In the end, economic interests prevailed over human rights. The genocide amendment to the British Trade Bill, strongly advocated by Lord Alton who had proposed it, foundered, albeit slightly, under the blows of the commercial interests of Her Majesty's Government. Apparently, the "vile money" has triumphed once again. A few minutes before the debate on the Trade Bill, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the UK's decision to join 29 other states in sanctioning Chinese officials for complicity in atrocities against the Uighur population in Xinjiang. To some, however, it appeared to be an attempt, if not an actual signal, to channel the vote on the amendment toward a favorable outcome for the government.
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 — Is life imprisonment an adequate punishment in Pakistan for sending an SMS critical of Prophet Muhammad? No, said last week the Lahore High Court: only the death sentence would do. Sajjad Masih Gill is a 35-year Seventh-day Adventist from the district of Pakpatan, in the province of Punjab. In 2011, he was accused of having sent blasphemous SMS defaming Prophet Muhammad and arrested. The police did not find any evidence in his cell phone that the SMS had in fact been sent, but said it had been able to trace the messages back to his phone number through a cellphone tower. He and his lawyers maintained he had simply been framed as part of a crackdown on the Adventist community.
by Halya Coynash — A Russian-controlled court in Simferopol has placed 42-year-old Ukrainian Taras Kuzio under house arrest following mass armed searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes in occupied Yalta. The occupation regime has slightly varied the charge this time, although Kuzio is facing the same persecution as other believers for practising his faith. The hearing on 12 March at the ‘Kievsky District Court’ took place behind closed doors, and with a lawyer appointed by the ‘investigators’.
by Massimo Introvigne — The decision rendered on March 16, 2021 by the Court of Ghent in Belgium, which states that suggesting that current members of a religious organization do not associate with ex-members who have been disfellowshipped or have left the organization amounts to discrimination and incitement to hatred, is not dangerous for the religious liberty of Jehovah’s Witnesses only. It represents a danger for all religions, not only because of the intrusion into the sphere of autonomy of a religious body (discussed in the second article of this series), but also because the practice of “shunning” so-called “apostate” ex-members (a technical term used by sociologists without any negative implication) is hardly unique to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Speech by CAP LC (Coordination des Associations et des Partiuliers pur la Liberté the Conscience) at the 46th Meeting of the Human Right Council on religious discrimination perpetrated by the German government.
Dear Madame Présidente, In Germany, the State continues to discriminate minority religions by condoning the use of the infamous « sect filters » since decades. German government bodies and officials continue with practices which are far reaching and wide-spread with no professionals in Bavaria able to participate in a government bid, without signing a sect filter.
Speech by CAP LC (Coordination des Associations et des Partiuliers pur la Liberté the Conscience) at the 46th Meeting of the Human Right Council on religious discrimination instigated by a French government body and by the controversial FECRIS.
Mister President, We would like to draw your attention to a part of the debate generated by the fight against terrorism and separatism in France. Civil society is concerned about the direction taken in debates on separatism with regards to individual liberties and religious freedom.
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 Ruth Ingram — The Chinese government is running a concerted campaign to malign, discredit and terrorize Uyghurs who have lost touch with loved ones, in an attempt to claim the moral high ground in its propaganda war on terror. A text message out of the blue from a relative begging them to return, hounding calls from officials, or as in Aziz Isa Elkun’s case, a Chinese news feature with his elderly mother, castigating him for being a bad son, strike terror in the hearts of traumatized exiles, leaving them in a no man’s land of grief and longing.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — Cuban media consistently denounce Islamophobia in the United States and Europe, and claim that Islam is welcome in the island. Indeed, there have been some improvements in recent years, that observers connect with Cuba’s international relations with countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which advocate for the rights of local Muslims. Students from Muslim countries were never harassed for quietly practicing their religion, but the situation was different for Cuban converts. In 2015, a scholar reported that Cuba was home to 10,000 Muslims, of which 3,000 were native Cubans who had found in Islam an alternative to the Marxist atheistic education they had received.
by Tashi Samdup — Tibetans all over the world commemorate the Tibetan Uprising Day on March 10 every year, to remember the 1959 Tibetan uprising against the invasion by the People's Republic of China. From that day, many Tibetans, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, had to find refuge in India. In Dharamshala, India, a government in exile, called Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), was founded on April 28, 1959.
by Leila Adilzhan — It is still cold in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but this did not deter women who have their loved ones detained in Xinjiang from taking to the streets and demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate. On March 8, Women's Day, we pay our respects to the world's women. But these Kazakh mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters got no respect from the CCP. Ethnic Kazakhs continue, together with Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, to be detained in Xinjiang, either in the dreaded transformation through education camps or in prisons.
Time is up. We, the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, call on all companies to urgently end all links to Uyghur forced labour. The government of China is perpetrating mass human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Turkic and Muslim people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region) in Western China. These abuses include mass surveillance, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, political “re-education,” forced sterilisations, and forced labour.
As members of Iraqi civil society and international NGOs, we welcome the apostolic visit by His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq in March 2021. At this critical moment in the country’s history, the visit represents an important opportunity to promote peace and tolerance by bringing together ethno-religious communities and inspiring collective action to prevent further atrocities of the kind that has caused so much suffering for generations.
by Marco Respinti — On Monday, February 22, 2021, the House of Commons of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa voted to support a motion, which formally recognizes as genocide the crimes committed by the Chinese Communist regime against the people of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which its Muslim Uyghur and other Turkic inhabitants call East Turkestan.
by Marco Respinti — On Thursday, February 25, the Dutch parliament passed a non-binding motion defining as “genocide” the crimes happening against Uyghurs in China. The motion had been introduced by Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, of the center-left party Democraten 66, who also separately proposed lobbying the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics away from China.
by Willy Fautré — On 16 February, a trial started against the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (CCJW) at the criminal court of Ghent (East Flanders) on the alleged grounds of discrimination and incitement to hatred with a particular focus on their shunning (ostracization) practice in cases of disfellowshipping (exclusion) and disassociation (voluntary resignation).
by Marco Respinti — On December 17, 2020, Ma Zhiwu, a Falun Gong practitioner from the predominantly Muslim Ningzia Hui Autonomous Region was sentenced by the Guyuan Intermediate Court to 14 years in jail, both under article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, which punishes those active in a banned religious group labeled as xie jiao (“heterodox teaching,” often wrongly translated as “evil cult”), and for allegedly “inciting subversion of the power of the state.”
by Alessandro Amicarelli — In a previous article, I mentioned the exceptional importance of the new book Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), edited by Eileen Barker and James T. Richardson, well-known as two of the most senior scholars of new religious movements internationally. In this article, I would like to focus on another crucial theme discussed in that book, the legal notion of religion, and the role the Church of Scientology had in promoting case law evolution in this field in several countries.