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RUSSIA: Religious issues and persecution – Bimonthly Digest September 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest September 01-15

15.09.2023 – The Court of the City of Kazan sent Sergey Gromov to a penal colony for six years for conducting religious meetings

JW- On September 14, 2023, the examination of the case of Jehovah’s Witness, Sergey Gromov, was completed in the Moskovskiy District Court of the city of Kazan. Judge Alsu Gumirova found him guilty of extremism and sentenced him to six years and one month of imprisonment for peacefully practicing his faith.

Gromov’s guilt, according to the investigation, is that he “conducted religious meetings” at home. Although, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation ruled that worship services in themselves are not a crime, the investigator, followed by the judge, equated holding such meetings with organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The prosecutor asked to sentence Sergey to eight years in prison. The believer considers himself innocent and can appeal the verdict.

Continue reading …


15.09.2023 – The Court of Cassation in Vladivostok upheld the conviction of believers from Yelizovo

JW- On September 12, 2023, the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok upheld the sentence of Konstantin Bazhenov and his wife Snezhana, as well as Vera Zolotova, to 2 years suspended sentence for their convictions.

Court proceedings against believers from Yelizovo have been going on for 4 years. In September 2020, the judge of the Yelizovsky District Court, Yuliya Piskun, handed down a guilty verdict to all three, which was approved by the appeal, but in November 2021, the Court of Cassation overturned this decision and returned the case to the appeal stage. In January 2022, a second appeal acquitted the believers. However, the prosecutor’s office, through the Supreme Court, succeeded in overturning this decision. As a result, the case was sent for a new appeal, the believers were found guilty of extremism and received suspended sentences. The believers filed the cassation appeal.

Continue reading…


13.09.2023 – A court in Primorye refused to transfer shaman Gabyshev to a milder type of treatment

Sova Center – On July 28, 2023, the Primorsky Regional Court satisfied the appeal submission of the Ussuri city prosecutor to cancel the decision of the Ussuri city court to transfer shaman Alexander Gabyshev to a milder type of treatment and sent the case to the same court for a new trial.

On September 12, the Ussuriysky District Court, having considered the case again, refused to satisfy the defense’s request to transfer Gabyshev to a general psychiatric hospital.

Continue reading…


13.09.2023- Attacks on women wearing hijabs and niqabs in Moscow and the Moscow Region

Sova – In late August and early September 2023, at least three girls wearing Muslim headscarves were attacked in Moscow and the Moscow region.

On September 1, 2023, a passenger on the Moscow metro reprimanded a girl wearing a niqab, Elizaveta Baranovskaya (according to another account of the event, there were two girls in niqabs). The passenger was angered by the girl’s covered face, which he considered a «terrorist threat.» «While our Russian boys are being killed at the SMO (special military operation), these here are just chilling. I want her to take this thing off and wear normal clothes,» he said. Some of the passengers supported the right to wear religious clothing, others supported the angry man.

Continue reading…


12.09.2023 – A false “Buddhist diplomacy”: State-controlled Chinese and Russian Buddhists support each other

Bitter Winter – Buddhist bureaucrats loyal to their governments attended an “international Buddhist forum” in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia. Putin himself sent a message.

Russian and Chinese State-controlled Buddhist organizations both have a problem of credibility. As “Bitter Winter” reported last year, the then Supreme Lama of Kalmyk Buddhists, Telo Tulku Rinpoche (Erdne Ombadykow), became in October 2022 the first Russian high-profile religious leader to condemn the war of aggression against Ukraine. He even said that in his opinion “the Ukrainian side is right.” Obviously, he had to escape to Mongolia, where he catered to tens of thousands of Russian Buddhists who fled there to avoid conscription. In January 2023, Telo Tulku Rinpoche was declared a “foreign agent” in Russia and compelled to resign.

Continue reading…


11.09.2023 – In Saratov, a Muslim tried to perform namaz in a temple

Sova Center – On September 9, 2023, it became known that in Saratov a Muslim came to the Orthodox Church of St. ap. Peter and Paul on Molodezhnaya Street to perform namaz.

The priest began to explain why this should not be done, and reminded that there are mosques and other suitable places in Saratov. The man insisted. To get him out of the temple, it was necessary to call a rapid response team.

