Chinese authorities arrested religious believers and placed activists under house arrest ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has claimed.
Activists, dissidents, and former prisoners of conscience across the country were placed under house arrest or had their movement restricted in the run-up to the anniversary on 1 July.
It is claimed that others were forced to travel to areas away from their homes under police supervision. In common with other important ‘sensitive’ political occasions, activists were also warned not to give interviews to foreign media, the CSW said.
On 29 June, just days before the celebration, China Aid Association reported that the CCP had intensified its censorship on religious books, videos, and audio materials.
The report cited a group chat message from a primary school teacher to parents, which notified them that ‘the CCP forbids students to read religious books’.
China Aid also reported that the social media app WeChat had similarly posted a notice stating, ‘To implement regulations… the “mini check-in” platform will continuously delete all circles, topics, journals, audios and videos that are related to religion.’
Fellow advocacy organisation Bitter Winter made a claim on 30 June that more than 1000 members of the Church of Almighty God, a group banned by the Chinese government, had been arrested prior to the anniversary.
According to the report, police arrested hundreds of members in Shanxi, Henan, Guangdong, Anhui, and elsewhere.
Some provinces also gave orders for maintaining social order during the celebration, which made specific mention of the Church of Almighty God, Bitter Winter claimed.
Mervyn Thomas, president and founder of CSW, said, ‘The 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party is nothing to celebrate.
‘Instead, it marks the completion of a century in which the CCP has been regularly responsible for egregious human rights violations against the Chinese people.’
He said the continuing crackdown on the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as on those seeking to defend fundamental human rights, was ‘concerning’, and suggested that, instead of making speeches and holding ceremonies, the Party should have marked the day by ‘creating a clear path to justice for victims of past abuses’.