The immediate past United States Secretary of State and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, says at least 1,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the last six months, adding that the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing enough to protect religious freedom.
Pompeo, who served as Secretary of State under ex-President Donald Trump, stated this in an article titled, ‘The Persecution of Christians in Nigeria Demands Our Attention’ which was published by the American Centre for Law and Justice on Wednesday.
He said the Buhari regime had suppressed the news of the killings of Christians by masking it as farmer-herder crisis.
The ex-US official said, “At least 1,500 Christians have already been killed in Nigeria during 2021, and even more have been kidnapped and are either being held hostage or trafficked. The attacks are brutal. Armed radical Islamic groups arrive in a village during the night, kill the men, rape and murder the women, and kidnap the children.
“The Nigerian government thus far has sought to downplay the attacks, characterising them as conflicts between herders and farmers rather than as religiously motivated acts of terror. These terrorists must be held accountable for such preposterous characterisations. And given that Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any African country – over 80 million, nearly half of its people – it is essential that this persecution is snuffed out before it becomes even worse.”
The former American official said every single day in Nigeria, Christians aren’t just having their right to religious freedom denied – they are being murdered because of their faith in Jesus.
Pompeo argued that no society that denies its people the right to worship according to their beliefs, or that allows that right to come under attack without consequence, can claim to be truly good.
He said in 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State but when a deal was cut to return most of the girls home, one was held back – Leah Sharibu because she refused to convert to Islam.
The former secretary of state wondered how Sharibu could remain in captivity for three years without consequence.
Pompeo, therefore, stressed the need for a foreign policy that takes seriously the issue of ensuring religious freedom around the world is critical to serving America’s interests.
He noted that Open Doors’ Country Report states that today, more Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country in the world.
“The number of Christians murdered there increased by 60 per cent in 2020. The presence of radical, jihadist Islamic groups in northern Nigeria, such as Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen, ensures that this ongoing persecution is likely to get worse. I have personally met with Christian Nigerian leaders and heard their tragic stories of those who have been persecuted because of their faith,” Pompeo said.
He recalled that during the Trump administration, he took the important first steps toward dealing with this serious issue in December 2020, when Nigeria was added to the State Department’s ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ list.
Pompeo said the US recognised that Buhari’s government was tolerating the attacks.
“We did this because we recognised reality – the Nigerian government was tolerating the systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of the religious freedom of its people, allowing them to suffer at the hands of radical Islamic terror.
“This designation signalled to the Nigerian government that swift action on their part was needed to put an end to this persecution, or there would be further consequences in the form of sanctions and increased diplomatic pressure,” he said.
Pompeo revealed that the ACLJ had just filed its 18th written submission and made critical oral interventions at the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the plight of Christians in Nigeria.
“I’m eager to engage in this work with them as we seek to put a stop to these ongoing tragedies,” he added
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Kenneth Kaunda, Founding President Of Zambia, Dies At 97
The first president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, has died aged 97, local news sources have confirmed. He was the country’s founding father and ruled for 27 years from 1964 after it gained independence from Britain.
Kaunda’s death comes days after reports that he was admitted to Maina Soko military hospital in the capital Lusaka, where he was treated for pneumonia from Monday.
A Facebook post by his son, Kambarage Kaunda, announced the Zambian founding president’s passage.
Kambarage asked for prayers for his father whom he called Mzee.
292 total views, 177 views today
Biden, Putin Agree To Steps On Cybersecurity, Arms Control
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Wednesday to begin cybersecurity and arms control talks at a summit that highlighted their discord on those issues, human rights and Ukraine.
In their first meeting since he took office in January, Biden asked Putin how he would feel if a ransomware attack hit Russia’s oil network, a pointed question making reference to the May shutdown of a pipeline that caused disruptions and panic-buying along the US East Coast.
While Biden stressed that he did not make threats during the three-hour meeting, he said he outlined US interests, including cybersecurity, and made clear to Putin that the United States would respond if Russia infringed on those concerns.
Both men used careful pleasantries to describe their talks in a lakeside Swiss villa, with Putin calling them constructive and without hostility and Biden saying there was no substitute for face-to-face discussions.
They also agreed to send their ambassadors back to each other’s capitals. Russia recalled its envoy after Biden said in March that he thought Putin was a “killer.” The United States recalled its ambassador soon after.
Putin said on Wednesday that he had been satisfied by Biden’s explanation of the remark.
