Since June 2019, all eyes world over have been focusing on Hong Kong after protests erupted to scrap an extradition bill. Over the last six months, the violence has only intensified. However, on Nov. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two human rights bills into law in support of the protesters in Hong Kong.
On Nov. 21, media outlets had reported of protesters, who were holed up inside the city’s Polytechnic University in defiance of a police siege, leaving a warning message to the international community.
“Dear world, CCP [Chinese Communist Party] will infiltrate your government, Chinese enterprise $ interferes your political stance, China will harvest your home like Xinjiang. Be aware or be next,” the statement read.
With the world witnessing the current situation in Hong Kong, one cannot forget the other violations of human rights that are happening to minorities and religious groups in China. Here are four more major suppressions that the world’s people should be aware of, with one of them still not as widely reported by the media.
1. Falun Gong
Among the lists of suppressions that the world is witnessing today, Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese mind-body cultivation practice, might be one that receives one of the least media coverage.
When Falun Gong was first introduced to China in May 1992, the practice quickly became popular due to its amazing health benefits and its philosophy of the world that places traditional moral values over material gain.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. However, when the number of people practicing it skyrocketed to at least 70 million—more than the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) membership—within five years after its introduction, the Chinese communist regime launched a brutal persecution on July 20, 1999.
In the last 20 years, the persecution has seen numerous Falun Gong practitioners being arrested, detained, and subjected to brutal torture. Some of the most common torture methods used on these prisoners of faith include beatings, shocking with electric batons, force-feeding, exposure to extreme heat and cold, confinement in small cages, handcuffing for long periods of time, and injecting dangerous drugs.
Moreover, over 4,000 practitioners have been confirmed to have died in the persecution.
“The Chinese Communist Party has sought to stamp out Falun Gong practice [in] China,” Congressman Christopher Smith said in a letter addressed to a rally in Washington, D.C., in 2017. “Their brutal campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong is one of the greatest crimes of the last two decades. The blame for these crimes lay squarely on the shoulders of the Chinese Communist Party.”
In recent years, there have been numerous reports that indicate the CCP has been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, with the majority being from Falun Gong practitioners.
According to a 2016 report “Bloody Harvest/ The Slaughter: An Update” by David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), Ethan Gutmann, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and David Matas, human rights lawyer, it has been estimated that the number of organs that were harvested per year ranged between 60,000 and 100,000, though Chinese authorities claimed that 10,000 organ transplantations took place a year.
2. House Christians
In recent years, media outlets have also been widely reporting on the persecution of House Christians in China. House Christians, much like Falun Gong, have been viewed as a threat by the CCP, which is atheist due to its ideological differences.
According to Council on Foreign Relations, some independent estimates suggest that there are more than 100 million Christians in China—a figure that exceeds the membership of the CCP, thus leading to an increased clampdown on the religion.
For instance, to monitor the rising number of people turning to Christian faith in Zhejiang Province, the Chinese government installed surveillance cameras in churches in 2017, giving fighting terrorism as their reason to do so, much to the confusion and disagreement from the church members.
The regime has also placed restrictions on the crosses since 2014. The New York Times reported that under a 36-page directive, crosses must not be installed above the buildings but instead on the façades, and the color of the cross should blend in with the building. The cross should also not exceed “one-tenth of the height of the building’s façade.”
In 2018, around the Christmas season, some churchgoers and a pastor from Early Rain Covenant Church, an independent Protestant church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, were taken into police custody because the church was not registered with Chinese authorities. Such unregistered churches in China are officially referred to as “underground churches” by the communist regime.
The church members were also forced by the police to sign a pledge promising that they would not attend the church again.
The church released a prayer letter on its Facebook page, stating that the three members who were later freed were beaten by the police while in custody. One member added that he was deprived of food and water for 24 hours.
Since Tibet came under the CCP’s rule in 1950, the people there have been experiencing repression for their religion in Tibetan Buddhism. For the last five decades, many uprisings have happened in the autonomous region, with a popular uprising that began on March 10, 1959, and saw the fourteenth Dalai Lama fleeing to India, where he has been living since.
Moreover, due to the Chinese regime’s forced “reform” that includes eliminating monastic and tribal leadership and the eradication of the Tibetan social system, many people were beaten, tortured, murdered, and imprisoned.
In 2009, some Tibetans first started setting themselves ablaze in protest of the Chinese regime’s policies, calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, to date, more than 150 Tibetans, including monks and nuns, have set themselves on fire.
“They are doing this because they’ve reached the end of their rope,” said Steven Marshall, a senior advisor for the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, The Atlantic reported in 2012. “They’ve tried everything else. Hundreds of monks are in prison and jails, or were picked up [by the police] and never heard from again.”
According to the “Freedom in the World 2018,” a report by Freedom House, numerous Tibetan writers, intellectuals, and musicians have also been incarcerated because the authorities saw Tibetan cultural expression as related to separatism.
“During 2017, Tibetans reportedly continued to be detained or sentenced to prison for actions like disseminating flyers or verbally expressing support for the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet, sharing images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag on WeChat, or sending information abroad about recent self-immolation protests,” the report stated.
Tibetans were also at risk of losing their traditional culture, and those who try to provide Tibetan language classes for their students are facing suppression by the CCP.
A government notice obtained by the Tibet Watch in December 2018 states that local officials are to “put a stop to monasteries running schools” that are not sanctioned by the CCP in the eastern Tibetan town of Nangqen. This is actually a violation of China’s own constitution, said John Jones, campaign manager for Free Tibet to The Epoch Times.
The Uyghurs, a minority Turkic ethnic group that lives primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or commonly known as Xinjiang, in the northwest of China, have been facing increasing persecution from the Chinese regime in recent years.
Uyghurs, the majority of whom practice Islam, have been arrested and sent to detention facilities where they undergo political indoctrination and are forced to denounce their faith. The United Nations estimates that there are about 1 million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities detained in these so-called “vocational re-education centers.”
The Uyghurs were detained for reasons such as contacting friends or relatives abroad, traveling to a foreign country, growing beards, and attending religious gatherings, Uyghurs who have family members in the camps told The Epoch Times.
For other Uyghurs, they too are not spared from the persecution—their cultural identities are at risk due to the bilingual education policies implemented by the CCP.
According to a 2015 report published by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), Mandarin was made the main language of instruction in elementary and middle schools in Xinjiang in 2004.
As a result of the policy, many young Uyghurs were prevented from gaining proper command over their native language.
“Before I even spoke two sentences [in Uyghur], suddenly my words had already become incoherent, and even simple words took a long time to figure out,” wrote an unnamed Uyghur author in Chinese of his experience under the bilingual program, which was included in the report.
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Author: Jocelyn Neo