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CHINA: Religious persecution issues, Bimonthly Digest, Nov. 16-30

CHINA: Religious persecutions and issues, bimonthly Digest FORB (16-30.11.2022)

 

Catholics

28.11.2022 – Vatican: China breached the agreement—But we will continue with it

Officially, the Vatican line, reaffirmed by Pope Francis himself, is that the Vatican-China deal of 2018 “is good,” is slowly producing its fruits, and renewing it twice in 2020 and 2022 was the right thing to do.

“Officially” is the operative word here. Because “unofficially” the Vatican is well aware that China manipulates the agreement for its own purposes, and breaches it when it deems it fit. Now, the cat is out of the bag.

Continue reading…

 

28.11.2022 – China vows more ‘friendly consensus’ amid Vatican complaints

Beijing and the Vatican are once again tangling over the prickly issue of appointing Chinese bishops.

After complaints from the Vatican that Beijing was violating a 2018 interim accord, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said the country is willing to expand the “friendly consensus” achieved with the Vatican over bishop nominations.

The Vatican issued an unusually harsh statement Saturday complaining that Beijing on Nov. 24 had installed Bishop John Peng Weizhao as an auxiliary bishop in the province of Jiangxi, which the Vatican doesn’t recognize as a diocese.

Continue reading…

 

26.11.2022 – In rare public protest, Vatican calls out China over bishop’s appointment

For the first time since brokering a controversial deal with China on the appointment of bishops four years ago, the Vatican Saturday called out Beijing for violating the terms of the accord by installing a bishop in a diocese not recognized by Rome.

John Peng Weizhao was clandestinely appointed bishop of the papally recognized Diocese of Yujiang by Pope Francis in 2014, four years before the Vatican struck its provisional agreement with China in 2018. As a so-called “underground” prelate, Peng Weizhao was arrested and held by Chinese authorities for six months. He was eventually released, but his ministry was closely monitored by local authorities.

Continue reading…

 

22.11.2022 – China wants to “sinicise” its Catholics

When the Vatican signed a deal with China in 2018 on the appointment of bishops, the pact was denounced by a former leader of the Catholic church in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen. He said it would legitimise the Communist Party’s control over Chinese Catholics, and be like “giving the flock into the mouths of the wolves”. The flock has not yet been devoured, but the grip of the government’s jaw has been tightening. The authorities have accelerated a campaign to “sinicise” the church by making its buildings, art and rituals look more Chinese and, crucially, its followers more loyal to the party. Catholics in Hong Kong are in their sights, too.

Continue reading…

 

Protestants

28.11.2022 – Minister An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao released

Minister An Yankui and coworker Zhang Chenghao of Zion Reformed Church were released after serving their sentence. Yao Congya, An Yankui’s wife, disclosed that the two ministers could not return to their home and reunite with their wives due to the pandemic lockdown, so they went to their hometown first and waited there. An and Zhang were slimmer than before but seemed to be in high spirits. After going back to his hometown, An Yankui communicated with his wife, son, and daughter via video chat. Minister An Yankui wrote hymns, composed music and wrote lyrics during his imprisonment.

Continue reading…

 

22.11.2022 – Linfen Covenant House Church shut down

Linfen City Yaodu District Bureau of Civil Affairs announced on its website that they shut down Linfen Covenant House Church and Asilan School run by the church. Their announcement from November 16 stated that the church and school did not register with the government and organized events in the name of NGO without authorization, thus making it illegal.

Continue reading…

 

21.11.2022 – Covenant home church banned in Shanxi

.On November 16, 2022, the Civil Affairs Bureau of Yaodu District, Linfen City published an official notice banning Covenant Home Church and its school, citing unauthorized religious and educational activities.

Bitter Winter reported last August that on August 19, some 70 members of the Covenant Home Church were attending a parent-children camp that was raided by armed police. Some 170 police officers participated in the raid. Pastor Li Jie, his wife Li Shanshan, and Elder Han Xiaodong were detained and later placed under residential surveillance. Bibles, Christian books, and church documents were confiscated.

Continue reading…

 

16.11.2022 – Chirstian stands trial today for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’

Long Kehai, a Christian from Gansu Province, will be in court today for the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” Lawyer Zhang Keke received the notice to appear in court on November 15. The letter requires lawyer Zhang to attend the trial at the No. 1 Trial Chamber of Hui County People’s Court of Gansu Province at 9:00 am on the 16th.

