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ALGERIA: Fact-finding mission of a UN Special Rapporteur and FoRB

ALGERIA: Religious freedom to be on the agenda of a UN Special Rapporteur before his fact-finding mission

HRWF/ CAP (14.09.2023) – CAP/ Liberté de Conscience and Human Rights Without Frontiers, two NGOs active in Brussels, are deeply concerned about the situation of the members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light in Algeria and have addressed a report to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Peaceful Assembly and Association before his fact-finding mission in Algeria planned from 6 to 16 September.

On the 6th of June 2022, 18 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light in Algeria were charged with “participating in an unauthorized group” and “denigrating Islam”.


The First Instance Tribunal in Bejaia charged them under Article 46 of the Law on Associations and Article 144 bis 2 of the Algerian Penal Code. The judge ordered the immediate detention of three members, while the other 15 were released and were placed under house arrest pending further investigation.

Prison sentences for 18 members of the faith

On the 20th of September 2022, the Court of Bejaia sentenced Redouane Foufa, Khireddine Ahman and Cherif Mohamed Ali to one year in prison and the rest of the group to six months in prison, with fines.


The court verdict further confirmed that a religious decree was issued against the group by the council of religious affairs in the county of Bejaia on the 6th of April 2022. The decree held the group to be “a misguided group who are heretics and are out of the Islamic faith.” It further stated that the tenants of faith of the group are “a clear and direct violation of the laws of the true Islamic faith as stated clearly in the Holy Qur’an and the prophetic narrations”. The verdict cited specifically the following tenants of the faith as blasphemous:


  • The belief in Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq, the leader of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light to be the legitimate successor of Prophet Mohammed and the awaited Mahdi in Islam.
  • The abrogation of the five daily prayers and that there is no specific ritual for it.
  • The month of Ramadan is set in December of every year.
  • The Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site to be in Petra, Jordan, and not in Mecca.


Redouane Foufa, the main target

The peaceful assembly of the group was specifically condemned in the court verdict, as it went on to elaborate how the group gathered in a house rented by Redouane Foufa, the coordinator of the group in Algeria, to discuss the teachings of a heretic religion – an action that the court deemed to be criminal and punishable under Article 46 of the Law on Associations.

Amnesty International has monitored the case and issued several press releases calling for the release of the group and that all charges against them be dropped[1]. In its press releases, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said: “It is a travesty of justice that these individuals are being detained or prosecuted over their religious beliefs.”

Prior to their arrest, Redouane Foufa and the other members of the community reported being subjected to constant harassment and intimidation by the authorities in their place of residence in Bejaia since April 2022. Over a period of three months, the members of the group in Bejaia were interrogated by police a total of ten times. In one such incident, the house where Redouane Foufa and the families were living was raided by around 30 soldiers, who stormed the house and went through the personal and private belongings of the families, seizing documents such as ID cards and passports, as well as phones and laptops.


Repeated police interrogation

On 5 June 2022, police in Bejaia held the group for 13 hours, including six children and three elderly members. They were held in extremely hot temperatures and were denied access to food or water.


The investigation focused particularly on the point of the group’s gathering in the Bejaia house, accusing the women of immorality and that the group was running a brothel in the Bejaia house.


In an interview about their arrest, Youssra Bezai, another member of the group said: “We were living peacefully in our home. We never tried to take our beliefs outside. It is them who came to us and violated our privacy and our rights.”

The 18 adult members were told they would appear in court the next morning. During this interrogation which lasted another 14 hours, the group reported being threatened either to give up their faith or be sent to jail. After that the whole group was charged, and three of them — Redouane Foufa, and two other members, Khireddine Ahman, and Cherif Mohamed Ali [2]— were sent to Bejaia’s Oued Ghir prison.


During the five-months duration of the house arrest, the persecution against the other 15 members at the Bejaia house continued.


Pressed to give up their faith in prison

The three members who were in prison for the duration of the 5 months were subjected to various human rights violations, ill-treatment, and discrimination while in jail. The heads of all three were shaved, and they were put in solitary confinement with copies of the Qur’an and with daily visits from prison administration preaching to them and asking them if they had ‘repented’.


Prison guards instigated other inmates against them telling them they are “apostates”. They were strip-searched and were also subjected to extreme medical negligence. Redouane got a blood infection that spread from his arm to his back and received no medical treatment. This was followed by contracting COVID and then suffering a heart attack. If it wasn’t for the other two members shouting for help, Redouane would have died.

