New Coalition Demands China Respect Religion
  • Wed, 03/06/2019 - 20:45


Coalition of various faiths and human rights organizations join to raise awareness and advocate for US tougher policy.  American leaders voice their support.

On March 4, a new coalition dedicated to shining the light on the intense religious persecution in China was rolled out in the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The event brought together representatives of the various faiths to tell their stories of surveillance, arrest, abuse, and torture, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and practitioners of Falun Gong. It demanded action from the US Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce to discourage and punish human rights violations in China.  And it attracted the attention of some of the highest officials of the US government focused on human rights and religious liberty.

The Coalition to Advance Religious Freedom in China (CARFC) is a multi-faith group consisting of over a dozen religious and human rights organizations, including ChinaAid, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, Falun Gong, The Church of Almighty God, and the International Campaign for Tibet.  It was organized by the International Religious Freedom Roundtable (IRFR).

Greg Mitchell, the co-Chair of the IRFR, opened the press conference announcing the formation of the Coalition.  Mitchell outlined the group’s goals for the day, including 1.) to publicize widely the formation of the Coalition, 2.) to educate Washington policymakers and the wider public about the intense and worsening religious persecution in China, and 3.) to demand that China abide by the tenets of its own constitution guaranteeing religious freedom as well as the international obligations of China to ensure religious liberty.

Bi-partisan US Government Leaders Speak of the Need for Tough Official Action Against China

Top US policymakers were the first to speak. Sam Brownback, the US State Department Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, spoke on behalf of the Trump Administration.  Ambassador Brownback emphasized the deep concern of the US government, saying that persecution was not limited to one, or a few, groups, but was pervasive.  He noted that persecution had, in fact, increased since the responsibility of policing religion had been transferred directly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He called China’s treatment of religious people a violation of basic human dignity and called on China to respect the UN Charter, and its own constitution, to respect the rights of people of all faiths.

Next, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) spoke. McGovern is the Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, an official body of the US Congress charged with monitoring human rights around the world. He is also a member of the Congressional-Executive Committee on China.  McGovern declared that the “police state tactics” used by China to suppress religion are a sign of weakness and fear on the part of the Chinese government. He also emphasized the need to engage the private sector in pressuring China to change its policies.  Western companies, he said, should not be allowed to provide technology and materials that facilitate religious persecution, or buy products from Chinese firms that participate in religious persecution (such as the companies that produce goods made by prison labor).  He called for “more inspired, out-of-the-box thinking” for ways to pressure China and support persecuted people.