Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest March 01 -15




14.03.2024 – China, you may be pro-CCP but if you organize independently you are still a “cult”


Bitter Winter – The CCP uses the ancient expression “xie jiao, literally “heterodox teachings,” which Party’s documents in English translate somewhat incorrectly as “evil cults,” to designate religious organizations that operate independently from governmental control. Being active in a “xie jiao” in any capacity is a crime in China.


However, while any form of “illegal” religion regarded as rebellious and dangerous for the CCP is a “xie jiao,” not all “xie jiao” are religious. In the 21st century, the CCP has also called “xie jiao” ideological or political movements the regime does not approve of or does not manage to control. Some of them are so far from religion that they proudly declare their atheism.


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12.03.2024 – Criminal Law is not retroactive, right? Not true if you are a Muslim in Xinjiang


Bitter Winter – Darren Byler, an anthropologist, is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a specialist of Xinjiang. In new, fascinating research he reports a strange phenomenon. Irrigation channels are clogged in Southern Xinjiang but there have been no landslides or other natural incidents. They are clogged by books. Villagers go there at night and dump all the volumes they kept at home. The police are visiting their homes and would arrest them if they find religious, subversive, or otherwise “dissident” literature. Since they don’t know what books may be regarded as subversive, to be on the safer side they dump all of them. Elsewhere, books are dumped in the sewers, and they are also obstructed.


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15.03.2024 – Abidin Damollam: 96-year-old Uyghur cleric dies in jail


Bitter Winter – The imprisonment, death, and denial of a proper funeral to the respected leader confirm how life is like in an “occupied” region.

Last month, 96-year-old Uyghur cleric Abidin Damollam died in an East Turkistan (Xinjiang to China) prison. Damollam’s body was not handed over to his family, which was not allowed to hold a funeral ceremony. The police have kept the family under surveillance for fifteen days.

The surveillance came at a time when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was campaigning to deny the Uyghur Genocide at the Munich Security Conference and complaining about “ too many lies” circulating on the Uyghur issue.


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05.03.2024 – The CCP’s war against religious Uyghur women


Bitter Winter – Helchem Pazil will be 92 by the time she finishes her 17-year prison sentence. The 79-year-old Uyghur widow was 75 when in 2019 she, her three daughters and a daughter in law were given harsh jail terms for taking part in religious activities six years before. Her daughter Melikizat Memet was sentenced to 20 years.

Disturbing public order, providing a venue for religious preaching, and inciting ethnic discrimination were some of their “crimes.” Using Türkiye as a springboard for her non-state-approved Haj would have also been on Helchem’s charge sheet.


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07.03.2024 – After protest, Tibetan monastery leader and village official sent to detention center


Rfa – Authorities have transferred a Tibetan Buddhist monastery administrator and a village official – both arrested last month on suspicion of leading protests against the construction of a dam – to a large detention center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Radio Free Asia.


Tenzin, the senior administrator of Wonto Monastery in Wangbuding township, and a village official named Tamdrin, were transferred from where they were previously detained to the larger Dege County Detention Center Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on March 3, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals by Chinese officials.


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Falun Gong


12.03.2024 – Targeted for practicing Falun Gong, three Shandong residents sentenced and two others await verdicts


Minghui – Three residents of Longkou City, Shandong Province, were sentenced to prison on December 14, 2023 for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999. The same Longkou City Court also heard the cases against two other local Falun Gong practitioners, and has still yet to issue a ruling.


Ms. Ge Lijuan was sentenced to a 4.5-year prison term and admitted to the Shandong Province Second Prison (also known as the Shandong Province Women’s Prison). Mr. Wang Zhoulin was given four years and admitted to the Shandong Province First Prison (also known as the Shandong Province Men’s Prison). Both prisons are located in the capital city of Jinan. Ms. Wu Jingkun was given two years with three years probation and a 6,000-yuan fine.

Ms. Chen Guifang and Ms. Jiao Linhui are currently awaiting verdicts at the Yantai City Detention Center.


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11.03.2024 – China, two female Falun Gong practitioners persecuted to death


Bitter Winter – As the CCP had to admit that the “total eradication” of Falun Gong, prematurely announced, never happened, its fury targets practitioners in jail, and extra-judicial killings multiply. Two women should now be added to the list.


