Charged: The father of the children, Wayne Sperling, 66, is also charged with child abuse after the children were found living at his filthy home. Bailey, 35, lived in a different part of the block but saw them daily
As North Korea continues defying the concerns of the world by going ahead with its third nuclear test, refugees from the troubled country have spoken out to reveal the extreme religious persecution believers are suffering in the isolated Pacific nation.
“They ignore all freedoms. The human rights level is zero percent. Religions are not allowed. The leader of North Korea (Kim Jong-Un) has to be worshipped as god and this will not change unless the regime collapses,” said a man identified as “Timothy,” a 24-year old North Korean refugee.
Timothy has revealed to Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group, that he was tortured almost to the point of death for trying to escape to China nine years ago. He added that the government is “preoccupied with nuclear tests.”
The U.N. Security Council has “strongly condemned” the nuclear test, with outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta calling North Korea and Iran “rogue states” for their insistence on carrying out nuclear tests.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said the test was a “clear and grave violation” of U.N. guidelines. North Korea, on the other hand, has reacted by promising “even stronger” action against the U.S. and its allies, which it has called “the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
Open Door’s 2012 World Watch List of the worst persecutors around the world has named North Korea top of the list for 11 straight year. The Pacific country reportedly allows virtually no religious freedom, and Christians are routinely jailed, forced to work in labor camps, and sometimes executed.
Just last month, two North Korean Christians were confirmed to have been killed simply for their faith, according to Open Doors. One believer was shot while leaving for Bible training in China, and the other died at a labor camp in North Korea.
Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for Open Doors USA, has said: “We believe that is only the tip of the iceberg. Research estimates there are as many as 70,000 Christians in the gulags out of an estimated 200,000 prisoners.”
“I remember they showed us cartoons and animated movies about bad Christians,” Timothy shared of the 15 years he spent in North Korea. “The Christian God was a monster for me. However, when I was 11, I witnessed the public execution of a Christian. His crime was that he had hidden tiny Bibles in the roof of his house.”
“The same year a lady was shot,” the refugee continued. “She had escaped to China and went to church there, but a North Korean spy discovered her activities. He had her arrested and sent back to North Korea, where she was also killed in public. I am convinced these practices still occur in my country. As for myself, I learned to trust in God. Thanks to Him, I am still alive.”
Open Doors shared the story of another refugee, identified as “Joo-Eun,” who also explained that religious freedom does not exist in North Korea.
“People are simply killed if they believe in Jesus. Kim Jong-Un is god and there cannot be any god besides him,” Joo-Eun added, referring to the current “supreme leader” of the North Korean people.
“Nowhere else in the world can you find a three generation dictatorship,” the refugee continued. “Yes, there are church services in North Korea, but only when foreigners are present. The state calls up some locals to be present. There is no freedom of religion, speech or press in North Korea.”
Analysts fear that North Korea is building toward developing small warheads capable of launching long-range missiles that could reach the United States, and Pyongyang is getting closer to possessing the nuclear capabilities that could potentially cause wide-spread damage.
The brutal cold snap affecting much of the country is taking a devastating toll on victims of superstorm Sandy, many of whom are camped out in tent cities or living in homes without power, heat or running water.
Hundreds of people in New York’s Staten Island and along the Jersey Shore are still without basic necessities nearly three months after the devastating storm struck.
“Many families in Union Beach are using space heaters to warm upstairs,” said Jeanette Van Houten, a resident from the small New Jersey town that was among the hardest-hit communities. “There’s people with no heat, no electric, but they are staying in the house because it’s better than having to deal with FEMA and having to leave hotels every two weeks.
“There are families who have chosen to stay in their homes just to have some sort of normalcy,” she added.
The cold wave has brought single-digit temperatures to the Northeast, some 10 to 15 degrees below normal for the time of year.
Residents of the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island have taken shelter in tents set up by aid workers with only small propane heaters, sleeping bags and blankets to stave off the bone-chilling cold, according to reports.
In the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, one of the most storm-ravaged areas of the region, residents lined up at the local recovery center this week to pick up donated ceramic space heaters. Many of the suffering residents in the five boroughs of New York City say their homes still are barely habitable, despite the city’s so-called Rapid Repairs program that was supposed to make their homes livable quickly.
According to the city, construction teams for the Rapid Repairs program have restored heat, hot water and power to more than 12,000 city residents, with work still to be completed in another 1,900 buildings.
Van Houten, whose house in Union Beach was destroyed by Sandy, has since stayed with relatives further down the coast in South Toms River. She said she feels that her and her family are fortunate.
“Things are far from better, but I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said.
The latest bombing in Nigeria shows how Christians are increasingly suffering for their faith – and how their plight is being ignored
www.telegraph.co.uk – By Rupert Shortt 29 Oct 2012
Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.
Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.
Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.
Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.
Innocence of Muslims, the production that spurred all the outrage, has been rightly dismissed as contemptible trash. What, though, of a website such as “Guardians of the Faith”, run by Salafist extremists in Cairo? Among many posts, it has carried an article entitled “Why Muslims are superior to Copts”. “Being a Muslim girl whose role models are the wives of the Prophet, who were required to wear the hijab, is better than being a Christian girl, whose role models are whores,” it declares. “Being a Muslim who fights to defend his honour and his faith is better than being a Christian who steals, rapes, and kills children.” Hateful messages breed hateful acts. Is it any surprise that mobs have set fire to one church after another across Egypt in recent years?