According to witnesses, the visitor “obviously did not shine even with superficial knowledge of the Koran, which even the priest himself possessed . ”

Activists of the “Russian Community” considered the Muslim’s act a provocation and incitement of hatred and said that they would make sure that he received punishment.

Continue reading…


08.09.2023 – The Appeal in Kemerovo upheld the sentence of Lyubov Serebryakova, 72.

JW – On September 5, 2023, the Kemerovo Regional Court upheld the verdict of Lubov Serebryakova, 72, who was sentenced to four years of suspended sentence with a probation period of three years and restriction of liberty for ten months for talking about God. The verdict may be appealed in the court of cassation.

In her appeal, Lubov Serebryakova pointed out the mistakes that, in her opinion, were made by the court of first instance. For example, the verdict does not describe the specific extremist actions that she had participated in that prosecution claims to have taking place.

Continue reading…


07.09.2023 – In Novocherkassk, the case of three Jehovah’s Witnesses was brought to court

Sova – All three, including the elderly woman, spent more than a year in pre-trial detention.

On September 6, 2023, the investigative department of the Investigative Committee for the Rostov region announced that the case of three Jehovah’s Witnesses from Novocherkassk had been transferred to court. 56-year-old Garegin Khachaturyan and 36-year-old Gevorg Yeritsyan are accused under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization), and 67-year-old Lyubov Galitsyna – under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization). The case came to court on August 20.

Continue reading…


06.09.2023 – A verdict has been issued in the case of three Jehovah’s Witnesses from Nizhnekamsk

Sova – In September 5, 2023, the Nizhnekamsk City Court of the Republic of Tatarstan found guilty under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization) of Jehovah’s Witnesses Denis Filatov, Stanislav Klyuchnikov and Dmitry Yarchak and sentenced them to six years in prison.

The corresponding criminal case was initiated in November 2020 in Nizhnekamsk. On November 18, 12 Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched there; believers were interrogated about their involvement in the activities of the Kazan community. In August 2021, Filatov, Klyuchnikov and Yarchak became suspects in this case, a written undertaking not to leave the place was taken from them, and in early October of the same year they received the status of accused.

Continue reading…


06.09.2023 – A worship cross was cut down in the Omsk region

Sova – On the night of August 31, 2023, unknown persons cut down a worship cross installed several years ago at the entrance to the village of Azovo, Omsk Region.

“The height of the metal base is more than two meters. This means that the hooligan prepared thoroughly: in order to reach the cross, he probably brought a ladder with him. Local residents regard such an act of vandalism as a provocation, an insult to the feelings of believers and banal disrespect for a working person ,” local Channel 12 reported.

The cross was installed at the expense of local residents.

The police began searching for the vandals.


06.09.2023 – In Tatarstan, three of Jehovah’s Witnesses were sentenced to long suspended sentences.

JW – On September 5, 2023, the Judge of the Nizhnekamsk City Court of the Republic of Tatarstan sentenced to six years of suspended imprisonment: Sergey Kamenov, Denis Filatov, Stanislav Klyuchnikov and Dmitriy Yarchak, who has had a disability since childhood. The court considered prayers and the singing of religious songs to be extremism.

The verdict has not yet entered into force and can be appealed. Believers insist on their complete innocence.

In November 2020, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Tatarstan initiated a criminal case and conducted a series of searches in the city of Nizhnekamsk. An investigation was launched against the three men, which lasted fourteen months. In January 2022, the case went to court, where it was considered for another nineteen months. All this time, the believers were under recognizance agreement.

Continue reading…


01.09.2023 – The Astrakhan Regional Court approved a seven-year prison sentence for three Jehovah’s Witnesses

Sova – The Astrakhan Regional Court confirmed the verdict of Sergei Korolev, Sergei Kosyanenko and Rinat Kiramov, found guilty under Art. 282.2 and 282.3 of the Criminal Code.

On August 31, 2023, the Astrakhan Regional Court confirmed the verdict passed on April 17, 2023 by the Akhtubinsky District Court to Jehovah’s Witnesses Rinat Kiramov, Sergei Korolev and Sergei Kosyanenko. accused. Each of them was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment to be served in a general regime colony with a three-year ban on activities related to the management of public organizations and participation in them and restriction of freedom for a year under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization) and Part 1 of Art. 282.3 of the Criminal Code (financing extremist activities).

