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"Freedom of Religion or Belief News Alert"

July 25, 2018 by admin

Operation Thunder: Half a thousand of members of The Church of Almighty God arrested

Bitter Winter: A magazine of religious liberty and human rights
in China (Read their daily news at https://bitterwinter.org/)

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CHINA

Operation Thunder: Half a thousand members
of The Church of Almighty God arrested
Bitter Winter (14.07.2018) - https://bit.ly/2LqjZHV - On June 26-28, a full-scale "Operation Thunder" in Liaoning Province resulted in massive arrests of members of this Christian new religious movement. In just three days, more than 500 believers of The Church of Almighty God were arrested all over the province, prompting thousands to flee their homes. The number of arrests continues to grow.

On June 26, Liaoning Public Security Department gathered its police forces and started the arrests by conducting stakeouts and using the information they had previously collected by monitoring and tracking members of the Church. In some cases, they entered homes pretending to be plumbers or couriers.

Nearly 300 people were arrested in Dalian and Panjin, 47 in Dandong, 39 in Chaoyang, 36 in Benxi, 23 in Jinzhou, 19 in Shenyang, 14 in Fuxin, nine in Fushun, eight in Huludao, five in Yingkou, two in Tieling, and one in Anshan. Their homes were searched, large amounts of books on belief in God and the Church's and personal belongings were taken away by the police.

A source in the CCP government revealed that this special operation was classified as top secret. To prevent any leaks prior to the arrests, the government kept information on the targets from police officers and purposefully dispatched them to other areas during the operation. Officers were required to sign a confidentiality agreement. The authorities released the list of names for arrest only in the final ten minutes before the operation commenced on June 26. Officers also received a group notice through WeChat, Chinese social media platform, strictly requiring them to work day and night to complete the arrests.

Based on the information from sources who wished to remain anonymous, as early as February and March, the CCP government issued a number of confidential memos ordering comprehensive punishment and arrests of believers from The Church of Almighty God. They even engaged nationwide forces, ordering the police in different regions, civil affairs bureaus, vice offices, and neighborhood committees to search for members of the Church, mobilizing village cadres, retired workers, cleaners, and building managers to participate in the operation. The CCP government made a plan to register all The Church of Almighty God members whose cases have been put on record and who are well-known, as well as all family members of those who have escaped abroad and who have applied for asylum in other countries, then arrest them all in one sweep on June 26.

The Church of Almighty God is suffering the toughest and most severe persecutions of all house churches in China. The establishment and rapid growth of this Church have been a constant source of fear for the CCP government, and secret orders have come from top leadership many times to eradicate The Church of Almighty God.

The Church claims that as many as 380,000 its members were arrested in 2011-2013. Another massive wave of arrests followed in 2014. Starting in January 2018, the CCP government has once again rolled out a nationwide operation directly targeting The Church of Almighty God. In May, the Church's members in Jiangsu Province and Chongqing City suffered concurrent large-scale arrests and suppression: at least 120 people were arrested.
Source: Direct Reports from China.

USA

How to Protect International Religious Freedom from the Politicization of Human Rights?

Conference in Washington by The Heritage Foundation "Concerned Women for America" (26 July)

Featuring

Dr. Aaron Rhodes
Executive Director, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (1993-2007);
President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe; and Author of
The Debasement of Human Rights: How Politics Sabotage the Ideal of Freedom

Dr. Shea Garrison
Senior Advisor, Foreign Affairs, Concerned Women for America, and
Affiliated Faculty and Policy Fellow, George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government

Benjamin Bull
Executive Director of Advocacy, Washington D.C, First Liberty Institute

Moderated by
Emilie Kao
Director, Richard and Helen DeVos Center on Religion and Civil Society,
The Heritage Foundation

Dr. Aaron Rhodes' new book, The Debasement of Human Rights: How Politics Sabotage the Ideal of Freedom, identifies a dangerous trend in the international human rights movement. Increasingly, the natural rights of individuals, like religious freedom, are being conflated with manufactured rights which are the social and economic policy priorities of particular groups and governments. Natural rights protect the fairness of the political process by ensuring that individuals are free to think, speak, and act according to their convictions, including their religious beliefs. However, when governments and social groups can transform their economic and social policy goals into "human rights," this undercuts the moral legitimacy and persuasive power of natural rights like religious freedom.

Our panelists will discuss how robust protection of religious freedom will ultimately lead to economic prosperity and why natural rights are best protected when they are protected for all, not for members of particular identity groups. Join us for this discussion on the future of international religious freedom and the human rights movement. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.

The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

RSVP online (https://www.heritage.org/events) | or call (202) 675-1752
Terms and conditions of attendance are posted at heritage.org/Events/terms.cfm
All events may be viewed live at heritage.org
News media inquiries, call (202) 675-1761

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