Execution by Any Other Name: The Plight of Chen Guangcheng

Tortured and cut off from medical or legal help, Chen Guangcheng is at the mercy of brutal officials of the Chinese Government

Dear Friends,

 

We have been keeping you informed about Chen Guangcheng and the persecution that he has endured for several years. You know that he was a brilliant and virtually self-taught lawyer who made his way into China’s legal system despite being blind. You know that he advocated on behalf of the thousands and thousands of women who have endured forced abortions and sterilizations under China’s one-child policy. You know that for challenging the corrupt and inhumane system in Communist China, Chen was jailed, tortured and denied medical care. You remember how we celebrated when Chen was transferred from prison and placed under house arrest, and we hoped for a time that the Chinese government would grant him full liberty.

However, the Chinese government has put Chen Guangcheng under such severe restrictions that his current imprisonment is no less devastating despite being inside his own home. His house has been literally surrounded by guards who refuse to let Chen or his wife leave to buy food. The guards have entered the house on numerous occasions, stealing records and electronic devices such as computer equipment and cameras. In one of the last such “visits” they even took the toys of Chen’s five year old daughter, leaving her with nothing.

A video in which Chen detailed the inhuman conditions of his imprisonment was released in early February, and in response the officials chose to pursue a course of even greater brutality. In a recent letter, which can be found on the ChinaAid website, Chen’s wife relates:

February 18, 2011, led by the vice secretary of the Communist Party of Shuanghou Town, Zhang Jian and some National Security Policemen, a group of 70-80 guys stormed through my home gate. They beat and tortured my husband Chen Guangcheng and me for more than 2 hours. 

More than 10 men covered me totally with a blanket and kicked my ribs and all over my body. After half an hour’s non-stop torture, I finally squeezed my head out of the blanket. I saw more than 10 men surrounded Chen Guangcheng, torturing him. Some of them twisted his arms forcefully while the others pushing his head down and lifting his collar up tightly. Given his poor health condition of long-time diarrhea, Guangchen was not able to resist and passed out after more than two hours of torture. My left eyebrow bone and one of my bottom left ribs might be broken. My left eye lost vision for 5-6 days because of the bruise, blood in the white of my eye, and swollenness. Even today, I still can not stand with my body straight and I suffer pain when breathing. 

If the government of China continues in its present course Chen Guangcheng will die, and his blood will be on their hands as surely as if they had executed him.
Because this is such a crucial time, we urge you all to take the sample letter below and send it to the Chinese Embassy. For our many global readers please customize the mailing address for the Chinese Embassy in your country. Feel free to modify and personalize the letter as that will increase its impact. Let the Chinese government know that the American people are taking this matter seriously. Finally, pray that the leadership of China would be receptive and that Chen Guangcheng would be able to live out his life in peace.
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Sample Letter

To: President Hu Jintao

c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

3505 International Place, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20008

President Hu Jintao

I am writing this letter to you to to make you aware of the shameful conduct of some of your government’s officials in the matter of Chen Guangcheng. Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught lawyer and a credit to your government’s growing legal system. The work of lawyers and judges independently working for justice is crucial in maintaining any rule of law, and rule of law is essential for political stability.

Chen Guangcheng has always worked for just this end, using the peaceful forms of the legal system to address the abuses of government officials who have overstepped their authority and violated international and Chinese domestic law. It was just such an abuse that Chen Guangcheng confronted in the forced sterilizations being done in the city of Linyi, China.

For this courageous act Chen Guangcheng has been imprisoned and tortured in violation of Chinese law. While in prison he was denied medical treatment, and since his transfer to house arrest he has even been denied food. Government officials have entered his house on numerous occasions and taken items of personal and fiscal value. They have even on at least one occasion tortured him in front of his family, and beaten his wife severely. These violations of Chen Guangcheng’s basic human rights are incompatible with your government’s public statements.

