China’s growing detention camps and persistent unease in Hong Kong following 2019’s violent democracy protests are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, religious advocacy organisation Release International has claimed.
In a statement, Release International said recent events, such as the revelation of brainwashing camps set up on the mainland, highlighted the rising levels of intolerance by Chinese authorities towards religious minorities.
The United Nations has already heard and condemned the persecution of the Uighur Muslims and the Falung Gong, but increasingly Christians are being targeted.
Release International has claimed the reports coming out of the Communist country suggest this is the worst persecution of Christians since Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution.
‘Persecution has been rising since 2018, when China imposed tough new religious restrictions. Freedom of faith is guaranteed under Article 36 of the Chinese constitution.
‘But in practice, the authorities bulldoze churches, tear down crosses and imprison pastors. Lawyers who speak up for them in the courts simply disappear. And it’s getting worse.
‘It used to be just the unofficial churches that were targeted; today China is pulling down state-registered churches and persecuting their pastors’.
A BBC Panorama documentary broadcast last year exposed leaked documents revealing the systematic brainwashing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims rounded up in a network of high security prison camps.
Chinese authorities claimed the camps were for voluntary re-education and training. But the documents reveal a brainwashing regime that has been likened to the Nazis, where detainees are controlled with iron discipline and kept in order with electric shock batons.
According to Release partner Bob Fu, ‘In China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, between 1-3 million people from Turkic minority groups have been rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps. Camp survivors have reported starvation, forced labour and torture.
‘If a child’s parents have been taken to the camps, then the child is placed in an orphanage and forced to speak Mandarin instead of their native language, effectively erasing their identity’.