by Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
Mass abductions with kidnapping for sexual violence or ransom demand, of women, including pregnant women, and children. A priest killed with blows of white weapon and then burned, the secretary of a Catholic parish murdered with a machete, horribly mutilated and left in a pool of blood.
If Africa is still the land where the new barbarians of the Third Millennium perform primitive atrocities in recent days Asia also shows a demonic violence against Christians: in the Philippines a young Jesuit volunteer was in fact hit by a flurry of stabs for the attempted robbery of a handful of Peso (the Filipino currency) while in Mexico, which turns out to be the most dangerous Latin American nation for Catholic priests, another priest by one of the criminal gangs was stabbed to death in the parish they haunt the country.
As reported by the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire in 2019, 11 priests have already been killed on the Black Continent, which is the most critical for Christians due to the presence of three types of ruthless and belligerent aggressors. In addition to the Islamic jihadist militias organized as Boko Aram (Nigeria), the al-Murabitun qaedists and the Ansar Ul Islam (Burkina Faso and Sahel) , Al Shabaab (Somalia-Kenya), there are nomadic shepherds Peuls or Fulani, that under the tenor of the holy Muslim war inspired by Sunni Salafism, they raged from the Sahel to Nigeria to wrest thriving lands from Christian farmers.
To these are added the various Cults of the university tradition of the Nigerian mafias (Black Ax, Eiye, Maphite, Vikings) that from Benin City (where they have been declared illegal since 2001) have spread to various parts of Africa but above all to the rich West and in particular in Italy thanks to the barges of illegal immigration.
Finally the criminals of tribal gangs who do not hesitate to kill those who get in their way as Father David Tanko, brutally murdered and burned with his car while traveling for a peace mission last August 28, are acting.
Unfortunately, on NGO ships there are many of these criminals, many of them minors, hidden along with desperate migrants, women, and children fleeing from the war only minimally (requests for asylum for humanitarian reasons accepted are less than 10% of immigrants irregular). Mostly they abandon economically fragile societies in search of a future that does not always turn out to be better as widely reported in previous reports.
THE PRIEST KILLED IN A TRIBAL WAR
The brutal murder of the priest Tanko is added to that of three other clerics killed in Nigeria during the year, as many in Burkina Faso, one in Congo and another in Togo, which we have reported in other articles in the Persecuted Christians page. Martyrs.
The last murder took place in the state of Taraba, in eastern Nigeria. “On 28 August Fr. David Tanko was stopped by armed men on the way to the village of Takum, where he was supposed to attend a meeting to mediate a peace agreement aimed at ending the crisis that opposes the Tiv and Jukun populations – reports Fides , the agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies According to local sources, the criminals, perhaps belonging to a Tiv militia, after killing Don Tanko set fire to the body of the priest and his car “.
“As soon as we heard of his death, we were shocked. The diocese is in mourning – said Bishop Charles Michael Hammawa, Bishop of Jalingo – We preached peace and made efforts to bring both sides to the negotiating table. The state police have promised me they are investigating the case, we ask that the authors be brought to justice. We do not want any retaliation that will only worsen the situation “.
«The conflict between the Tiv and the Jukuns dates back to 1953 (for others to 1959 or 1977), between truces and backfires of violence. According to some historical studies the two populations lived in harmony until the advent of British colonization, when the authorities of the United Kingdom favored the Jukuns to the detriment of the Tiv, planting the seed of discord that has sprouted and fructified up to the present day “recalls the Fides agency.
The struggle resurfaced violently on April 1st. To trigger a dispute between a Tiv and a Jukun erupted in the village of Kente in Wukari area, soon degenerated into a series of raids in the villages of the two populations, with deaths and looting. The violence also spread to the neighboring State of Benue.
In July, the governors of the two States concerned, Benue and Taraba, launched an appeal for peace, while Dr. Isaiah Jirapye, President of the local section of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), asked the two parties to dialogue, stating ” having made the necessary contacts for an immediate dialogue to guarantee the end of hostilities “.
Father Tanko’s murder has also shaken the national authorities. “The murder of a Catholic priest underlines the urgency of facing this long-lasting and embarrassing conflict. On behalf of the federal government and of the entire population of the country, I offer my condolences to the Catholic community, the government and the people of Taraba for the losses deriving from the violence that have upset the communities “, said the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari asking the governors of Taraba and Benue, to traditional leaders, religious leaders to “meet urgently to end persistent violent clashes between Jukun and Tiv”. The Head of State also added that he will not stand by and watch.
THE PRIEST KILLED BY THE ISLAMIC PASTORS FULANI
August had already begun in the sign of blood. The first of the month had already consummated the assassination of the Catholic priest Paul Offu, Father Paul Offu, pastor of the church of St. James Major in Ugbawka, in the Diocese of Enugu, the capital of the homonymous state in northern Nigeria. The priest fell under the gunshots fired by a group of armed people called “Fulani shepherds” while driving the Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu.