I, along with many others urge you to take action on this case. Take action against the officials who are violating Chinese law, as well as international conventions. Restore Chen Guangcheng’s liberty and allow him to continue his valuable work in the legal system. Realize that if you do not act then you will permit these lower officials to set to policy of the Chinese government. If this state of affairs continues, Chen Guangcheng may very well die as a direct result of the actions of these officials. But because they are acting under the aegis of their government responsibilities their actions implicate the whole Chinese government and you yourself. For these reasons I urge you to take action in this matter.

Sincerely
Your Name Here

 

 

 

RLP Statement on the Middle East & North Africa

On the Calls for Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa
A Statement Issued by the Religious Liberty Partnership May 2011

As members of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), we have closely observed the protests held in many Middle Eastern and North African countries over the past few months. We welcome the widespread calls for greater freedom and strongly endorse these aspirations. We believe that freedom, equality and justice for all are essential for the development and cohesion of societies. We also welcome the response of some governments in lifting emergency laws and enacting constitutional change. However, we note with concern the violence against peaceful protesters at different times and places.
The RLP acknowledges that:

  • There have been high levels of commitment and sacrifice by many in pursuing their desire for greater freedom and improved economic opportunities.
  • There has been cooperation across religious communities to work for justice and equality for all.
  • There can be no true freedom without freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The essence of humanity requires the ability to investigate the origin and meaning of human existence, and to adopt a belief of one’s choosing.
  • The 2004 Arab Charter on Human Rights reaffirms the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which uphold the fundamental nature of freedom of religion.
  • Constitutions and legal systems in many Middle Eastern and North African countries recognise some Christian and other indigenous minority religious communities. However, these communities often continue to face marginalisation, discrimination or persecution.

The RLP calls on governments in Middle Eastern and North African countries to:

  • Ensure that the principles of freedom, equality and justice for all underpin the changes to constitutions, legal frameworks and social structures being made in response to the protests.
  • Ensure that all citizens are granted the full enjoyment of all human rights, including the foundational human right to adopt a religion or belief of their choice. This includes the right to believe or not to believe, and the right to change one’s religion.
  • Ensure that all citizens have the freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, as enunciated in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
  • Ensure equality under the law for all religious groups with respect to recognition, registration and regulation, including the establishment and maintenance of places of worship.
  • Recognise the right to teach, manifest, and disseminate one’s religion or belief. This right must be exercised in a manner that respects the rights of others, refrains from all forms of coercion, inducements or other undue presssure.
  • Ensure that all citizens have the right to take their religious faith into the public sphere to inform public policy debate, recognising that it is a common feature of many faiths that ethical aspects of the faith should impact all aspects of life.
  • Respond promptly to any incident of violence against a religious community or members thereof, ensuring prompt and effective investigation that brings perpetrators to justice, provides protection, and allows victims to obtain due redress.
    Ensure that all citizens are treated equally in every area of public life, including access to economic opportunity, and that education systems actively promote understanding, tolerance and respect for all.

The RLP calls on the international community to:

  • Ensure that religious freedom is emphasised in engagement with Middle Eastern and North African governments, including its fundamental importance for long-term stability and as a bulwark against religious extremism.
  • Ensure that the provision of all humanitarian and security assistance, and support for civil society is undertaken in a manner that supports and endorses religious freedom, and affirms the equality of all citizens.

The RLP calls on the church in the Middle East and North Africa to:

  • Pray for their countries, national leaders and fellow citizens.
  • Stand united to constructively engage in public life, and to work for equality and the promotion of religious freedom for all.

The RLP calls on the worldwide church to:

  • Remember that “injustice somewhere is injustice everywhere” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • Uphold in prayer the church throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Support by all other appropriate means the church as it endeavours to secure equality and
    full civil rights for Christians and other religious communities in the Middle East and North
    Africa.
  • Recognize that the church in many Middle Eastern and North African countries has little
    recent experience of engagement in public life, and therefore to provide encouragement and training in this area.

The RLP commits to:

  • Facilitate informed prayer for the region, its leaders and people, its church and the introduction of freedom, equality and justice for all.
  • Continue raising awareness of the plight of minority religious communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Empower and stand alongside those working for greater freedom, equality and justice for Christians and other religious communities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Members of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP):
(Note: select web sites are listed for prayer resources and additional information; some members have chosen not to be listed.)

