2021 ends with good news for the CAG (Church of Almighty God), the Christian congregation targeted by the Chinese Communist Party. Two important sentences, one by the Supreme Court of Cassation and one by the Court of Rome, established that the members of the CAG are persecuted by the Chinese regime, both at home and abroad, and therefore have the right to asylum in Italy.
From January 18 to 19, 2018, the first large-scale conference on law and human rights was ushered in Florence, Italy. This conference was organized by the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) on the theme of "Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, a Difficult Journey." The conference explored how to effectively protect the right to freedom of belief and religion for immigrants and refugees in Europe by legal means, with the aim to create a social environment where people can live in peace and mutual understanding. Famous human rights experts, religious scholars, jurists and lawyers from European countries including Italy, France, Denmark and England attended the conference and Christians from The Church of Almighty God in Italy were also invited to attend. During the conference, The Church of Almighty God became a focus of attention.
The long hand of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tries, in ways that are as clumsy as they are desperate, to silence any voice of dissent to the single party thought, which is the only true religion allowed in China. In the following article, Professor Massimo Introvigne, director of the online magazine Bitter Winter as well as founder and director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), tells with the irony that the case deserves, of the treatment he has been subjected to by some diligent and clumsy Chinese officials, revealing how a "respected" and feared government like the Chinese one is the source of fake news that threaten the fundamental freedoms of every human being.
by Massimo Introvigne — In China, the popular nickname “Shouters” designates a network of different groups claiming to follow the tradition of Chinese Protestant ministers Watchman Nee (1903–1972) and Witness Lee (1905–1997). There are also followers of these preachers who do not accept the label “Shouters” and claim to be different from those so designated. Shouters are banned as a xie jiao by the CCP since 1983, i.e., even before the official list of xie jiao was compiled in 1995.
by Massimo Introvigne — There is a different administration from last year in Washington DC but the yearly survey of religious liberty produced by the U.S. Department of State in 2021 (covering events of 2020) is as strong as last year’s report, or stronger. Secretary Blinken introduced the report on May 12 by singling out China as a country that “criminalizes religious expression” in general. Blinken did not avoid two politically significant definitions: “crimes against humanity” for how China treats religion, and “genocide” for what is being done to “Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”
by Alessandro Amicarelli — The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is the most persecuted religious movement in China. Persecution generates refugees, and more than 5,000 CAG members have sought asylum in democratic countries. Not all their cases have been already examined by the authorities, but there are hundreds of available decisions making the CAG a unique case for studying the response to religion-based refugee claims filed by members of a single movement in several different countries.
by Wang Yichi — In January 2021, at least 123 members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) were arrested by the police in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Many of them were detained in hotels, and subjected to torture during interrogation. A female CAG member was arrested while in a meeting. During interrogation, the police trampled hard on her toes with their leather shoes, and slapped her on the face with book rolls. To extort information about the church, several police officers subjected her to the tortures of “being seated on a chair,” “doing the splits,” and so on.
By Marco Respinti — Religion is a fundamental feature in determining the culture of a people (for some scholars, the most important). and Tibet is one of those interesting cases in which cultural identity and religion are so intertwined as to make it almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. The Chinese Communist Party knows this all too well, and this is why in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)—the province-level entity of the People’s Republic of China (PRA) which is roughly half of the historic Tibet and not autonomous at all—the endemic warfare against religion (all religions) that characterizes the Chinese regime all over its territory takes the shape of a peculiar political battle against Tibetan Buddhism in all of its forms.
by Marco Respinti — In the last few weeks, things seem to have accelerated and concerns about all the different crimes committed by the Chinese regime are growing across the world. On March 10, 2021, the 117th US Congress in Washington, D.C., acted to confront one of the most heinous deeds ordered by the CCP against its own citizens, i.e. organ harvesting, which targets especially Falun Gong practitioners, but also others, chiefly Uyghurs and other Turkic people in Xinjiang, which its non-Han inhabitants call East Turkestan, and believers of The Church of Almighty God.
