Arrested for Sending Reports to Bitter Winter

On August 1, Bitter Winter, a publication of CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, reports:

The Chinese police launched a national operation against Bitter Winter. Reporters and others who sent information to us were arrested, while false rumors about our magazine are being spread

We received reports from China that, irritated by the publication of news and confidential documents in Bitter Winter, the police launched a nationwide crackdown operation trying to identify who is passing information to our magazine. Unfortunately, some brave reporters and others who, at great risk for their personal liberty, had sent information, pictures and documents to Bitter Winter have been arrested. We salute these brave victims of the struggle for human rights and freedom of information in China, and will continue to call the attention of the international community on the brutal suppression of the basic liberties in China.

We understand that Chinese propaganda is claiming that Bitter Winter is an anti-Chinese operation masterminded by groups classified as xie jiao (“heterodox teachings” – the current translation as “evil cults” is incorrect) such as Falun Gong, the Shouters, the Full Scope Church, and The Church of Almighty God. We are also told that false documents are being fabricated “proving” these allegations, and we expect them to surface soon.

The first day we started Bitter Winter, we introduced it as “a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China.” We stated the obvious: reports on persecution often come from the very movements that are persecuted, including those classified as xie jiao. But we receive reports from a great plurality of sources, as evidenced by our coverage of Catholic and Muslim issues unrelated to the xie jiao question, and of the frequent mistreatment of believers of the government-controlled Three Self Church itself.

Bitter Winter is a publication of CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions. We have a thirty-year record as a voice for scholarly integrity and religious liberty. Totalitarian regimes and other enemies of religious liberty have accused us of being members of almost any conceivable “cult,” which is paradoxical, since the managing director of CESNUR is a Roman Catholic, its president is a Roman Catholic priest, and one member of its board is an ordained Methodist minister. We have not been intimidated by other campaigns of fake news, and we will certainly not be intimidated by this one either.