to hear His name,” Youngren said before leaving for Makassar. “We are privileged to work with local Christians in southern Sulawesi, as well as people around the world who are helping us to continue to go to megacities populated by unreached people groups.”

With gospel events of this nature, many ask about follow-up plans for those who receive Christ. The culture shock is often very big when a person dressed in Muslim attire comes to a Christian church. A lady with a Muslim head covering is likely to be rejected.

Youngren and his team are working with local Christians who promote “prayer houses” in private homes, where those newly born again are allowed to wear their Muslim head coverings while at the same time studying and learning more about Jesus Christ.

The World Impact Ministries team has gone all out to connect with the Makassar people one on one, as well as through newspapers, radio and television.

“For centuries, these people have lived in fear of spirits that they believe have a direct influence on their daily lives,” Youngren added. “We believe that the Holy Spirit will now reveal Jesus Christ to the people.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ABBY CARR

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