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CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest September 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest September 01-15



11.09.2023 – With a little help from my friends: Russian anti-cultist supports China atrocities

Bitter Winter – “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible.” As an Orthodox priest, Russian anti-cultist Alexander Novopashin, part of the European anti-cult federation FECRIS until March 2023, should be familiar with these word of the fifth chapter of Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

Continue reading…


31.08.2023 – China issues new requirements for religious groups

voanews – New measures handed down by the Chinese Communist Party that it says will strengthen the regulation and management of religious venues appear to be further restrictions on religious freedom and go into effect Friday.

The Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues requires religious venues to “support the leadership of the CCP, support the socialist system, and thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

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31.08.2023 – Buddhists a majority in China as Christianity’s growth struggles

Religiousunplugged.com – The growth of Christianity in China has stagnated over the past decade, while one-third of the country’s adult population identifies as Buddhist, according to a new report.

A Pew Research Center report issued Wednesday found that only 10% of Chinese adults identified with any religious group — but the number rose significantly when survey questions focused on spirituality, customs and superstitions.

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The Church of Almighty God

07.09.2023 – Post-COVID purge: Over 2,100 Church of Almighty God Members arrested in two provinces

Bitter Winter – In Anhui and Jiangsu, as soon as COVID quarantines ceased, the banned church’s devotees started being persecuted again. Two died. After the COVID pandemic quarantine was fully lifted, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a nationwide purge against The Church of Almighty God (CAG). According to incomplete figures collected by the CAG and shared with a “Bitter Winter” reporter, from January to July 2023, at least 2,100 church members were arrested in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces alone, and two of them were persecuted to the point of death.

Continue reading…



13.09.2023 – Bishop convicted for not joining Chinese catholic patriotic association

ChinaAid – Catholic Bishop Yang Xiaoming from the Wenzhou Diocese in Zhejiang, China, was convicted of “fraud” because he refused to join the official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. It is uncommon for Catholic clergy to be punished under the charge of “impersonating religious personnel.”

Sources in China told AsiaNews, Fr. Yang Xiaoming (baptismal name Joseph), was brought to court, convicted, and subjected to administrative penalties because of his refusal to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

This is a matter of conscience. The acts of the government constitute the coercion of citizens’ faith, infringing on human rights.

According to AsiaNews, Fr. Joseph Yang Xiaoming was born on November 22, 1989, in Longwan District, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province. On December 18, 2020, Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin ordained him as a priest. Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, who is recognized by the Vatican, was arrested multiple times and subjected to surveillance because of his refusal to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

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02.09.2023 – Taiwan hopes Pope’s China engagement helps ‘worsening’ religious freedom

Reuters – Taiwan supports the Vatican’s efforts at engagement with China and hopes it improves that country’s “worsening” religious freedom and human rights, the island’s foreign ministry said after Pope Francis messaged Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Vatican is one of only 13 countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, and Taipei has watched nervously as Francis seeks to improve ties with Beijing.

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01.09.2023 – China bars Chinese bishops from traveling to see pope in Mongolia

Religionnews –  Chinese authorities have prohibited Catholic bishops in China from traveling to Mongolia to meet with Pope Francis during his papal visit to the tiny Catholic community in this country on China’s northern border.

The decision by the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, first reported by America, the Jesuit magazine, is the latest sign of tension in the already strained relations between China and the Holy See.

Flying to Mongolia Thursday (Aug. 31) for his four-day visit, Francis issued a telegram while in Chinese airspace to the country’s president, Xi Jinping: “Assuring you of my prayers for the wellbeing of the nation, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of unity and peace,” the pope wrote.

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Falun Gong

12.09.2023 – 87-year-old woman sentenced a third time for her faith, ordered to re-serve the last 3 years of her second prison term

Minghui – Ms. Liao An’an, 87, in Baiyin City, Gansu Province was sentenced to three years and nine months on September 5, 2023 for her faith in Falun Gong.

This is not the first time that Ms. Liao An’an has been targeted for her faith. She was sentenced to five years following her arrest on August 18, 2008 and given another five years following her arrest on September 19, 2014. Due to health reasons, she was allowed to serve the last three years of her second prison term outside of prison.

The Baiyin District Court, however, added the three years from Ms. Liao’s second prison term to her latest one, ordering her to serve a total of six years and nine months. She filed an appeal against the wrongful conviction.

