Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest July 16-31


Falun Gong


Persecution deaths of 120 Falun Gong practitioners reported in the first half of 2023

Minghui – A total of 120 cases of Falun Gong practitioners persecuted to death for upholding their faith were confirmed in the first half of 2023.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since its introduction to the public in 1992, countless people have been drawn to its profound principles and health benefits. Fearing its ever-growing popularity, the Chinese communist regime launched a nationwide campaign in July 1999, attempting to stamp out the practice.

Hundreds of thousands of practitioners have since been harassed, arrested, detained, imprisoned, and tortured. A total of 4,974 deaths have been documented by as of July 14, 2023. Due to the strict censorship of information in China, however, the actual number is likely much higher.

Among the 120 newly-confirmed deaths, 26 (21.7%) took place between 2003 and 2021, 37 (30.8%) died in 2022, and 54 (45%) practitioners passed away in 2023. It isn’t clear in which years three practitioners died.

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25.07.2023 – Save Ma Xiuyun and Tang Pingshun, there is still time

Bitter Winter – The persecution of the practitioners of Falun Gong exercises, or disciples of Falun Dafa teachings, is not a sad story confined in the past, to be piously remembered at anniversaries. It is a bewildering current and recurrent event, especially because its victims are guilty of one “crime” only, pacifically and harmlessly following a spiritual way. The case of Ma Xiuyun and her husband Tang Pingshun exemplifies it well.

Ma was born on August 14, 1957, Tang on April 14, 1955. They lived in Beijing, Chaoyang District, and were both practitioners of Falun Gong. When the black day of the movement, July 20, 1999, came and open persecution exploded, Ma was arrested. She ended up in different forced labor camps all over China. The reason was laughable. In August 2000, she had participated in a pacific demonstration in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, to protest the government’s decision to ban Falun Gong.

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24.07.2023 – “Help free my parents”: The story of Ding Lebin

Bitter Winter – Ma Ruimei and her husband, Ding Yuande, were arrested on May 12, 2023. Ma was freed on bail, Ding is still in prison. Their son is relentlessly fighting for their freedom. We interviewed him.

All cases of religious persecution are similar, yet all are also unique. They are similar, or analogous, in their dynamics and horrors, and in the suffering of the victims. But they are also unique, not only because details and circumstances obviously differ, but because human beings are not numbers only. They are real, and all are irreplaceable. This is why, when one human being suffers, all humanity suffers. When one human being is persecuted or dies, an intimate part of every one of us also experiences persecution and death.

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20.07.2023 – Two reports nail the CCP to its crimes

Bitter Winter – The 450+ pages of the 2020 Minghui Report have now been updated by the 190-page “The Persecution of Falun Gong.” July 20 is the 24th anniversary of the beginning of Falun Gong’s ordeal.

For the Marxist-Leninist dogma, which is the basis of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s doctrine, all religions are alienations. Followers of all creeds or beliefs are affected by mental disorders and should be cured. The state, acting as a doctor, a cop, and a nanny all at the same time, sets up facilities to “cure” and “re-educate” these poor souls. In the Soviet Union and its satellite countries this was an industry. It happened in all Communist regimes of the world. It still happens in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

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19.07.2023 – Sanction persecutors of Falun Gong

European times – About Falun Gong // July 20 marks the anniversary of one of the bloodiest, and yet widely unacknowledged assaults on religious freedom in the contemporary world, medieval in its violence. The terror continues and obligates national governments and civil society to defend its victims and sanction its perpetrators.

In 1999, the Chinese Communist regime began repression and persecution of Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa). Falun Gog is a new religious movement, established by Li Hongzhi in 1992 in China. It is nonpolitical and total pacifist and teaches both a variety of traditional Chinese gymnastics and a spirituality rooted in the “Three Teachings,” a Chinese religion including Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, with some New Age variations.

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19.07.2023 – Vatican adapts communications strategy on Chinese bishop appointments

When China’s communist government transferred Bishop Joseph Shen Bin from the Diocese of Haimen to Shanghai last April it caused quite a stir in Rome. But when it was announced on July 15 that Pope Francis has now accepted Shen Bin’s promotion to China’s largest diocese, there was just as much commotion.

In what is becoming a familiar practice, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, issued a strong statement to coincide with the pope’s confirmation of the appointment. Indeed, for the past several months, this has become part of the Vatican’s communication strategy regarding its 2018 agreement with China on appointing bishops. Though the exact content of the accord remains secret, it is believed that the fundamental principle was that the two sides would come to a mutual understanding on such appointments.