Released from prison but…

After Amnesty International’s public campaign on the case, the sentence was overturned by the High Court of Bejaia, dropping the charges and releasing the group. Despite this, the religious decree was still in effect and the court outlawed any further gathering of the group. Redouane Foufa reported in a video testimony that the day he was released from jail he was threatened not to speak about this case or his faith, and to not gather with any other members of the faith, or else he would be immediately sent back to prison. He was also ordered to vacate the Bejaia house. All business activities and records of Redouane and his wife were canceled by the chamber of commerce after his release, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs got in touch with previous employers and family members of the group ordering them to boycott the group on the basis of a standing religious decree stating they are “infidels.”


The religious decree which gave effectively a green light for possible vigilante violence, forced the group to flee Algeria and seek international protection in Europe where they could practice their faith freely.


In search of asylum in the EU through Turkey

They fled to Turkey in December 2022 and 15 of them[3] attempted to legally seek asylum in Bulgaria, together with other members of the faith who had fled to Turkey as well due to severe persecution in other Muslim-majority countries.


These countries are Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Palestine, and Thailand. The whole group involving 101 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light were violently pushed back by Turkish authorities, beaten with batons, and detained, before being transferred to the Edirne Removal Center where they are in de facto detention for the past 60 days, suffering horrendous ill-treatment and grave human rights violations.[4] Deportation orders were issued against them to return them to their countries of origin, subjecting them to further persecution and violations of their rights, including the right to be free from torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, and their right to life.


The most famous asylum-seeker stuck in Turkey is Redouane Foufa, the leader of the Algerian group. He would like to find a safe haven in France but he is now kept in the Immigration Detention Center of Edirne in Turkey.


15 Algerian members of the faith detained in Turkey

The 15 Algerians who had just successfully fled Algeria for religious persecution found themselves in detention again, this time in Turkey, denied their human rights because of their faith, and unable to safely practice their religion.


The severity of the human rights abuses enacted upon the group in the Edirne removal center is amplified by the extreme vulnerabilities among the detained members – 22 children aged from 1 to 17, at least 27 elderly or sick adults, and LGBTQ members.


Soumaya Foufa – a 58-year-old LGBTQ member from Algeria – fears persecution in Turkey for its crackdown on LGBTQ members. She also fears for her life if returned to Algeria. The case has also received considerable attention by the press,[5] including lodging an interim measure request at the European Court of Human Rights[6]. The case is also being monitored by United Nations experts: the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues are monitoring the case and have issued a public collective statement in its respect.[7]

The 15 Algerian members are now appealing against deportation orders and are in search of a safe haven in the EU where they can seek international protection and can practice their faith freely. They have family members in France and are looking for ways to apply for asylum there.


The coordinator of the religious group is Hadil El-Khouly, based in London.

She can be contacted by email (hadil.elkhouly@gmail.com) or telephone (+44 7443 106804) for direct contacts with members of the Ahmadi Religion in Algeria.


[1]https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/06/algeria-release-members-of-ahmadi-religious-minority/ and https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/09/algeria-drop-all-charges-against-members-of-a-religious-minority/

[2] https://www.uscirf.gov/religious-prisoners-conscience/forb-victims-database/redouane-foufa, https://www.uscirf.gov/religious-prisoners-conscience/forb-victims-database/khireddine-ahman, and https://www.uscirf.gov/religious-prisoners-conscience/forb-victims-database/cherif-mohamed-ali


[3] The names of the 15 members are: Asloune Nedjma, Belfiroud Ali, Belfiroud El Mehdi, Belfiroud
Mohamed, Benabdelmoula Fatima Zohra, Bensalah Ines Sabrina, Bensalah Rania, Bezai Youssra, Foufa Maryam, Foufa Redouane, Foufa Soumia, Habibi Mohammed Boudjelal, Lombarkia Rafik, Mazouzi Rabha, Salma Mihoub

[4]For footage of the violence at the border see https://www.eureporter.co/world/turkey/2023/05/24/over-100-church-members-beaten-and-arrested-at-the-turkish-border/, Also see statement of the Border Violence Monitoring Network https://borderviolence.eu/reports/follow-up-statement-on-the-situation-of-the-ahmadi-religious-group-in-turkey/

[5] Among others, see BBC Radio interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYoTa2PC_64 ) , EU Observer (https://euobserver.com/migration/157200) , EU Reporter (https://www.eureporter.co/world/turkey/2023/05/24/over-100-church-members-beaten-and-arrested-at-the-turkish-border/ ), European Times (https://europeantimes.news/2023/05/hrwf-un-eu-osce-turkey-stop-deportation-ahmadis/ )

