On Wednesday January 17, MEP Peter van Dalen, together with MEP Catherine Stihler, co-hosted the launch of Open Doors’ annual report, the World Watch List. Unfortunately, this year’s report highlighted a worrying trend; persecuting against Christians is increasing. Of the 2.48 billion followers of Christ in the world today, 1 in 12 face severe to extreme persecution.
30 of the 50 countries on the list saw an increase in persecution whilst North Korea remained the worst place in the world to be a Christian. China also remained in 43rd place on the list, although the recent disturbing news reports of Church demolitions suggests a new campaign of the authorities to crack down on the Christian population. Throughout the entirety of Asia, 1 in 4 of the 393 million Christians who live there, are severely persecuted.
The focus of the event was Pakistan, number 5 on the Watch List, where the situation facing Christians is particularly bleak. Even though over the past year overall persecution has decreased, Pakistan was the country where the most violence against Christians was recorded.
MEP Peter van Dalen said:
“I was there [in Pakistan] last November and I saw for my own eyes the difficulties faced by Christians. I visited the family of Asia Bibi, a young mother who remains imprisoned on death row for blasphemy. It was clear that there is little protection for minorities there and Open Door’s report demonstrates this clearly. The EU needs to do more to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights. Trade instruments like GSP+ should be used as they were intended, to ensure the adherence to key human rights conventions, including the ICCPR. I hope that following the release of this report, the Commission will use the GSP mid-term review to raise these issues with the Pakistani government”