Continue reading…

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CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest August 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest August 01-15



14.08.2023 – China represses religions, council says

Taipei Times – China continued to repress religious freedom by destroying places of worship and detaining clergy in the first six months of the year, the Mainland Affairs Council said in a report.

Chinese officials closed down the Jokhang Temple, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism, from March 8 to March 11, a date seemingly chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10, the council said.

Beijing has been carrying out deliberate attacks on organized religion with arrests and other means, it said, adding that religious leaders and followers were detained in tens of recorded incidents.

Continue reading…


09.08.2023 – Xinjiang, anti-religious propaganda targets herdsmen in pastures at 4500 meters above sea level

Bitter Winter – A policewoman received national commendation for warning ethnic Kyrgyz shepherds against xie jiao and religions that are not officially recognized.

Not even herdsmen quietly grazing their cattle at 4500 meters above the sea level are left alone by the CCP propaganda against “illegal religion.” Zenur Ishak, a policewoman from the police station of Heiziwei township, Ulugqat (Wuqia) county, Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, won national commendation for having traveled all the way to Yuqitashi Grasslands, part of Urukchati township and located more than 200 kilometers from the county seat. The shepherds in the area are predominantly ethnic Kyrgyz.

Continue reading…


08.08.2023 – Even Taoists are being “sinicized”: Shanghai hosted the “First forum on sinicization of taoism”

Bitter Winter – Taoism is quintessentially Chinese. The campaign confirms that “Sinicizing” religion does not mean making it more Chinese, but more subservient to the CCP.

On July 25 and 26, 2023, the government-controlled China Daoist Association, in cooperation with the Shanghai Taoist Association, the Shanghai City God Temple, and the Mingdao Taoist Culture Research Institute of East China Normal University co-organized in Shanghai “Taoism on the Sea: The First Forum on the Theory and Practice of Sinicization of Taoism.”

Continue reading…


07.08.2023 – The new Chinese measures for religious activity venues come into force on September 1

Bitter Winter – Even worse than the draft version, the Measures will convert places of worship into branches of the CCP propaganda system. “Bitter Winter” offers a full English translation.

Last April, “Bitter Winter” revealed that a draft of new “Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues,” intended to replace those of 2005, was being “circulated for comments.” Normally, this is a cosmetic exercise of pseudo-democracy, comments are ignored, and drafts become laws.

Continue reading…


Falun Gong

14.08.2023 – Hebei man’s family given runaround while seeking to uncover true cause of his tragic death in prison

Minghui –  A 73-year-old resident of Zunhua City, Hebei Province, died suddenly in Jidong No.2 Prison while serving seven years for his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Wang Jian’s children said they got a call from the prison at noon on April 3, 2023, saying that their father had fallen into a coma. By the time they got to the Kaifaqu Hospital an hour later, Mr. Wang had already passed away. His chin was up, and his mouth and eyes were slightly open. His children couldn’t understand how their father, who was given a clean bill of health during a physical exam just a month before, could die so suddenly.

Continue reading…


12.08.2023 – Additional persecution news from China – August 3, 2023 (12 reports)

Minghui – Mr. Li Xiaoyan was arrested in the Shijiazhuang Railway Station on July 27, 2023. Many bills imprinted with Falun Gong facts were confiscated. His home was then ransacked by officers from the Fangxing Police Station in the Yuhua District and the Railway Police Department. The police confiscated over 20,000 yuan, many truth-clarifying materials, and Falun Gong books.

Continue reading…


08.08.2023 – Once jailed for 3 years, 55-year-old Liaoning woman is admitted to prison again to serve a 3.5-year term

Minghui – A 55-year-old woman in Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province, was admitted to Dabei Prison in Shenyang (the capital city of the province) on July 26, 2023, four months after she was secretly sentenced to three and a half years for raising awareness of the persecution of her faith, Falun Gong.

Ms. Zhang Chuanwen was arrested on December 4, 2022, with two other Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Liu Zhenqing and Mr. Du Qinghua, after being reported for handing out calendars with information about Falun Gong. Mr. Liu’s home was ransacked. The police also attempted to ransack Ms. Zhang’s home, but she refused to take them to where she lived.

