Rally On Capitol Hill

Jubilee Campaign protests the persecution of the Falun Gong and other minorities by the Communist government of China
 

On July 14th, in front of the United States Capitol, Jubilee Campaign joined other activists in protesting the numerous human rights abuses committed by the Communist government of China.

Gregory Treat, our Government Relations Coordinator, condemned the government torture of both lawyers Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng and called for their immediate release from detention. Jubilee Campaign stood alongside Congressmen Chris Smith and Gus Bilirakis who have devoted significant effort in engaging China to improve their human rights record.

We were also privileged to stand alongside human rights advocates and friends like Suzanne Scholte of the Defense Forum Foundation, Faith McDonald of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. These advocates have tirelessly and relentlessly raised the plight of North Korean refugees, persecuted house churches, and the unborn, calling for China to respect its international obligations and human rights standards.

The persecution of practitioners of the Falun Gong is one of the greatest tactical errors ever committed by the Chinese Communist Party. Over the past ten years, the movement experienced rapid growth to nearly 100 million practitioners by their count. When placed alongside the tens of millions of Christians who are oppressed by the Chinese government, along with other religious groups facing various forms of restrictions, one begins to realize how large a portion of the Chinese people are disaffected from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Despite the unyielding control by the CCP of every aspect of society, the international community must continue to seek to engage the government and support jailed activities such as lawyers Chen and Gao.  Please see the full remarks below.

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Remarks Given at Rally 

Thank you, Dr. Zhang, for inviting me to speak today. I am honored to join this distinguished group in voicing my concern for those suffering in China today. I hope you will bear with my remarks. I am not an expert on the Falun Gong or conditions in China, but I am passionate about the principle behind this rally, the principle of religious freedom.

Freedom of religion is inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which China is a signatory. Article 18 grants the right to practice and worship freely, without persecution. Yet over the past decade we have seen repeated and vicious persecution of the Falun Gong. Other religious groups including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Christians-have been persecuted for decades. Human rights activists, who fight for these persecuted peoples can be disappeared at a moment’s notice if their mission threatens the reputation of those in power.

You all know the story of Gao Zhisheng and the letter he wrote to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party protesting the treatment of the Falun Gong. The CCP’s response to his peaceful request was to kidnap and torture him for defending those persecuted for their faith. After disappearing for more than a year, Gao resurfaced in March, 2010. He spoke to his family for the first time since his detention and connected with friends, colleagues, and international media. Then, during a trip to see his in-laws last April, Gao Zhisheng was escorted to a plane by security personnel and disappeared once again. The world is still waiting for any word of his whereabouts.

Another advocate, Chen Guangcheng, is famous for exposing over 150,000 forced abortions in China. His work earned him an article in Time Magazine and a four year prison sentence. After being held in inhumane conditions and denied medical treatment, Chen was finally released last year. However, he was immediately placed under severe house arrest, to the point where the guards surrounding the house would not permit them to go buy food. After a video describing these conditions was released in early February, a local CCP official led a group of security personnel to Chen’s house where they tortured him and his wife for hours. After the ordeal Chen and his wife were once again denied medical treatment. They still have not fully recovered. If the CCP continues in this course Chen’s health will continue to deteriorate and he may very well die.

This disregard for basic human rights is typical of the CCP. Under this oppressive government Christians are forced underground if they dare to leave the state-controlled churches. Uighurs and Tibetans face the extermination of their traditional cultures. And of course the Falun Gong continue to count the roll of their dead. Dozens of their practitioners have already been killed since January and the year is barely halfway through. The CCP seems determined to pursue the extermination of any group that they cannot control.

Perhaps that explains their treatment of the North Korean refugees. On the verge of starvation these refugees risk their lives to cross the border into China. But the Chinese government classifies them as economic immigrants and the Korean regime views them as defectors and traitors. Caught between these two legal definitions the Korean refugees, many of them women, are left legally destitute. Sex trafficking rings snap these women up, knowing that if they try to escape or draw any official attention they will be repatriated to face worse living conditions, torture, or even death. The Chinese government continues this policy despite its international obligations to protect asylum seekers under the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 Protocol and Article 3 of the Convention against Torture.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those feeling the lash of this oppression-the Falun Gong, the Uighurs, the Tibetans, the Christians, as well as the Korean refugees. You all deserve the opportunity to participate in your nation. We echo the position of the U.S. government in the House Resolution passed last March and the resolution introduced this week by Senators Menendez and Coburn calling on the CCP to “cease and desist” its persecution of the Falun Gong. The CCP must reconsider the value of giving its citizens freedom to hold political and religious beliefs that are rich in diversity, to exercise the rule of law, and to embrace the variety that exists within its borders whole-heartedly. For in the end it is that freedom and diversity which makes merely a powerful government into a truly great nation, and that is what we want for China. Thank you.

Mob Boss on the Police Force: The D.P.R.K and the UN Conference on Disarmament

To the Member States of the United Nations and the Human Rights Community:

Permitting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) to chair the United Nations Conference on Disarmament makes a mockery of this once noble institution. The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1978 to create a single negotiating forum for the purpose of international disarmament. It allows the nations of the world to have one place where they can discuss policies and hash out deals relating to disarmament. Attempting disarmament negotiations with the D.P.R.K. leading the Conference is similar to attempting to stamp out gang violence with a local mob boss leading the task force on organized crime. Besides its infamous reputation as one of the world’s worst human rights violators, the D.P.R.K. has twice tested nuclear weapons in violation of international bans and the United Nation’s own Security Council Resolutions. It is a leading proliferator of nuclear technology to Iran and Syria and was forced to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after it became obvious that they were in violation of its terms. Since then North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons program, including alternative bombs based on highly enriched uranium.