[6] Among others, see EU Reporter article (https://www.eureporter.co/world/turkey/2023/07/15/ahmadi-religion-files-lawsuit-against-turkiye-at-european-court-of-hr-following-violent-pushback-at-turkey-border/) and EU weekly news article (https://euroweeklynews.com/2023/05/27/104-members-of-a-religious-minority-face-imprisonment-or-execution-on-the-turkish-bulgarian-border/)

[7] Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/07/turkiye-must-not-deport-members-ahmadi-religion-peace-and-light-seeking

Further reading about FORB in Algeria on HRWF website

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TURKEY: Over 100 members of persecuted religious minority held at the border

Members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light arrive at the Turkish-Bulgarian border on May 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light


TURKEY: Over 100 members of persecuted religious minority held at the border

Members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light seeking asylum in the European Union have been detained in Turkey since May.

By Kathryn Post

RNS (13.09.2023) – On May 24, 104 members of a minority religious group arrived at the Turkish-Bulgarian border expecting to find asylum. Instead, they were met with clubs and gunfire.

“They started getting attacked by the Turkish border guards. They started beating them with batons,” said Alexandra Foreman, a United Kingdom-based member who was at the scene. “And it was very much like a war zone. There was blood everywhere.”

Almost four months later, the asylum-seekers — including more than 20 children — are still being detained in Turkey, hoping to make their way into the European Union. The asylum-seekers say they left their countries of origin due to religious persecution. They are members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a small minority religious group with thousands of members from around the world, many from a Muslim background.

Members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, which was established in 1999, see their faith as an extension of Islam. They believe one of their leaders, Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq, is the “Mahdi,” a messianic figure and divine messenger who will bring salvation.

Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq. Photo courtesy of Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light

The group is not connected with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a group of 10 million to 20 million believers called Ahmadis who have also been persecuted for their beliefs in Muslim-majority countries.

The asylum-seekers presented themselves at the Kapikule border crossing point hoping to gain entry into the European Union by way of Bulgaria, but were instead herded onto buses and taken to a Turkish police station. Witnesses, including Foreman, reported that at the station, several group members were beaten, and women and children were forced to stand outside — without sleep, and without sitting or lying down — for three days.

On May 29, the group was transferred to the Edirne migration center, where witnesses reported being crammed into rooms and having insufficient water and soap, no sanitary pads for women, poor food and inadequate medical care. Some reported beatings and sexual harassment.

Foreman, a freelancer who was at the border to create a documentary, was arrested along with the group and was released after two weeks.

“The weeks that I spent there was just so horrible. It was the worst experience I’ve ever been through. It was completely traumatizing,” said Foreman, who is now back in the United Kingdom. “We want to get them out and safe, somewhere they can be safe to practice their faith. It’s crazy that in 21st century they can’t practice faith peacefully.”

All but three of the members have been ordered to return to their countries of origin, including Thailand, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria and Azerbaijan, as well as the Palestinian territories. However, experts say these places are unsafe for the faith members.

“These followers are from a number of Islamic countries, and some are particularly brutal toward apostates,” said Paul Diamond, a religious freedom lawyer in the United Kingdom. He told Religion News Service that regardless of how people view the religion or how small the group is, the believers at the Turkish border are “in a perilous situation” and “have a right to religious freedom.”

Staying in Turkey isn’t an option for the group either, according to Diamond. “They have no status in Turkey. And they don’t want to claim asylum in Turkey because that’s an Islamic country. It doesn’t solve the problem.”

Turkish border guards use batons on members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light when at the Turkish-Bulgarian border on May 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light

Willy Fautré, director of the Brussels-based organization Human Rights Without Frontiers, has been advocating for the detained members to receive humanitarian visas in European countries. He plans to plead their case at the annual Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe human rights conference in Warsaw, Poland, next month.

“We will push day after day, week after week, so that they finally accept them as immigrants in need of special protection because of their religious practices,” Fautré told RNS.

On July 4, a group of U.N. experts, including Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Felipe González Morales, special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, issued a statement asking Turkey not to deport the members.

“Since the inception of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light in 1999, its members have been labelled as heretics and infidels and are often subjected to threats, violence, and illegal detention,” the experts said. “They are particularly at risk of detention due to blasphemy laws, in violation of their right to freedom of religion or belief.”

