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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Chinese Religious Leaders Condemn US Report


"'My personal feeling is that we are living in China's best ever period of religious freedom.'"



Religion in ChinaSo said Su Deci, vice president of the China Christian Association responding to the recent US Congressional report on religious freedom worldwide in which China was severely criticised.

Su has been supported in his "slamming" of the report by the leaders of several official religious associations in China including the Buddhist, Taoist and Islamic associations.

An "Official Religious" organisation is one registered with the Chinese government and abiding totally by strict government rules.

Whilst one would not wish to draw aspersions upon the various religious leaders quoted in the People's Daily report one can not help feeling the all pervasive hand of the government propagandists in it's authorship.

To quote the Chinese Islamic Association leader Chen Guangyuan

"The commission's annual report is full of lies and accusations that are made out of thin air. It is a textbook example of the cheating nature of the US's human rights," said Chen Guangyuan, president of China's Islamic Association.

"The American troops' abuse of Iraqi war prisoners violated not only international human rights conventions but Islamic religious tenets. A Muslim, especially a female one, should never expose their bodies before others, but US soldiers willfully abuse them by adopting practices that go against their religions," Said Chen.

"Does the U.S. have any qualification or power to speak of other countries' affairs? They should merely mind and improve their own human rights situation instead," he said.

Now the Islamic Association in China is hardly representative of the majority of Muslims being primarily a Hui Muslim organisation. The Hui are ethnically and culturally far more similar to the majority Han Chinese than the Turkic Muslims of Xinjiang in particular the Uighur people and receive a much higher level of freedom of religion.

Whilst no-one can argue with the reasons for Chen's disgust over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and, as he states, the methods of humiliation employed are particularly offensive to Muslims, one wonders if his allusions to the incident are not rather politic especially when one considers the many reports as to very similar religion-centric treatment being dished out to Uygurs prisoners including being forced by officials to eat pork and various humiliations of Muslim woman.

Simarly many Tibetan Buddhists I am sure would not agree with the sentiments of Jia Muyang, vice president of the China Buddhist Association nor most Catholics with those of Liu Deshen, a "noted Catholic leader"

There is no doubts that religious freedoms, for those willing to tow the official line at least, are improving in China but for the likes of the Uygur, the Tibetans and those not willing to practice the government approved method of their religion,improvements, if any, are much fewer.



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