According to the first reconstructions, the presbyter would not have stopped in front of the attackers who ordered him to block his car. Islamic extremists Peuls always run equipped with powerful AK 47 semi-automatic assault rifles, the Kalashnikovs that are widespread among jihadists.
The local Catholic community gathered in the arena of the Holy Family, at the cathedral of Enugu, to take part in a Eucharistic concelebration presided by Bishop Callisto Onaga and invoke, in prayer, peace, and security for the whole region. The Diocese has also released an official statement in which it recalls the dramatic condition of the area, marked by massacres, kidnappings, rape, arson, and devastation, and the responsibilities of political authorities are also called into question in the face of the devastation scenarios outlined.
The statement, sent to Fides Agency, describes a scenario of anarchy and total annulment of every garrison of legality, in which “a disturbing number of people of our people – including priests and government officials – was killed”. For fear of being raped – the document reads among other things – our women can no longer carry out their regular activities in the villages, in agricultural work, and in other businesses “. The declaration requires the government to “drive out the bad Fulanis from our state”, and “properly equip vigilante groups to provide protection and security in different locations”.
The words of another high prelate are of a completely different opinion, and in order to prevent further reprisals, he intervened with an exactly opposite invitation which, given the gravity of the situation, amounts to an appeal to martyrdom.
“The spread of incitement speeches against the Fulani pastors, underway on social media, constitutes a threat to the unity and peace of Nigeria,” warned Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, in his speech to a seminar organized by the African Studies Center Olusegun Obasanjo, of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) of the federal capital Abuja.
The Bishop recalled that historically the incitement speeches to hatred towards a particular group of people have always preceded the genocides, in any part of the world. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, warning him of the risk of a “Rwandan-style genocide” in Nigeria if the government does not take immediate measures to stop the violence.
Acts of VIOLENCE WITHOUT STOP IN NIGERIA
Confirming the tragic emergency in recent days there has been a real armed assault on a village in northwestern Nigeria. Local media report that at least 50 people, including pregnant women and children, were abducted during the attack, as reported by the daily Avvenire.
The blitz carried out by at least one hundred armed criminals took place on Tuesday 27 August late in the evening in the village of Wurma, near Katsina. One woman, whose two daughters were among the kidnapped people, said that more than 100 bandits launched the assault “shooting from all angles”. “They worked for about three hours without anyone challenging them,” he said. They also took sheep, goats, and food. Some abductees were released following armed clashes with the police.
The police report that the kidnapped are 15, but according to the testimony of some inhabitants there are at least 53. Some families would have received requests for ransom. It is not known to which group the commandos belonged but the modes of action are identical to those of the Peuls terrorists.
“The population is between two fires: the abuses of politicians, military and law enforcement, on the one hand, the violence and raids of the Fulani and other bandits pastors, on the other”, the bishops of the Province denounce in a pastoral letter ecclesiastical of Owerri (capital of the state of the Imo), in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, which also includes the suffragan dioceses of Aba, Ahiara, Okigwe, Orlu and Umuahia (capital of the Federated State of Abia).
“Every day, in all our states, we hear heartrending stories of kidnapping, rape, mutilation, extortion, land grabbing, killing and destruction of people’s livelihoods. We continue to hope in vain that elected public officials and security agents protect our citizens as provided for and sanctioned by the Constitution “, reads the document, sent to Fides Agency.
The bishops exhort the faithful to pray and remain vigilant “in promoting the Christian vision in order to counter the brutal ideology of hatred, wickedness and violence”, but they also send a message to politicians: “The Nigerian government and its leaders they must assume the constitutional obligation to protect and defend every Nigerian citizen regardless of his religious or ethnic affiliation ».
SECRETARY OF PARISH MUTILATED AND KILLED WITH MACHETE
This brutal and barbarous violence in Africa has no boundaries but is actually aggravated by the instability in Burkina Faso, where on August 19 in a jihadist attack 24 soldiers died, another 7 were wounded while 5 of their comrades were reported missing. The assault occurred in the early hours of the day in Koutougou, in the north of the country.
“The people of Burkina Faso have always remained firm in the long-lasting struggle against terrorism,” said President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré who reiterated that “Burkina Faso will never give up any part of its territory, at the cost of our lives” . Since last February there have been five attacks carried out in the same area by jihadist armed groups: in early August at least 15 people were killed in Diblou, a village in the north of the country.
But the most brutal and senseless of the August murders took place in Ivory Coast where Faustine Brou N’Guessan was slain.
