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Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Archive for June, 2007

200 million Christians in 60 countries subject to persecution

Posted by radiofreechina on June 28, 2007

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LONDON, UK (ANS) — The British Secret Service, MI6, has published an alarming report in the Sunday Express magazine revealing that some 200 million Christians in 60 countries around the world are at risk of suffering persecution, according to a report carried by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) — http://www.catholicnewsagency.com.

The report reveals that in the Sudan, for example, “thousands of Christians have been massacred and the fundamentalist government has done little to protect them.” In Iraq, “the situation is grave: Christians do not have their own militia to defend them, and Sunni and Shiite factions accuse them of collaborating with the American ‘crusaders’ and among the hundreds of victims of kidnappings this year there are a growing number of Christians.”

“The study also reveals that during the last year, at least seventy Christians were killed in Pakistan. In Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Christians who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church are often looked down upon: in these three republics of the former Soviet Union, Muslim preachers, ‘under the influence of Al Qaeda,’ present Christians as followers of a religion closely associated with the despised Western colonialism and they call for their expulsion,” the report states.

The CAN story concluded by saying, “North Korea, China, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda are other countries where Christians are persecuted. North Korea has sent some 50 thousand Christians to concentration camps, while in China some 40 thousand have suffered the same fate. The report also notes the increasing difficulties facing Palestinian Christians due to the progressive radicalization of the Islamic masses in the Middle East.”

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Another Christian tortured to death in Vietnam

Posted by radiofreechina on June 27, 2007

VIETNAM: ETHNIC CHRISTIAN DIES FROM TORTURE INJURIES
Cause of death confirmed as Vietnamese president faces human rights criticisms in U.S.

HO CHI MINH CITY, June 26 (Compass Direct News) – A young Hroi ethnic minority man who refused to recant his Christian faith died from injuries received while under official interrogation, Compass confirmed as Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet met with U.S. officials. Triet met with President Bush in Washington, D.C. on Friday (June 22) amid some protests over Vietnam’s human rights violations.

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8 house church leaders detained in Shandong and Shaanxi Provinces

Posted by radiofreechina on June 27, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — Eight house church leaders have been detained in the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Shaanxi during June 2007.

China Aid Association (www.chinaaid.org) says that according to reliable sources from both church leaders and the relatives of the detainees, at 10:30am, June 9, 2007, 12 church leaders were arrested while they were distributing Bibles in a market place in Jiaocheng county, Shaanxi province. Four of them were released at the same day while the rest of them were transferred to Jiaocheng Detention center at 4am on June 10.
On June 15, 6 more church leaders were released from their detention center without any legal paper or explanation from the PSB. The other two detained pastors, pastor Zhou Jieming and pastor Niu Wenbin were accused as “suspects of using evil cult to obtruct of the enforcement of the law” and put in criminal detention.

Their houses were searched without showing search warrants on June 10 and 12 respectively. Eyewitness reports to CAA that many bibles and other Christian literatures were confiscated. The PSB officers told the family members of the detained pastors that “any religious activities without permission from the government Religious Affairs Bureau is regarded as evil cult activities.” Church leaders fear that these two detained pastors could face up to three years re-education through labor sentence.

Meanwhile, since June 15, 2007, six house church leaders in Shandong province have been detained. Church sources told CAA that at 4pm on June 15, while having a house church worship service at Zhangba village, Wulou town, Cao county, six house church leaders were taken away by the PSB of Cao county.

Among them, pastor Zhang Gaiming(43-year-old) and pastor Sun Qingwen(43-year-old) were from Shangqiu county, Shandong province while the other four pastors inculding Ms. Peng Yufeng(42-year-old) and pastor Zhao Yongsheng(50-year-old) are local house church pastors. The names of the other two detainees were not available. All of the six are detained in Cao County Detention center. They are threatened with being sent to re-education through labor camp if they refused to pay 10,000yuan($1500).

CAA appeals to the Chinese authorities to unconditionally release these 8 innocent house church leaders.

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Crackdown on Protestant Christians continues in Uzbekistan

Posted by radiofreechina on June 27, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (ANS) — A Tajik citizen who has lived in Uzbekistan for more than 10 years was deported back to Tajikistan on about June 19, local Protestants — who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals — told a western news service.