Li Yuzhen, 74, from Daowai District, Harbin City, was tortured to death in the Heilongjiang Provincial Women’s Prison. Li was a veteran of Chinese jails. She was first arrested in 2003 for refusing to give up her practice of Falun Gong, tortured, and sentenced to three years of prison. She was arrested again in 2007, and sentenced to one year of labor camp, then again in 2013, although she was detained for a short period.


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01.03.2024 – Death of an insurance salesman: Falun Gong practitioner tortured to death in Jiangsu


Bitter Winter – Sometimes, in present-day China, it takes months to confirm an information. This was the case with the sad story of an insurance salesman called Xia Zhenglun, who was tortured to death in Guanyun County, which is under the administration of Lianyungang prefecture-level city, in Jiangsu province.


Guanyun County is where Xia was born in 1961. Reportedly, he shared the negative opinion about Falun Gong of many Chinese influenced by the government’s media until in 2012 he met some practitioners, read the movement’s literature, and changed his mind.


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15.03.2024 – Wangfenggang Christian Church in Huainan receives notice of cross removal


China Aid – Another case of cross-removal has emerged in China. Recently, the Wangfenggang Christian Church in Xiejiaji District, Huainan City, Anhui Province, received a notice to remove crosses.


The church received a written notice from the Villagers’ Committee of Yongqing Village in Wangfenggang Town, Xiejiaji District, Huainan City, Anhui Province. The village-level management committee, controlled by the Chinese government, ordered the Wangfenggang Christian Church to remove two crosses on the roof and at the entrance of the church by March 10. The authorities could not produce an official legal basis for the notice but cited potential “safety” hazards.


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15.03.2024 – United Church of Christ visits Shaanxi


China christian daily – A delegation from the United Church of Christ (UCC) paid a visit to Shaanxi CC&TSPM.


According to CCC&TSPM, on March 7, Rev. Wangjun, the chairman and president of Shaanxi CC&TSPM, welcomed the delegation from UCC headed by Mr. Derek N. Duncan, the Area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific for Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ.


Rev. Wang briefed the guests on theological education, the sinicization of Christianity, the progress of the new construction of the Shaanxi Bible School, media ministry, and social services conducted by the provincial CC&TSPM in recent years, with a review of the longstanding friendly exchanges between the two parties. The delegation learned about Shaanxi’s local conditions and social customs, the history and current development of the churches across the province, and the major work carried out by the provincial CC&TSPM.


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11.03.2024 – Pastor John Cao’s first testimony after release.


China Aid – Pastor John Cao from Hunan, who was imprisoned for seven years in Yunnan, China, was released on March 4, 2024. He was escorted from Kunming, Yunnan province, to Changsha, Hunan province, by four police officers.


The world outside the prison walls changes rapidly, and perhaps Pastor Cao needs to adapt to a new life. His wife awaits to be reunited in the United States, and he will need to apply for travel documents. Local police have disclosed that they will supervise and educate him for five years.


Below is Pastor Cao’s first testimony after his release, transcribed and edited by China Aid Association based on an audio recording sourced from the internet. To ensure clarity of the original intent, subheadings, and paragraphs have been added for clarity.


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12.03.2024 – Ding Jiaxi is being held in solitary confinement in prison without the right to communicate


China Aid – Lawyer Ding Jiaxi is one of the longest-serving civil rights activists repressed by the Chinese Communist Party. Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to 12 years, and his companion Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to 14 years. Concerns have been raised about the conditions of the prison where Ding Jiaxi is serving his sentence.


According to updates from his wife Sophie Luo Shengchun, who resides in the United States, a lawyer met Ding Jiaxi in the meeting room of Jiangbei Prison in Hubei Province on February 29. Ding Jiaxi expressed his initial opinions on his appeal and agreed to further discuss the details of the evidence in April. Ding Jiaxi said the prison food was better than in the detention center, he could exercise and read, but the selection of reading materials was very limited. He hoped the lawyer could bring him a pair of reading glasses at the next meeting.


Ding Jiaxi expressed his gratitude for the concern shown by his relatives and friends.


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