Continue reading…


The Church of Almighty God

11.08.2023 – China: New massive wave of persecution against the Church of Almighty God

Bitter Winter – The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has never ceased its persecution and surveillance activities against The Church of Almighty God (CAG), the largest Christian new religious movement in the country, recently launched a new coordinated arrest operation against the group. As reported by CAG members to “Bitter Winter,” the persecution was most severe in the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian, and Jiangsu. On June 15, in just a single day, at least 1,043 CAG members in Zhejiang Province were placed under arrest, and until this day 408 are still in custody, facing prosecution and sentencing. One died just three days after her arrest.

Continue reading…



15.08.2023 – Nanning Christian Pastor detained—for no reason whatsoever

Bitter Winter – The vague provision punishing “disturbing the social order in the name of religion” was enforced against Pastor Park Kwang-Zhe of New Life Christian Church.

These days, the CCP does not need any specific reason to detain Christian house church pastors.

As the document we reproduce, sent by the church’s co-workers to several human rights media outlets, demonstrates, Pastor Park Kwang-Zhe of New Life Christian Church was detained in Shibu town, Xixiangtang district, Nanning, Guangxi province, on August 8, 2023.

Continue reading…


08.08.2023 – Cross demolition continues in Zhejiang Province

ChinaAid – The local government of Wenzhou plans to resume the forced removal of crosses from Christian churches.

Dongqiao Church in Zhejiang province received a notice that on August 3rd the government will forcefully remove the cross from the church. The church has issued a public notice, urging brothers and sisters in Christ to pray fervently for this matter.

An anonymous pastor from Wenzhou informed ChinaAid that the “demonic wind (a trend/movement harmful to society) of removing crosses may rise again.” He revealed that last month, the governments of Shanxi Town, Yongjia County, and Lucheng District demanded churches remove Christian phrases. For instance, bronze plaques and characters on church walls bearing the words “Emmanuel,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Jehovah” were all required to be removed.

Continue reading…


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RUSSIA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest Jan 16-31

RUSSIA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest Jan 16-31

31.01.2023 – The Court keeps an elderly believer from Maykop in a pre-trial detention Center for months.

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/311614.html

On January 17, 2023, the Maykop City Court refused to release Nikolay Voishchev, a 67-year-old Jehovah’s Witness from Maykop, from custody, where he has been held for more than 3 months only because of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He will stay in the pre-trial detention center for at least another six months, despite the disease discovered in him.

Continue reading…


29.01.2023 – The Supreme Lama of Kalmykia left his post after being declared a “foreign agent”

 Kasparov.ru – Honorary Representative of the Dalai Lama in Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries Telo Tulku Rinpoche (Erdni Ombadykov) decided to leave the post of the supreme lama of Kalmykia after the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation declared him a “foreign agent”. This is stated in his address on the website of the Central Khurul of the Republic.

“I wish the people of Kalmykia and all followers of Buddhism in these difficult times to maintain courage, fortitude and commitment to the ideals of compassion, love and non-violence on which our Buddha Teachings is based,” the statement reads.


The Supreme Lama of Kalmykia handed over powers to the rector of the Kalmyk Central Buddhist monastery “Geden Sheddup Choi Korling” Geshe Tenjin Choydak (Mutul Ovyanov) and the administrator of the gelong Yonten Lodoy (Sergey Kirishov).


25.01.2023 – A Court in the Kemerovo Region sentenced a labor veteran to 6 years of suspended term for reading the Bible with friends

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/251425.html

On January 24, 2023, the judge of the Kuznetsk District Court of Novokuznetsk (Kemerovo Region) Anton Iordan found the 65-year-old labor veteran guilty of extremism because of his religious views.

Sergey Sushilnikov and his wife have been living in Novokuznetsk for over 40 years. During this time, he repeatedly received certificates of honor and awards from the city administration and his employers. He has the title of labor veteran.

Continue reading…


24.01.2023 – Two trials, nine long jail terms

Eight of nine Jehovah’s Witnesses convicted on “extremism”-related charges in two trials in Russia’s Far East in December 2022 received jail terms of 6 to 7 years. An Amur Region Prosecutor’s Office official justified the jailings: “Any missionary activity of members of a religious organisation liquidated by a court in connection with repeated violations of the law on countering extremist activity will be illegal in nature and subject to liability established by law.” The 9 were among 124 Jehovah’s Witnesses criminally convicted in 2022. Trials continue.

 In two trials in mid-December 2022, two courts in Russia’s Far East sentenced a total of 9 Jehovah’s Witnesses to long jail terms. All but one received jail terms of between 6 and 7 years. The 9 men were among 19 Jehovah’s Witnesses to receive general-regime prison terms in the last quarter of 2022.