•    Advocates International, USA
•    All India Christian Council, INDIA
•    China Aid, USA
•    Christian Solidarity Worldwide, HONG KONG
•    Christian Solidarity Worldwide, NIGERIA
•    Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UNITED KINGDOM
•    Danish European Mission, DENMARK
•    Friends of the Martyred Church, FINLAND
•    HMK, SWITZERLAND
•    HMK – Hilfe für verfolgte Christen, GERMANY
•    International Christian Concern, USA
•    International Institute for Religious Freedom, GERMANY, SOUTH AFRICA, SRI LANKA
•    Jubilee Campaign, USA
•    Law and Liberty Trust, USA
•    Light for the Peoples, SWEDEN
•    Norwegian Mission to the East, NORWAY
•    Middle East Concern, MIDDLE EAST
•    Open Doors International, THE NETHERLANDS
•    Open Doors, UK & IRELAND
•    Open Doors, USA
•    Release International, UNITED KINGDOM
•    Rule of Law Institute, BULGARIA
•    Seoul USA
•    Set My People Free, EGYPT
•    The Voice of the Martyrs, CANADA
•   World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, GLOBAL

The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) is a collaborative effort of Christian organizations from around the world focused on religious liberty. The RLP seeks to more intentionally work together in addressing advocacy, assistance, and in raising the awareness of religious persecution globally. For more information on the Middle East and North Africa Statement or on the Religious Liberty Partnership, please contact: Brian O’Connell, RLP Facilitator, Brian@RLPartnership.org; +1 425-218-4718; www.RLPartnership.org.
RLP Statement on the Middle East and North Africa – May 2011

Religious Liberty Partnership Releases Statement on Pakistan

CHRISTIAN LEADERS CALL UPON UNITED NATIONS TO ASSIGN REFUGEE STATUS TO PAKISTAN’S ENDANGERED CHRISTIAN MINORITY

(HERNDON, Virginia, April 2011)

The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), a coalition religious freedom organizations have joined together to call upon the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to recognize the plight of the endangered Christian population and assign them refugee status. In addition the RLP have also called upon the government of Pakistan to renew its commitment to reforming the country’s notorious blasphemy laws and work towards their abolition.

In a statement issued following the death of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, “The Virginia Statement on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” also called upon Pakistan’s government, ‘to establish a judicial inquiry and public report into the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer.’ Further recommendations include the implementation of international standards of non-discrimination based on race, religion and gender as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the opportunity for all non-Muslim students to study a faith of their own choice rather than the imposition of Islamic education.

Despite the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer the RLP recognizes the Pakistani coalition government’s courageous statements in condemning these acts of senseless violence and the courageous stance of President Asif Ali Zardari in declaring that, “We will not be intimidated nor will we retreat”.

“These recent high profile assassinations underscore an intense upswing of new and false charges of blasphemy against minorities, as well as violence targeting Christian villages and churches” said Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign USA. “We must work cooperatively with Muslim leaders and Christian leaders in Pakistan to oppose extremism and encourage the rebuilding of a tolerant and hospitable society where citizens of all religions have an equal participation.”

In the Virginia Statement, the RLP applauds the work of the church around the world, including the several Dioceses of the Church of Pakistan, which has generously given humanitarian relief, disaster aid, assistance to displaced people, and practical assistance to victims of recent natural catastrophes in various parts of Pakistan. And recently after more than a decade of leading efforts by the Organization of Islamic Conference to pass “Defamation of Religions” resolutions at United Nations, Pakistan took the lead in proposing a new resolution which more closely reflects international law on freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, of Open Doors International said that “Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians have rarely felt so demoralized in the wake of Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder. May this statement galvanise the world wide Church to pray and act in greater solidarity with these precious Christians, and be such an unforgettable encouragement to them that they will never feel alone in their suffering again.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) is a collaborative effort of Christian organizations around the world focused on religious liberty. The RLP seeks to more intentionally work together in addressing advocacy and in raising the awareness of religious liberty issues globally.