In August, Turkish officials responded that deportation decisions had been conducted lawfully, though the deportation procedures have been halted pending an appeal of the decisions.

The group’s leader, Aba Al-Sadiq, published “The Goal of the Wise” in 2022, a book of teachings faith members view as their gospel. Many of the faith’s teachings, including its affirmation of reincarnation, the belief that we are living in the end times and an assertion that the Kaaba is in Petra, Jordan, are viewed by outsiders as controversial.

In an April 2023 sermon, Aba Al-Sadiq declared that he is the messenger sent by God to invite humankind into the final covenant with God, a covenant that would save them from the imminent punishment of humanity via illness, meteors and global wars.

Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq preaches in April 2023. Video screen grab

Hadil El-Khouly, the human rights outreach coordinator for the group, said the faith is often perceived as being radical because of its progressive teachings, including that women are not mandated to wear a headscarf, members don’t need to do the five daily prayers and the group is open to LGBTQ people. (These beliefs are held by some members of mainstream Muslim groups as well.)

“I would say it is incredibly liberating, it is profoundly inclusive, and it’s everything that I, as a human rights activist and person who seeks justice and freedom and peace in the world, was looking for,” El-Khouly told RNS.

Foreman said that in Turkey, asylum-seekers were interrogated about teachings in “The Goal of the Wise,” and some were sexually assaulted on the grounds that the faith accepts LGBTQ members.

“The aggression was just so extreme,” she said, adding that LGBTQ people were among those detained.

Members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light community mingle around a bonfire. Photo courtesy of Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light

On Aug. 22, after the arrest of eight members of the faith in Malaysia who protested in favor of LGBTQ rights, Aba Al-Sadiq released a video statement explicitly welcoming LGBTQ people who “believe in what we believe” to the faith. He had previously argued for the inclusion of LGBTQ people in his 2022 book.


One U.K.-based LGBTQ member of the faith, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, told RNS that growing up, he’d been taught his sexual orientation doomed him to hellfire. Though he’s now been a member of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light for years, he was encouraged by the video announcement. “I know what many people go through, how alone they can feel, how hopeless. The rates of suicide testify to this. I was extremely happy to know that they can find out that they are welcome into religion and to God and into faith without compromising their own person.”

Further reading about FORB in Turkey on HRWF website

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CHINA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest March 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly digest March 01-15





15.03.2023 – Uyghur Christian released after 15-year sentence

ChinaAid confirmed that Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti was released from prison after his 15-year sentence. While other details are unconfirmed, the Uyghur house church pastor is home with his family.

Alimujiang Yimiti, also known as Alim, converted from Islam to Christianity in 1995 and served as a house church pastor to Uyghurs in Kashgar, Xinjiang. His work in Xinjiang painted a target on his back, as the Chinese government began to scrutinize Uyghurs in the area. In 2007, authorities initially accused Alim of using his business to “infiltrate” Christian ideology into Kashgar.

Alim was criminally detained on Jan. 12, 2008, for “inciting separatism” and “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” due to a conversation he had with an American colleague, possibly about his interaction with authorities in 2007.

Continue reading…



15.03.2023 – The “Buddhist and Taoist clergy database,” another CCP imposture

With great fanfare, the China Buddhist Association and China Taoist Association have launched in Beijing’s Guangji Temple, at the end of last month, the Buddhist and Taoist Clerical Personnel Information Query System.

Those attending the press conference saw the slogan, “Fake monks and priests now have nowhere to hide!” displayed prominently. The speakers insisted that both Chinese and tourists have been defrauded by fake monks and Taoist priests asking for alms. Indeed, that these incidents have occurred is not false, although tourists in popular temples have been more easily fooled than Chinese believers. Also, temples where tourists are taken are managed by the China Buddhist Association and the China Taoist Association, which are supposed to keep their own houses in order.

Continue reading…



08.03.2023 – Another difficult Sunday for Chengdu’s Early Rain Church 

Bitter Winter has reported how the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, theoretically liquidated in 2018 before his pastor Wang Yi was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2019, continues to gather “illegally” by changing locations every Sunday, in a cat and mouse game with the police.

The game continued on May 5, according to a report shared by the house church members with Bitter Winter and other human rights media. Some twelve church members were blocked at home since Friday; one sister had the tires of her car punctured; another had to deal with the fact that water and electricity supplies to her home had been cut off, a frequent harassment strategy against church members. Four believers were taken to the police station on Sunday.