But there was no hiding their differences on issues such as human rights, where Biden said the consequences for Russia would be “devastating” if jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny died, or cyberspace, where Washington has demanded Moscow crack down on ransomware attacks emanating from Russian soil.
“I looked at him and said: ‘How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ He said: ‘It would matter,'” Biden told reporters at an unusual solo news conference, itself an illustration of the tensions between the two nations.
The query referred to a cyberattack that closed the Colonial Pipeline Co system for several days in May, preventing millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from flowing to the East Coast from the Gulf Coast.
Biden also vowed to take action against any Russian cyberattacks: “I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability. And he knows it.”
Speaking to reporters before Biden, Putin dismissed US concerns about Navalny, Russia’s increased military presence near Ukraine’s eastern border and US suggestions that Russians were responsible for the cyberattacks on the United States.
He also suggested Washington was in no position to lecture Moscow on rights, batting away question about his crackdown on political rivals by saying he was trying to avoid the “disorder” of a popular movement, such as Black Lives Matter.
“What we saw was disorder, disruption, violations of the law, etc. We feel sympathy for the United States of America, but we don’t want that to happen on our territory and we’ll do our utmost in order to not allow it to happen,” he said.
He also seemed to question the legitimacy of arresting the rioters who attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, seeking to stop Biden’s certification as president after he beat his predecessor, Donald Trump, in the November election by over 7 million votes.
Biden said any comparison between what happened on Jan. 6 and the Black Lives Matter movement was “ridiculous.”
US-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and US charges – denied by Moscow – of meddling in the 2016 election won by Trump.
Neither side gave details on how their planned cybersecurity talks might unfold, although Biden said he told Putin that critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyberattacks, saying that included 16 sectors that he did not publicly identify.
“We need some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by,” Biden said he had told Putin.
Biden said he raised human rights issues because it was in the “DNA” of his country to do so, and also because of the fate of US citizens jailed in Russia.
Putin said he believed some compromises could be found, although he gave no indication of any prisoner exchange deal.
Putin, 68, called Biden, 78, a constructive, experienced partner, and said they spoke “the same language.” But he added that there had been no friendship, rather a pragmatic dialogue about their two countries’ interests.
“President Biden has miscalculated who he is dealing with,” said US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to Trump. He called it “disturbing” to hear Biden suggest that Putin cared about his standing in the world.
Trump was accused by both Democrats and some Republicans of not being tough enough on Putin, particularly during a jovial 2018 meeting in Helsinki between the two leaders.
This time, there were separate news conferences and no shared meal.
Both Biden and Putin said they shared a responsibility, however, for nuclear stability, and would hold talks on possible changes to their recently extended New START arms limitation treaty.
In February, Russia and the United States extended New START for five years. The treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
A senior US official told reporters that Biden, Putin, their foreign ministers and interpreters met first for 93 minutes. After a break, the two sides met for 87 minutes in a larger group including their ambassadors.
Putin said it was “hard to say” if relations would improve, but that there was a “glimpse of hope.”
“This is not about trust, this is about self-interest and verification of self-interest,” Biden said, but he also cited a “genuine prospect” of improving relations.
506 total views, 188 views today
India Slams Twitter For Not Complying With New IT Rules
India’s technology minister said on Tuesday that Twitter Inc had deliberately defied and failed to comply with the country’s new IT rules, which became effective in late May.
The new rules or the so-called Intermediary Guidelines, announced in February, are aimed at regulating content on social media firms such as Facebook, its WhatsApp messenger and Twitter, making them more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages.
The rules also require big social media companies to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.
India’s technology ministry wrote to Twitter on June 5, warning the company of “unintended consequences” if it did not obey the rules, Reuters previously reported.
Ravi Shankar Prasad did not directly say on Tuesday whether Twitter had lost intermediary protections, but a senior government official told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with new IT rules.
“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision,” Prasad tweeted. “However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May.”
Twitter, Prasad added, had chosen the “path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment though it said on Monday it was keeping India’s technology ministry apprised of the steps it was taking.
“An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon,” it said. “Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines.
New Delhi-based digital advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said it was only up to courts, and not the government, to decide whether companies such as Twitter remained intermediaries for alleged non-compliance such as appointment of executives.
Growing tensions between India’s government and U.S. big tech have riled firms that have spent millions of dollars to build hubs in their largest growth market, to the extent some are rethinking expansion plans, people close to the matter have told Reuters previously.
397 total views, 156 views today
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