April 27: 30 Days of Advocacy Against Witch-hunts comes to an end for another year. So is there positive news to report? Yes…
At the beginning of March in London Congolese immigrants Eric Bikubi, 28, and Magalie Bamu, 29, were convicted of torturing and murdering Bamu’s 15-year-old brother Kristy. The couple believed that Kristy and his two sisters, ages 20 and 11, were witches. The trial was a media sensation. BBC News reported, “the court heard that Kristy was attacked with knives, sticks, metal bars, ceramic floor tiles, bottles and a hammer and chisel by Bikubi and Bamu who also used a pair of pliers to twist his ear.
“He drowned after he was placed in a bath for ritual cleansing.”
Kristy’s sisters were also abused but “confessed” to being witches and escaped Kristy’s suffering.
BBC News continued:
Scotland Yard said it had investigated 83 cases involving abuse resulting from ritualistic or faith-based beliefs over the last 10 years.
Det Supt Terry Sharpe [head of the Metropolitan Police’s religious violence unit] said: “The sentencing [Bikubi was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years while Bamu must serve 25 years] reflected the brutality and sadistic cruelty inflicted on Kristy in the days leading up to his death.
“This is a hidden and under-reported crime and therefore difficult to deal with in terms of protecting potential victims from harm.”
However, Friday, April 27th, in the wake of this tragedy, The Independent newspaper reported: “Police officers in London will receive extra instructions on helping children accused of witchcraft and sorcery with plans to expand the training nationwide if it proves effective.”
Detective Superintendent Sharpe, a 28 year veteran with the Metropolitan Police, is the head of “Project Violet, a unit specifically set up to tackle religiously motivated violence such as witchcraft abuse and female genital mutilation.” Project Violet has created a checklist for police officers in London and training for recruits at Hendon Police College that “details the kind of language and terms used by people who accuse others of sorcery and advises on what signs officers should look for to gauge whether a child is at risk. ”
In June the Department of Education will go nationwide with a plan to raise the awareness of police, teachers, social workers and medical professionals when they are confront with possible witchcraft victims.
And in the U.S. this spring, Pagans–“Should Witch-Hunter Helen Ukpabio be Allowed to Visit America?” and Atheists–“Helen Ukpabio, Witch Hunter, May Be Coming to Texas”–found common ground when Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio, Nigerian Evangelical minister and notorious witch-hunter, planned a twelve day “Marathon Deliverance” revival March 14th-25th in Houston. More than 2200 people joined the “Stand Against Helen Ukpabio” page on Facebook. They sent petitions to the President of the United States, the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and the State Department, saying, “The US Department of State needs to be urged to do the right thing and deny Helen Ukpabio’s entry into the United States on grounds of her human rights violations.” And they raised money for Stepping Stones Nigeria, a grassroots organization in the Niger Delta which provides education, healthcare, clothing, etc. to at-risk and abandoned children.
Ukpabio has never been convicted of a crime, and the Federal Government flinched from impinging on “the separation of church and state,” but Ukpabio postponed the March revival until “May”–and I doubt very much that the show will go on any time in the foreseeable future.
And speaking of the future, after the World Parliament of Religions met in 2009, Rev. Don Lewis, First Priest and Chancellor of the Correllian Tradition–a branch of Wicca with members in the U.S., Europe, and South Africa–said:
And finally I learned one other, rather darker thing at the Parliament of World’s Religions. For all the talk about spirituality, indigenous rights, and charitable activities, I never heard a single word about the Witch persecutions going on in Africa. As you no doubt know Africa is in the grip of a Witch persecution that strongly resembles that of Europe’s “Burning Times” –except in Africa the larger proportion of the victims of this persecution are children. These “Witch Children” are beaten, tortured in often horrible ways, exiled from their homes and communities, and sometimes killed all because they are believed to be “Witches”. This persecution is being perpetrated on a number of fronts, but is largely coming from Protestant churches, many of which are funded from the US. This is what made Sarah Palin’s acceptance of a spiritual endorsement and blessing from African Witch Hunter Bishop Thomas Muthi so objectionable during the recent US election.
Among all the religious leaders at the Parliament I did not hear a single mention of this expanding human tragedy. Not a mention among the Christians. Not a mention among the Africans. Not a mention among the Pagans.
As I reported last April, the Correllians intend to bring the issue of witch-hunts to the World Parliament of Religions in 2014. And that is a event I eagerly await.
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