Chen Zijuan is the wife of another detained human rights lawyer in Shaanxi Chang Weiping. She appealed to everyone on social media to take notice of Long Kehai’s case, who was arrested following the trial of her husband.

Continue reading…

 

Falun Gong

28.11.2022 – Wuhan City, Hubei Province: Twelve Falun Gong practitioners held for months in eight brainwashing centers

According to information collected by the Minghui website, at least twelve Falun Gong practitioners in Wuhan City, Hubei Province are still being held at eight different brainwashing centers as of November 2022, with one practitioner having been detained for fourteen months.

Ms. Zhou Ailin, 54, a former auditor at the Qiaokou District Industrial and Commercial Bureau, was arrested on September 14, 2021 for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was held for 15 days at the Wuhan City No. 1 Lockup. When she was released on September 29, 2021, the police stopped her at the gate, carried her into a police car, and took her to the Etouwan Brainwashing Center, where she has since been held.

Continue reading…

 

22.11.2022 – First-hand witness of torture of Falun Gong practitioners in Heilongjiang Province women’s prison

Since the Chinese communist regime launched the nationwide campaign against Falun Gong, a traditional mind-body practice, in 1999, the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison has been actively participating in the persecution.

I witnessed and experienced the brutal persecution firsthand when I was imprisoned there a few years ago for practicing Falun Gong.

There were 14 wards in the prison during the time I was there, with the 9th and 11th wards specifically set up to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. Both wards had a number of divisions for practitioners with different levels of persistence in upholding their faith. The other inmates monitored us all the time, including when we used the restroom. We weren’t allowed to talk among ourselves.

Continue reading…

 

18.11.2022 – One month after daughter’s persecution death, mother sentenced to 3.5 years for their shared faith

Ms. Bai Xingwen’s oldest daughter died at 45 in October 2022 as a result of the persecution of their shared faith in Falun Gong. One month later, Ms. Bai, a Gongying City, Shandong Province resident in her late 60s, was sentenced to 3.5 years.

Ms. Bai and two of her three daughters, Ms. Ji Yingmei and Ms. Ji Yingping, were arrested on July 15, 2021, after the police suspected Ms. Bai of putting up a Falun Gong banner two months earlier, on May 8.

Continue reading…

 

17.11.2022 – Current status of the nine Fuyang City, Anhui Province, residents who were sentenced for their faith

Nine residents of Fuyang City, Anhui Province, were sentenced to prison on February 3, 2021, for practicing Falun Gong. Three of them have been released after serving their terms; five of them are still serving time in two different prisons; and the remaining practitioner is being held in a detention center.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The nine practitioners were arrested on June 12 and July 22, 2020. Many of their Falun Gong informational materials and the supplies they used to print the materials were confiscated. They were tried and convicted in the Linquan County Court on February 3, 2021.

Continue reading…

 

 





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CHINA: Special bimonthly Newsletter Freedom of religion or belief

CHINA:Special bimonthly FoRB newsletter (15-31.08.2022)

 


Buddhists

26.08.2022 – Two monks sentenced to prison for challenging Chinese government propaganda

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the sentencing of two monks, Tenzin Dhargay and Rigtse, to prison for merely exercising the right to freedom of expression, a right protected in the Chinese Constitution as well as in major international human rights instruments that the government of People’s Republic of China is party to.

Dhargay and Rigtse are from Bharong Village in Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the traditional Dzachuka area in Kham province. Dhargay is a monk from the Dza Sershul Monastery.

Both monks had been detained incommunicado for almost two years and sentenced on an unknown date in June this year.

Continue reading…

 

25.08.2022 – Chinese authorities arrest Tibetan man for having a photo of the Dalai Lama

Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained a Tibetan man for possessing a picture of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s foremost Buddhist spiritual leader who has been living in exile since 1959, RFA has learned.

Karma Samdup, of Sernye township of Nagchu county (in Chinese, Nagqu), had a picture of the 14th Dalai Lama around his neck and hanging in his car when authorities arrested him on Aug. 12, a Tibetan living in exile, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Continue reading…

 

 

Protestants

25.08.2022 – Update on Xi’an Church of Abundance: beatings, police abuse and house surveillance

On August 20, 2022, Guo Jiuju, the wife of Senior Pastor Lian Changnian of Xi’an Church of Abundance, and Zhang Jun, wife of Pastor Lian Xuliang, sent a prayer request letter to .The letter details the severe persecution from the Shilipu Police Station in Xi’an on the church members.

