On Saturday, (25th September) the streets of Washington D C were flooded with people walking in solidarity towards a cause often neglected. It was the second annual ‘ March For the Martyrs.’
What martyrs were they walking for ?
Even though the world voices the idea of free choice of practicing any religion, doing so becomes a threat to many. This persecution especially towards the Christians in different parts of the world is on rise, with India now on the 10th position on the Index of persecution of Christians in countries worldwide 2021.
The persecution is recorded to be more commonplace in middle eastern, and other Asian countries like North Korea which is on the top.
The people who were marching came out to reiterate this fact and stand in solidarity with their fellow Christian brothers and sisters who have been victim of this unjustified persecution. The march included testimony from advocates for persecuted Christians and from survivors of persecution.
The group ‘ For the Martyrs ‘ led by their president Gia Chacon was centred on bringing awareness to ” the global crisis of Christian persecution.”
In an interview with CNA, Gia Chacon said, “The reason that people don’t care about Christian persecution is because they just don’t know it’s happening. When we look at countries throughout the Middle East, and even what’s happening now in Afghanistan–and it’s not just in the Middle East, it’s in China, it’s in North Korea, and actually in over 60 countries around the world.”
“It’s up to the body of Christ here in the United States to be [the persecuted Christians’] voice, otherwise our brothers and sisters are just suffering in silence,” she said
It may get many people off guard, that the Christian persecution around the world is one of the biggest human rights issues of this era.
While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. From Sudan to Russia, from Nigeria to North Korea, from Colombia to India, followers of Christianity are targeted for their faith.
The world watch list, an organization which prepares annual report about the places where it is most difficult to practice and profess Christian faith, and what the last year data claims is really heart breaking.
There are over 340 million Christian living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination. 4,761 Christians killed for their faith.
4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked. 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
Must come under one roof
Although the advisory of For the Martyrs constitute of Catholics, the march was also joined by Christian from other denominations, including Protestants.
It is important, said Chacon, to “come together as one voice” to stand up for Christians overseas who are risking their lives when they worship God.
Father Benedict Kiely, the founder of Nasarean.org and a priest said, ” I’ve heard it myself from the people of Iraq and Syria: when the Islamists come to cut your head off, they don’t ask if you’re a Catholic or a Protestant or Orthodox. They ask you if you believe in Jesus. That’s that point. That unites us. That’s what Pope Francis called ‘the ecumenism of blood.’”
The march was more personal to Father Vincent woo, than any other attendees, native of Hong Kong, said ” All the persecution of democracy activists in Hong Kong, the crackdown of freedom–it’s going to happen to the Church pretty soon. This is a way to show solidarity with Christians all around the world, especially those who are persecuted.”
The group used various means to inform people around about the March For the Martyrs and one of the attendees Dorothea Bauer, told that she got to know about it from Social media, and travelled from Florida to Washington to participate.
“I think it’s really beautiful that we’re giving a voice to our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world who are suffering for their faith,” said Bauer.
Gia Chacon first began her humanitarian efforts in 2017 and has since travelled to Central America, East Africa, and throughout the Middle East, raising voice against the atrocities faced by people who refuse to renounce Christ.
“We’re just excited to be here in the nation’s capital, and sending a message today that Christian persecution will no longer be ignored,” said Chacon. “Our brothers and sisters in these countries are not forgotten, and that the Lord still has the victory.”
[Prepared by Nishant Mishra]