CCP’s Suppression of Religious Freedom Highlighted at British Parliament Event

‘China is at war with faith. It is a war they will not win,’ Benedict Rogers told the event.An event chaired by Britain’s special envoy for freedom of religion and belief, Fiona Bruce, shed light on the extensive suppression of religious and spiritual beliefs by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).The Conservative Party lawmaker chaired the May 15 event at the British parliament in London, which featured first-hand accounts or research about persecuted groups including Tibetans, Falun Gong spiritual discipline, Uygurs Muslims, and Christians.Benedict Rogers, co-founder of Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based rights advocacy group that co-organized the event with Tibet Watch, pointed out that Beijing’s efforts to “sinicize” religions have spread to Hong Kong. The campaign, first launched in 2015 by CCP leader Xi Jinping, involves aligning religion or spiritual beliefs to the Chinese communist ideology and, crucially, making the believers loyal to the party.A 2023 Hong Kong Watch report highlights that, unlike the sweeping campaigns in the mainland, the CCP is using “insidious” and “subtle” ways to suppress religious freedom in Hong Kong. The report, authored by Mr. Rogers, laid out the impact of the Beijing-imposed national security law, which criminalizes anything the CCP considers secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country. Persons found guilty of violating this law can face up to life in prison.Several well-known religious clergy in Hong Kong were punished by the authorities. Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, was arrested by the national security police in May 2022 on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces. While he hasn’t been charged under the national security law, the 91-year-old retired bishop was found guilty of failing to properly register a now-disbanded humanitarian fund that assists detained pro-democracy protesters. Mr. Zen, along with five others charged in November 2022, has filed an appeal.Concerns over further erosion of the city’s dwindling freedom heightened in recent months as Hong Kong enacted a national security law in May.Related StoriesThe law, known as Article 23, punishes offenses including treason, sedition, and the theft of state secrets, and allows trials to be held behind closed doors. The UK and other Western governments have raised concerns about the legislation, stating that its vague and broad provisions are deeply worrying.Mr. Rogers said the British government’s attitude toward the CCP’s rights abuses has “changed considerably.”“The government itself is more receptive to discussing human rights in China, including freedom of religion, and to speaking out more than it used to,” Mr. Rogers told The Epoch Times’s sister media outlet NTD after the May 15 event.However, he said more “concrete policy action” needs to be taken. “The government increasingly says the right thing, but it isn’t doing what we like it to do,” he added.‘Speak up for Justice’In a statement read out at the event, Gu Xingzhen, a Falun Gong practitioner who moved to the UK in 2023, gave an account of the repeated harassment and mental and physical abuse she endured over the past two decades simply for practicing her faith.Ms. Gu was detained at least twice. In December 1999, shortly after the persecutory campaign that began in July, Ms. Fu was arrested and held in custody for 15 days, during which she was repeatedly abused. The police forced her to stand in the same position for hours and shocked her with electric batons. They finally released her after her husband allegedly paid money to people within the local security bureau.Since 1999, millions of Falun Gong practitioners like Ms. Gu have been thrown into forced labor camps, brainwashing centers, and jails across the country, where they were subjected to torture and abuse in an attempt to force them to recant their beliefs. A large but untold number of adherents are believed to have been tortured to death or even killed for their organs.Ms. Gu called for an end to the brutal campaign against Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice consisting of meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, which has been a prime target of the Chinese regime for the past 25 years.“I hope the UK government and the international community can speak up for justice and call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong as soon as possible,” she said in a statement read by her daughter at the event.Falun Gong practitioners carry banners raising awareness about persecution in China during a march through the center of Warsaw, Poland, on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mihut Savu/The Epoch Times)‘Religious Freedom Non-existent ’Rahima Mahmut, the World Uyghur Congress’s UK branch director, told the event about the CCP’s repressive efforts against Uygurs in the far western region of Xinjiang.A wide range of reports and research that have emerged in recent years indicate

CCP’s Suppression of Religious Freedom Highlighted at British Parliament Event

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‘China is at war with faith. It is a war they will not win,’ Benedict Rogers told the event.

An event chaired by Britain’s special envoy for freedom of religion and belief, Fiona Bruce, shed light on the extensive suppression of religious and spiritual beliefs by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The Conservative Party lawmaker chaired the May 15 event at the British parliament in London, which featured first-hand accounts or research about persecuted groups including Tibetans, Falun Gong spiritual discipline, Uygurs Muslims, and Christians.

