Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest Jan 01-15
12.01.2024 – China: Guidelines instruct religions how to implement the patriotic law
Bitter Winter – The “Patriotic Education Law” , the brainchild of the CCP Central Propaganda Department, was approved in a revised version on October 24, 2023, by the 14th National People’s Congress Standing Committee and came into effect on January 1, 2024. It has been hailed as one the most important recent Chinese laws, as it reorganizes the whole domestic propaganda effort of the Party. “Education,” as “Bitter Winter” explained when the law was passed, does not refer to schools only.
09.01.2024 – A pro-China campaign against the Prague inter-governmental religious freedom conference—and Bitter Winter
Bitter Winter – From November 28 to 30, Prague hosted the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) conference, which followed similar inter-ministerial meetings in Washington DC and London. It was hailed throughout the democratic world as one of the largest and most successful gathering of governments to promote freedom of religion or belief and denounce its violations.
05.01.2024 – Taiwan’s Yiguandao believers arrested as “Cultists” when visiting China
Bitter Winter – If you are a follower of the large salvationist religion Yiguandao living in Taiwan, you may believe you may safely visit your relatives in Mainland China. True, Chairman Mao hated Yiguandao and in the 1950s and 1960s launched against it the bloodiest, and most forgotten, religious persecution in the history of Communist China. CCP’s own sources, perhaps exaggerating, report that under Mao “820,000 leaders and organizers, and 13 million followers” of Yiguandao were arrested, with thousands killed in the Chinese jails and labor camps. Many escaped to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
08.01.2024 – Coming in February: Harsher religious regulations just for Xinjiang
Bitter Winter – Special “Regulations on Religious Affairs” for Xinjiang, of which “Bitter Winter” offers a full English translation, will further reduce the possibility of religion to survive, if not as a propaganda mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
From February 1, 2024, Xinjiang will have its own “Regulations on religious affairs,” which is harsher than the one imposed on other provinces and regions. Even Chinese propaganda admits that religion will be more tightly controlled in Xinjiang than in “normal” provinces and regions but as usual justifies this with the need of combating “extremism” and “terrorism.”
11.01.2024 – China bars Tibetan kids from private classes, religious activities
Ucanews – Ethnic Tibetans have expressed alarm over door-to-door inspection by China’s communist authorities to ensure children are not taking private classes and participating in religious activities during their winter break.
The authorities are conducting random inspections in “residential areas and commercial establishments” in Tibet and other Tibetan-populated regions, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Jan. 9 citing unnamed sources.
“In addition to random door-to-door investigations, local authorities are also carrying out surveys of the Tibetan children,” a source in China’s southwestern Qinghai province told RFA.
03.01.2024 – No new monks allowed at Buddhist monastery in Tibet
RFA – Chinese authorities have forbidden the admission of new monks of all ages into a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Chamdo prefecture in eastern Tibet amid growing restrictions on religious activities in the country, two sources familiar with the development told Radio Free Asia.
This is the first time Chinese authorities have prohibited the enrollment of monks of all ages, though previously only minors, or those below the age of 18, were restricted from joining the monastic order in Tibet, said a source from inside the region.
14.01.2024 – 70-year-old woman gets three years for talking to people about Falun Gong
Minghui – A 70-year-old Weifang City, Shandong Province, resident is appealing a three-year prison sentence for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Li Xiuzhen was arrested by officers of the Heng’an Police Station on September 7, 2023, for talking to people about Falun Gong at a community fair. Although the police released her on the same day, they staked outside of her home and monitored her daily activities for over a month and arrested her again on November 21. Her home was also ransacked.
09.01.2024 – After two prior prison sentences totaling 13 years, Jilin Man sentenced to six years for practicing Falun Gong
Minghui – Mr. Shi Wenzhuo, 59, from Changchun City, Jilin Province was sentenced to six years in December 2023 for practicing Falun Gong.
Mr. Shi was arrested and had his home raided by two officers from the Tumenling Police Station on the afternoon of March 16, 2023. They confiscated one Falun Gong book and a portrait of Falun Gong’s founder.
Six other officers went to the property management office at Mr. Shi’s apartment complex earlier that day (at 7 a.m.), demanding to see surveillance videos. They decided to arrest him when they saw him taking out the trash in a video.
07.01.2024 – Sichuan Woman completes second 3-year sentence with severe back injuries due to long-term torture in prison
Minghui – A Xichang City, Sichuan Province resident completed her second three-year prison sentence on November 4, 2023 with severe back injuries due to long-term abuse in prison. A prison doctor warned her that she was at risk of becoming paralyzed.
Ms. Zhao Jun’s latest prison sentence stemmed from her arrest on July 23, 2019 for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999. She was released on bail on August 21, 2019 and taken back into custody around November 2020. She was sentenced to three years in December 2020 and transferred from the Xichang City Detention Center to the Chengdu City Women’s Prison on April 27, 2022.
15.01.2024 – Dalian House Church Pastor Kan Xiaoyong Sentenced to 14 Years in Jail
Bitter Winter – House church pastors in China are getting increasingly heavy prison sentences, as a result of Xi Jinping’s instructions to compel all Protestant churches to join the government-controlled Three-Self Church, cracking down on those that refuse.
On January 12 , 2024, Dalian’s Pastor Kan Xiaoyong was sentenced by the Ganjingzi District People’s Court to fourteen years in prison. His wife Wang Fengying was sentenced to four years, and co-worker Chu Xinyu to ten years. Other three defendants received three-year verdicts.
10.01.2024 – Hebei authorities ban children from attending Christmas vigils
ChinaAid – The Chinese government views Christmas as a form of cultural and religious invasion, local authorities aim to use “the suppression of Christmas” as a way to express patriotism. In Baoding City, Hebei Province, children are prohibited from participating in Christmas vigil activities. The Baoding authorities have taken a series of measures, including traffic blockades and store closures, and students are forbidden from bringing Christmas-related items back to school dormitories.
Baoding is a prefecture-level city not far from the Chinese capital, Beijing, and it is also a place with a large population of traditional Catholics. The Baoding Catholic Diocese has approximately 100,000 parishioners. The current bishop of the diocese is Francis An Shuxin. The government has kept the diocese’s former legitimate bishop, James Su Zhimin, in long-term detention since 1997 and he is still missing to this day.
03.01.2024 – Chinese Mongolian christian Alamusha is in critical condition after being severely beaten in prisons.
ChinaAid – Alamus, whose Chinese name is Alamusha, is a Chinese Mongolian Christian who returned home during his university break to attend a classmate reunion when one of his classmates was getting beaten. He went with his classmate to check the situation, and a group altercation ensued. Alamusha did not participate in the fight, but he was inexplicably designated as the main offender and sentenced to 15 years for intentional injury. Alamusha has consistently contested the verdict and has suffered severe injuries due to the beatings of the prison guards. His aunt recorded a video exposing Alamusha’s situation, petitioning government officials, and seeking help from the public.
03.01.2024 – Hefei’s Ganquan Church: three released, two remain in jail
Bitter Winter – At the end of December 2023, thanks to a rare Associated Press story exposing the persecution of a house church, several media throughout the world and those Chinese netizens who access them via VPN learned the story of how Elder Ding Zhongfu of Hefei’s Ganquan Church, in Anhui province, had his home raided in the early morning and was detained.