Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest May 01-15




07.05.2024 – USCIRF: China’s religious liberty and “malignant influence” getting worse

Bitter Winter – Every year, the yearly reports of USCIRF are mandatory reading for those interested in religious liberty throughout the world. The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its Commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties.


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Church of Almighty God


06.05.2024 – Church of Almighty God: Two stories of torture in Chinese jails


“Bitter Winter” publishes exclusive pictures and testimonies about the brutal abuse of female believers of the persecuted Christian new religious movement.


In January 2024, a 38-year-old Christian we would call Xue Qing (not her real name) was arrested as a member of The Church of Almighty God, the most persecuted Christian new religious movement in China. One month after her arrest, the police informed her family to take her home from the hospital. Relatives noticed that Xue Qing, who used to be in good health, had dull eyes, could not recognize people, speak, or stand, and had both knees covered with scars. She had a section of her scalp exposed with no hair and was in extremely weak condition. After examination, it was confirmed that one of her ribs was fractured. Intimidated by the police, her family members did not dare to inquire about where Xue Qing had been detained or any detail of her injuries.


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14.05.2024 – Tibetan singer arrested for song lamenting Dalai Lama’s absence


RFA – “In this land where the Victorious One is absent,

Leaders exist, but false ones.

The Tibetans are bereft of direction,

Like a deer lost in the midst of a fog…”

A Tibetan performer who sang these lyrics, publicly yearning for the Dalai Lama and blasting Chinese leaders as “false,” was arrested in early February in China’s Sichuan province, two sources with knowledge of the situation said.


Gyegjom Dorjee, in his early 30s, sang “Tearful Deluge of a Sorrowful Song” alongside other artists at concert on Jan. 15, as part of pre-Losar, or Tibetan New Year, celebrations, said the sources on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.


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30.04.2024 – Uyghur spy turns to religion and lands in Xinjiang prison


RFA – A Uyghur official who spied on fellow Uyghurs in Xinjiang is serving a seven-year prison sentence on the charge of religious extremism after he was moved by Muslim sermons and gave up smoking and drinking alcohol, area authorities said.


The change of heart in Yasin Tursun, a Chinese Communist Party member and secretary of Terim village in southern Xinjiang’s Peyziwat county, pleased his family but upset authorities, the sources said, insisting they not be identified for security reasons.


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Falun Gong


14.05.2024 – Married couple sentenced to prison for practicing Falun Gong, son witnesses their repeated persecution


Minghui – A married couple in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, were both sentenced to prison following their latest arrests in 2023 for practicing Falun Gong.


Ms. Zhang Yaru, 58, was given 2.5 years and is now serving time at the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison (located in Harbin). Her husband, Mr. Liu Hongyun, 61, was sentenced to five years and is still held at the Acheng District Detention Center. An insider said that he was denied prison admission due to poor health as a result of his hunger strike in protest of the illegal detention.


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13.05.2024 – China invokes religious persecution and oppression around the globe


Washington Post – China’s “no limit” partnership with Russia now operates in the field of religious oppression.


The Chinese Communist Party loathes the Falun Gong spiritual movement with an intensity like no other. Yes, they oppress all faiths, but they save their deepest hatred and bile for Falun Gong practitioners, subjecting them to tortures, such as forced organ harvesting. It’s a practice so cruel it would make a medieval executioner cringe.

Now their hatred has gone transnational.


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11.05.2024 – 71-Year-Old woman jailed for talking to people about Falun Gong


Minghui – A 71-year-old woman in Hengyang City, Hunan Province, has been admitted to Hunan Province Women’s Prison to serve a one-year term for her faith in Falun Gong.


Ms. Luo Fenghua was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong on June 27, 2023. She was arrested as she was about to check out at a supermarket and taken to the Tongtai Street Police Station, where the four people who reported her were also present.