Continue reading…


10.09.2023 – Two Jilin residents sentenced to prison for practicing Falun Gong

Minghui – Ms. Pan Hongming and Mr. Yue Chunguang, both of Tonghua City, Jilin Province, were secretly sentenced to prison between June and July 2023 for practicing Falun Gong.

The sentencing stemmed from a study session hosted by Mr. Yue at his home on August 11, 2022. That night he and Ms. Pan, Ms. He Qiuhong, and Xu (gender and first name unknown) were reading Falun Gong books together, when a woman knocked on the door, claiming to be Mr. Yue’s upstairs neighbor. She said that he was making too much noise and demanded to be allowed inside to see what was going on. Mr. Yue refused to let her in. The woman then claimed that she was from the residential committee and told him to open the door. When Mr. Yue again would not let her in, she finally said that she was a police officer and threatened him.

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05.09.2023 – Shoulder disabled by torture in Labor Camp, former engineer Mr. Huang Zhufeng sentenced again for practicing Falun Gong

Minghui – Mr. Huang Zhufeng, a Maoming City, Guangdong Province resident was sentenced to two years and ten months, and fined 10,000 yuan, on August 16, 2023 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Prior to Mr. Huang Zhufeng’s latest sentencing, the 53-year-old former award-winning electronic automation engineer served two labor camp terms, including a one-year term given in February 2000 and another two-year term given on September 4, 2001. While he was held in the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp, a guard ordered two prisoners to pull his arms apart as hard as they could on January 2, 2003. Both of his shoulders were dislocated and his arms were disabled. He was unable to continue working in his profession after being released and had to do odd jobs to make a living.

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07.09.2023 – Betrayal of China’s Muslims undermines the organization of Islamic cooperation’s credibility

The Diplomat – Once again, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has shown its unconditional support to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), despite the CCP’s massive persecution of Muslim people in Xinjiang – chiefly Uyghurs but also other Turkic minorities.

On August 17, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Deng Li met with an OIC delegation, saying the organization “symbolizes the unity and independence of Islamic countries and functions as the bridge for China to develop its relations with Islamic countries.” In turn, the OIC delegation praised China as “a great country that has scored remarkable achievements in its economic and social development” and noted the expectation that the OIC would “further expand its cooperation with China.”

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14.09.2023 – Heavily persecuted Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church officially banned

ChinaAid – The Chinese government continues to ban Chinese house churches under the pretext of banning illegal social organizations. The Panyu Civil Affairs Bureau of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province in southern China banned Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church on August 24th.

This house church was not registered with the Chinese government. The notice from the Civil Affairs Bureau determined that Guangzhou Biblical Reformed operated as “an illegal social organization.”

The announcement states: “Upon investigation, ‘Guangzhou Biblical Reformed Church’ is without registration, and has carried out unauthorized activities in the name of a social organization[… the church] falls under the category of an illegal social organization. After looking into it, it has now been decided to ban it.”

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08.09.2023 – Three-Self bureaucrats enforce new rules on religion in Anhui, Shaanxi, and Guangxi

Bitter Winter – The attempt to strictly and immediately enforce throughout China the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues,” which came into force on September 1, continues.

From August 15 to 23, Pastor Gao Feng, chair of the Board of Supervisors of the National Two Christian Associations, i.e., the Three-Self Church and China Christian Council (which supervises education and organization of Three-Self-affiliated Protestant churches), led a team to inspect Christian communities in Anhui, Shaanxi, and Guangxi.

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KYRGYZSTAN: 60 mosques, madrasas shuttered in Osh region

KYRGYZSTAN: 60 mosques, madrasas shuttered in Osh region


Security services cited extremist concerns and building code violations as grounds for the closures

EURASIANET (08.08.2023) – The security services in Kyrgyzstan say they have shut down 39 mosques and 21 Islamic schools in the southern Osh region as part of an ongoing mass inspection of religious institutions.


In its August 8 statement, the State Committee for National Security, or GKNB, offered a variety of motivations for the closures, ranging from a desire to prevent alleged extremism to building code violations.


Teachers working in a number of the madrasas were unqualified and were providing unsanctioned religious education to the attending children.


The government agencies involved in the inspections, which included the Interior Ministry, the Emergency Situations Ministry, and the Health Ministry among others, found fully 48 mosques and 40 religious schools to be in violation of some or other regulation. About 40 of these institutions got off with fines.