Continue reading…


06.03.2023 – ‘Smart religion’ app: christians must submit online form to attend church.

Christians in Henan province, China, must complete an online form and receive approval to attend church services. Officials refer to applications for church gatherings as a form of governance for “Smart Religion,” but no legal basis has been provided for such a measure.

Henan has one of the largest Christian populations in China. According to the “Smart Religion” requirements formulated by Henan’s provincial religious department, if religious believers want to participate in religious activities, they must make online reservations before they can attend services in churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples.

Local believers must register and make an appointment through an application called “Smart Religion,” developed by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province.

Continue reading…


03.03.2023 – Early Rain Church: Family blocked at home and forbidden to attend “illegal” Sunday service

Readers of Bitter Winter and friends of religious liberty are familiar with the saga of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, whose Pastor Wang Yi (not a relative of the chief of Chinese Foreign Affairs with the same name) was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2019.

Officially, Early Rain has been shut down in 2018 but unofficially members have continued to play a cat and mouse game with the authorities and meet for Sunday services outdoor or in private homes.


Continue reading…


03.03.2023 – Exiled church supported by Texas churches

More than 60 members of the exiled Mayflower Church received tremendous support from churches in Texas. The members of the Christian house church from Shenzhen have been adopted by the East Texas churches, but 10 more families still need resettlement sponsors.

Deana Brown, founder and CEO of Freedom Seekers International (FSI), partnered with Bob Fu and ChinaAid to resettle these Christians who fear repatriation back to China.

The “Mayflower Church” was established in 2012 as Shenzhen Holy Reformed. Due to Pastor Pan Yongguang’s ordination in the United States, police interrogated him about his connection to overseas groups.


Continue reading…


Falun Gong

14.03.2023 – Former chef survives ten years of torture in Liaoning Prison

After enduring ten years of torture in Shenyang City First Prison in Liaoning Province for practicing Falun Dafa, Mr. Guo Yanda, in his 60s, said that it was a miracle that he walked out of the prison alive.

Mr. Guo, a former chef in Yingkou City, Liaoning Province, was arrested at home by officers from Dongqiao Police Station on April 18, 2012. His computer and car were confiscated.

Mr. Guo appeared in Zhanqian District Court on February 1, 2013. His lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him, yet the judge still sentenced him to ten years. He appealed with the Yingkou City Intermediate Court, which ruled to uphold his original verdict.

Continue reading…

10.03.2023 – Falun Gong’s report on persecution in 2022: 172 killed, 633 sentenced

Just as The Church of Almighty God does, Falun Gong also publishes an annual report on the persecution it is subject to in China. The 2023 report, covering the year 2022, has now been released.

It claims that 172 Falun Gong practitioners died in 2022 as a result of the persecution, bringing the total to 4,984 (or more, as the Falun Gong organization abroad believes the data it collects from China are incomplete) since the crackdown started in 1999.

Those who died in 2022 include “one 88-year-old woman in Heilongjiang [who] died hours after she was arrested. A 70-year-old man died the day after his arrest. Two practitioners, including an 83-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman, died shortly after being given toxic drugs while in custody…

Continue reading…


08.03.2023 – Chongqing man dies in custody, four months after being arrested for practicing Falun Gong

A 74-year-old man died four months after he was arrested for his faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Lai Yuanchang, of Chongqing, was reported in 2020 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. Although he escaped from being arrested, he was forced to live away from home to hide from the police. Unable to find Mr. Lai, the police frequently harassed his daughter.

On September 7, 2022, one month before the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Congress, a group of officers from the Degan Town Police Station descended at the home of Mr. Lai’s daughter. They smashed the door, broke in, and arrested Mr. Lai.

Continue reading…


06.03.2023 – Beaten and deceived by the police, Jilin Woman faces trial for her faith in Falun Gong

A Jilin City, Jilin Province resident was beaten and interrogated after being arrested for her faith in Falun Gong. The police also deceived her into going to the Procuratorate to sign her case documents. She is now facing trial after the prosecutor indicted her and moved her case to the court.

Ms. Wang Chunling, 45, was arrested on January 3, 2022, after being reported for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. When she refused to get into the police car, an officer kicked her and forced her into the vehicle.

Continue reading…


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CHINA: Religious persecutions and issues. Bimonthly news digest

CHINA: Religious persecutions and issues. Bimonthly news digest (16-31.12.2022)



19.12.2022 – Technological authoritarianism: USCIRF examines Chines religious freedom

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) conducted a virtual hearing regarding China’s violations of religious freedom. Commissioners invited Bob Fu, Founder and President of ChinaAid, to speak about the exiled Mayflower Church and how Chinese authorities extend their technological authoritarianism.


