This is Garrison Hardie with your CrossPolitic Daily News Brief for Wednesday, May 31st, 2023.
Archbishop ‘distressed’ by attacks on Christians in India
The Archbishop of Canterbury has lamented violent attacks on indigenous tribal Christians in north-eastern India.
Archbishop Justin Welby said he was “distressed” by the reports of violence coming out of Manipur state in recent weeks.
Writing on Twitter, the Archbishop said he was praying that “justice and peace would prevail” in the region.
The violence, carried out by Hindu nationalists, has killed dozens and displaced around 10,000 people, mostly Christians.
Many churches and buildings belonging to Christians have also been destroyed.
The Archbishop said he was praying “that regional authorities would protect all minority groups, including Christians and their places of worship, and that justice and peace would prevail”.
Open Doors last week shared reports from Christian partners on the ground fear that the violence will lead to a civil war.
They have expressed disappointment at what they see as a lack of action by the Indian government and local authorities to quell the violence.
According to Open Doors, at least 300 churches have been burned or demolished and 1,000 Christian homes have been destroyed in Manipur in the last few weeks.
The NGO is providing support to Christians caught up in the violence but has warned that conditions are “grim”, and many are still fearing for their lives.
“If the situation continues civil war is inevitable,” said an Open Doors partner who cannot be named for security reasons.
“If there is a civil war the situation will only become more gruesome, more lives lost, properties destroyed and further open persecution of religious minorities.”
The Taliban is using leftover American gear to fight a border skirmish with Iran
A gunfight broke out between Iranian border guards and Taliban fighters along the border between Iran and Afghanistan this weekend. Fighting killed three people in the biggest escalation between the two countries over water. And the Taliban brought out a big gun to help.
Video posted to social media offered an up-close view of the skirmish, inside an unexpected place: an Humvee kitted out with an M240 machine gun. If that looks familiar it’s because those are some of the pieces of military equipment captured by the Taliban, now put into use for fighting other parties.
Other accounts shared online reported heavy machine gun fire, as well as purported use of mortars and other explosives. Outside of the Humvee, Taliban fighters were spotted using AK-style rifles and RPGs to attack the Iranian position on the border.
At least three people are confirmed to have died in Saturday’s gunfight, although accounts vary on how many belonged to each side. The Taliban claimed at least one of its fighters was killed, while an Iranian paper said all deaths were on Iran’s side, per al-Jazeera. The fighting took place in the Nimroz province of Afghanistan. As a result, the border crossing between Milak and Zaranj in Iran and Afghanistan, respectively, closed (it was not where the fighting took place). Both nations accused the other of starting the gunfight.
The fighting between the two nations broke out amid political fights over water rights. Drought has been a serious issue in Afghanistan for the last three years. The Helmand River flows from Afghanistan into Iran and is dammed on the Afghan side. Earlier in May, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called on the Taliban not to restrict the flow of water.
More than a year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the group is using all kinds of seized American and NATO weapons.
It’s not a new development. The Taliban regularly used captured American-provided equipment when fighting the U.S.-backed government. In the later years of the war, special Taliban units were spotted wearing American-style driving Humvees and even wielding weapons belonging to special operations units. During the fall of Kabul in 2021, Los Angeles Times reporter Nabih Bulos captured footage of Taliban fighters in the city dressed like special operations forces.
When the U.S.-backed government fell and the Afghan security forces collapsed, the Taliban got its hand on a lot of leftover weapons and equipment. A 2022 report from the Pentagon’s lead inspector general for Operation Enduring Sentinel and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel found that approximately $7.12 billion in equipment was still in the country when the Taliban took over. That included everything from rifles to aircraft.
Uganda Signs Anti-gay Law With Death Penalty for ‘Aggravated Homosexuality’
Uganda’s president has signed into law tough new anti-gay legislation supported by many in this East African country but widely condemned by rights activists and others abroad.
The version of the bill signed by President Yoweri Museveni does not criminalize those who identify as LGBTQ, a key concern for campaigners who condemned an earlier draft of the legislation as an egregious attack on human rights.
But the new law still prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is defined as cases of sexual relations involving people infected with HIV as well as with minors and other categories of vulnerable people.
A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be imprisoned for up to 14 years, according to the legislation.
Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among said in a statement the president had “answered the cries of our people” in signing the bill.
“With a lot of humility, I thank my colleagues the Members of Parliament for withstanding all the pressure from bullies and doomsday conspiracy theorists in the interest of our country,” the statement said.
Museveni had returned the bill to the national assembly in April, asking for changes that would differentiate between identifying as LGBTQ and actually engaging in homosexual acts. That angered some lawmakers, including some who feared the president would proceed to veto the bill amid international pressure. Lawmakers passed an amended version of the bill earlier in May.
Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law criminalizing sexual activity “against the order of nature.” The punishment for that offense is life imprisonment.
The U.S. has warned of economic consequences over legislation described by Amnesty International as “draconian and overly broad.”
The leaders of the U.N. AIDS program, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund in a joint statement Monday said they “are deeply concerned about the harmful impact” of the legislation on public health and the HIV response.
“Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy,” the statement said. “The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat.”
That statement noted that “stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services” for LGBTQ people.
Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has grown in recent weeks amid news coverage alleging sodomy in boarding schools, including a prestigious one for boys where a parent accused a teacher of abusing her son.
The February decision of the Church of England ‘s national assembly to continue banning church weddings for same-sex couples while allowing priests to bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships inflamed many in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa.
Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries. Some Africans see it as behavior imported from abroad and not a sexual orientation.
Republicans to hold FBI Director Wray in contempt of Congress over Biden document
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is taking steps to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress after the Bureau notified the panel it will not comply with its subpoena related to a possible criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden.
The FBI, though, said Tuesday evening it remains committed to cooperating with Congress, and will provide access to the document “in a format and setting that maintains confidentiality and protects important security interests and the integrity of FBI investigations.”
Comer, R-Ky., has subpoenaed the FBI for a document that allegedly describes a criminal scheme involving Biden and a foreign national and relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions. The document is an FBI-generated FD-1023 form.
Comer first subpoenaed the document earlier this month. The FBI did not turn it over and instead explained that it needed to protect the Bureau’s confidential human source program.
Comer set another deadline last week, giving Wray until Tuesday, May 30, to turn over the document. After the deadline was set, Wray set up a call with Comer for Wednesday, May 31.
However, the FBI notified the panel it would not provide the document to the committee by the Tuesday afternoon deadline.
He added, “Americans deserve the truth, and the Oversight Committee will continue to demand transparency from this nation’s chief law enforcement agency.”
In response, the FBI told Fox News Digital that the bureau “remains committed to cooperating with the Committee in good faith.”