Around 4:00 P.M. on August 17, the Xi’an Public Security Bureau arrested Pastor Lian Changnian and his wife Guo Jiuju; Pastor Lian Changnian’s son Pastor Lian Xuliang, his wife Zhang Jun and their nine-year-old son; as well as church co-worker Sister Xing Aiping and Fu Juan. The Shilipu Police Station of the Baqiao Branch forcibly searched their homes and took them to the police station in the jurisdiction for interrogation. Even the 9-year-old child was not spared and was taken to the police station. They were sent back home that night but it caused shock and trauma to the child.

Continue reading…

 

24.08.2022 – House Churches Attacked and Banned in Several Provinces

On December 3 and 4, 2021, the Chinese Communist Party held in Beijing a National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs, the first such conference since 2016. Xi Jinping spoke at the Conference, and called for a more aggressive campaign against “non-Sinicized” and “illegal” forms of religion.

Continue reading…

 

23.08.2022 – Police violently raided Sunshine Reformed Church and arrested member

On August 21, 2022, the Sunday service of Sunshine Reformed Church in Changchun was raided by local police. Around 9:45 A.M., police suddenly burst into the church, dispersed those in attendance, and purposefully took away Pastor Guo Muyun and his wife Li Guoxiang as well as Elder Qu Hongliang, Zhang Liangliang, Li Chunyang, Cao Yunqiang, Hao Zheqiang, Xu Huaibin, and Li Lei.

To view videos of the raid and subsequent violence, visit here.

Once the raid began, Pastor Guo Muyun calmly asked people attending the service to go home, and Christians left one after another. Outside the church, chaos ensued as people were taken away, some women were pressed on the ground, and children cried next to them. Police beat Christians while violently enforcing laws, which resulted in two female Christians losing consciousness. Some Christians kneeled and performed first aid to the woman who passed out and Li Guoxiang asked a man to call for emergency medical services.

Continue reading…

 

22.08.2022 – Church of the Rock: Pastor Geng Zejun Sentenced to 1 Year and 3 Months in Prison

The name of Pastor Geng Zejun is known to the readers of Bitter Winter. He is the pastor of the Church of the Rock, a house church with a reformed theology located in the Huinong district of the prefecture-level city Shizuishan.

Shizuishan is the second largest city in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It is located in the north of the region, near the border with Inner Mongolia. The name of the region comes from the Hui Muslims, who represent roughly one third of its population.

Continue reading…

 

Catholics

24.08.2022 – Beijing tells new Catholic leaders to ‘fend off infiltration by foreign forces’

Top political adviser Wang Yang has urged new Catholic leaders in China to resist foreign influence and ensure that control of the church remains in the hands of patriots.

He made the remarks after the two state-sponsored Catholic Church bodies in China elected new leaders at a twice-a-decade conference that wrapped up in Wuhan, Hubei province on Saturday.

During the three-day meeting, Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing was appointed chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, replacing Bishop John Fang Xingyao of the Shandong diocese.

Continue reading…

 

23.08.2022 – China’s catholic leaders vow to accelerate sinicization.

Two state-sponsored Church bodies in China have elected new leaders during a five-yearly national conference who promised to invigorate the Catholic faithful pastorally in line with the socialist principles of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The three-day 10th National Congress of Catholicism in China ended in Wuhan, the capital of Hebei province in central China, on Aug. 20. Senior officials from the CCP also attended the gathering and delivered speeches.

The meeting attended by some 345 Catholic bishops, clergy, and religious from across China ended with the election of new leaders of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), says a report on the BCCCC website.

Continue reading…

 

23.08.2022 – New Chinese Catholic leaders say they’ll follow Communist Party principles

Two state-sponsored church bodies in China have elected new leaders, who promised to invigorate the Catholic faithful pastorally in line with the socialist principles of the Chinese Communist Party.

The three-day 10th National Congress of Catholicism in China ended in Wuhan, the capital of Hebei province in central China, Aug. 20. The national conference is held every five years, and senior Communist Party officials also attended the gathering and delivered speeches, reported ucanews.com.

The delegates unanimously accepted the work report of the Ninth Standing Committee on church efforts and activities in the promotion of patriotism, socialism, and sinicization in the Catholic Church as outlined by President Xi Jinping.

