• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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China: Crackdown on Blogs, Religion

Yan, who blogs at Glutter, reports that Typepad sites have been banned in China. To tie in with this news, today’s entry concerns religious freedom in that country.

In 2002, Jiang Zemin announced that, “All the world’s people, including the people of China, should be free to choose how they live, how they worship and how they work.” Nice sentiment, but at the moment only government-approved temples, churches and mosques are allowed. For those outside the “approved” organisations, things are rather more dangerous.

There are plenty of sources for what is going on. A recent news article, reproduced on this Tibetan Buddhist site, provides a decent round-up of the current situation, including oppression faced by the Muslim Uighurs. The US State Department International Religious Freedom Report provides further details. There is also a handbook published by Human Rights Watch, China: State Control of Religion.

I’ll just note a couple of very recent developments from 2004:

Catholicism: The Tablet reports that

Catholics in China’s “underground” Church, which recognises the Pope’s authority, are bracing themselves for a fresh wave of government attacks following the arrest last week of one of its most outspoken bishops…Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar in northern China was arrested on 5 March on suspicion of travelling abroad illegally, and detained in a prison in Harbin.

The “underground” Catholics number about 10 million; the “patriotic” official Catholics 4 million.

Protestantism: ASSIST reports:

China Aid Association (CAA) has just had confirmation of the arrest of 19 house church leaders in Henan Province. On 24 January 2004, Ms Qiao Chunling and her husband, leaders of a house group church with some 100,000 members, were arrested in their home, and their computer, Christian literature, phone, cash and other belongings were confiscated. The Qiaos had with them the train tickets for 19 of their house church leaders to attend a Seminar on Christian Marriage that day in Beijing.

Later, all 19 house church leaders were arrested either at Luoyang City Train Station or on the train. The Qiaos are reportedly being held in Mangshan Detention Centre, Henan province. The location of eight of the ten still in custody is unknown.

Christians have also just been arrested for speaking out about what’s going on.

Falun Gong: Reported on their website:

NEW YORK (FDI) – During the month of February 2004, details of 30 deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in China were uncovered despite a continued black-out maintained by Chinese authorities on information about Falun Gong-related cases.

Many of the deaths occurred in the past few months, while some were deaths from 2002 and 2001 that have only recently been uncovered.

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