Continue reading…


23.01.2023 – The Court of Cassation upheld the sentence of four believers from Volgograd. 

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/231338.html

On January 19, 2023, the Fourth General Jurisdiction Court of Cassation in Krasnodar did not change the guilty verdict and appeal ruling in the case of Valeriy Rogozin, Igor Egozaryan, Sergey Melnik and Denis Peresunko, who were sentenced to long terms for their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 Continue reading…


21.01.2023 – In Kamchatka, another foreign citizen fined for “illegal” missionary work

Sova Center – On January 20, 2023, the Elizovsky District Court of the Kamchatka Territory found the foreign citizen Abdulmashit Abduvaliev guilty under Part 5 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (implementation by a foreign citizen of missionary activity in violation of the requirements of the law) and fined him 30 thousand rubles.

According to the court, he, being in the temporary detention center for foreign citizens of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Kamchatka Territory, “conducted religious ceremonies with the participation of at least 10-12 persons”, without permits and not belonging to any religious organization.

Abduvaliev admitted guilt.

20.01.2023 – Court of Appeal in Krasnoyarsk upheld the verdict against 56-year-old Yevgeniy Zinich.

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/200900.html

On January 19, 2022, the Judicial Chamber for Criminal Cases of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court upheld the verdict against Yevgeniy Zinich—6 years in a penal colony for reading the Bible. The believer still insists on his innocence and can appeal the verdict through the cassation process.

In addition to the term in the penal colony, Zinich is deprived of the right to engage in the organizational activity in public associations and religious organizations for 2 years and his freedom is limited for a year. After the verdict was announced, Yevgeniy spent six months in a pre-trial detention center, awaiting an appeal.

Continue reading…


19.01.2023 – A second appeal in Rostov-on-Don toughened the sentence for Arsen Avanesov.

Link to full text in Russian : https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/190846.html

Recently it became known that back on August 8, 2022, the Rostov Regional Court toughened the punishment for one of the three believers from Rostov , Arsen Avanesov, who was previously sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony, adding another six months to the term.

In June 2022, the court of cassation in Krasnodar upheld the verdict against Vilen Avanesov and Aleksandr Parkov, but satisfied the prosecutor’s request regarding Arsen. The believer was again charged with “financing extremist activity”, a charge that the court had previously excluded. Later the case of Arsen Avanesov returned to the stage of appeal, where his sentence was toughened.

Continue reading…


19.01.2023 – The Yaroslavl City Hall is trying to sue the building of the pilgrimage center from the diocese

Sova Center – On January 17, 2023, it became known that the mayor’s office of Yaroslavl filed a lawsuit against the Yaroslavl diocese with an arbitration court. The city authorities demand that the diocese’s right of ownership to the building of the pilgrimage center on Bogoyavlenskaya Square be recognized as missing.

The building was transferred to the use of the diocese in 1994 for the purpose of reconstruction. At the same time, the diocese registered it as a property, which, according to the city authorities, was done in violation of the law.

Continue reading…


17.01.2023 – The appeal Court upheld the verdict against six believers from Saransk.

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/171601.html

On January 16, 2023, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia upheld the sentence of six Jehovah’s Witnesses from Saransk: 6 years imprisonment for Atryakhin, 4 years and 2 months in a penal colony for the Nikulins, and 2 years imprisonment for Shevchuk, Korolev, and Antonov.

Continue reading…


17.01.2023 – The Cassation Court did not change the sentence of five of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Kursk. 

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2023/01/171448.html

On January 12, 2023, the First Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in Saratov left unchanged the verdict of the Promyshlennyy District Court of the city of Kursk and the appellate ruling of the Judicial Panel for Criminal Cases of the Kursk Regional Court against five of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Continue reading…


 16.01.2023 – The court began consideration of the case of ex-shiigumen Sergiy (Romanov) and Vsevolod Moguchev

 Sova center – On August 16, 2022, the Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow began considering the merits of the case of the former shiigumen Sergiy (Romanov) and his assistant Vsevolod Moguchev, accused under paragraph “c” of Part 2 of Art. 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (actions aimed at inciting hatred or enmity, committed publicly, including using the Internet, by an organized group).

 They are charged with publishing videos aimed at inciting hatred towards Jews, Catholics and Muslims.