Other guests and panelists included other experts like Yaqiu Wang, Senior China Researcher for Human Rights Watch; Buhchung K. Tsering, Interim President of International Campaign for Tibet; Louisa Greve, Director of Global Advocacy for Uyghur Human Rights Project; and Zack Smith, Legal Fellow from the Heritage Foundation. USCIRF provided the following summary regarding the virtual hearing:

Continue reading…



30.12.2022 – Tibetan writer held by China for ‘discussing’ Dalai Lama

A prominent Tibetan writer who disappeared last year in Chinese custody was arrested for taking part in politically sensitive discussions about Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Radio Free Asia has learned.

Rongwo Gangkar, author of such popular works as The Knot and An Interview With Gendun Choephel, a collaboration with other writers, was taken into custody in western China’s Qinghai province more than a year ago, a source living in the region said.

“He was arrested by the Chinese government for initiating a discussion about the Dalai Lama at a gathering,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “He was talking about how his Holiness’s birthday and other important events related to the Dalai Lama should be celebrated.”

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26.12.2022 – Chinese attack a “Lonely Uyghur” demonstration in Amsterdam, police investigates

On December 18, I spoke with the Dutch police on the phone about an incident that happened last month. The police officers said they are on the case and will call me for an interview soon.

What happened, exactly? My protests finally attracted the attention of the Chinese, and a reaction followed.

On November 24, 44 Uyghurs died due to a fire breakout in Urumqi, East Turkistan (Ch. Xinjiang), while China was in a harsh Zero-COVID mode. China had imposed a strict lockdown in the region and residents had been prevented from getting out of their houses for over a hundred days.

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27.12.2022 – Pastor Hao Zhiwei: 8-year prison sentence confirmed on appeal

This month, the appeal against the decision sentencing Pastor Hao Zhiwei to eight years in jail for “fraud” was dismissed. The first-degree decision, rendered by the Echeng District Court of the prefecture-level city of Ezhou, Hubei Province, on February 11, 2022, was one of the first based on the legal theory that, if a religious community is not part of one of the five authorized religions, it is a “false” religious organization and those who receive donations on its behalf commit the crime of fraud.

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23.12.2022 – Golden Lampstand Church: 16 months without trial

On December 23, Gold Lampstand Church disclosed that 12 Christians of the church, including Pastor Wang Xiaoguang and Minister Yang Rongli, were arrested on suspicion of “fraud” over 16 months ago without trial.

On August 7, 2021, public security arrested 12 Christians of Gold Lampstand Church in Linfen city and gave them 15-day detentions. 15 days later, police continued to criminally detain them on suspicion of “fraud” because of the tithe and offerings the church received. The case was transferred to the court in March 2022. Nine months passed, and the trial is not scheduled.

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23.12.2022 – Mother of four released from prison

Wang Liqin, the wife of renowned Chinese poet Wang Zang, returned home 10 days ago after serving her sentence. She seems to be in good health.

Chengdu lawyer Lu Siwei lost his lawyer’s license during his time as Wang Zang’s defense lawyer. Lawyer Lu, who is familiar with the family’s situation, confirmed the news that Wang Liqin returned home after serving her sentence. Lu Siwei expressed: “Wang Liqin returned home. We just had a phone call. She is in good condition. Because she doesn’t have a cellphone, it’s inconvenient to contact her. I’ll let everyone know when she has one.”

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21.12.2022 – Trial of Zhao Weikai ends without public verdict

On December 15, Shanxi Province Lvliang Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held the trial of Zhao Weikai, a coworker of Zion Reformed. He stood accused of “illegally possessing terrorism and extremism items.” The presiding judge interrupted Zhao’s testimony on the pretext that it was “not related” to the evidence in the case. Li Xin, Zhao Weikai’s wife, disclosed that seven strangers attended the trial and her husband looked well.

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16.12.2022 – Chinese Christians compelled to honor deceased CCP leader Jiang Zemin

Jiang Zemin, who was the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1989 to 2002, and the President of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, died on November 30, 2022.

He was greatly honored by Xi Jinping and the CCP, which is of course not surprising. More surprising is that the government-controlled Three-Self Church, the only legal Protestant body in the country, called all Christians to remember and commemorate him. On December 6, national leaders of the Three-Self Church gathered in Shanghai to watch together the Memorial Conference for Jiang Zemin. Instructions to do the same were sent to all churches nationwide.

