Chinese government violently cracking down on religion - human rights group

Activists in Bangladesh have protested the detainment of Muslims in China.
Activists in Bangladesh have protested the detainment of Muslims in China. Photo credit: Getty

The Chinese government is trying to stamp out religion in a violent countrywide crackdown, according to a human rights group.

Officials are accused of burning bibles, closing churches and forcing Christians to sign documents renouncing their faith. It's also alleged that millions of Muslims have been forced into 'brainwashing camps', where they are made to eat pork and drink alcohol.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Chinese President Xi Jinping is waging an aggressive war on religious freedom.

"The Chinese government has long treated any organised religious groups with disdain and hostility," HRW China director Sophie Richardson told The Daily Mail.

"It doesn't matter if it is Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, it considers them as a vehicle and mechanism to carry out political disloyalty and separatism."

China, which has 38 million Protestants and is expected to be the world's largest Christian population in a few decades, requires its religious citizens to worship only in government-registered congregations. Many belong to underground churches that defy official restrictions.

Pastor Bob Fu from US-based non-profit China Aid says several churches have been closed in Beijing and Henan province in recent weeks, in what he calls a "significant escalation" against Christianity.

"The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief," he told The Daily Mail.

He posted videos to Twitter showing piles of burning bibles, as well as official forms in which signatories announce their renunciation of the Christian faith.

An anonymous pastor from Nanyang, Henan province, says crosses and bibles were burned by officials in a raid on his church on September 5.

He told The Daily Mail that local authorities had demanded his church be "reformed", but that no official agreement that been reached. A Nanyang city official has denied his claims, saying the local authorities respected religious freedom.

In a report released on Monday (local time), HRW claimed 13 million Muslims in the Xinjiang province have been subjected to political indoctrination and punishment for their faith. It says Chinese Muslims have had their communications and movement restricted and have been placed under mass surveillance, which violates international human rights laws.

The Daily Mail reports that approximately 1 million members of Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in northwest China, where they have to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party.

In May, two former detainees told The Washington Post that prisoners were forced to consume pork and alcohol, both forbidden under Islam.

One detainee said the Chinese government wants to "exterminate" Muslim ways of life.

"They are planning a country that's homogenous," the HRW quoted him as saying. "Everyone has to be Chinese."

United Nations human rights experts have told China to immediately release the people detained in the alleged camps, the existence of which the Chinese government has denied.


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