The GKNB statement was unclearly phrased, but it seemed in part to be arguing that failure to abide by fire safety regulations and erecting buildings unlawfully on public land could in part contribute to the spread of radicalism and extremism in the Osh region.

One issue may be that many of these mosques and madrasas were operating beyond the confines of state-sanctioned Islam.


As of 2021, there were about 3,000 Islamic religious entities in Kyrgyzstan, most of which were mosques. There have been mounting reports in recent years of a flourishing of illegally operated places of prayers and religious education.


In June, the GKNB in the Jalal-Abad region, which neighbors the Osh region, said they had identified 60 mosques operating without registration issued by the state committee for religious affairs. In practice, this meant imams at the mosques may have been lacking in clerical training and did not coordinate the content of their sermons with the parastatal Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan, or DUMK.


A month earlier, the security services closed two underground madrasas in the Suzak district of the Jalal-Abad region. Children attending the madrasas were found not to be attending regular school, the GKNB said.


Photo: A GKNB-issued image of one of the buildings alleged to have fallen foul of the rules.

Further reading about FORB in Kyrgyzstan on HRWF website


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RUSSIA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest July 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest July 01-15

 14.07.2023 – The state prosecutor asked to sentence Jehovah’s Witnesses from Yaroslavl to imprisonment

SOVA – The representative of the prosecutor’s office asked the court to sentence Pyotr Filiznov and Andrey Vyushin to eight years in prison under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code, and Alexander and Maria Kuznetsov – to four years under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

On July 4, 2023, the Dzerzhinsky District Court of Yaroslavl held a debate between the parties in the case of four Jehovah’s Witnesses. The public prosecutor asked that Petr Filiznov and Andrey Vyushin be found guilty under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization) and sentence them to eight years in prison in a penal colony with additional penalties in the form of a five-year ban on leading public and religious organizations and participating in them, as well as restriction of freedom for one and a half years.

Continue reading…


13.07.2023 – Court found Lubov Serebryakova, 72, guilty of extremism for reading the Bible. 

JW – On July 11, 2023, Olga Chaika, judge of the Kuznetsk District Court of Novokuznetsk, found Lubov Serebryakova guilty of extremism because of her religion. The elderly Jehovah’s Witness was given a 4-year suspended sentence — a year more than the prosecutor requested for her.

The believer herself does not plead guilty, which she stated to the court: “I performed all my religious actions exclusively within the framework of freedom of religion.” The essence of the charges were simply that Serebryakova attended peaceful meetings for worship and made several comments based on the Bible.

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13.07.2023 – Tablighi Jamaat followers detained in Moscow and Moscow region

SOVA – On July 13, 2023, it became known that in Moscow and the Moscow Region, police officers, together with FSB officers, detained followers of Tablighi Jamaat. Three of them are suspected under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization), the remaining seven – under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

According to investigators, three natives of Kyrgyzstan organized the activities of the Tablighi Jamaat cell in the Moscow region and involved seven more people in its work. The defendants in the case were detained, searches were carried out in their homes – during the investigation, religious literature was confiscated.

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13.07.2023 – Court in Moscow passed another harsh sentence to three Jehovah’s Witnesses—from 4.5 to 6.5 years in a penal colony for their faith

JW – On July 12, 2023, the Savelovsky District Court of Moscow found three Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of extremism for “commenting on portions of [Bible] texts.” Anatoliy Marunov was sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony, Sergey Tolokonnikov— to 5 years, and Roman Mareyev— to 4.5 years.

More than 100 people went to the courthouse to support the believers. Anatoliy Marunov, 69, who was under house arrest during the investigation and trial was taken into custody after the verdict was announced. All three still plead not guilty and can appeal the verdict.

Continue reading…


07.07.2023 – Case of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Karpinsk returned to prosecutor after acquittal overturned

SOVA – After the Supreme Court failed to uphold the acquittal of the three Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court simply returned the case to the prosecutor.

On July 6, 2023, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court once again considered the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses Alexander Pryanikov, Venera and Darya Dulova, charged under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization). The court decided to cancel the guilty verdict issued by the lower court and return the case to the prosecutor to eliminate the violations. Earlier, the same court fully acquitted the defendants, but the Supreme Court of Russia did not agree with this decision.