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16.12.2022 – Fleeing persecution in China: Christian Congregation takes refuge in Thailand, hopes for asylum in the US

Three years ago, 62 members of the China’s Shenzhen Reformed Holy Church, also known as the Mayflower Church, fled to South Korea to escape persecution from the Communist government. They requested political asylum in South Korea, but were denied.

The church is now in Thailand, where members hope to gain refugee status, and eventually resettle in the United States. Until then, they face many challenges, including possible arrest by Thailand immigration police and being sent back to China.

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Falun Gong

25.12.2022 – Police Officer held in brainwashing center and forced to retire due to his faith in Falun Gong

A police officer was held in a brainwashing center for three months. After he was released, he was forced to retire early and placed under strict surveillance, all because of his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Yan Ji, an Anlu City, Hubei Province, resident in his 50s, was arrested at work on May 24, 2022. Agents from the 610 Office and Domestic Security Office first said that they needed to talk to him. But before he could respond, they pushed him outside and into the police car.

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23.12.2022 – Heilongjiang Woman convicted for helping a blind person read Falun Gong books

A Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province resident was sentenced to ten months in late November 2022 for helping a local blind resident read the teachings of Falun Gong.

Ms. Qin, 59, used to suffer from severe heart conditions before taking up Falun Gong. Thanks to the practice, she didn’t only regain her health but also became a more considerate person. She often volunteered to clean the hallway in her apartment building and never sought anything in return.

After the communist regime ordered the persecution in 1999, she was repeatedly arrested. While she was in custody, the police slapped her in the face, handcuffed her and forced her to sit in a metal chair for long hours.

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18.12.2022 – Woman invited to appear on Talk Show to expose possible forced organ harvesting from her father in China

“When I saw my father’s body, I could not believe it was real – he was emaciated and covered with bruises. One large area of skin was missing from his face and he had many injuries,” recalled 37-year-old New York resident Ms. Han Yu about her father on the Rick Jensen talk show on December 13.

Ms. Han’s father, Mr. Han Junqing, was a Falun Gong practitioner in Doudian Town of Fangshan District, Beijing. He was arrested in February 2004 for upholding his faith and died three months later, on May 4. The police cremated his body against his family’s will.

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RUSSIA: Religious persecutions and issues – Bimonthly news digest

RUSSIA: Religious persecutions and issues – Bimonthly news digest (16-29.12.2022)

29.12.2022 – In Krasnoyarsk, a father of two young children was sentenced to 6 years in prison for believing in Jehovah God. 

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/12/291532.html

On December 28, 2022, in Krasnoyarsk, Judge of the Oktyabrsky District Court Sergey Gruzdev convicted 38-year-old Jehovah’s Witness Alexander Filatov and sentenced him to 6 years in a penal colony. That is the term requested by the prosecutor for the defendant.

Alexander and his wife Elena have two children. Shortly before the start of the criminal prosecution, the family moved from Krasnoyarsk to Novorossiysk. In July 2021, Konstantin Zhuikov, an investigator with the Investigative Committee for the Oktyabrsky District of Krasnoyarsk, opened a criminal case against Filatov.

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26.12.2022 – Blogger from Armavir found guilty of insulting the religious feelings of Muslims

Sova Center – On December 19, 2022, the Armavir City Court sentenced local game blogger Sergey Orlov to a year in prison under Part 1 of Art. 148 (public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed in order to offend the religious feelings of believers) and Part 1 of Art. 228 of the Criminal Code (illegal acquisition and possession of drugs without the purpose of sale). Earlier, on June 16, 2021, Orlov was sentenced under Part 3 of Art. 158 of the Criminal Code for stealing money from a bank card found by him to one and a half years of imprisonment on probation.

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23.12.2022 – In Vyazemskiy, the Court gave Sergey Kuznetsov a 2 years and 5 months suspended sentence for his peaceful beliefs

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/12/231146.html

On December 22, 2022, Ksenia Ostanina, a judge of the Vyazemskiy District Court of the Khabarovsk Territory, imposed a suspended prison senctence of 2 years and 5 months on 31-year-old Sergey Kuznetsov, with a probationary period of 2 years for participating in the activity of an extremist organization, basically, for his religion.

“I believe that calling me an extremist is a big mistake, as hatred towards people is something alien to Jehovah’s Witnesses because they follow the commandments of Jesus Christ to love people,” the believer stressed , addressing the court in his final statement.

