Religious issues and persecution – Bimonthly Digest April 1529



23.04.2024 – Massive Chinese cyber espionage of Tibetan diaspora revealed


Bitter Winter – We all knew that Chinese intelligence agencies keep the Tibetan and Uyghur diasporas under surveillance and harass them in many different ways. However, a data leak from the private company Shanghai Anxun Information Technology Co., Ltd. (i-Soon), which occurred on February 18, 2024, probably thanks to an anonymous whistleblower within the corporation, revealed that cyber surveillance has now escalated to a higher and much more dangerous level.

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22.04.2024 – Released from arrest, tortured Tibetan monk committed suicide


Bitter Winter – There are Tibetans who decide to die through self-immolation to protest the cultural genocide of their people. For others, suicide is not a form of protest but the consequence of torture and terror.


Only on April 15, 2024, the parents of monk Tenzin Dorjee from Nubling township, Dingri county, Tibet, informed human rights organizations that their son had committed suicide last year, on May 25, 2023.


A learned 50-year-old monk of Shelkar Monastery from Dingri county, Tenzin Dorjee was accused of studying and explaining forbidden texts by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Shelkar is an important learning center founded in 1385 by Lotsawa Drakpa Gyeltsen of the Sakya school and converted to Geluk in the 17th century. It still commands considerable local prestige.

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16.04.2024 – Campaign against “cults” launched in Lhasa—But what is a “cult” in Tibet?


Bitter Winter – On April 4, the Lhasa Public Security Bureau issued a strange document on repressing “xie jiao,” a term that really means “heterodox teachings” and was originally used by Taoists in the Middle Ages to slander Buddhism, but is today translated by the CCP in languages other than Mandarin as “cults.”


The document, whose translation we offer here below, would be perfectly predictable in other areas of China where fighting groups listed as “xie jiao” such as Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God is a national security priority. The document incites Tibetans to inform on the activities of the “xie jiao” promising monetary rewards.


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Xie Jiao


18.04.2024 – Once popular, Deng Haipeng’s “Soul Shaping” is liquidated as a Xie Jiao


Bitter Winter – Recently, the Xiamen Intermediate Court confirmed on appeal a verdict of seventeen years and six months in jail against the “xie jiao leader” Deng Haipeng, and lesser penalties for eight of his co-workers. “Xie jiao” is often translated as “cults” or “evil cults” but means “heterodox teachings” and is a label used in China since the Middle Ages to designate religious groups whose teachings are regarded as dangerous and subversive by the state.

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Falun Gong


27.04.2024 – Meizhou City, Guangdong Province: 14 Falun Gong practitioners arrested in three days

Minghui – A total of 14 Falun Gong practitioners in Meizhou City, Guangdong Province were arrested for their faith over the course of three days in mid-April 2024. At the time of this writing, two practitioners have been released due to their poor health, eleven practitioners are still held in custody, and the situation of one practitioner isn’t clear.


Ten Arrested on April 17, 2024

Around 13 officers from the Meixian District Domestic Security Division and Chengjiang Township Police Station broke into Ms. Zeng Xiuqiong’s home at around 2 p.m. on April 17, 2024 and arrested her and her seven guests, including Ms. Xie Guofang, Ms. Zou Xiufen, Ms. Zeng Xizhen, Ms. Liu Haibo, Ms. Liu Biqing, Ms. He Xinfeng, and Ms. Fan Laiying.

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19.04.2024 – Horror continues in the Heilongjiang Provincial women’s prison

Bitter Winter – Bitter Winter” has reported previously on the dreadful situation of women prisoners of conscience in the Heilongjiang Provincial Women’s Prison, nicknamed “the cemetery of Falun Gong ladies.” Two female Falun Gong practitioners were persecuted to death there this year.


Notwithstanding the international protests, the horror continues. Human rights organizations have now received the testimony of Liu Jinping, a 43-year-old female Falun Gong practitioner from Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang, who has become another inmate in the notorious jail.

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25.04.2024 – Hui Muslims mobilized to chase “spies”

Bitter Winter – April 15 in China is National Security Education Day. “Bitter Winter” received several reports on how “national security education” became mandatory around that date in Hui Muslim mosques, under the guidance of the government-controlled China Islamic Association.


Preachers were told that they should focus their sermons on explaining to Muslim devotees the new Law on Guarding State Secrets, which comes into force on May 1 and includes a greatly expanded, if vague, definition of what a “state secret” is.

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23.04.2024 – How the Chinese state is hollowing out religion in Xinjiang

Economist – New religious regulations in Xinjiang stipulate that mosques should look Chinese and religious figures should behave patriotically. What do those rules look like on the ground, and did they affect Ramadan celebrations for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities this year?


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19.04.2023 – A new round of restrictions further constrains religious practice in Xinjiang


China File – Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rang in 2024 by announcing an update to the region’s strictures on religious practice. Changes include new rules to ensure that sites of religious worship, like mosques, look adequately “Chinese,” and to mandate the cultivation of “patriotic” religious leaders.


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29.04.2024 – Hohhot Christians’ trial: Ban Yanchao gets 5 years for distributing bibles

Bitter Winter – In March, “Bitter Winter” reported about the arrest and prosecution of ten Christian believers from Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. They were accused of illegal sales of Bibles, but the peculiarity of the case was that the Bibles had been legally published in Nanjing with the government’s authorization. The prosecutor’s argument was that sales of Bibles by an illegal house church not affiliated with the government-controlled Three-Self Church is a crime even if the Bibles are in themselves “legal.”


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24.04.2024 – School education in China: choices among Christian families

Christian Daily – Christian school education has a long history in China, going back at least to Robert Morrison’s Anglo-Chinese College in Malacca in 1818. In fact, thirteen of the country’s premier universities were once Christian. That all changed after the current government took power in 1949, when Christian schools and universities were closed, merged with other schools, or secularized in other ways. By 1952, Christian schools in China were basically gone. Revival came to the Chinese countryside in the 1970s and 1980s, and the 1990s saw it come to the cities as well. By 2000, China’s cities had millions of young, educated believers who were just out of college and beginning to start families. They wanted something different for their children’s education than they had experienced themselves.


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15.04.2024 – Sichuan’s Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church: Elders Wu Jiannan and Hao Ming sentenced to jail terms

Bitter Winter – On April 9, 2024, the Jingyang District Court of Deyang City, Sichuan, rendered its decision on the case of elders Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan of Sichuan’s Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church. Both elders were sentenced to three years in prison with a suspended sentence of five years and were fined 30,000 yuan. Elder Wu was also ordered to return the 100,130 yuan given to his family by the church.


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