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07.07.2023 –  Long jail terms for Moscow Nursi readers

Forum 18 – Arrested in October 2021, six Muslims who met to study the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi finally went on trial in September 2022. On 27 June 2023, a Moscow court jailed four of the six for 6 years or more, with the others receiving lesser terms. The judge ordered the destruction of books by Nursi taken during the investigation. On 20 June, a Taganrog court jailed Jehovah’s Witness Aleksandr Skvortsov for 7 years. All were convicted on “extremism” charges, which all denied.

The largest trial for eight years of Muslims who met to study the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi has ended in Moscow with prison terms for all six defendants. On 27 June, the court jailed four of the six for terms of six years or more. These are the harshest punishments handed down to Nursi readers since Ilgar Aliyev was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in 2018. The court sentenced the other two to two years and seven months each.

Continue reading…


07.07.2023 – Süleymancılar: Russia cracks down on Turkish Sufi organization

Bitter Winter – Accused by anti-cultists of being a “pseudo-Islamic cult,” the group has two million members in Turkey and a distinguished history.

Russian anti-cult web sites reported on June 27 on the ongoing crackdown against the Turkish Sufi organization Süleymancılar in Russia.

The FSB cracked down on the organization in Saint Petersburg and is investigating it elsewhere in Russia. It is accused of trying to convert Russian Orthodox believers in violation of anti-proselytization laws, but also of advocating a great Turkish-speaking “Turanic” state that would include parts of Russia, and of “torturing minors,” something connected with the use of corporal punishments in its dormitories and religious boarding schools for male Muslim students.

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06.07.2023 – In Ulyanovsk, a criminal case was opened against a native of Egypt because of a video with the Koran

SOVA – Said Abu Mustafa is charged with insulting the feelings of believers and hooliganism. The court took him into custody.

On July 6, 2023, the department of the Investigative Committee for the Ulyanovsk Region reported on the initiation of a criminal case against a native of Egypt. He became a suspect under Part 1 of Art. 148 of the Criminal Code (public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed in order to offend the religious feelings of believers) and Part 1 of Art. 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or enmity).

On July 7, the detainee was charged, after which the Leninsky District Court of Ulyanovsk took him into custody for two months. The accused is named Said Abu Mustafa (he was also previously referred to as Said Abdelrazek in media reports).

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05.07.2023 – USCIRF releases new reports on Russia’s religious freedom violations

Uscirf – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new reports on religious freedom conditions in the Russian Federation and Russia’s religious freedom violations in Ukraine:

Russia Country Update – Since President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russian authorities have continued their systematic harassment and prosecution of religious minority communities within the Russian Federation, while simultaneously launching the largest crackdown on independent civil society in decades. This country update provides an overview of religious freedom conditions in Russia following its most recent invasion of Ukraine.

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04.07.2023 – Court toughens sentence for Jehovah’s Witnesses from Komsomolsk-on-Amur

SOVA – Tatyana Svoboda, Tatyana Bondarenko and Yelena Nesterova received five years of probation each.

On July 4, 2023, the Khabarovsk Regional Court partially granted the prosecutor’s appeal against the sentence handed down on March 23, 2023 to three Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Central District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The court of first instance sentenced Tatyana Svoboda, Tatyana Bondarenko and Elena Nesterova to five years of suspended imprisonment each with a two-year probationary period under Parts 1.1 and 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (involvement in the activities of an extremist organization and participation in it). The regional court appointed them an additional punishment – a year and eight months of restriction of freedom each.

Continue reading…


03.07.2023 – A Court in Novosibirsk sentenced Dmitriy Dolzhikov to a penal colony for reading the Bible, but replaced the punishment with forced labor

JW – On June 30, 2023, Olga Kovalenko, a judge of the Leninskiy District Court of Novosibirsk, found 45-year-old Dmitriy Dolzhikov guilty of extremism, sentenced him to 3 years in a penal colony and a year of restriction of freedom, but his imprisonment was replaced with forced labor. Taking into account the period of detention of Dmitriy under arrest, he will be required to serve about 2 years of forced labor.

Dmitry Dolzhikov does not plead guilty: “I carefully read the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated April 20, 2017 [on the liquidation of legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia], but I have not seen anywhere that the court imposed a ban on practicing the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that believers would be banned from worshiping God, performing religious services, praying and singing religious songs. There has never been such a ban.” The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believer signed a recognizance agreement.