 Both defendants plead not guilty.

Continue reading…


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IRAN: Religious persecution and issues – Monthly digest January

IRAN: Religious persecution and issues – Monthly digest January


Son of murdered pastor releases film in response to Iran executions

 Article 18 (23.01.2023) – The son of a murdered Iranian pastor has produced a short film in protest against state executions in Iran.

Joseph Hovsepian, whose father Haik was murdered in January 1994, posted the film, ‘We Will Win’, on his Instagram page following the first public executions of protesters last month.

In the film, a little girl looks outside her apartment window to see a rope being placed around a man’s neck. 

 Continue reading…


Iran ranked eighteen hardest country to be christian

Article 18 (18.01.2023) – Iran has risen back to eighth place on an annual list of the countries where it is hardest to practise the Christian faith.

This marks a return to Iran’s 2021 ranking on the World Watch List, which is produced by Christian charity Open Doors International, after a year in ninth place.

For the past five years, Iran has oscillated between eighth and ninth place on the list.

This year, Iran has moved back above Afghanistan, which last year topped the list, even ahead of perennial “winner” North Korea.

Continue reading…


Apostasy never codified in Iranian law ‘due to international pressure’

 Article 18 (17.01.2023) – Iran refrained from codifying the “crime” of apostasy in its penal code due to fears of an international outcry, a retired judge involved in revising the text has admitted.

“At one time, I was in the process of approving the Islamic penal bill, and apostasy was supposed to be included in our criminal code, but it was left out for fear of international pressure,” Alireza Mirkamali said during a roundtable discussion organised by state media.

The comments, made late last year, were brought to light earlier today by VOA News.

Continue reading…


Four Christians arrested in Gilan Province

csw.org.uk (04.01.2023) – Reports have emerged of the arrest of the wife of a leader from the Church of Iran denomination on 3 January in Rasht, the provincial capital of Gilan Province.

According to CSW’s sources, Anahita Khademi is being held in Lakan prison in Rasht. Her arrest follows that of her husband, Pastor Matthias (Abdulreza Ali) Haghnejad, in Anzali city in Gilan Province. The pastor was on prison furlough when he was arrested on the evening of 26 December while visiting the home of Amir Roshandal, who was also detained along with another Christian named Massoud Veis-Khani. All three were subsequently transferred to a prison in Rasht.

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Iran’s supreme leader hints at loosening hijab rules after months of protests over young woman’s death

Nbc news (04.01.2023) – Iran’s supreme Leader on Wednesday hinted that the government may loosen the strict dress codes that were blamed for a young woman’s death and triggered nationwide demonstrations that have shaken the country’s clerical establishment.

“Women who do not have full hijab should not be considered as people outside of religion or against the Islamic Revolution,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most powerful person in the country, said during a speech, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

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Amid hijab protests, Christianity expands foothold in Iran, two experts say

Washington times (04.01.2023) – Two expatriate Christians say a spiritual transformation is underway in Iran, fueled part by sustained protests over the Sept. 22 death of Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish-Iranian student who died in the custody of the Islamist regime’s “morality police” allegedly for improperly wearing the mandatory head covering for women known as the hijab.

“Spiritually speaking, there has been a revival going on in Iran,” said Hormoz Shariat, president of Dallas-based Iran Alive Ministries, which broadcasts Christian programming in the Islamic Republic.

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Jailed Iranian Baha’i accused of communicating with foreign Media

Iran Press Watch (30.01.2023) – An Iranian prosecutor has accused a member of the country’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority of having established “extensive” contacts with Persian-language media outlets outside Iran and spreading “propaganda” against the Islamic Republic.

Payam Vali, who has been behind bars for more than four months, “has had extensive communications with enemy media,” a prosecutor at Branch 7 of the General Court in the city of Karaj said on January 27, citing the BBC’s Persian service, London-based Manoto TV, and the U.S.-based Human Rights Activist News Agency.

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Hami Bahadori, Baha’i citizen, transferred to “Greater Tehran” prison

 Iran Press Watch (26.01.2023) –  Hami Bahadori, a Baha’i citizen living in Tehran, was transferred from Ward 209 (detention center of the Ministry of Intelligence known as Evin Prison) to the Greater Tehran Prison. He has been incarcerated since his arrest by security forces on October 22, 2022, and remanded to Evin prison.

