Columbian Official Bans Christianity; Arrests 28 Believers
The Christian Post (Link) - Ethan Cole (December 24, 2009)
A Columbian governor banned Christianity on a reservation for indigenous people and has imprisoned 28 of the natives for refusing to renounce their Christian faith.
Among those detained are two infants, both less than a year old, reported International Christian Concern last week. ICC said it has learned that the indigenous Christians have been imprisoned since October, and among those detained is a six-month-old infant.
The local governor, Jose de los Santos Sauna Limaco, had announced that Christianity was banned and called a meeting with the Kogui Christians on the Kogui reservation in northern Colombia on Oct. 27.
After the Christians were gathered, he reportedly trapped them and imprisoned 16 individuals, including children, for refusing to renounce their faith. Since then, the number of Kogui Christians in prison has grown to 28.
ICC noted that in some regions of Colombia the governor and local authorities are given relative autonomy over reserves for indigenous tribes.
The governor reportedly wants the Kogui to maintain the traditional identity of the tribal region, including animism. He has threatened to imprison all the Christian members of the Kogui community unless they renounce Christianity. This could result in over 100 more Kogui individuals being imprisoned.
The governor has also refused to allow the Kogui Christians to leave the reserve to practice their faith elsewhere.
Though several Christian religious freedom groups have advocated on behalf of the Kogui Christians, the Columbian government has refused to intervene.
�By refusing to act and allowing Christians to be imprisoned, the Columbian government has shown that it is willing to ignore its own constitution and its international agreements including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,� said Logan Maurer, regional manager at ICC, in a statement. �Just because these injustices are happening in an indigenous community does not mean these people do not have basic human rights.�
The population of Colombia is 90 percent Roman Catholic, according to the CIA World Factbook. Yet curiously the Colombian government has apparently refused to act on behalf of indigenous Christians.