CHINA: Asylum Seekers from The Church of Almighty God (CAG)
Open Letter to all members of the EU Parliament and all EU States Ambassadors to the EU by the Freedom of Religion or Belief Roundtable Brussels-EU
To all EU States Ambassadors to the EU
Dr. Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for Freedom of ReligionÂ
Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Re: Asylum seekers from The Church of Almighty God (CAG)
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious and secular leaders, human rights advocates and practitioners.
One of our concerns is the situation of refugees who fled religious persecution. Unfortunately, legitimate concerns about immigration often translate into a general societal hostility to refugees, whose situation is obviously different from the predicament of economic migrants. Religion-based asylum seekers are women and men who would risk their liberty and their life if they would go back to their country of origin.
This letter focuses on a specific case, asylum seekers from China who belong to The Church of Almighty God (CAG), a Christian new religious movement that is severely persecuted there. The U.S. State Department’sÂ Report on International Religious Freedom for the year 2018, published on June 21, 2019, reported claims that in the year 2018 only, Chinese “authorities arrested 11,111 of its members”, and “subjected 525 of its members to ‘torture or forced indoctrination.'” The report also mentioned the cases of three CAG members who were tortured to death while in detention. According to updated CAG statistics, at least 105 members of the Church have been “persecuted to death” to date.
The USCIRF (U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom) similarly noted in its 2019Â Annual Report that “in 2018, the Chinese government harassed and arrested thousands of followers of …[T]he Church of Almighty God. Many of those detained during the year… suffered torture and other abuses, in some cases resulting in deaths or unexplained disappearances while in custody.”
The Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, summarizing NGOs claims at the 2019 Universal Periodic Revision of China, mentioned that “during 2014- 2018, the Chinese Communist Party’s monitoring, arrest, and persecution had caused at least 500,000 Church of Almighty God (CAG) Christians to flee their home, and several hundred thousand families had been torn apart.”