Members of her Pentecostal church in the capital Tashkent insist that Sayora (who preferred that her last name not be published) was deported in retaliation for her involvement in the congregation. She was held in jail for 22 days, after being among a group of Pentecostals arrested after meeting in a church member’s home. Another of those arrested, a man named Zainiddin (who also preferred that his last name not be published), was held for five days, then threatened and intimidated by neighbors and the police into moving out of his local mahalla (urban district).
Protestants in Uzbekistan pointed out to Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org) that Zainiddin’s case is the second in the past few months where a Protestant family has been forced to leave their home after threats, intimidation and pressure. A pastor’s daughter was kidnapped in April before being freed in a traumatized state, while the family was subjected to threats, beatings, allegedly inspired by the mullahs at the local mosque. The family was apparently targeted because the pastor is a convert to Christianity who actively shares his faith.

Sayora’s deportation is the latest in a series of deportations of foreign citizens involved in religious activity. The victims thus far have been Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants, a typical example being Ivan Bychkov, a Russian Baptist deported on August 11, 2006.

No official at the government’s Committee for Religious Affairs in Tashkent was prepared even to talk to Forum 18. Reached on June 26, an official who would not give his name said the chairman Artyk Yusupov was not in the office and put the phone down. The phone then went unanswered when Forum 18 called back, as did the phones of other Committee officials.

Sayora and Zainiddin were among 13 members of a Pentecostal congregation in Tashkent held when visiting an elderly church member in her home in the city’s Mirzo-Ulugbek district in late May. The National Security Service (NSS) secret police raided the home, filmed those present, threatened them and took them to the local police station for interrogation. Eight church members were subsequently tried at Mirzo-Ulugbek District Criminal Court under the Code of Administrative Offences. Three men were given sentences of five days’ administrative arrest at the prison on Panelnaya Street, while five more were each fined 62,100 Sums (296 Norwegian Kroner, 37 Euros or 49 US Dollars).

Although the three men were freed after five days, Sayora was kept in prison for 22 days until her deportation. She had lived in Uzbekistan for more than a decade and had tried in vain to get Uzbek citizenship. “I believe she was deported because she is a Christian,” one of her friends told Forum 18.

Another of those detained when police raided the private home was Zainiddin, who is in his fifties. He was freed after five days but was then subjected to huge pressure to leave his urban district. “Zainiddin was threatened and pressured in prison to renounce his faith,” one colleague told Forum 18 from Tashkent. “While he was in prison, officials in uniform visited his mahalla [urban district] and informed the neighbors. Then when he came out of prison he met a storm of dissatisfaction and hostility from neighbors, his parents and the local policeman. The local policeman ordered him to clear out of the mahalla by 1 July.” Religious communities often face repression organized at the mahalla level.

As well as facing pressure from officials, including the NSS secret police, and his family, Zainiddin also faced threats from local residents his colleague described as “Muslim fanatics.” Zainiddin was warned not to attend church, otherwise his and his family’s throats would be cut. After being seen attending church again despite the warnings, Zainiddin was again beaten. “His wife is bearing up, but she often breaks down in tears.” The youngest of their three children still lives with them. Later in June, the family was forced to move to another part of Tashkent.

Meanwhile, members of the registered Full Gospel congregation in Yangiyul, near Tashkent, have failed to persuade the Prosecutor’s Office to open a criminal investigation into the actions of police officers who raided their Sunday worship service on May 13, Protestant sources told Forum 18. The Yangiyul town Prosecutor, Abdugany Naibiev, rejected the attempt, writing on June 13 that that there was, as he put it, “the absence in the actions of the police representatives of the substance of a crime.”

Church members complain that the raid, conducted by six police officers and led by S. Norov of the Anti-Terrorist Department, was “illegal.” They say they were filmed without their permission and that the police officers swore at them and threatened them with violence. They add that the church’s pastor, Vyacheslav Bely, was threatened with criminal charges as, the police claimed, the church was involved in “preparing terrorists.” In the wake of the raid, church members made written complaints to various government agencies.

An official of the Yangiyul Prosecutor’s Office told Forum 18 on June 26 that Naibiev was no longer in the office, but said Furhat Azhizov had been handling the case. However, Azhizov’s assistant, who would not give his name, said he had no information. “I know there was a complaint, but I don’t have the details,” he told Forum 18. Asked why a group of religious believers was raided during a service, the assistant declined to respond. “I don’t have the right to give information by telephone.”

