CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne
On February 23, 2020, CESNUR launched a letter denouncing the persecution of members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in China and asking democratic countries to welcome CAG refugees seeking asylum abroad. The outbreak of the coronavirus makes granting asylum to refugees even more urgent, as in the chaotic situation prevailing in China members of banned religious minorities “disappear” even more easily, or are taken to crowded jails and detention camps where the virus spread rapidly.
The text of the letter follows. You may sign it, specifying whether you do this as an individual or on behalf of an organization, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
End The Persecution of The Church of Almighty God Now!
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, which believes that Jesus Christ has returned to Earth in the shape of a Chinese woman currently living abroad. Irrespective of its theology, we believe that the CAG, as any other religion, has the right to freely profess its faith.
According to a report released by the CAG on January 31, 2020 and available at the address, 6,132 CAG members have been arrested in China in 2019. 3,824 suffered various forms of torture or forced indoctrination, and 19 died as a result of the persecution. Overall, more than 30,000 CAG members were subject to various forms of persecution and harassment during the year 2019. Thousands were compelled to sign statements renouncing their faith, others had their personal assets confiscated or lost their jobs or their homes.
As it happens for many other religions, the persecution under Xi Jinping is getting worse every year. The report discloses horrific details about torture and extra-judicial killings in China, and harassment of CAG refugees in foreign countries by Chinese agents, including South Korea, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
There are now more than 5,000 CAG refugees overseas. Happily, more requests for asylum have been granted in 2019 than in previous years. But in some countries CAG asylum applications are still rejected, due to pressure and fake news spread by Chinese agencies, and a local political climate hostile to refugees. CAG members who are compelled to return to China are immediately arrested and sentenced to heavy jail terms, or ‘disappear’ into the deep Chinese concentration camp system, never to reappear.
We call on all democratic countries to generously welcome CAG refugees, and to publicly denounce the persecution of CAG, and of all religions, in Xi Jinping’s China.
Bitter Winter, a daily magazine on human rights and religious freedom in China
CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions)
ORLIR (International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees)
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