“The killing of the secretary of the parish of Sainte-Cécile du Vallon was preceded by the desecration of some statues of the Virgin Mary and attacks against priests and lay people engaged in parish services – highlights Fides – The dying body of Faustine Brou N’Guessan, drawn on by machete, he was found in a pool of blood around 11 am on August 10th in his office located in the Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa building in the parish. Taken to the nearest clinic, unfortunately, she died soon afterward”.
The sixty-year-old was the mother of a daughter and should have retired at the end of the year.
Chilling the show that faced another parish worker: “He received a blow to the skull, one in the neck, the hands cut off but also some fingers were amputated, and he received a cut even in one leg,” said the Ivorian media Koaci. Within fifteen days the police were able to identify and arrest the alleged murderer, Heiman Tchi Niamké Anderson along with three accomplices, thanks to the mobile phone stolen from the victim. However, the motive remains mysterious because, as reported by the local media, neither the money in a drawer of the secretariat nor the money that the woman had in the bag nor the gold jewelry she was wearing was stolen.
“The archdiocese of Abidjan congratulates the criminal police for arresting the alleged murderer of the parish secretary in such a short time, along with his three accomplices,” said Father Augustin Obrou, diocesan communications officer, who added that he was waiting. the conclusions of the investigation. “We want to know who sent them, why they did it and why they did it in Santa Cecilia and not somewhere else,” he insisted, suggesting that the killers are suspected of acting on someone’s behalf. Finally, the priest stressed that security measures in the parishes were strengthened.
VOLUNTEER JESUITA STAGED IN THE PHILIPPINES
The cruel crime in the Philippines against a young Jesuit volunteer is also mysterious. On 23 August, Genifer Buckley, a young 24-year-old Filipina, originally from Zamboanga del Sur, was stabbed to death several times by an assailant inside the house where she lived with a colleague. The other volunteer, the lawyer Anne Kathleen Gatdula, 30, was injured but managed to escape after being chased, and is currently hospitalized in a local hospital. The two volunteers were serving at Pangantucan Community High School, Bukidnon, in a project of the JVP movement.
According to police sources, the attacker, Arnold Naquilla, 36, a Pangantucan resident, was arrested. He would attack the two young women for the purpose of a robbery, but the reason for the murder is still unclear. “It is an execrable act, which we condemn: we ask for justice, while we pray for her and her family,” Jesuit Father Jason Dy, Chaplain of the Jesuit Volunteer Movement of the Philippines (Jesuit Volunteer Philippines, JVP) told Fides.
Genifer had a degree in Education at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University run by the Jesuits in 2015 and subsequently taught at the University’s Junior High School for four years before enrolling in the JVP this year. Later she volunteered to teach at Pangantucan Community High School since last May 27th.
The Jesuit Father Karel San Juan, president of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, praised Buckly for his service to the community as a teacher and volunteer: “We will miss him very much. We remember her with affection and for her precious service to people. She was a courageous soul, eager to take the path of loving service for God and for the country “.
The JVP is committed to bringing hope to marginalized populations. For 39 years, Jesuit volunteers have been working with schools, parishes or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to teach, train community leaders, assist co-operatives, implement livelihood projects, assist disabled people and victims of violence, engage in training of young people, supporting environmental issues, defending the dignity of indigenous peoples, fighting for the rights of the oppressed.
PRIEST ACCOLTELLATO IN MEXICO
For the rights of the poorest, the priests of Latin America are also struggling, thus exposing themselves to the risk of reprisals from the underworld gangs who live on extortion and the exploitation of the population. On August 22, 55-year-old José Martín Guzmán Vega, parish priest of Cristo Rey de la Paz, Ejido Santa Adelaida, in the Diocese of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was joined by a criminal in the parish offices and attacked to death.
“Sources close to these media – CCM, the Mexican Multimedia Catholic Center said – said that on Thursday evening at around 10:00 pm, the father was wounded several times with a knife; the neighbors heard the cries for help inside the parish, when they approached they saw Father José Martín seriously injured, so he was transferred to the general hospital of the city “. There, in the hospital Dr. Alfredo Pumarejo, he died a few minutes after his arrival.
For a fatal omen, the same news organization, last Sunday, published an editorial entitled “Priests in the crosshairs of crime” which highlighted that “in 2019, fortunately, there is no trace of murders perpetrated against Catholic ministers, but there they are warnings about strong and intimidating threats against the security and life of priests who should not be underestimated “. A few days later the news given to the Church and to the Diocese by Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcía arrived.
José Martín Guzmán Vega was born in La Piedad, Michoacán, on 27 March 1964. Ordained on 2 February 2004 for the clergy of the diocese of Matamoros, he exercised his ministry in the pastoral ministry of the diocesan prison and in the community of Cristo Rey de La Paz, ejido Santa Adelaida.
His name joins that of 26 other priests killed in tragic and violent situations since 2012. A very long list of martyrs of sinister anti-Christian violence that can only be explained by a careful demonological reading of the Gospel and the Book of the Apocalypse.