Continue reading…

 

Falun Gong

29.08.2022 – Wuhan Woman secretly sentenced to two years for her faith

The family of Ms. Shen Yanqiao recently learned that she has been secretly sentenced to two years for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Shen, a Wuhan City, Hubei Province resident, was arrested in July 2021 and detained at the Wuhan City No. 1 Detention Center. The authorities denied her family visitation and kept them in the dark of her situation. Although her family confirmed that she has been taken to the Hubei Province Women’s Prison to serve a two-year term, they still don’t know when she was sentenced and by which court.

Continue reading…

 

 23.08.2022 – Crimes committed by Minister of justice Tang Yijun in the persecution of Falun Gong

July 20 marked 23 years since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to suppress Falun Gong in 1999. July 20 this year, Falun Gong practitioners in 38 countries submitted an updated list of perpetrators to their respective governments, urging that those on the list (and their family members) be barred from entry and their assets frozen.

The 38 countries are: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Czechia, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Malta, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Israel, Mexico, Chile, and Dominica. Please refer to New List of Perpetrators Submitted to 38 Governments on the 23rd Anniversary of the Persecution of Falun Gong for details.

Continue reading…

 

21.08.2022 – Hefei City, Anhui Province: Over 40 Falun Gong practitioners indicted and sentenced since 2018 by same procuratorate and Court

At least 40 Falun Gong practitioners in Hefei City, Anhui Province, have been sentenced since 2018 for upholding their faith. They were all indicted and sentenced by the Shushan District Procuratorate and Shushan District Court, both of which were designated to handle Falun Gong cases in the region to expedite the prosecution process.

Since the Chinese communist regime began to persecute Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual discipline, in 1999, sentencing Falun Gong practitioners to prison through the rubber-stamp judiciary branch has been one of the major persecution tactics, especially after the abolishment of the forced labor camp system in 2013.

Continue reading…

 

 

 

 

 

Other religions

 

30.08.2022 – Xie Jiao: China updates the list—with some new entries

 

Qin Yi, one of the most famous Chinese actresses, died this year on May 9, three months after she had turned 100. It is not surprising that Chinese state television showed in the months following her dead some of her old movies, including “Woman Basketball Player no. 5.” Despite including a propaganda element, they allowed Qin Yi to show her considerable skills—not to mention that Chinese premier Zhou Enlai once famously called her “the most beautiful woman in China.”

 

Continue reading…





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ERITREA seizes control of Catholic-owned college – BBC

Eritrea seizes control of Catholic-owned college – BBC

The Eritrean government has seized control of a Catholic-owned technical school, sources have told the BBC

By Teklemariam Bekit, BBC News Tigrinya

Eritrea Hub (26.08.2022) – https://bit.ly/3RqOQ5l – The Eritrean government has seized control of a Catholic-owned technical school, sources have told the BBC.

The Hagaz Agro-Technical School is run by the LaSalle Brothers organisation and has been providing training in farm machinery, rearing of crops and animals, as well as soil conservation for the last 23 years.

The school is also known for producing Shalku wines, the drink grappa and jam. From its dairy cattle it produces yoghurt and cheeses.

Another Catholic-owned training college, the Don Bosco Technical School in Dekemhare, is set to be handed over to the government in September.

In 2019, the Eritrean government took control of secondary schools and health facilities run by religious bodies across the country.

The government cited a regulation passed in 1995 that limited the activities of religious institutions in the Horn of Africa nation.

Eritrean bishops objected to the regulation, arguing that the church’s social services did not act in opposition to the government.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Eritrea wrote to the Eritrean government, saying “the Church’s life is connected with the service of the people”.

The bishops have repeatedly called on the Eritrean government to nurture an inclusive democracy and end authoritarian tactics.

Many analysts believe the latest seizures are a retaliation for the Catholic Church’s call for reforms in the one-party state.

Roman Catholics make up about 4% of Eritrea’s population.

The church is one of only four religious groups allowed to operate in the country, along with the Eritrean Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, and Sunni Islam groups.

Other religious groups are viewed by the government as foreign agents.

Photo: AFP Copyright: AFP

Further reading about FORB in Eritrea on HRWF website





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CHINA: Special bimonthly FoRB newsletter (01-15.05.2022)

CHINA: Freedom of religion or belief – Special bimonthly FoRB newsletter (01-15.05.2022)

 

Catholics

14.05.2022 – WSJ: calls on Vatican to renounce the Faustian pact with Beijing and says “A regime that fears a 90-year-old priest must have profound doubts about its legitimacy.”

