Religious issues & persecution – Bimonthly Digest Dec. 01-15
08.12.2023 – Police out in force during Lhasa religious festival
RFA – Chinese police were out in force during a major religious festival in Tibet’s regional capital of Lhasa on Thursday, residents told Radio Free Asia.
It was the latest effort by China to suppress Tibetan religious and cultural expressions by sending a large police force to religious gatherings to surveil attendees.
Marked by displays of butter lamps and candles, the Gaden Ngamchoe festival commemorates the death of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, a revered 14th century scholar.
01.12.2023 – China requires job applicants in Tibet to denounce Dalai Lama
RFA – Tibetans who want to get public sector jobs must comply with a harsh Chinese rule requiring them to denounce the Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
The move would seem to violate China’s constitution, which officially protects the freedom of religion.
An official directive from Beijing released this month advertised 554 new public job opportunities in the city of Sigatse (in Chinese Xigaze) for its Village Development Expansion Program. It sought college graduates from the Tibet Autonomous Region with training in medicine, counseling and village development.
Church of Almighty God
07.12.2023- Church of Almighty God Refugee Li Yanli can remain in Spain—But others cannot
Bitter Winter – Good news for Li Yanli, the Church of Almighty God devotee and performer who tried to commit suicide at Madrid Barajas airport by cutting her wrist on November 3, while she was being deported back to China. The Spanish police still wanted to take her to China after she had recovered from her wounds. However, after the campaign, relayed by several Spanish media, launched by “Bitter Winter” and the Christian group of Spanish lawyers Abogados Cristianos, which also collected 60,000 signatures for a petition, the order of deportation was suspended. After a long wait, Li Yanli had another interview on November 21, and on 22, shortly after 7 pm, she was informed by the police that she could stay in Spain, and that the Asylum and Refugee Office had agreed to further process her asylum application.
08.12.2023 – An International mobilization is needed against China’s crackdown on mosques
Bitter Winter – Amidst the vast expanse of China’s political landscape, the threads of religious freedom are unraveling at an alarming rate, particularly in the northwestern regions of Ningxia and Gansu, home to significant Muslim populations. Under the guise of “mosque consolidation,” Chinese authorities have embarked on a systematic campaign to suppress Islamic practices, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the fundamental human right to religious freedom.
The ominous policy of “mosque consolidation” was initiated in 2017 and has since manifested as the demolition, closure, and repurposing of mosques. The purported objective is to reduce the overall number of mosques and tighten control over the practice of Islam. However, this bureaucratic maneuver is far from benign; it represents a calculated effort to stifle religious expression and erode the cultural identity of Muslim minorities.
13.12.2023 – After two prior prison terms totaling eight years, 59-year-old Shanxi man stands trial again for his faith in Falun Gong
Minghui – A 59-year-old man in Houma City, Shanxi Province, was recently tried, without his family’s knowledge, for his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Yuan Jinming was arrested on May 6, 2023, after a surveillance camera recorded him distributing Falun Gong informational materials in neighboring Quwo County. The arresting officers from the Quwo County Police Department took him to the Quwo County Detention Center and raided his home hours later. Captain Sun Jianjun of the police department later submitted his case to the Quwo County Procuratorate.
11.12.2023 – Three Liaoning women facing prosecution for practicing Falun Gong, one of them missing and put on wanted list
Minghui – Three women in Kaiyuan City, Liaoning Province are facing prosecution for their faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Su Changqin, 76, Ms. Liu Lili, 55, and Ms. Yang Yukun, 62, were arrested on July 6, 2023 and interrogated by captain Wang Yi (+86-13470176868) and vice captain Liu Jiansheng (+86-15141470101) of the Kaiyuan City Domestic Security Office. Ms. Yang was released on bail the next day, and Ms. Su and Ms. Liu on July 22.
The police submitted the three women’s cases to the Changtu County Procuratorate on November 3 and a prosecutor surnamed Hu (+86-24-75920102) was assigned to the cases. Both Changtu County and Kaiyuan City are under the administration of Tieling City.
08.12.2023 – After five labor camp terms and one prison term totaling 16 years, Heilongjiang man gets another four years for practicing Falun Gong
Minghui – A 63-year-old man in Jixi City, Heilongjiang Province, was sentenced to four years with a 10,000-yuan fine on November 20, 2023, for his faith in Falun Gong.