by Massimo Introvigne — Imagine if Cheng Quanguo, the CCP Secretary in Xinjiang who is under sanctions in the United States for his crimes against humanity, appeared in the West claiming he is persecuted by the Uyghurs and their friends in the democratic world, and hailing his concentration camps as model practices other countries should imitate. Or, in the 1930s, if Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels had lectured at a conference in Paris introducing themselves as victims of a persecution by the Jews, their American supporters, and the scholars who had written against Nazi anti-Semitism. Comedians who would propose this as a satirical show would be accused of bad taste.
by Alessandro Amicarelli —Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions, edited by Eileen Barker and James T. Richardson (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), is an exceptional book, which will serve as a manual for judges, lawyers, and scholars for years to come. It is not new to describe how minority religions are often discriminated by the laws and their enforcement, but for the first time this volume discusses what is done, or should be done to counter this state of the affairs. Readers of Bitter Winter will find in the book articles from familiar names, from the two well-known editors to Susan Palmer, Peter Zoehrer, Eric Roux.
Today, February 3, 2021, The Church of Almighty God released its 2020 Annual Report on the Chinese Communist Government’s Persecution of The Church of Almighty God, exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s continued assault on religious beliefs under the shadow of COVID-19. In 2020, at least 7,055 Christians from The Church of Almighty God were arrested, 1,098 were sentenced, and 21 were persecuted to death.
The Italian Supreme Court grants the re-examination of the asylum requests of the Church of Almighty God
Since its inception, FOB has supported the rights of refugees by bringing the issue to the attention of the OSCE HDIM, the Week for Religious Freedom at the US Senate and the UN. The awareness-raising activity promoted by FOB and friendly organizations begins to bear the hoped-for results, as reported in the following article by professor Massimo Introvigne published on Bitter Winter web magazine.
On December 10, 2020, we announced an appeal signed by 14 NGOs, including FOB, to the authorities of China, Iran and Russia to release the religious prisoners, at risk of being infected with COVID-19. This appeal was based on HRWF's annual report: “In Prison for Their Faith 2020”. Today we are publishing a brief summary of the HRWF report.
HRWF (10.12.2020) – Fourteen human rights NGOs call upon the authorities of China, Iran and Russia to release religious prisoners under threat of being infected by COVID-19. These are the three countries that have the highest number of believers of all faiths behind bars, according to Human Rights Without Frontiers’ (HRWF) database of FoRB prisoners which documents thousands of individual cases.
By Alessandro Amicarelli — Covid-19 has stopped the world, but it did not stop the persecution of minority groups in several countries. Our organisation, the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) which works with the All Faiths Network, had more work to do denouncing abuses and reporting the perpetrators to protect the victims, whilst keeping on advocating the protection of freedom of religion and belief for everyone.
Our federated CAP LC organised an event to be held on March 4, 2020, as a sideline of the Human Rights Council, a conference on Human Rights in the People’s Republic of China. On March 3, the HRC Secretariat announced that all side-events were canceled due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite the cancellation, conference speakers met at the United Nations to make their voices heard on human rights concerns in the People’s Republic of China.
by Silvio Calzolari — Disasters and calamities seem to be the most overwhelming evidence of the precariousness of the human condition, of the fragility of societies and of any cultural construction. A calamity is a situation of extreme criticality that occurs when a potentially destructive and dangerous agent strikes a population that is caught in a situation of great vulnerability. Disasters and calamities cause a sense of insecurity and terror. But how do we react to external and sometimes invisible factors, as in the case of epidemics that can suddenly strike everything that seems to guarantee our protection and security (family, home, society)?
As representatives of NGOs, religious organizations, and citizens concerned about freedom of religion and belief and the dignity of every human being, we call the attention of the political authorities on the dramatic situation of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in China. The CAG is a Chinese Christian religious movement, credited by the Chinese authorities with four million members in China. Since its establishment in 1991, it has been systematically persecuted. Irrespective of its theology, we believe that the CAG, as any other religion, has the right to freely profess its faith.