According to HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, Hami Bahadori (Baha’i citizen) was transferred to the Greater Tehran prison.

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Baha’i couple arrested in Iran, faces security-related charges

 Iranwire.org (26.01.2023) – Iranian judicial officials have charged a Baha’i couple with “acting against national security” and “communicating with enemy governments,” amid an intensified crackdown on members of the religious minority.

Pouya Amri and his wife Nafisa Sa’adatyar were arrested on January 21 by intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at their house in the northern city of Gorgan, according to IranWire sources.

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German lawmakers call for release of Baha’i jailed in Iran

 Iran Press Watch (20.01.2023) – Two German lawmakers have joined together to politically sponsor a member of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority who has been imprisoned for nearly four months.

“We have accepted political sponsorship for Arash Zamani, and call on the Iranian government to release him immediately and without any pre-condition,” said Hamburg parliament members Ali Simsek and Ekkehard Wysocki.

Zamani is among dozens of Baha’is who have been arrested across Iran in recent weeks amid an intensified crackdown on the faith.

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No charge, but still imprisoned: concerns raised over Baha’i man jailed in Iran

Iran Press watch (18.01.2023) – Five weeks after the arrest of Faraz Haghighatjo, a member of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority, his relatives still don’t know what he is being accused of.

The prosecutor in charge of Haghighatjo’s case has recently extended his detention, a source close to the family told IranWire, fueling concern that his interrogators have pressured him to confess to crimes he did not commit.

Iranian authorities routinely extract confessions from prisoners or their family members by force, which are then broadcast for propaganda purposes and used in court to convict people in unfair trials.

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Iranian Baha’i violently arrested, taken to unknown location

Iranwire (12.01.2023) – Iranian authorities have arrested a member of the country’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority in the northern city of Qaemshahr, IranWire has learnt, amid an intensified crackdown on the faith.

The news about Matin Gorji’s arrest comes amid rising concerns over the fate of another jailed Baha’i, Pouya Sarraf, who has been in solitary confinement for more than two months.

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Iran urged to free Baha’i poet “unjustly” sentenced to 10 years in rison

Iranwire (05.01.2023) – The Australian chapter of PEN International, a freedom of expression group, has strongly condemned the detention of award-winning Baha’i writer and poet Mahvash Sabet in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she is being held in solitary confinement, and the 10-year prison sentence handed down against her.

Sabet, aged 69, was arrested in July and, on December 10, according to the Baha’i International Community, was sentenced to a decade in prison along with Fariba Kamalabadi, another member of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority.

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CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest Jan 16-31

CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest Jan 16-31


24.01.2023 – Report offers fresh examples of destruction of religious sites in eastern Tibet

A new report by a rights group details fresh evidence of destruction of religious heritage sites and the mistreatment of Tibetans by China in eastern Tibet since October 2021 in what locals say is a second Cultural Revolution.

Among the religious sites and objects destroyed in Drago county were three colossal Buddha statues, a Buddhist school, a building housing with 45 giant prayer wheels, the home of a revered spiritual leader and Drago Monastery’s prayer flags, which were removed and burned, the report by London-based Free Tibet says.

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30.01.2023 – Wang Hai: Miao Christian Pastor still harassed and investigated

Pastor Wang Hai is a legendary figure in Yunnan. He comes from a family of the Miao ethnic minority, where his father and brothers already served as elders of the Miao Trinity Church in Yongshan county, Yunnan province.

With great sacrifices, his father managed to enroll him at Yunnan Bible Seminary, and he was ordained in the government-controlled Three-Self Church in 2012. By then, he was already moving from village to village with his motorbike, planting new churches, and converting hundreds of Miao villagers. Most of them were very simple folks from villages with no regular water or electricity supplies. Yet, they were conquered by Wang’s young, dynamic, and amiable ministry.

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25.01.2023 – Chinese christians serving their persecutors

Many stories from Chinese Christians can be disheartening for those in the West. After all, Chinese Christians face constant harassment, detention, and mistreatment because of their faith. Americans, discouraged by persecution, may not have much hope for the church in China. However, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate Chinese house churches.


Dai Zhichao from Early Rain Covenant Church led the “Tashui” small group in 2021 and became a more prominent figure within the church. His rising influence in the church painted a target on his back, and his family was constantly harassed during the last year. Plain-clothed officers vandalized their doors with threats and jammed obstructions into their keyholes several times.

