Religious Freedom

Duo spent 17 hours in police custody despite cultural mission

Taiwan News 
Date: 2018/02/22
By: Matthew Strong, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A writer for the New York Times and his French photographer were detained by Chinese police for 17 hours after their visit to a Tibetan temple over the Lunar New Year.

Tibetan nuns in the Chinese province of Yunnan. (By Associated Press)

Reporter Steven Lee Myers and photographer Gilles Sabrie were visiting the Dzongsar Monastery in Sichuan Province to observe monks rehearsing a dance for the Tibetan New Year, or Losar.

However, a uniformed police officer appeared at the temple and said there were questions to answer, Myers wrote in his piece, which took the place of the originally planned cultural feature.

He described the incident as a “self-inflicted embarrassment” as all he had planned to do was to write about holiday traditions in the region.    [FULL  STORY]

Vatican to move to end standoff and gain authority by recognizing seven excommunicated prelates

The Wall Street Journal
Date: Feb. 1, 2018
By: Francis X. Rocca in Vatican City and
Eva Dou in Beijing

Pope Francis has decided to accept the legitimacy of seven Catholic bishops appointed by the

The choir sings at Christmas Eve Mass at the Xuanwumen Catholic Church in Beijing in December. PHOTO: WU HONG/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Chinese government, a concession that the Holy See hopes will lead Beijing to recognize his authority as head of the Catholic Church in China, according to a person familiar with the plan.

For years, the Vatican didn’t recognize the bishops’ ordinations, which were carried out in defiance of the pope and considered illicit, part of a long-running standoff between the Catholic Church and China’s officially atheist Communist Party.

The pope will lift the excommunications of the seven prelates and recognize them as the leaders of their dioceses, according to the person familiar with the situation. A Vatican spokesman declined to comment.

The decision reflects the Holy See’s desire for better relations with China—where Christianity is growing fast, though mostly in the form of Protestantism—and for an end to the division between the government-controlled church and a larger so-called underground church loyal to Rome. Catholics are estimated to number from 9 million to 12 million, while Protestants run from 40 million in some studies to two or more times that number in the estimates of some missionary groups.    [FULL  STORY]

China is right to worry about the dangers of Islamic extremism in its western provinces, but it must also recognize that this threat is a result of Beijing’s own policies.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/03/07
By: The Japan Times

China has long had an uneasy relationship with the Uighurs, Muslims who constitute a majority

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

of the population in the western province of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has worried about the threat of terrorism emanating from the region and has adopted increasingly repressive policies to counter that danger. The result, predictably enough, has been growing unrest. Beijing is now stepping up activities in the region and beyond its borders to check this threat; an indiscriminate heavy hand will do more harm than good.

China’s Xinjiang province is 45 percent Uighur, a Turkik-speaking Muslim group. While they are one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in China, Uighurs have complained that they have been discriminated against and their native culture denied as an influx of Han Chinese — who now constitute 40 percent of the population — have been brought into the region as part of a stabilization and pacification program. As in Tibet, the authorities claim that they are modernizing a backward part of their country and combating local groups that are terrorists or have terrorist inclinations.    [FULL  STORY]

I want to shout to people: Stop the persecution!

Epoch Times
By Cat Rooney, Epoch Times

SAN FRANCISCO—Two years ago, Sunny Guo, a then 47-year-old Chinese housewife, came

It's Sunny Guo's mission to tell people of the free world about the persecution because it has deeper implications. "This is not just related to us. It is related to everybody, every life in this world,” she said. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)
It’s Sunny Guo’s mission to tell people of the free world about the persecution because it has deeper implications. “This is not just related to us. It is related to everybody, every life in this world,” she said. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

alone to America to start a new life, one free of religious persecution. She was fleeing repeated detention and torture by the Chinese Communist Party in its attempt to break her will so she would give up her faith. Through it all, Guo never wavered in her belief in Falun Gong, a traditional meditation practice.

“For the rest of the world, people know that what you believe is your personal right. But for the Chinese Communist Party, it’s not. They want Chinese people to believe in them, not believe in God,” Guo said.

“I believe in truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. I think it is a wonderful concept for people living in the world. I want to be that kind of person.”

When Guo reflects on the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China who are detained in jails, tortured in many different ways, and even become so-called donors for forced organ harvesting, she thinks, “I can’t sit at home; I can’t enjoy the free world. I want to shout to people, ‘Come on, stop the persecution; stop this for yourself.’”    [FULL  STORY]

The News Lens
Date: 2016/06/16
By: Yuan-ling Liang

Despite ‘guarantees’ in a recent white paper that religious freedoms will be respected, Chinese

Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

authorities are cracking down on Uighurs during Ramadan.

The Chinese government is preventing Uighurs in Xinjiang from practicing religion regardless of the white paper issued ahead of Ramadan, which promised to guarantee their freedom of belief.

To restrict religious activities, the Chinese government has been tightening its policy in Xinjiang, where 60% of people are Muslim and started fasting earlier this month. Besides the detention of residents of the region who encourage religious practices, Muslims have also been forced to eat during Ramadan, a traditional period of fasting for them.

Approximately 20 million people practice Islam across China; half of them live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

On June 2, before the beginning of Ramadan, Chinese officials issued a white paper praising religious freedoms and promised to cause “no stress” on Muslims’ religious practices.

“All citizens’ freedom of belief and religious activities are guaranteed,” the paper said, adding that “No citizens should be discriminated for believing in a certain religion or be forced not to believe in one.”

The paper not only allowed all restaurants to decide their opening hours during Ramadan, but also barred anyone from intervening in the matter.     [FULL  STORY]

BBC News
By: Juliana Liu Hong Kong correspondent, BBC News

China has restricted the use of crosses outside Protestant and Catholic churches in some provinces

China has restricted the use of crosses outside Protestant and Catholic churches in some provinces

Few things frighten Philip Woo, a pastor and missionary based in Hong Kong. The Lutheran has been spreading his faith among underground churches in mainland China for 25 years.

But since 2013, he has also been engaging in a supposedly less risky activity: organising religious training for Chinese church leaders in the former British colony.

For that, he was summoned to the religious affairs bureau of a district in the southern city of Shenzhen on 1 July, the same day that China enacted a sweeping national security law.

“I was surprised to get the call,” says the 63-year-old. “I had been verbally warned before. That was expected. But this is different. I’m now afraid for my safety when I’m in China.”

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