The RLP Leadership Team includes:

  • Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Open Doors International, The Netherlands;
  • Anne Brandner of Global Peace Initiative, Canada;
  • Andy Dipper of Release International, UK;
  • Daniel Hoffman, Middle East Concern Linus Pfister, HMK Switzerland;
  • Chairman, Mervyn Thomas, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UK;
  • Godfrey Yogarajah, Religious Liberty Commission, Sri Lanka.

For more information, contact:

Brian O’Connell, RLP Facilitator

+1 425 217 4718

Brian@REACTServices.com 

www.RLPartnership.org

Persecuted During the Holidays

Greetings!

Friends, for most of us this holiday season has been a time of refreshment and renewal. We were able to spend the time with friends and family or at least enjoy a brief rest from our daily responsibilities. Praise God that we were able to celebrate the birth of Christ freely and in peace. During these holiday weeks many Christians around the world experienced intensified persecution. Muslim extremists violently attacked otherwise peaceful Christmas Eve and New Year’s celebrations.

At Christmas time several nations saw the horror of terrorist bombings. In Nigeria a Christmas Eve bomb killed at least 32 Christians, and left another 70+ wounded. Local Muslims also attacked three other churches, burning one to the ground and leaving six Christians dead. The current death toll has risen to at least 86 in and around Jos, Nigeria. Another bomb set by Muslim separatists in a southern province of the Philippines was less deadly, wounding 11 and killing no one. But Pakistan saw its first female suicide bomber kill 47 refugees and leave another 100 people in the hospital. Christmas was a dangerous day to be a Christian.

The violence continued throughout the Christmas Week. In Iraq attacks specifically targeted at Christians destroyed ten homes, leaving at least a dozen injured and two Christians dead. Another blast in Nigeria took eight more souls. The Muslim government of Iran arrested at least 25 Christian men and women for ‘apostasy,’ and the Taliban in Afghanistan mounted fierce attacks throughout the holidays.

Finally on New Year’s Eve just past midnight, a bomb attack in Egypt killed 21 Christians  and injured approximately 100 more as they left the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria. The Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January and they are still threatened as they go forward in their worship.

These events should cause us great concern, and make us realize the perilous times that we live in. Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic-based organization on religious freedom estimates that “somewhere between 75 percent and 85 percent of all acts of religious persecution are directed against Christians.”

Much of this persecution comes from Muslim extremists, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Our friend, Member of the British House of Lords David Alton, has written an article on how radical Muslims appear to be shifting gears. Rather than merely inspiring terror they are moving to a strategy of outright genocide toward Christian communities who have lived in these nations since the Apostolic Era.

Unfortunately, as Lord Alton points out, the international community is refusing to acknowledge it. Even a press statement from the White House portrays both Christians and Muslims as victims of the attack. However, the Obama Administration does at least acknowledge that it was Christians who were being targeted. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, and bring attention to this violent strategy.

In response to these brutal attacks, Italy has proposed cutting off any EU aid to countries which fail to protect their Christians minorities. The United States should use our economic weight to encourage these nations to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this violence. We at Jubilee Campaign are doing our part to fight this strategy of death, and we hope you will stand with us throughout the coming year.

in HIS grace,

Ann Buwalda
Executive Director

North Korea Report By David Alton

Greetings!

As many of you know, Lord David Alton, a member of the British Parliament, is a long-time advocate of international human rights and has worked closely with Jubilee Campaign for many years. He recently returned from this third trip to North Korea, accompanied by Baroness Caroline Cox, and they published a report on their findings.
The horrendous human rights violations in North Korea are a source of serious concern for us and for many in the international community. Unfortunately the cause of much of the suffering in North Korea are the harsh, atheistic, and authoritarian practices of the North Korean government led by the Kim family.
Some have theorized that if North Korea is ignored, the untenable policies of the government would cause a collapse bringing down the current regime. But the cost in human suffering would be unthinkably high.  A successor regime would very likely be worse.
Instead Lord Alton recommends that we open up the lines of dialogue with North Korea, like we did with Russia and China. This engagement known as the Helsinki accords was a demonstrated success in the past. We should begin to discuss with North Korea how it would be in their best interest to open up their country to foreign aid and foreign money.
During their trip to the DPRK and following meetings with high level North Korean officials, Lord Alton and Baroness Cox found indications that North Korea is looking for a new way forward.  This is especially true as they contemplate the transfer of power to Kim Jong-un. This is an unprecedented opportunity to advance peace in the region and in North Korea itself, and we should certainly take advantage of it.
You can find a copy of Lord Alton and Baroness Cox’s full report here
David Alton’s article in New York Times is here

