China: secret documents expose persecution of religious minorities

 UK based human rights group, Jubilee Campaign has obtained unseen top-secret documents procured from the highest central level of Chinese government, which give chilling evidence of secret orders to persecute a wide range of religious groups throughout China. The 142 page document is published in Europe by Jubilee Campaign as the European agent of an international coalition of human rights organisations. The documents were originally released by officials in China's National Security Ministry, who subsequently went into hiding after handing the information to the US based group the Committee For Investigation On Persecution of Religion In China (CIPRC). The first section of documents include statements by the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, of the governments' continued intention to identify and ban a variety of 'cults' which they consider to be a 'crawling danger to domestic security and defence.' 'Cults' are effectively defined by the Chinese authorities as those religious organisations who have refused to register at the assigned public security authorities. Therefore, the 14 cult organisations identified by the General Office of the Communist Party of China and the Ministry of Public Security, are mostly peaceful Chinese religious groups and include church groups, which have orthodox Christian beliefs - Catholic and Protestant - but who refuse to join the State-controlled 'Patriotic' churches. The most severe punishment for this civil disobedience when defined as a threat to national security is punishable by a life sentence or even death. In a speech by the vice director of the Department of Public Security of Anhui Public Security, Sun Jianxin, reviews the achievements of the year 2000 in forcefully investigating and banning cults as well as launching extensive battles and punishment against Falun Gong. Despite China's recent inclusion in the WTO, he goes on to describe the plans to maintain social and political stability in the face of 'hostile Western powers hastening to continue their strategies of 'westernising' our country'. The documents reveal the clear instruction from the Department of Public Security 'all the public security authorities in every city and district should fully recognise the destructiveness of cults to maintaining social and political stability.' Moreover the documents also detail the measures the Chinese authorities are prepared to take to suppress these groups. In one declaration by the Department of Public Security, local political leaders are told 'not to be careless or lack vigilance' and to 'carefully design their plans and widen information channels with existing secret agents.' Local public authorities are given jurisdiction for state authorised harassment as they are told that they shall be responsible for banning cult organisations, confiscating property and prosecuting individuals involved in the 'cults' for criminal activity. The second group of documents reveal how these orders have resulted in many severe physical and psychological abuses. A recent wave of persecution in China has led to many Christians being imprisoned, sentenced to death, defenceless women tortured by police with electric cattle rods and at least one Christian martyred. Members of fringe religious groups such as the Falun Gong being similarly oppressed. Mark Rowland of Jubilee Campaign said: "The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in China is intensifying. This evidence from the highest level of the Chinese government, is a damning indictment on their past record and their future intentions. This is a wake up call to the international community that despite China being part of the WTO and host to the Olympic games, there is still greatly restricted freedom of religion, belief and association in China. We hope that President Bush will utilise his trip to China this month to be strong voice for the millions of voiceless Chinese Christians who are oppressed by this government."

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