The sentencing of Mr. Shi Xiaochun, a mailroom clerk at Heping Elementary School in the Jiguan District, Jixi City, stemmed from an incident on April 24, 2023. He put up Falun Gong flyers on campus that day and was reported by his colleague, Jia Chun, to the Xiangyang Police Station in the same district.
Officers Zhang Duo, Tian Meng, and Liu Jian poured over the school’s surveillance cameras and found footage of someone putting up flyers. They then had Song Junlong, the assistant school principal, and Zhang Baohua, a school employee, confirm Mr. Shi’s identity and employment before arresting him at work on May 12, 2023. They confiscated a copy of Zhuan Falun, the main teachings of Falun Gong, from the mailroom and informational materials about Falun Gong.
15.12.2023 – Elder Zhu Longfei and others from Shengjia Church officially prosecuted.
ChinaAid – On November 30, Elder Zhu Longfei of Shengjia Church in Shunde, along with previously detained Preacher Deng Yanxiang, Deacon Zhu Longjiang, Deacon Wang Weicai, and Zhu Qiaoling, were prosecuted together under the charge of “illegal business operation”. The case was filed by Shunde District People’s Procuratorate to Shunde District People’s Court. They were charged with “illegal business operations” because of the devotional material (“Daily Scripture Interpretation”) printed for internal use within the church. Furthermore, they were characterized as “illegal printing and distributing publications that seriously endanger social order and disrupt market order,” with particularly severe circumstance.
12.12.2023 – China’s Christian population appears to have stopped growing after rising rapidly in the 1980s and ’90s
Pewresearch – The Chinese government banned religion during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. And although Christianity and other religions bounced back in the 1980s and ’90s as restrictions were lifted, the size of China’s Christian population now appears to have leveled off, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest available survey data collected by academic organizations in China.
11.12.2023 – Early Rain Church members harassed and leaders detained on fifth anniversary of crackdown
Csw.org – Authorities in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan Province resorted to various illegal measures to prevent leaders and members of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) from taking part in an online prayer meeting on 9 December 2023, according to a post on the church’s Telegram channel.
The meeting was held to mark the fifth anniversary of a crackdown against the church in which over 100 members were arrested. The police operation lasted for about six months, and the church’s Pastor Wang Yi and Elder Qin Defu were criminally detained on trumped-up charges and later sentenced to nine and four years in prison respectively. Pastor Wang is still serving his sentence and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has adopted the opinion that his detention is arbitrary.
07.12.2023 – Linfen authorities prevent families of imprisoned christians from traveling
ChinaAid – On the morning of November 30, Chen Ying, wife of Preacher Han Xiaodong of Linfen Covenant House Church, and Wen Huijuan, wife of Wang Qiang, along with their mother-in-laws, went to Yuncheng City Airport, preparing to take a plan to travel. Wen Huijuan’s children were also with them. They were followed by police cars all the way. After completing the boarding procedure and checking in their luggage, those people who followed them came to them with Yuncheng police. They showed Chen Ying a subpoena, and summoned her in the name of “suspected illegal organization of social groups.”
06.12.2023 – Zhou Jinxia tried to convert Xi Jinping. She is free from prison but remains under surveillance
Bitter Winter – First, the good news. Zhou Jinxia, the irrepressible 53-year-old Christian woman from Dalian who feels called by God to tell Xi Jinping and his wife that they should receive God in their hearts, has been released from jail on December 4. Second, the less reassuring part. Zhou told her friends that she plans to continue answering her call from God, although she has been warned by the authorities that in this case she will be arrested again and she is kept under strict surveillance.
04.12.2023 – Yunnan Christian preacher Chang Hao remains in jail, his case sill proceed to trial
Bitter Winter – The CCP continues to consider Brother Chang Hao, the preacher of a small, rural church in Yunnan as a threat to national security. Despite his poor health and the fact that his wife and mother, who are also seriously ill, remain without support, the Procuratorate to the Zhenxiong County People’s Court under the administration of Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, has decided that Chang Hao should remain in jail, and his case should proceed to trial.
Last April, “Bitter Winter” reported that on April 14, Chang Hao’s church was raided by the police who took away Bibles, Christian books, and the anti-COVID masks inscribed with verses from the Bible he distributed, which had become popular in the area and had especially disturbed the authorities.