in HIS grace, 

Ann Buwalda
Executive Director
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All Party Parliamentary Group for North Korea – House of Lords, London SW1A OPW

TWO BRITISH PARLIAMENTARIANS CALL FOR PEACE TALKS AFTER VISIT TO NORTH KOREA

Friday, 29 October, 2010                                                                      For Immediate Release

Lord Alton of Liverpool and Baroness Cox of Queensbury returned yesterday from their third visit to North Korea, and called on the international community to facilitate a peace conference to turn the Korean armistice into a permanent peace agreement. They are also advocating engagement with North Korea to address human rights, in a process similar to the Helsinki Process initiated by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan with the Soviet Union.

In their report, Building Bridges, Not Walls: The Case for Constructive, Critical Engagement with North Korea, released today, the two Parliamentarians argue that “the current armistice on the Korean peninsula, sixty years after the outbreak of hostilities, is a completely unsatisfactory and destabilising situation”. They call on a neutral country, such as Switzerland or Sweden, and a former combatant country, such as the United Kingdom, to work with China to facilitate a peace conference in Beijing to negotiate a peace treaty.

During their visit Lord Alton, Chairman of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for North Korea, and Baroness Cox, the APPG’s Vice-Chairman, met senior North Korean officials including the Speaker of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Choe Tae Bok, the Vice Foreign-Minister, Kung Sok Ung, and the Chairman of the DPRK-EU Friendly Parliamentary Group of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Ri Jong Hyok. They also visited the Supreme Court. Their visit coincided with the tenth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between North Korea and the UK, and followed their previous visits in 2003 and 2009.

In all their meetings, Lord Alton and Baroness Cox raised concerns over North Korea’s human rights record, including public executions, torture, violations of religious freedom, women’s and child rights and the country’s notorious prison camps. They delivered copies of reports from the former UN Special Rapporteur for North Korea, Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of North Korea’s human rights record, Human Rights Watch as well as their own summary of concerns and recommendations.

Lord Alton said: “Our visit came at a historic time, following the recent changes in the North Korean leadership and coinciding with both the tenth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries and the sixtieth anniversary of the start of the Korean War. We believe it is vital to engage with the North Koreans, and to make it a priority to seek a permanent solution to the instability on the Korean Peninsula. The current situation, which is neither war nor peace, cannot be allowed to continue. We also believe it is time to engage robustly on human rights, in what we call ‘Helsinki with a Korean face’. We urge the North Koreans to invite the new Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, to visit the country, and open its prison camps to access for international monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. We also urge the United States to seize the opportunity and engage in meaningful dialogue with North Korea on a range of issues, including peace, security and human rights. It is time develop a new approach in the search for peace on the Korean peninsula.”

Baroness Cox said: “During our visit, we raised important concerns, and we also saw some small, incremental signs of change in North Korea. We believe these changes, particularly in education, health care and the economy, should be encouraged by increased cultural and educational exchanges, and greater access to the country for international humanitarian organisations. We visited the three official churches in Pyongyang, the Russian Orthodox, the Catholic church and the Protestant church, and while we recognise that these are not representative of the situation for Christians in the rest of the country, we welcome some developments, including the establishment of a Protestant seminary which we visited. We urged the North Korean authorities to improve religious freedom for all North Koreans, and to allow the Catholic Church to have a priest. We also raised recent reports of the arrest of 20 Christians and the execution of three. It is essential that we engage in constructive, critical dialogue with North Korea, so that we have an opportunity to raise these important issues with the authorities there and encourage an opening up. The North Korean people do not deserve isolation. We urge the international community to build bridges to the people of North Korea.”