Protestants also remain under pressure in the Karakalpakstan [Qoraqalpoghiston] autonomous republic in north-western Uzbekistan, where all non-Muslim and non-Russian Orthodox religious activity is banned. The trial began on June 11 in Nukus, the region’s capital, of Zlikha Ordobayeva, Protestant sources have told Forum 18. She was accused of “illegally teaching religion” after police raided a gathering of Protestants at a private home in Nukus at Easter. (The same charge was earlier made against Pentecostal Christian Salavat Serikbayev). The prosecutor has demanded a fine of 50,000 Sums (235 Norwegian Kroner, 29 Euros or 40 US Dollars).

As Ordobayeva was in bed and too ill to come to court, the judges decided to hold the hearing in her home. Four court officials arrived to hold the first hearing. “She was on trial for teaching religion although she is illiterate,” one source told Forum 18. “She can hardly string more than a few words together. The judge could see that but stated that he would follow the decision the Prosecutor’s Office has already taken. The local
policeman testified that she was teaching when they raided the gathering.”

On June 15 the court gave Ordobayeva an official verbal warning. The trials of a number of other local Protestants held after the same raid are due to continue.

Protestant Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the religious communities that have faced the brunt of official pressure so far in 2007.Their congregations across Uzbekistan have been raided, and individual believers have been beaten, threatened, fined and imprisoned.

The most severe sentences so far imposed in 2007 have been: four years in a labor camp for Pentecostal pastor Dmitry Shestakov; two years in a labour camp for Jehovah’s Witness Irfon Hamidov; two years corrective labour for Jehovah’s Witness Dilafruz Arziyeva; and one year corrective labour, with a fine of 20 per cent of his salary, for Pentecostal Christian Salavat Serikbayev.

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Prisoners Beat Blind Chinese Activist Exposing Forced Abortion in China

Posted by radiofreechina on June 22, 2007

By Peter J. Smith

BEIJING, June 22, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Prisoners severely beat and kicked a blind human rights activist who exposed coerced sterilizations and abortions by local officials.

Amnesty International reports that Chen Guangcheng was beaten by six fellow inmates at the behest of his jailers for insisting on his right to appeal his sentence and refusing to have his head shaved. Chen was sentenced in August 2006 to four years in prison for farcical charges of damaging property and disrupting traffic. (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06082403.html)

Chen’s run-in with the government began after he filed an unprecedented class-action lawsuit against Linyi City health officials. The suit attacked officials for their inhuman treatment of women and their unborn children in the Shangdong province in what Chen viewed as violations in enforcing the “one-child-policy.” Although Beijing’s official policy now prohibits forced sterilizations and abortions, local government officials continue to apply the brutal methods to fulfill population control quotas mandated by Beijing.

While attempting to deliver the lawsuit in Beijing, the blind activist was seized by police and forcibly returned to Linyi City. There he was placed under house arrest until being sentenced to prison after highly irregular court proceedings last August. (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06082403.html)

“He has since begun a hunger strike in protest, refusing water as well as food,” Amnesty said and warned that Chen faces further violence and torture. The organization praised Chen calling him a “prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for his peaceful defense of human rights.”

“The Chinese authorities must stop the persecution of people who stand up for human rights; as the Olympic Games draw closer, the world will be watching to see whether human rights promises have been honoured. At present they have not.”

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Blind Chinese Anti-Forced Abortion Activist Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06082403.html

Infanticide, Forced Abortions and Sterilizations in China’s Linyi Province
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091605.html

US Condemns Beijing for Farcical Trial of Blind Activist Who Exposed Forced Abortion
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06082505.html

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Media Ignores President’s Commemoration of the Deaths of 100 Million Victims to Communism

Posted by radiofreechina on June 14, 2007

By Elizabeth O’Brien

WASHINGTON, DC, 14 June 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Tuesday President Bush condemned the past and present evils of communism during the official commemoration of a new memorial. Shaped like a woman holding a flame, the statue was dedicated in honor of over 100 million people who died within just one century as the result of communism.

During his commemoration speech, the president said that the number of victims sacrificed to this ideology is “staggering”. Communism has swept through many nations, including China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cambodia, Africa, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Eastern Europe.

Bush commented, “Some of Communism’s victims are well-known. They include a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg, who saved 100,000 Jews from the Nazis, only to be arrested on Stalin’s orders and sent to Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison, where he disappeared without a trace. They include a Polish priest named Father Popieluszko, who made his Warsaw church a sanctuary for the Solidarity underground, and was kidnapped, and beaten, and drowned in the Vitsula by the secret police”

Addressing a crowd that included ambassadors, diplomats and many who had suffered under communist rule, Bush compared communists to the radical terrorists of September 11, 2001. He also pointed out that the battle for the life of innocent people still continues today.

