Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest January 16-31



30.01.2024 – China, New White paper hails “deprogramming” of “religious extremists”

Bitter Winter – Last week, China’s human right record was under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations. China’s UPR is always more interesting for side events and documents filed by China’s opponents, which do get some media coverage, than for the official UN reports, documents usually of interest mostly to the Chinese media. Beijing easily manages to control these reports through friendly countries that command a majority in the Human Rights Council.

Not coincidentally, China published a white paper “Legal Framework and Measures for Counterterrorism” on January 23, right in the middle of its UPR. The document is, again, mostly intended for domestic consumption, propaganda, and preaching to the converted, i.e. to the fellow travelers of the CCP and the friendly countries prepared to hail China as a beacon of human rights.

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26.01.2024 – “Prove your love for the Party”: Hui Muslims submitted to “patriotic education”

Bitter Winter – Earlier this month, “Bitter Winter” published an English translation of the new Guidelines instructing the religious communities of the five authorized religions how they should implement the “Patriotic Education Law” in force since January 1. The statute has been hailed as one the most important recent Chinese laws, as it reorganizes the whole domestic propaganda activity of the Chinese Communist Party.

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24.01.2024 – Cold genocide: Is the world complicit in Chinese organ harvesting?

Bitter Winter – Despite its magnitude and seriousness, the crime of organ harvesting in the People’s Republic of China is still underreported and underestimated.


A paper presented at the hybrid event “China’s Denial of Human Rights,” hosted at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, on January 22, 2024, by CAP-Coordination des Associations & Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, and supported by other NGOs, during the 45th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group Information meeting, on the eve of the UPR of the People’s Republic of China (January 23).

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The Church of Almighty God

26.01.2024 – China, more members of The Church of Almighty God arrested and tortured

Bitter Winter – After the epidemic of COVID-19 was comprehensively eased in 2023, the CCP has launched more frequent crackdowns targeting The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Frequent cases of torture, including of minor, elderly, and disabled believers, were reported to “Bitter Winter.”


As “Bitter Winter” had previously reported, on June 15, 2023 alone, at least 1,043 CAG Christians were arrested in Zhejiang Province. One of them died three days after his arrest. There were wounds on his head and bloodstain in his eyes. Relatives and co-religionists believed he had been tortured.

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30.01.2024 – China introduces strict rules in Xinjiang on Islam, other religions.

Rferl – In a move set to tighten government control over practicing religion in China’s western Xinjiang Province, the Muslim-majority region will introduce a set of regulations that — among other things — will require all new places of worship to reflect “Chinese characteristics and style.”

The sweeping legislation will come into force on February 1 as part of a broader multiyear campaign aimed at controlling religion in Xinjiang, which is home to mainly Muslim ethnic groups such as Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Hui (aka Dungans).

As part of the new set of “regulations on religious affairs,” all new mosques, churches, and other religious buildings must reflect Chinese design elements and any renovations to extant layouts will require approval from Xinjiang’s regional authorities. Additional measures include controls on “large-scale” religious gatherings — which will require approval from the local government at least one month in advance — and that religious content posted online must be screened by the regional government.

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25.01.2024 – Bishop approved by pope ordained in China in apparent thaw in relations

Reuters – VATICAN CITY, Jan 25 (Reuters) – A bishop appointed by Pope Francis was installed in a diocese in China on Thursday, the Vatican said, in an apparent thaw in relations following friction when government-backed bishops were named without papal permission.

The Vatican said Rev. Taddeo Wang Yuessheng, 58, was ordained as bishop for the diocese of Zhengzhou, in the central province of Henan.

A statement said he was appointed by the pope “in the framework” of a landmark 2018 accord between Beijing and the Vatican on the naming of bishops.

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23.01.2024 – Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin arrested for opposing the CCP’S interference in the diocese

ChinaAid – Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin is a key figure in the Catholic Diocese of Wenzhou. He was taken away by the Communist Party authorities at the beginning of 2024 for opposing the interference of the Chinese Communist authorities in diocesan affairs. The outside world has lost communication with him. The faithful of the Wenzhou Diocese pray that God will allow him to be released soon.

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin has consistently remained loyal to the Vatican. Before the signing of the China-Holy See agreement on the appointment of bishops, the “underground” church loyal to the Vatican needed tremendous courage to uphold their faith. Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin has consistently refused to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is controlled by the Communist Party. As a result, he has not received recognition from the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

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29.01.2024 – A New Great Game: China, India, and the Dalai Lama

Bitter Winter – The Panchen Lama, traditionally the second-highest leader in Tibetan Buddhism, holds immense spiritual and political power. However, this role has become entangled in a political struggle between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, was abducted by the Chinese government in 1995 at the age of six. In his place, the Chinese government appointed Gyaltsen Norbu, who lacks legitimacy among Tibetans and serves more as a political mouthpiece for the Communist Party. Tibetans view Gyaltsen Norbu as a puppet, isolated and controlled by the Chinese authorities. He promotes Sinicization and communist ideology, urging Tibetans to assimilate into Chinese culture and accept the Party’s rule. This, naturally, draws ridicule and fuels non-acceptance, highlighting the failure of the Chinese government to gain true legitimacy in Tibet.

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Falun Gong


29.01.2024 – Four Jilin residents stand trial for posting information about Falun Gong on social media

Minghui – Four residents in Jilin Province stood trial on January 18, 2024 for posting information about Falun Gong on Kwai and TikTok, both short-video sharing platforms.

According to insiders, the Jilin Province 610 Office, an extralegal agency tasked with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong, ordered the arrests of the four Jilin Falun Gong practitioners. The police monitored them and tapped their phones for months before arresting them on July 12, 2023.

Mr. Xie Feng, a resident of Nong’an County (which is under the jurisdiction of the capital city of Changchun), was arrested by the Baicheng City Police Department. They confiscated his Falun Gong books and took him to the Baicheng City Detention Center, which declined to admit him after he failed the required physical examination. He was released on bail.

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17.01.2024 – Falun Gong report on 2023: 1,188 practitioners sentenced, 209 killed

Bitter Winter – As it does every year, Falun Gong has released the figures of its practitioners sentenced and persecuted to death in 2023 in China. Some may object that these are figures coming from the spiritual movement itself. Yet, on the basis of the number of trials reported by local media and by anti-xie-jiao websites, we regard the figures about those sentenced as believable.

As for the number of practitioners killed, obviously these cannot be confirmed from Chinese governmental sources. However, “Bitter Winter” has reported itself several cases of extra-judicial killings of Falun Gong practitioners, based on accounts by relatives and friends, and what can be said with certitude is that China continues to persecute dissidents to death in various ways.

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26.01.2024 – Crime of fraud: A new era of persecution against Christians by the Chinese communist party.

ChinaAid – For decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to dismantle Christian churches who refuse to register with the government-run Three Self Patriotic Movement. In the name of Sincization, that is recreating religion to better align with Party ideals, Christians have been targeted with repeated arrests, raids, and harrassment at the hands of authorities. The CCP ushered in a new era of persecution beginning in 2018 by charging pastors, church leaders, and other Christians with crimes of fraud.

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23.01.2024 – Fuyang Maizhong reformed Church raided again

Bitter Winter – On January 18, 2024, a gathering of the Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church in Fuyang, Anhui, province, was raided while children had come together to pray and sing. Police officers from the Economic and Technological Development Zone Branch of the Fuyang Municipal Public Security Bureau detained three Christians who were leading the children, called Dai Chuanli, Wang Dandan, and Ma Jiahui, and searched their homes. The Public Security placed the three Christians in administrative detention for fifteen days, pending further investigations.

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