The Daily Signal: Children Have Become Victims of Religious Persecution in China
(Minghui.org) In a statement on December 7, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated China and several other nations as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, as amended, for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”
“Religious freedom is an unalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish,” he wrote in the statement. “The United States will continue to work tirelessly to end religiously motivated abuses and persecution around the world, and to help ensure that each person, everywhere, at all times, has the right to live according to the dictates of conscience.”
Religious persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is among the worst, wrote an article in The Daily Signal on December 15 titled “How the Chinese Communist Party Robs Children of Their Religious Faith.”
The atrocity includes “the internment of Uighurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang and the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as for arrests and imprisonment of followers for reason of their practice, the destruction of church buildings and symbols, and the arrest or intimidation of Christians holding private Bible studies,” wrote the article by Sydney Kochan and Ann Buwalda. “Not as well exposed, however, is the persecution of China’s children.”
Separated from Parents and Banned from Religious Activities
Some of the tragedies were presented by the Jubilee Campaign, along with the Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience at a recent event during the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee session.
“The event exposed the fact that the Chinese Communist Party has utterly failed to uphold its treaty obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which China is a signatory,” wrote The Daily Signal article. “While entire religious communities have been persecuted in China because of their religious and spiritual beliefs, children have suffered tenfold.”
“The government has separated children from their parents and has threatened to beat the children if the parents do not renounce their faith. Government authorities have even threatened parents of adopted children that they would forcibly take away those children, return them to their original families, or put them up for adoption again if the family does not give up its beliefs,” it explained.
As a result of the 2018 Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs in China, “local authorities have interpreted the regulation to ban attendance for all children at churches and other houses of worship, as well as to prohibit children from attending any religious activities, such as religious summer camps, or religious instruction, such as Sunday school.”
Negative and Long-Lasting Impact on Children
Because their parents were abruptly detained and imprisoned for their faith and church leadership, these children suffered tremendously from the absence of their parents and family instability.
This is against the CCP’s commitment to the United Nations in pursuing its Human Rights Council candidacy of “putting children first.” In fact, these state actions had the opposite effect and did not consider the best interests of the child.
The Daily Signal article cited the annual report of the special representative of the secretary-general on violence against children that confirmed that violence and deprivation of liberty were shown to be linked, and deprivation of liberty of children or their parents has a “negative and long-lasting impact” on children’s lives.
“What makes the state raids on gatherings of children from religious minorities additionally concerning is that the arrests are arbitrary, not based on any crime according to international law,” wrote the report.
One example is the 18-year-old daughter of a Falun Gong practitioner, who reflected on how little of her childhood she was able to spend with her family due to her father’s prolonged imprisonment.
“My dad was sent to prison for his faith. He died in the hospital and left us forever. I only saw my father twice. The first time, I was 7 years old. We met him in prison, but he was very thin, but happy to see me. He wanted to hug me. Though I knew he was my dad, he was a stranger to me. It has become an eternal regret that I never hugged him,” she said.
Discrimination and Abuse in School
For these children, the persecution of their faith and that of their families also extended to school.
“Former Christian children in China, speaking about their experiences under the protection of pseudonyms, remember being taught in class that religion was prohibited, being bullied for their parents’ arrests, excluded from extracurricular activities in school, punished for attending church and religious activities outside of school, forced into reciting anti-religion and pro-atheism slogans, and coerced into signing documents renouncing their faith,” The Daily Signal article said.
In September 2018, the Chinese department of education forced students to pass a test on their anti-religious knowledge in order to graduate. “The administration at the Shangqui Institute of Technology threatened students with expulsion if they held religious beliefs,” wrote the article, “Two schools asked more than 300 children to sign a form stating they did not follow a religion and “shamed” them for their faith in Zhejiang province, which is known for its Christian population.”
The article cited Emilie Kao, director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, who pointed out that this action clearly violated international law. “International law guarantees children the freedom to seek the truth and to live according to their consciences,” she said at a Jubilee Campaign event on October 5 named “China Bans Faith for All Children.”
For children of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, school is a place filled with discrimination. “Friends of Falun Gong reveal multiple stories of children who grew up during China’s crackdown on the group in 1999. One girl, Yisha, remembers being told by a classmate that her mother should be arrested for practicing Falun Gong,” wrote the article.
Some incidents were traumatic. “Vivian, was sleeping one night at her boarding school before she was abruptly woken up by classmates who hit her, told her she was insane for proudly practicing Falun Gong, and attempted to persuade her to commit suicide by jumping out her bedroom window,” the article continued.
Teachers and school administrators were also involved. “Another girl, Danshan, recalled being tricked by a teacher into signing a Falun Gong renunciation-of-belief form. She said she was misled to believe it was a form for participation in a charity function.”
The CCP has destroyed traditional and ethnic culture in the process. “[CCP officials] have essentially erased the religious and linguistic identity of Tibetan Buddhist children and adolescents by banning Buddhist curriculum and Tibetan language teaching in schools,” the article wrote. “As with the Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists are seen as extremist and separatist, and the Chinese Communist Party has started to target the culture at its very roots, in primary schools throughout the province.”
“In nearly every sphere of life, a Chinese child’s religious and spiritual background is hijacked by the Chinese Communist Party as a means for justifying persecution, family separation, indoctrination, and discrimination,” the article concluded. “That in 2020 thousands of children in China must keep their faith a secret for fear of retribution is absolutely unacceptable and reprehensible, and attests to China’s flagrant lack of concern regarding children’s inalienable rights and freedoms.”