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17.07.2023 – The Vatican-CCP compromise on the Bishop of Shanghai: Who won and who lost

Bitter Winter – The Holy See has accepted an appointment illegally made by Beijing. But the incident led the Vatican to acknowledge that a “clandestine church” still exists.

On April 4, Bishop Shen Bin, until then Bishop of Haimen, was installed as the new Bishop of Shanghai by the CCP. The Vatican stated officially that “the Holy See learned from the media of the installation” the morning it happened.

The text of the Vatican-China deal of 2018, renewed in 2020 and 2022, is secret, but it is known that it regulates the administration of the Catholic dioceses and the appointment of bishops. The latter are still selected by the CCP but should be officially appointed by the Vatican. In the case of Shanghai, Shen Bin was not appointed by the Vatican as Bishop of that city. Yet, he was installed.

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26.07.2023 – Sinicizing Buddhism: Buddhists dressed in Red Army uniforms sing the “New Internationale”

Bitter winter – In recent years, as the CCP’s campaign to “Sinicize Buddhism” advances, not only have a large number of Buddhist statues and temples been dismantled and “remodeled,” but government-run temples and Buddhist groups have also become increasingly politicized. “Bitter Winter” has reported on government-run Buddhist temples being forced to perform flag-raising ceremonies, celebrate National Day, and even hold “Party movie classes.” “Sinicization,” as our readers know, does not mean adapting Buddhism to Chinese culture, a process that was completed centuries ago, but making it subservient to the Communist Party ideology.

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20.07.2023 – Chinese police stop Tibetan Buddhist gathering, prevent lama from preaching

RFA – Tearing down tents and destroying a colorful sand mandala, Chinese authorities on Wednesday stopped a gathering where a Tibetan Buddhist lama was scheduled to preach – and tried to block online photos and descriptions of the incident, two Tibetans with knowledge of the situation said.

The actions in northwestern China’s Qinghai province are the latest efforts by China to suppress Tibetan religious and cultural expressions.

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31.07.2023 – Trial for Christian music school principal Xu Feng begins

ChinaAid- Chinese Communist authorities tried Xu Feng, a Christian music school principal, with “illegal business operations.” The case began its trial on July 14th, but all information about information has been restricted.

Local authorities arrested Xu Feng, the principal of Maizi Christian Music High School, in 2021. He and his co-workers were detained for nearly two years before their trial began. July 14th was full of twists and turns. Defense lawyers summarized several features of the trial. According to the attorneys, the court violated the law before and after the trial. Meanwhile, the defense argued that the judge should not let an unjust verdict destroy the “goodness” still in society.

The description of court proceedings and the verdict in Xu Feng’s case were completely censored and restricted by the Chinese government’s internet censorship authorities. All information regarding the trial and its outcome was swiftly removed from the internet.

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25.07.2023 – Lawyers of Linfen Convenant House Church rejected

ChinaAid – Local government officials accused Linfen Covenant House Church preachers and a co-worker of “fraud.” Defense attorneys Fang Xianguo and Yuan Mao informed Linfen City People’s Procuratorate of the mishandling of the case by the lower district. However, the city prosecutors called the case “cult” related and refused to accept any materials.

According to Chinese law, the Yaodu District People’s Procuratorate of Linfen City made an error in this case. They did not investigate police suspected of illegal collection of evidence and bending the law for personal gain.

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18.07.2023 – Wife and son of Chinese human rights lawyer who died suspiciously escape to US.

ChinaAid – The wife and son of Dr. Li Baiguang, the Chinese human rights attorney who died under suspicious circumstances in 2018, have escaped to the United States, according to the Christian nonprofit groups ChinaAid and Voice of the Martyrs Korea.

Hanmei “Hannah” Xu and Qingxin “Pure Heart” Li arrived in the United States last month and are presently seeking asylum, according to representatives of the two groups.

Dr. Li Baiguang, known for his self-described “ant strategy” of traveling around China to take up hundreds of individual cases defending the religious freedom and human rights of ordinary citizens, rose to prominence internationally after receiving an award from the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy in 2008 and being invited for three visits with then-U.S. President George W. Bush. Both Ms Hanmei Xu and Qingxin Li were summoned to the local police station nearby where they used to stay in Jiangsu province for intensive interrogation about Dr Li’s human rights activities.

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