Continue reading…


01.07.2023 – Former Chief Rabbi of Moscow recognized as foreign agent

SOVA – On June 30, 2023, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation updated the list of foreign agents. Among others, Pinchas Goldshmidt, the former chief rabbi of Moscow, was included among the foreign agents.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Goldschmidt disseminated false information about the actions of the Russian authorities and spoke out against military operations on the territory of Ukraine.

In 2022, Goldschmidt left Russia.


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TURKEY: Two Scottish journalists detained for two weeks

Two British journalists reporting on 100+ Ahmadi asylum-seekers detained for two weeks and beaten


“They put my hands on my back, grabbed me by the neck, and just threw me on the bus, they have taken my phone even though I’m UK press.”


See interview on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px3tLMww0kM&t=1s


By Hadil El-Khouly for Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (10.06.2023) – These were the words of independent journalist Alexandra Foreman,34 from Watford, live streamed from a hidden phone on a bus by the Turkish-Bulgarian border. Her voice was visibly shaken from the scene that just took place in front of her: 104 asylum seekers including women, children, and elderly individuals violently beaten with batons, punched, kicked, and shoved on buses by Turkish border police, and then detained. Gunshots were fired in the air, there was blood everywhere.


The 104 asylum seekers who are members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a persecuted religious minority, were at the border exercising their right to legally claim asylum before being assaulted by the Turkish border police. Alexandra was accompanying the group on the border that day documenting the group’s attempt to seek asylum, alongside Scottish national and journalist Sermad Al-Khafaji, 43 from Glasgow. Despite being members of the press, they were both assaulted and detained by Turkish authorities alongside the group.


Alexandra and Sermad were kept in detention for two weeks before being released with no charges. They have returned to the UK, giving first-hand accounts of extreme levels of police brutality and abhorrent human rights violations enacted upon them and the group during detention.


In their first interview after their return, they revealed details of physical and psychological abuse they both endured at the hands of the Turkish Gendarmerie officers. Sermad recounts how he was instantly targeted as a member of the press during the events at the border.


He says: “I was apprehended brutally and isolated first, once the camera was taken away from me I was handcuffed with extreme venom to the point that I still have numbness in my finder and thumb.


As they were both taken to the gendarmerie police station, Sermad and Alexandra report how during the interrogation false accusations were thrown at them, accusing them of being agent provocateurs. Turkish state media also released false news reports, stating that Sermad and Alexandra were British spies who came to the country for espionage activities. During detention, they also reported how the Turkish gendarmerie officers tried to get them to sign papers in Turkish stating they are affiliated with a terrorist organization.


Even though there were no charges against them, Sermad and Alexandra were held illegally for a whole two weeks, during which they endured physical and psychological trauma.

Sermad explained that one of the reasons they were held so long is to give time for their bruises to recover so as to not give evidence of the violence they were subjected to.

He says: “They pulled my arms both backward and they pushed my head forward, that caused me spinal damage, they did this deliberately for me to release the camera. They also smacked my head from the back, they beat my head with fists.”


Alexandra and Sermad continue to give harrowing details of violence enacted against the group, where male members of the faith were beaten up in front of their children.

Alexandra says: “It is evident that the children had been incredibly traumatized by the experience at the border and there was so much violence there and they should not have had to see that.”

One of the many other injustices Sermad and Alexandra report was endured by the group is the preferential treatment they were given as British citizens in comparison to the other members of the group. They explain that while they for example could have access to medical care at their request, children and elderly members in critical condition were struggling to be seen by a doctor or receive medication they needed.


The 104 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light remain in detention until today, with deportation orders issued against them. They have all fled extreme forms of persecution in their home countries of Iran, Algeria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Palestine, Thailand, and Turkey. Deporting them is not just a violation of international human rights law on Turkey’s behalf, but would expose the group to the risk of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, or illegal detention and prosecution, including the risk of the death penalty in the country of origin.


Thanks to Alexandra and Sermad the scenes of violence and illegal pushback against the group on the border were captured on camera and broadcast on satellite TV to the whole world to see. Today they continue to speak about the plight of the detained members, revealing details of the human rights abuses they suffered, and calling for the international community to raise this as an emergency crisis, to annul deportations, and grant the group asylum in safer lands.