Benedict Rogers, co-founder of Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based rights advocacy group that co-organized the event with Tibet Watch, pointed out that Beijing’s efforts to “sinicize” religions have spread to Hong Kong. The campaign, first launched in 2015 by CCP leader Xi Jinping, involves aligning religion or spiritual beliefs to the Chinese communist ideology and, crucially, making the believers loyal to the party.
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A 2023 Hong Kong Watch report highlights that, unlike the sweeping campaigns in the mainland, the CCP is using “insidious” and “subtle” ways to suppress religious freedom in Hong Kong. The report, authored by Mr. Rogers, laid out the impact of the Beijing-imposed national security law, which criminalizes anything the CCP considers secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country. Persons found guilty of violating this law can face up to life in prison.
.
Several well-known religious clergy in Hong Kong were punished by the authorities. Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, was arrested by the national security police in May 2022 on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces. While he hasn’t been charged under the national security law, the 91-year-old retired bishop was found guilty of failing to properly register a now-disbanded humanitarian fund that assists detained pro-democracy protesters. Mr. Zen, along with five others charged in November 2022, has filed an appeal.
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Concerns over further erosion of the city’s dwindling freedom heightened in recent months as Hong Kong enacted a national security law in May.


The law, known as Article 23, punishes offenses including treason, sedition, and the theft of state secrets, and allows trials to be held behind closed doors. The UK and other Western governments have raised concerns about the legislation, stating that its vague and broad provisions are deeply worrying.

Mr. Rogers said the British government’s attitude toward the CCP’s rights abuses has “changed considerably.”

“The government itself is more receptive to discussing human rights in China, including freedom of religion, and to speaking out more than it used to,” Mr. Rogers told The Epoch Times’s sister media outlet NTD after the May 15 event.

However, he said more “concrete policy action” needs to be taken. “The government increasingly says the right thing, but it isn’t doing what we like it to do,” he added.

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‘Speak up for Justice’

In a statement read out at the event, Gu Xingzhen, a Falun Gong practitioner who moved to the UK in 2023, gave an account of the repeated harassment and mental and physical abuse she endured over the past two decades simply for practicing her faith.

Ms. Gu was detained at least twice. In December 1999, shortly after the persecutory campaign that began in July, Ms. Fu was arrested and held in custody for 15 days, during which she was repeatedly abused. The police forced her to stand in the same position for hours and shocked her with electric batons. They finally released her after her husband allegedly paid money to people within the local security bureau.

Since 1999, millions of Falun Gong practitioners like Ms. Gu have been thrown into forced labor camps, brainwashing centers, and jails across the country, where they were subjected to torture and abuse in an attempt to force them to recant their beliefs. A large but untold number of adherents are believed to have been tortured to death or even killed for their organs.

Ms. Gu called for an end to the brutal campaign against Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice consisting of meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, which has been a prime target of the Chinese regime for the past 25 years.

“I hope the UK government and the international community can speak up for justice and call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong as soon as possible,” she said in a statement read by her daughter at the event.

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Falun Gong practitioners carry banners raising awareness about persecution in China during a march through the center of Warsaw, Poland, on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mihut Savu/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners carry banners raising awareness about persecution in China during a march through the center of Warsaw, Poland, on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mihut Savu/The Epoch Times)

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‘Religious Freedom Non-existent ’

Rahima Mahmut, the World Uyghur Congress’s UK branch director, told the event about the CCP’s repressive efforts against Uygurs in the far western region of Xinjiang.
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A wide range of reports and research that have emerged in recent years indicate that at least one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in internment camps in Xinjiang, where they have been subjected to torture, sexual violence, political indoctrination, and forced labor.
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The United States and some Western governments have designated the CCP’s abuses in Xinjiang as genocide. A 2022 report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights determined the CCP’s repression efforts against such groups may constitute crimes against humanity.
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“Religious freedom is non-existent in my homeland,” Ms. Mahmut said.
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Uyghur activist and artist Rahima Mahmut attends a vigil outside the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London, on February 13, 2023. (Isabel infantes/AFP via Getty Images)
Uyghur activist and artist Rahima Mahmut attends a vigil outside the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London, on February 13, 2023. (Isabel infantes/AFP via Getty Images)

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Tibet

Sonam Frasi, a representative of the Dalai Lama in Britain, pointed out that the event came just days before the 29th anniversary of the CCP’s abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama Choekyi Nyima, the second-highest spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

The forced disappearance, which occurred in 1995 when the Panchen Lama was just six years old, has been a source of ongoing concern. The U.S. government has repeatedly called on the regime to release the high-ranking monk, who turned 35 years old in April.

On May 17, the U.S. State Department renewed appeals, urging the CCP to disclose his whereabouts and well-being.

“Gedhun Choekyi Nyima remains missing and has not appeared in public since that day,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on May 17.

Mr. Miller voiced U.S. support for Tibetans’ human rights and their freedom to practice their religious belief.

“Tibetans, like members of all religious communities, should have the ability to select, educate, and venerate their own leaders, like the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, according to their own beliefs and without government interference.”

Eva Fu contributed to this report.

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