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23.01.2023 – Wife of imprisoned Xi’an pastor advocates for her husband

Authorities arrested two Xi’an Church of Abundance pastors for “fraud”—Lian Xuliang and his father Lian Changnian. Without any update in five months, Pastor Lian Xuliang’s wife published an open letter on Chinese social media defending her husband and father-in-law.


In her letter, she said members of their church committed no crimes. Nobody in their congregation ever divorced. According to her, God transformed the hearts of the congregation:

Who doesn’t want to see a marriage turning from the verge of collapsing into a good relationship? My husband and my father-in-law are both faithful people. I don’t understand why they were charged with fraud and endangering national security.

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19.01.2023 – Police detain more ethnic Christians in rural Yunnan

Fugong police in China’s Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, took four Christians into custody on 12 January for participating in a Bible study in August 2022.

Five Bible teachers who also attended the meeting have been detained since early August 2022. According to a source familiar with the situation, the teachers include three ethnic Nu men, Wang Shunping, Nu Sangdeng and San Luobo, and two women, Hua Xiuxia and Dong Mengru. All five have been formally charged with ‘organising and sponsoring an illegal gathering’, which in reality consisted of prayer and free Bible and music lessons for young people.

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18.01.2023 – Geng Zejun treated with respect in prison

Geng Zejun, the minister of the Church of the Rock in Ningxia province, was sentenced to one year and three months because he insisted on hosting Christian gatherings. Reports surfaced that while he is not in good health, guards and prisoners treat him with respect. His family has been banned from visiting him since his initial arrest on December 5, 2021.

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Falun Gong

31.01.2023 – Persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners by Jiangjin District 610 Office and Domestic Security Office in Chongqing

The 610 Office, Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), and the Domestic Security Office of the Police Department in the Jiangjin District of Chongqing have been actively persecuting local Falun Dafa practitioners since the Chinese Communist Party launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Dafa in July 1999.

Many local practitioners have been arrested, jailed, and tortured for upholding their faith. Four of them died and three others were disabled. Forty-nine practitioners were sentenced to prison and another 35 were put in forced labor camps. Almost all of the practitioners in the district have endured some form of home raid, arrest, detention, and/or brainwashing. They were forced to pay a total of 44,600 yuan in illegal fines and extortion.

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29.01.2023 – In a vegetative state and denied medical parole for two years, Hebei man dies two months before prison release

Mr. Lai Zhiqiang’s wife waited seven long years, eager to reunite with him, only to learn on January 3, 2023, that he had died two months before his scheduled release from serving a wrongful term for his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Lai’s wife rushed to Jidong No. 2 Prison in Hebei Province after learning of his death, only to be told that she had to pay 1,000 yuan to see his body. While it’s not clear whether or not she paid the 1,000 yuan, she wasn’t allowed to see his body until the next day.

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26.01.2023 – Exposing the torture of Falun Gong practitioners in Sichuan Province women’s prison

Female Falun Gong practitioners in Sichuan Province are held at the Sichuan Province Women’s Prison in Chengdu City after they are sentenced for upholding their faith. As soon as they are admitted, they are subjected to brainwashing. There are also other cells in the prison with restricted access and no one knows what happens behind the closed doors.

The “study group” (brainwashing session) of each practitioner consists of four inmates: two felons (one with a higher education background), and two former practitioners who had been transformed.

Practitioners in the brainwashing session are ordered to write guarantee statements and repeat the communist regime’s propaganda to smear Falun Gong. Various torture methods are used when the practitioners refuse to comply.

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23.01.2023 – US resident calls for the release of Sister and Nephew who are detained in China for their shared faith in Falun Gong

Ms. Kang Shumei and her son, Mr. Zhang Gu, both of Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, were arrested on October 31, 2022 for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Kang’s sister, Ms. Kang Shuzhi, who currently resides in Los Angeles, is calling on the international community to help rescue her sister and nephew.

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20.01.2023 – After enduring five arrests and seven years of torture for her faith, woman dies five months before daughter’s fifth birthday

Ms. Zhu Xiumin and her husband were both arrested on March 21, 2017, for their shared faith in Falun Gong.

Ms. Zhu went on a five-month hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary detention. As she became extremely weak and suffered severe constipation, she was taken to a hospital for a checkup. She was shocked to learn that she was pregnant. She was released two days later.

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