Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest February 01-15



13.02.2024 – Zhejiang Province leads in issuing documents to implement a new policy on the management of religious activity venues


ChinaAid – The Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of Zhejiang province has officially launched the “Implementation Measures for the Management of Venues for Religious Activities (Trial Implementation).” The official statement claims that the aim is to standardize the supervision of religious activity venues in the province. Ethnic and religious affairs bureaus of cities and counties have notified and issued the document to the next level of governance, township government, and sub-district offices. Implementation of the Measures took effect on February 1, 2024.


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01.02.2024 – Elderly Uyghur women imprisoned in China for decades-old religious ‘crimes’, leaked files reveal


The Guardian – Hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women, including religious leaders, are estimated to have been arrested and imprisoned in Xinjiang since 2014, with some elderly women detained for practices that took place decades ago, according to an analysis of leaked Chinese police files.


There is growing evidence of the abusive treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population of the north-west Chinese region of Xinjiang, with their traditions and religion seen as evidence of extremism and separatism.


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05.02.2024 – China arrests 200 Christians for ‘defying’ state body


Ucanews – Police in northeast China raided a gathering of Christian villagers and arrested 200 participants for allegedly joining a church that refused to abide by a theological doctrine promoted by a state-sanctioned body, according to a report.


Some 150 police officers stormed the gathering in Xiaotuan, a village in Mudanjiang City of Heilongjiang province on Jan. 27 and arrested the Christian faithful, Bitter Winter, an online magazine covering religious freedom and human rights in China, reported on Feb. 5.

Those arrested were members of a house church that is part of the Sola Fide (Justification by Faith) network. Sola Fide, Latin for “faith only” is a Christian theological doctrine taught by Martin Luther, a German theologian and reformer who started the Reformation Movement in the 16th century.


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13.02.2024 – Lunar New Year vacation homework for Chinese religions: Teach the “Five Identifications”


Bitter Winter – The United Front gathered the leaders of the government-controlled five authorized religions to wish them happy Lunar New Year—and to remind them that holidays are opportunities not to be wasted to educate believers to “patriotic values.”


The top leaders of China Buddhist Association, China Islamic Association, China Taoist Association, the Patriotic Catholic Church and the Protestant Three-Self Church gathered on February 5 for a “Spring Festival Symposium of Leaders of National Religious Groups.”


The meeting was attended by the CCP ideologue-in-chief, Wang Huning, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, who delivered the keynote speech.


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07.02.2024 – Tibetan monk who criticized China’s policies released from prison


RFA – A Tibetan monk who criticized China’s restrictive policies in Tibet and was convicted of “inciting separatism” has been released after four and half years in prison.


Rinchen Tsultrim was released from Mianyang prison in Sichuan province on Feb. 1 after completing his prison term, two sources told Radio Free Asia.


Tsultrim was a monk at the Nangzhig Monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba county when he was taken into custody in 2019. He was secretly detained for more than a year and sentenced in a closed trial in 2021.


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06.02.2024 – China urges religious leaders to be more purposeful in the sinicization drive in New Year greetings


Tibetan review – Signalling full onslaught on Sinicization of religion, China’s top leader on religious and minority affairs has on Feb 5 called on the country’s religious leaders to be more purposeful in serving the overall work of the Party and the country to strengthen their communities’ identification with the motherland in his Chinese New Year greetings. Both the Chinese New Year, called the Spring Festival, and the Tibetan New Year, called Losar, fall on Feb 10 this time.


Addressing a meeting with leaders of national religious groups ahead of the Chinese New Year, Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, called on the country’s religious groups to be more purposeful in serving the overall work of the Party and the country, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 5.


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05.02.2024 – Tibetan monk arrested for publishing books on Tibet from exiles


RFA – A Tibetan Buddhist monk was arrested by Chinese police in June 2023 on charges of republishing books from the exiled Tibetan community and for contacting people outside the region, Radio Free Asia has learned.


The whereabouts of Lobsang Thabkhey, 54, who served as librarian of Kirti Monastery in Ngaba county in southwest China’s Sichuan province, remain unknown, two sources inside Tibet said on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.


Thabkhey, had been summoned several times by Chinese police before his arrest for questioning, one of the sources told RFA.


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Falun Gong


13.02.2024 – Three Guangdong residents sentenced to up to 8 years for practicing Falun Gong


Minghui – It was recently confirmed that three residents of Heyuan City, Guangdong Province, have been sentenced to prison for their shared faith in Falun Gong.


Ms. Li Youbin, around 50, was sentenced to eight years by the Dongyuan County Court. Ms. Qiu Denong, 73, was sentenced to three and a half years by the same court. They were both transferred from the Dongyuan County Detention Center to the Guangdong Province Women’s Prison after their wrongful conviction.


Mr. Chen Ruyong, 51, was sentenced to three years. His family does not know which court sentenced him or when. He spent about a year at various detention facilities before being admitted to Sihui Prison at an unknown date.

The practitioners’ families were never notified of their indictments, trials, sentences, or transfers to prison.


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06.02.2024 – After nearly 16 years behind bars for her faith in Falun Gong, Sichuan woman secretly sentenced to another 7 years


Minghui –  It was learned in late January 2024 that Ms. Hu Yurong, 54, from Qu County, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to seven years for practicing Falun Gong.


Ms. Hu was arrested on April 24, 2020, by officers from the Qu County Domestic Security Office and its subordinate, the Baocheng Police Station. The police have since kept her family in the dark regarding her case status. Her loved ones recently managed to find out about her prison sentence and learned that she is now held at the Chengdu Women’s Prison. They still do not know where she was held before her prison transfer or when she was indicted, tried, or sentenced.


This is not the first time Ms. Hu has been targeted for her faith. She was previously incarcerated for a total of nearly 16 years, including two forced labor terms and two prison sentences.


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15.02.2024 – Chen Yueli arrested for printing children’s Sunday school materials.


ChinaAid – Hong Kong Christian Chen Yueli, whose English name is Stephen, who was involved in the printing of children’s Sunday school materials, was taken away by the police on December 19, 2023, when he entered China through the Shenzhen West Kowloon Customs. At least 8 other Christians were arrested with him. Currently, Chen Yueli has been formally arrested and is charged with “illegal business operations.” He is being held in the Chibi Detention Center in Chibi City, Hubei Province. Despite multiple attempts to visit him, his lawyer has been unable to meet with him. His family is very worried about his condition and health.


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09.02.2024 – Three christians detained for leading children in singing hymns and prayers.


China Aid – According to an anonymous prayer letter, on January 18, at 10:00 AM, Christians Dai Chuanli, Wang Dandan, and Ma Jiahui from the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church were taken away by police from the Fuyang Economic and Technological Development Zone Sub-bureau while leading the children of the church in singing hymns and prayer. On the noon of the 19th, police searched their homes, and each was given a 15-day administrative detention. This marks the third time Christians from this church were detained on the same grounds since September 2023. Other believers from the church also frequently face harassment from community management office personnel, including forced prying open doors and pressuring landlords to compel them to move.


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08.02.2024 – Jiangsu provincial authorities banned five Church institutions


China Aid – The local government’s civil affairs department in Jiangsu Province, under the pretext of “illegal social organizations,” released the first list of organizations to be banned in 2024. This list includes house churches, as well as other religious and social organizations. According to the official website of Nanjing Daily, on January 4, the Jiangsu Provincial Civil Affairs Department announced eight illegal social organizations that were legally banned, this being the first batch in 2024 to be banned. Along with a list of seven others suspected of being involved.


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