Without showing an arrest warrant or any identification, the police detained Ms. Luo in the station for eight hours before transferring her to the Changsha City Lockup at around 11 p.m. Six officers handcuffed her so roughly that a piece of flesh nearly two inches long was torn off her left thumb. The police offered no treatment for her bleeding finger and detained her in a cold, dark room overnight.


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08.05.2024 – 64-Year-Old Shandong man on hunger strike since prison admission in December 2023 now extremely weak


Minghui – A 64-year-old resident of Jinan City, Shandong Province, has been on a hunger strike since he was admitted to prison on December 20, 2023, to serve a four-year term for his faith in Falun Gong.


Mr. Qi Yingjun’s sentence stemmed from his arrest on June 19, 2023. He developed severe illness symptoms and was soon released on bail. He was tried on August 14 and sentenced to four years and fined 10,000 yuan on September 25. After his appeal was denied on November 9, he was taken back into custody on December 18, 2023, and admitted to the Shandong Province Prison two days later.


Mr. Qi went on a hunger strike as soon as he was admitted. His family went to the Laiwu District Judicial Bureau in Jinan City in mid-April 2024, requesting the agency to help get him released on medical parole. The Bureau contacted the prison, which agreed to allow Mr. Qi talk to his family on the phone.


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09.05.2024 – Wang Xiaofei and Li Shanshan harassed by local police during visit to Fuyang Maizhong reformed church.


Christian Daily – On the morning of May 2, 2024, Wang Xiaofei, wife of Pastor Yang Xibo from Xunsiding Church in Xiamen, and Li Shanshan, wife of Pastor Li Jie from Covenant House Church in Linfen, brought their children to Fuyang, Anhui Province to visit Pastor Zhang Sen and Elder Chang Shun of Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church. They had lunch together and exchanged ideas. In the afternoon, Li Shanshan and her two children, Pastor Zhang Sen, and Elder Chang Shun were separately taken away for questioning by the police from the Yingdong Branch of Fuyang Public Security Bureau.


Pastor Zhang Sen and Elder Chang Shun had been recently administratively detained for their Christian faith but were recently released after completing their detention.


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06.05.2024 – Wang Honglan and four others still detained without verdict


Christian Daily – It is reported that in the case of Wang Honglan and other Christians in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, who were charged with “illegal business operations,” four of the involved Christians – Ji Heying, Ji Guolong, Liu Wei, and Zhang Wang – were released on bail at 10:00 a.m. on April 14, 2024, leaving the detention center and returning home. The lengthy trial began on November 20 last year and lasted nearly 50 days, finally concluding in early January this year. Four other Christians – Wang Honglan, Wang Jiale, Liu Minna, and Yang Zhijun – are still in custody with no verdict yet. Among the nine accused Christians, Ban Yanhong was not released on bail. Due to his confession and acceptance of punishment, the court directly sentenced him to 5 years in prison, with the sentence ending in April 2026.


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06.05.2024 – Elderly House Church christian Yang Zhijin arrested on cult charges.


Christian Daily – On April 25, 2024, the Zengdu District Branch of the Suizhou Public Security Bureau arrested Yang Zhijin, a 75-year-old member of the All Ranges Church, on suspicion of “sabotaging the enforcement of law by organizing and utilizing superstitious sect or cult organizations”.


The arrest notice states:

With the approval of the People’s Procuratorate of Zengdu District, Suizhou City, our bureau executed the arrest of Yang Zhijin at 16:00 on April 25, 2024, on suspicion of “sabotaging the enforcement of law by organizing and utilizing superstitious sect or cult organizations”. He is currently detained in the Suizhou Detention Center.


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01.05.2024 – Hefei’s Ganquan Church: Wives call for release of Pastor Zhou, Elder Ding


Bitter Winter – Pastor Zhou Songlin suffers from a “serious illness” and doctors advise it cannot be properly treated if he remains in jail. Zhou himself is afraid he may die in prison. Elder Ding Zhongfu has problems of high blood pressure. In jail, his pressure went up to 110/170. He suffers of chest pain, dizziness, and insomnia. Medicines alone do not help.


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