Bush said that “We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to future generations to record the crimes of the 20th century and ensure they’re never repeated. In this hallowed place we recall the great lessons of the Cold War: that freedom is precious and cannot be taken for granted; that evil is real and must be confronted; and that given the chance, men commanded by harsh and hateful ideologies will commit unspeakable crimes and take the lives of millions.”

Following a burst of applause, the president also stated, “By remaining steadfast in freedom’s cause, we will ensure that a future American President does not have to stand in a place like this and dedicate a memorial to the millions killed by the radicals and extremists of the 21st century.”

During his concluding remarks, the president explained that the new memorial is a symbol of hope and freedom. “Just like our Statue of Liberty,” he said, “She reminds us that the flame for freedom burns in every human heart, and that it is a light that cannot be extinguished by the brutality of terrorists or tyrants.”

“And she reminds us that when an ideology kills tens of millions of people, and still ends up being vanquished, it is contending with a power greater than death. She reminds us that freedom is the gift of our Creator, freedom is the birthright of all humanity, and in the end, freedom will prevail.”

The Soviet Union was the first country to become communist as well as the first to legalize abortion in 1920, under Vladimir Lenin. Abortion has been widely encouraged as a means of women’s “liberation’ within communist and former-communist countries. In 2003, for example, 170,000 babies were aborted in Russia within 9 months, and 8000 more were killed than actually born. In 1990, only one baby was born for every three abortions. Russia has one of the highest abortion rates in the world with an estimated 60% of pregnancies ending in abortion. (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2002/oct/02102206.html)

Within communist China, the one-child policy pressures women into having abortions. One report stated that in the eastern Shandong province, over 120,000 women received abortions or sterilization within a few months.
(see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102602.html)

According to Michael Chapman of NewsBusters Media Research Center, American newspapers remained initially silent about reporting the memorial commemoration. Despite the fact that the President was commemorating the deaths of multiple millions and expressing his hopes that no president should mourn the deaths of any other innocents in future, only a few papers mentioned the fact, and even then only in their later pages.

Today, however, the media gave widespread coverage of the Chinese government’s outrage that was sparked by Bush’s condemnation of communism. The Bangkok Post quotes foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang: “Some political forces in the United States still use Cold War thinking and aim to provoke conflicts between different ideologies and social systems.”

“We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the statements and actions of the US side…The United States should stop interfering in the internal affairs of other nations.”

The US memorial is the exact same figure, says the Bangkok Post, as the “Goddess of Democracy”, that was constructed and brought into Tiananmen Square, Beijing, by thousands of protestors in 1989. Countless students participated, and hundreds of them died during the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4 when Communist government tanks rolled over people in the square. Despite the fact that China is still communist, the protest remains one of the most significant public stands for freedom and democracy.

See Related Coverage:

Forced Abortion Still a Reality in China
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/may/05052706.html

Six Out of 10 Pregnancies End in Abortion in Russia
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2002/oct/02102206.html

Russian Abortion Killing and Sterilizing Millions
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/apr/05041209.html

Abortion Encouraged in Ukraine as Unborn Babies Used for Russian Beauty Treatments
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/may/05052411.html

Read Bush’s Memorial Address
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/06/20070612-2.html#

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Husband and Wife Victims of China Forced Abortion Permitted to Seek Asylum in US: Federal Appeals Court

Posted by radiofreechina on June 8, 2007

By John Jalsevac

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 7, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A man and his wife are permitted to seek asylum after the woman underwent a forced abortion in China, the San Francisco based 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court decided on Wednesday.

Zi Zhi Tang (“Tang”) and his wife Li Zhen Tang (“Li Zhen”) were previously refused asylum by an Immigration Judge after the judge determined that the couple had not sufficiently proved that the abortion that Li Zhen underwent was truly “forced.”

The Federal Appeals Court, however, overturned the Immigration Judge’s decision, determining that Li Zhen had undergone a “forced” abortion and that this permitted both her and her husband to seek asylum.

The court used as the basis of its decision the precedent, previously established, of granting asylum to those who had undergone forced sterilizations, saying that “a forced abortion is sufficiently like a forced sterilization that it ‘likely result[s] in statutory entitlement to asylum eligibility and withholding of removal.”