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21.12.2022 – Azerbaijani citizen fined for “illegal” missionary work in Myski

Sova Center – On December 20, 2022, it became known that the Myskovsky City Court of the Kemerovo Region found the citizen of Azerbaijan guilty under Part 5 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (carrying out missionary activity in violation of the requirements of legislation on freedom of conscience, committed by a foreign citizen or stateless person) and imposed a fine of 30 thousand rubles on him.

According to the police, he conducted missionary activities without documents confirming his right to conduct such activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.


20.12.2022 – Refusing to “carry out orders aimed at destruction and utter defeat of living people”

Forum 18 – A Leningrad Region court upheld Pavel Mushumansky’s request to have his mobilisation order cancelled. He had stated in his application for alternative service that based on his Christian beliefs he could not “carry out orders aimed at the destruction and utter defeat of living people”. Once the decision enters legal force, he should be able to return home from his military base. Dmitry Zlakazov, a Protestant whose application for alternative civilian service was rejected, lost his lawsuit against the military authorities. His whereabouts are unclear.

A Russian Protestant who sought to do alternative civilian service has succeeded in having his military mobilisation order declared illegal in court. While his lawyers have welcomed this decision as a “real act of justice”, the situation for conscientious objectors – religious and otherwise – remains murky during Russia’s “partial mobilisation”, which President Vladimir Putin has still not formally ended by decree.

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20.12.2022 – Russia’s spiritual security doctrine as a challenge to European comprehensive security approaches

The Review of faith & international affairs – In  the context of a special symposium in The Review of Faith & International Affairs dedicated to the OSCE Policy Guidance “Freedom of Religion or Belief and Security,” this article offers a comparison of the comprehensive security approach in that document and rival Russian understandings of national and human security. The article draws on Russian legal documents and the analysis of Russian public, church, and academic discourse from 2000 to the present.

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20.12.2022 – Cherkessk: fines for distributing religious literature

Sova center – In December 2022, we became aware of a number of rulings issued by the Circassian City Court of Karachay-Cherkessia under Art. 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (mass distribution of extremist materials) in connection with the distribution of prohibited religious literature.

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19.12.2022 – 4 Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to prison in Russia

Associated press – Officials of the Jehovah’s Witnesses say four Russian members of the religious denomination have been sentenced to prison terms ranging up to seven years.

Russia banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and designated the religion an extremist organization. More than 110 adherents are now in prison in Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in a statement.

He said the latest convictions were handed down in a court in the city of Birobidzhan in Russia’s far East, four years after they were arrested in home raids.

“It’s unthinkable that peaceful Christian men … would be accused of extremist activity and given harsh, lengthy prison sentences usually reserved for violent criminals,” Lopes said.

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19.12.2022 – Rosobrnadzor issued an educational license to the Buddhist Academy

Sova Center – On December 16, 2022, it became known that Rosobrnadzor issued a license to the Aginsky Buddhist Academy of the Trans-Baikal Territory of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia to conduct educational activities.

Graduates of the academy will be awarded a bachelor’s degree in Buddhist sciences and the qualification of a philosopher-theologian, an instructor-researcher of Tibetan medicine or a master of Buddhist tanka painting.

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19.12.2022 – Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in Izhevsk. One of them was placed under house arrest

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/12/191326.html

On December 14, 2022, investigations took place in Izhevsk at two addresses where Jehovah’s Witnesses live. A criminal case has been opened against two believers, Yevgeniy Stefanidin, 33 and Aleksander Votyakov, 49.

Representatives of the Investigative Committee invaded the homes of believers early in the morning. Electronic devices, hard drives, storage media, etc. were confiscated from them.

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15.12.2022 – The Russian Supreme Court did not take the opportunity to uphold justice for innocent believers from Kamchatka

Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/12/151646.html

On December 15, 2022, the Judicial Board for Criminal Cases of the Russian Supreme Court reversed the acquittal verdict against three of Jehovah’s Witnesses and sent their case for a new appeal hearing. The court contradicted the Supreme Court Plenum’s explanations, which stated that worship services do not constitute a crime under Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code.

The case was considered by Supreme Court judges Aleksey Shamov, Vasiliy Zykin, and Sergey Zelenin. About 20 people attended, including media and representatives of diplomatic missions from at least six countries. “We regret that the judges departed from the fundamental position of the Supreme Court,” says Yaroslav Sivulskiy of the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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