Video about the situation of the 100+ Ahmadi asylum-seekers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTE4ADNA2BI&t=56s


Contact with Ms. Hadil El Khouli: hadil.elkhouly@gmail.com or +44 7443 106804

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PAKISTAN: Cleric killed by mob following blasphemy accusation

PAKISTAN: Cleric killed by mob following blasphemy accusation

CSW (09.05.2023) – A local cleric in the city of Mardan, Khyber Pakthunkhwa Province, Pakistan, was killed by a mob on 6 May after he was accused of making a blasphemous reference during a political rally of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party.

Maulana Nigar Alam, 40, reportedly stated ‘Imran Khan is a truthful person and I respect him like the Prophet,’ while addressing a rally arranged by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Mardan in the Sawaldher area, to express solidarity with Imran Khan and the judiciary on 6 May.

The remarks, which were considered blasphemy, prompted a group of those gathered at the rally to attack Mr Alam. Police were called to the venue and proceeded to lock him in a shop for his safety, however whilst talks were being held with the clerics, the mob, which primarily comprised of PTI activists, broke the shutters of the shop and took Mr Alam out by force. They began to kick him, beat him with sticks and ultimately lynched him to death. Video footage of the cleric’s speech and of his killing went viral on social media.

This is the second incident of mob violence and killing in Pakistan in 2023. On 11 February a man suspected of committing blasphemy was lynched in Nankana Sahib, Punjab Province.

There have also been previous attacks of this nature in Mardan. On 13 April 2017, Mashal Khan, a student at the mass communications department of Abdul Wali Khan University, was killed over blasphemy allegations by a mob.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws criminalise anyone who insults Islam, including by outraging religious feeling, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. These laws are poorly defined and require low standards for evidence. As a result, they are often used as a weapon of revenge against both Muslims and non-Muslims to settle personal scores or to resolve disputes over money, property or business.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW extends our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Maulana Nigar Alam. His tragic murder is yet another disturbing reminder of the dangerous implications of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. We reiterate that these laws are wholly incompatible with the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief and must be reviewed urgently, moving towards their full repeal in the long term. We also call on the Pakistani authorities to ensure that a full investigation is carried out, and that all those responsible for this horrific act are held to account. It is necessary for the government to enforce the rule of law and not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands.’

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press and Public Affairs Team Leader at CSW on +44 (0)782 332 9663 or email kiri@csw.org.uk. 

CSW is a human rights organisation specialising in freedom of religion or belief.  We work on over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. www.csw.org.uk

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website

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BENIN in the dock at the UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva

Benin in the dock at the United Nations in Geneva

HRWF full report

HRWF (27.01.2022) – https://hrwf.eu – On 26 January, a few weeks after the controversial parliamentary elections in Benin the result of which was rejected by the opposition, the human rights situation in the country was examined at the United Nations in Geneva in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism (UPR).

A number of NGOs focused on the appalling human rights situation and the political oppression in Benin.

Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) contributed to the UPR with an 18-page report, available on the U.N. website, in which it focused on several topics of particular concern, and primarily the grip of President Talon on all the state institutions to the benefit of his party.

Other issues were also investigated by the report, such as

  • The massive arrests of peaceful demonstrators, political opponents and party leaders in 2021
  • The loss of independence of the judiciary
  • The creation of a special court for the prosecution of economic crimes and terrorism (CRIET) instrumentalized by President Talon to prosecute political rivals on fabricated charges
  • The sentencing of two candidates of the 2021 presidential election, Reckya Madougou and Joël Aivo, respectively sentenced to 20 and 10 years in prison
  • The general detention conditions in Benin, also denounced in the 2021 of the US State Department on Human Rights Practices in Benin
  • The abuse of pretrial detention and the use of torture, already denounced in 2019 by the UN Committee Against Torture
  • The lack of freedom of the media, journalists and bloggers
  • The breaches of freedom of assembly and police violence

In a previous oral statement at the UN, HRWF recalled that in May 2021, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a Resolution in which it declared to be deeply concerned by the restrictions on civic space and the crackdown on demonstrations by the army resulting in loss of lives, abuses and violations.

Last but not least, HRWF report also mentioned a call of the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs to the US at the end of a 73-page study to recommend the nomination of President Talon and his supporting associates for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.

On the same lines, HRWF also recommends the nomination of President Talon and his associates for sanctions under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

HRWF is urging the international community to obtain from President Talon the release of Reckya Madougou and Joël Aivo, respectively sentenced to 20 and 10 years in prison

For more information, visit the website of HRWF or write to international.secretariat.brussels@hrwf.org

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