Even now, the D.P.R.K. threatens to put South Korea in a “sea of fire” and in the first half of 2011 it carried out multiple, unprovoked attacks on South Korea. The D.P.R.K.’s communist regime is so obsessed with its nuclear program that it has diverted essential resources toward missiles and bombs, while millions of its own people starve. This is just the tip of the massive iceberg of human rights violations that the D.P.R.K. commits every day. Any position which gives prestige to a government guilty of such egregious human rights violations should draw the ire of the international community. When the criminal nation in question is especially guilty of arms proliferation allowing them to chair a disarmament body is both sad and absurd.

This comes at a time when the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called upon the Conference to pay special attention to its core responsibilities. In a speech before the Conference on January 26, 2011 the Secretary-General recognized that “the Conference’s record of achievement has been overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. The very credibility of this body is at risk. Continued inaction will only endanger its future as a multilateral negotiating forum.” He then called upon the Conference to “start substantive work” and warned them that “It is for you, the members, to decide whether it will live up to the expectations of the international community or face the consequences.”

If the member states of the Conference believe that substantive work is possible with an infamous arms proliferator at the helm then it is no wonder that they have failed to accomplish anything for over a decade. To add insult to injurr over this decade the biannual funding of the Conference has increased from $3.3 million to $4.6 million. At a time when pundits are talking about the UN budget crisis, over $24 million has been spent on this Conference and its attendent bureacratic support, without any results whatsoever. There are those who say that we are making much out of little. They say that the presidency of the Conference is on a permanent rotation, and it will not change anything. Such a statement only proves that the Conference on Disarmament has become a meaningless excuse to spend millions of dollars a year. This goes beyond mere inaction and now, as the Secretary-General said, they must “face the consequences.”

Based on its total disregard for its responsibilities we conclude that the Conference on Disarmament is defunct. The nation of Canada has already withdrawn from the Conference, at least for the period during which the Democratic People’s Republic of China will be presiding. We ask all those NGO’s who are dedicated to human rights to call their governments to follow Canada’s example in withdraw in protest. A forum which does not give prestige and the appearance of legitimacy to nations guilty of such heinous crimes. We, ourselves, call upon all member states who are concerned about arms proliferation, dedicated to disarmament, and committed to human rights to withdraw from the Conference and call for either a serious restructuring or the creation of a new body which can actually pursue the goal of disarmament.

We are writing as a member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition to express our grave concern over the North Korea’s appointment to chair the U.N. Conference on disarmament, and to call all concerned Member States as well as the human rights community to action. The North Korea Freedom Coalition is a nonpartisan coalition founded in June, 2003 to work for the freedom, human rights, and dignity of the North Korea people. We believe that promoting human rights for North Korea must be the central focus of any and all policy towards North Korea.

Jubilee Campaign promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities; advocates the release of prisoners of conscience imprisoned on account of their faith; advocates for and assists refugees fleeing religious based persecution; and protects and promotes the dignity and safety of children from bodily harm and sexual exploitation. Jubilee Campaign holds special consultative status with ECOSOC at the United Nations.

Iranian Pastor Required to “Repent” of His Faith

Greetings

Over the past several years we have been greatly concerned for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. Pastor Yousef has been viciously persecuted by the Iranian government. He was thrown in jail, tortured and his wife and children were threatened. Finally the Iranian government put him on trial for apostasy. After a lower court sentenced him to death, the Iranian Supreme Court took the case. When they released a verdict which appeared to reverse the death sentence we, along with many others in the human rights community, were overjoyed. However it appears that our celebration was premature. The verdict requires that Pastor Yousef “repent” in order to escape the death penalty. Such a requirement has ominous overtones in Iran.

There has been some debate about the meaning of the verdict. Pastor Yousef’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that “Because apostasy is not mentioned in Iran’s penal code, and apostasy is not considered a crime, then the court has to consider Mr. Nadarkhani’s case in the context of [the crime] ‘insulting the Prophet of Islam.’ In this respect, since my client has not made any insults, he can tell the same to the court.”

Mr. Dadkhah is deeply committed to human rights and has sacrificed much to defend Pastor Yousef. He faces a nine year prison sentence and a ten year ban on his law practice for defending an innocent man. However, from the beginning the Iranian government has been on a campaign to break Pastor Yousef’s faith. It will take a miracle for them to be satisfied by a continuing statement that Pastor Yousef has done nothing wrong. Instead, it is likely that the Iranian government will take ‘repentance’ to mean the denial of Pastor Yousef’s Christian faith, despite Mr. Dadkhah’s hopes.

At this critical time, we are pleased to be able to report to you that the U.S. State Department is putting pressure on the Iranians. The statement below is a strong indication of official U.S. support for Pastor Yousef. But merely because the secular powers have mobilized does not mean that we have any less responsibility. We ask you to take time, and even inform your churches, and pray with us.

Pray for:

· Clear annulment of the death sentence for Yousef Naderkhani

· Acquittal and release of all other Christians held in prison.

· Five specific prisoners to pray for are: Vahik Abrahamian; Farshid Fathi; Abrahim Firouzi; Masoud Delijani; and Noorollah Ghabitzadeh.

· The end of the hostility towards Christians from the Iranian government.

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The U.S. State Department

Persecution of Religious Minorities in Iran

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 6, 2011

We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy – a charge based on his religious beliefs. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990.

He is just one of thousands who face persecution for their religious beliefs in Iran, including the seven leaders of the Baha’i community whose imprisonment was increased to 20 years for practicing their faith and hundreds of Sufis who have been flogged in public because of their beliefs.

While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass, and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing.

We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them.

 

 

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