The Wall Street Journal-Editorial Board: “China has already crushed political dissent, a free press and an independent judiciary in Hong Kong, and its latest target is religious liberty… There’s no doubt the main political target is Cardinal Zen, an outspoken critic of China’s religious persecution. He has criticized the Vatican for its 2018 agreement with Beijing that requires that bishops be acceptable to the atheist Communist leadership, among other concessions.

Continue reading…

13.05.2022 – Hong Kong police release 90-year-old cardinal Joseph Zen on bail after arrest under China’s security law

One of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, Cardinal Joseph Zen and three others who helped run a now-disbanded Hong Kong fund for protesters who were arrested on charges of “collusion with foreign forces,” were later released on bail.

Continue reading…

 

12.05.2022 – Hong Kong cardinal Joseph Zen arrested under China’s security law

One of the Catholic Church’s most senior members has been arrested in Hong Kong for breaking China’s national security law, police have confirmed.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, is one of four people detained for being associated with a now-defunct organisation that helped protesters in financial need.

The others are a Cantopop singer and actor Denise Ho, ex-legislator Margaret Ng, and academic Dr Hui Po Keung.

Continue reading…

 

11.05.2022 – Catholic Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu: Still detained despite reported Vatican intervention

Readers of Bitter Winter may remember that in 2021 we reported about a raid conducted by more than 100 public security officers on May 21. The police stormed a disaffected factory in Henan province, where Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of the Xinxiang diocese had organized an independent seminary for fellow conscientious objectors.

Continue reading…

 

 

Buddhists

13.05.2022 – USCIRF calls for Panchen Lama’s release

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is once again calling for the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whom the Chinese government forcibly disappeared 27 years ago. On May 14, 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama chose the then six-year-old Gedhun to be the 11th Panchen Lama, the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism. Three days later, the Chinese government abducted him, only to announce its own selection of the Panchen Lama months later.

Continue reading…

 

Falun Gong

11.05.2022 – Wuhan City: At least ten arrested in one month and eight still detained in brainwashing enters

At least ten Falun Gong practitioners in Wuhan City, Hubei Province have been arrested for their faith since late March 2022 and eight of them are still detained in two brainwashing centers at the time of writing.

Mr. Liu Shenjian was arrested at his residence in the Qingshan District on March 23, 2022. The police took him back to his hometown in the Huangpi District, also under the jurisdiction of Wuhan, and held him at the Panlongcheng Brainwashing Center.

Continue reading…

 

09.05.2022 – Sentenced to prison while still in a coma, math tutor passes away

Mr. Ding Guochen was still in a coma when he was sentenced to prison for practicing Falun Gong. The math tutor from Dalian City, Liaoning Province passed away two months later, on April 30, 2022. He was 51 years old.

Mr. Ding and his wife Ms. Yan Qinghua were arrested during a police sweep across the province on July 11, 2019. The group arrest came as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s effort to “maintain stability” ahead of its 70th anniversary of taking power in China.

Continue reading…

 

13.05.2022 – After 11.5 years in prison, 78-year-old man sentenced to another 3 years

Arrested on December 10, 2021, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong, a 78-year-old Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province resident was recently sentenced to three years. More details about Mr. Hu Deyuan’s most recent arrest and sentencing aren’t clear.

Since the Chinese communist regime began to persecute Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline also known as Falun Dafa, in 1999, Mr. Hu, a former security guard of Yingtan Railroad Bureau, has been sentenced twice for upholding his faith.

Continue reading…

 

06.05.2022 – Sichuan woman sentenced to prison for talking to people about Falun Gong

A Chengdu City, Sichuan Province resident was recently sentenced to two years for raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong, which has been targeted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Shui Qionghua was arrested on May 13, 2021, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong at a farmers’ market. She was taken to the Shuangliu District Detention Center the next day and has been held there since.

Continue reading…

 





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NORTH KOREA: European Parliament resolution about religious persecution

The European Parliament adopts a resolution about the persecution of religious minorities

Interview of MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR Group/ Netherlands)

The European Times (14.04.2022) – https://bit.ly/3KLPCHw

 

 

The European Times: Mr Ruissen, on 30 March, you organized a conference about religious freedom in North Korea at the European Parliament. Why such an event now?

