The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic church in the village of Huangtugang, Hebei province, China. CNS photo/Thomas Peter, Reuters

China’s threats to religious freedom worrying

By 
  • November 4, 2020

OTTAWA -- Religious and human rights groups have applauded a parliamentary committee’s condemnation of the Chinese government for its “genocide” on religious minorities.

“Without doubt, across the board, we are witnessing the worst assault on human rights in China since the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, and the most severe crackdown on religious freedom in China since the Cultural Revolution,” said Benedict Rogers, co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch and a member of the advisory group for the Stop Uyghur Genocide Campaign.

Rogers made the comments during a Cardus Religious Freedom Institute online seminar held a week after a federal parliamentary committee labeled what is happening in China as “genocide.” The Oct. 26 Cardus online discussion came less than a week after the federal Foreign Affairs and International Development subcommittee on International Human Rights issued a statement condemning the persecution of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims by the government of China.

According to the participants in Cardus’ “Mao vs. God: State Control of Churches in China under Xi” online discussion, Chinese authorities have not only been targeting Muslims for persecution but Christians and Christian clergy as well.

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said Canada must not be afraid to speak out in defence of religious freedom in China.

“Canada has been less than resolute when it comes to speaking up about religious persecution in China,” Mulroney said. “The silent treatment never works with the Chinese Communist Party.”

The former Ambassador for Religious Freedom of the short-lived Canadian Office of Religious Freedom said Canadians worried about human rights issues must speak out about China’s “textbook” example of how to eliminate religious freedom.

“We need to speak about Christians being persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute. “This is a largely untold story in North American media. It merits greater attention.”

All Canadians who care about human rights must be willing to speak out in favour of religious freedom, said Bennett.

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