According to court documents, the couple, living in China at the time, discovered that Li Zhen was pregnant in 1980. However, because the couple was under the legal age for marriage, the book-keeping company for which Li Zhen worked ordered her to undergo an abortion immediately. The following day Li Zhen was taken to the Fun Tsang Company’s women’s clinic. Her husband testified that his wife “cried and screamed but it didn’t help.”

“They just abort the baby without anesthesia and I can hear my wife screaming,” he said.

In 1991, however, Tang, who was a carpenter, was sent to the U.S. territory of Guam. Tang and his wife overstayed Tang’s work visa, at which point Tang requested asylum, on the basis of China’s forced abortion policy, and the abortion that his wife had undergone. Tang’s request was denied after the Immigration Judge determined that Tang and his wife had not taken sufficient measures to avoid the abortion for it to be deemed “forced”.

The Appeals Court, however, determined that “the events, as described by Tang, are more than enough to establish that Li Zhen was ‘forced to abort [her] pregnancy,’” pointing out, amongst other pieces of evidence, that “the abortion was performed without anesthesia, a particularly barbaric exertion of authority.”

“A woman who has had a forced abortion has experienced unwanted governmental interference into one of the most fundamental and personal of decisions: whether she will have a child. The effects of that intrusion last a lifetime,” wrote Judge William Fletcher in the Court’s official decision. “In addition, the governmental infringement on a woman’s bodily integrity during a forced abortion results in, as one Congressman described it, ‘one of the most gruesome human rights violations in the history of the world.’”

Earlier this year, thousand of Chinese peasants rose in revolt against China’s one-child policy. Despite a radically disparate ratio women to men in China, however, with girls being routinely aborted in favor of boys, and despite international condemnation of the inhuman policy, Chinese officials have expressed their intention to keep the policy in place.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Thousands of Chinese Peasants Riot over Brutal Birth Control Campaign
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/may/07052202.html

Husband of Chinese Forced Abortion Victim Cannot be Refused US Asylum
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/mar/04031607.html

U.S. Court Grants Asylum to Chinese Couple Threatened with Forced Abortion
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/jan/04013003.html

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Beijing House Church activist Hua Huiqi secretly sentenced to 6 months imprisonment

Posted by radiofreechina on June 7, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

BEIJING, CHINA / MIDLAND. TEXAS (ANS) — Beijing house church activist Hua Huiqi was secretly sentenced to 6 months in prison on June 4, 2007. Neither his wife nor his lawyer Mr. Li Dunying were allowed to attend the court trial which lasted about 2 hours from 1:30pm to 3:30pm at Chayang District People’s Court.

According to China Aid Association (CAA), Hua was formally arrested by Beijing Public Security Bureau Chaoyang Branch on February 8, 2007 with the approval of Chaoyang District Prosecutor on the charge of obstruction of justice. Hua’s wife received the official notice from the police on February 10, 2007.

CAA says Hua had been under criminal detention on the charge of intervening public affairs since January 26. He and his mother were beaten by police from Chaoyang Police Branch, The police even poured 20 degree temperature cold water over him.
Hua’s mother, 76-year-old Ms. Shuang Shuying, was formally arrested on February 9, 2007 on the charge of willfully damaging public and private property. Shuang Shuying was sentenced to two years by Beijing Chongwen District People’s Court on February 26, 2007 on the charge of willfully damaging public and private property.

Hua, who is an active house church Christian in Beijing, is expected to be released next month. He has been passionately serving the ministry and assisting many persecuted Christians and oppressed peasants.

“Though the sentence is shorter than anticipated, yet this is not a fair trial,” said Bob Fu who is a former coworker of Hua. “We urge the Chinese government to release both Mr. Hua and his mother in the spirit of 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

Concerned Christians may address their letter of concern to:
Premier Wen Jiabao, PRC
PO Box 1741, The State Council, Beijing, PRC (zip code 100017)
Contact Phone:10-66012399
Ms. Wu Aiying, minister of Ministry of Justice of PRC
Tel:10-65205114
Fax:10-64729863
Address:No. 10, Nan Da Jie, Chaoyangmen, Beijing City (Zip Code: 100020)

——————————————————————————–

For further information, contact:

Bob Fu
China Aid Association, Inc.
info@ChinaAid.org
(267) 205-5210

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Annual Tiananmen massacre vigil in Hong Kong

Posted by radiofreechina on June 4, 2007

Thousands expected at Hong Kong Tiananmen vigil (AFP via Yahoo News)

HONG KONG (AFP) – Tens of thousands were expected Monday at Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigil to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the only such commemoration on Chinese soil.

Tiananmen tank man

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