 

We have been in touch with the London-based NGO Korea Future in the autumn of 2021 and during our talks we discussed Korea Future’s new Report on religious freedom in North Korea.   The idea was raised to bring this report under the attention of a greater public in Brussels through a conference in the European Parliament in March 2022. Not much attention has been paid to the situation of religious freedom in the DPRK since years, so the release of the new report was for us a good occasion to put the issue on the agenda again.

 

The European Times: On 7 April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution about the human rights situation, including the persecution of religious minorities. Why are Christians considered “enemies of the state” and what are the consequences of such an infamous label?

 

According to the report, DPRK’s Ministry of State Security proactively gathers information on perceived threats to North Korea’s political system, with a focus on those of domestic origin, which includes Christians. The hard core of Kim-dynasty’s policy is the total submission to and the unconditional glorification of the ‘ divine’ Kim Jong Un (as well as his late father and late grandfather). Christians obey the King of Heaven and do not want to be involved in the divine glorification of an earthly atheist leader. They are therefore accused of undermining the political system and being an existential threat to it. The authorities persecuted religious believers on a variety of charges, including religious practice, religious activities in China, possessing religious items such as Bibles, contact with religious persons, attending religious services, and sharing religious beliefs. Christians and other religious adherents reportedly suffered from arbitrary surveillance, interrogation, arrest, detention, and imprisonment, punishment of family members, torture, sexual violence, forced labor and execution. For more information I would like to refer to the aforementioned report.

 

Question: What are the main features of religious persecution that were highlighted by the resolution?

 

The resolution states that the DPRK regime is systematically targeting religious beliefs and minorities, including Shamanism, Korean Buddhism, Catholicism, Cheondoism and Protestantism.  Examples of such systematic targeting include the execution of some non-foreign Catholic priests and Protestant leaders who did not renounce their faith and being purged as ‘American spies’. The resolution also refers to the songbun system (the nation’s surveillance/security system), according to which religious practitioners belong to the ‘hostile’ class and are considered enemies of the state, deserving ‘discrimination, punishment, isolation, and even execution’. The text mentions that documentation from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) shows that followers of Shamanism and Christianity are especially vulnerable to persecution. It also stresses that there have been reports on the severe repression of people involved in public and private religious activities, including arbitrary deprivation of liberty, torture, forced labor and execution and that kwanliso (political prison camps) remain operational because they are fundamental to the control and repression of the population.

 

The resolution condemns the severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, information, peaceful assembly and association, as well as discrimination based on the songbun system, which classifies people on the basis of state-assigned social class and birth, and also includes consideration of political opinions and religion. The parliament is deeply concerned about the systematic violations of freedom of religion and belief affecting Shamanism and Christianity as well as other religions in North Korea. It denounces the arbitrary arrests, long-term detention, torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence against and killings of religious people and urges the DPRK authorities to cease all violence against religious minorities and to grant them the right of freedom of religion and belief, the right of association and the right of freedom of expression. It further stresses the need to hold the perpetrators of these violent acts to account, including the Ministry of People’s Social Security and the Ministry of State Security which are instrumental in the persecution of religious communities;

 

Question: Pyongyang denied having been affected by the COVID. What is known about the impact of the pandemic in North Korea?

 

Given the closed nature of the country little is known about the actual prevalence of Covid-19 in the DPRK, with a government denying the presence of the virus in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has however been used by the DPRK to further isolate the country from the outside world, resulting in exacerbated entrenched human rights violations and a negative impact on its people’s health. The DPRK has closed its borders to all external crossings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and has not distributed any COVID-19 vaccines to its people

 

 

Question: What should be done to improve the human rights situation in North Korea?

 

On 22 March 2022, the EU imposed asset freezes and a travel ban under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime on two individuals and one entity in the DPRK. It is remarkable that in a country with so many reported human rights violations, so little people are being sanctioned. This is probably partially due to the closed nature of the country with limited to no access to foreign organizations. It is important to hold all perpetrators of grave human rights violations to account for their deeds, including their sanctioning, to pursue efforts to refer the situation in the DPRK to the International Criminal Court. Before that can happen, it is very important to collect evidence and documentation of gross human rights violations. It is therefore very important that the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea, humanitarian organizations, and civil society get access to the country. The resolution also encourages the EU and the Member States to develop a strategy complementing the EU’s sanctions regime and taking into account the resumption of the political dialogue with North Korea (stalled since 2015) when the time is ripe, with a view to integrating human rights, denuclearisation and peace initiatives into its engagement with the DPRK.

Photo: MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR Group/ Netherlands)

 


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