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.
An open letter to the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy
Dear President Sergio Mattarella:
Dear Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte:
Chinese President Xi Jinping is about to start his visit to Italy. We understand that China is an important commercial partner of Italy and trade agreements will be at the center of the meetings. Italy has consistently been a staunch defender of human rights in different contexts, and has repeatedly stated that human rights should be part of all bilateral negotiations.
Annual U.S. Report on Human Rights singles out China as worst violator, denounces torture against Uyghurs, Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God. China reacted in “unusually strong terms” after the U.S. Department of State unveiled on March 13 its yearly report on human rights, covering the year 2018. Introducing the report, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had denounced China as the worst country in the world for human rights. Although other countries were also mentioned, Pompeo insisted that China is “in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations.”
Received from Bitter Winter and HRWF. FOB shares and endorses their efforts and projects to contrast Chinese religioius persection.
The Universal Periodic Review of the state of human rights in China at the United Nations saw several major countries publicly denounce the CCP and a major demonstration in front of the Palais des Nations, with Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, members of The Church of Almighty God, and Bitter Winter, united in exposing the Chinese persecution of all religions.
Heavily persecuted in China, with many documented cases of torture and extra-judicial killings, hundreds of members of The Church of Almighty God have escaped to South Korea, where they are seeking refugee status. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pursuing them also in Korea. It has coerced or persuaded with threats their relatives to go to Korea and askthat the refugees “return home,” i.e. go back to China where they would not go “home” but to jail, and is staging false “spontaneous demonstrations” with the help of local organizations agains the “cults.”
In April, Germany deported back to China an Uyghur asylum seeker who “disappeared” after his repatriation. Now, Germany has apologized for the “mistake,” yet plans to deport on August 31 Sister Zhao of The Church of Almighty God, who will likely “disappear” as well.
German authorities have announced that on August 31 they will forcibly deport to China Sister Zhao, an asylum seeker currently detained in Ingelheim who resisted repatriation on July 9.
The Board of Immigration Appeals granted on August 13 a stay of removal to the leader of The Church of Almighty God in four Chinese provinces, who was to be deported to China after August 15.