As far as is known publicly, the CCP has been persecuting Protestantism, Catholicism and other religious groups and trampling on human rights from the moment it came into power. Particularly after Xi Jinping came to power, the CCP started fully promoting Sinicization of Christianity, wantonly arresting and persecuting Christians, human rights activists, and dissidents. On the 11th of March, China approved the constitutional amendment abolishing presidential term limits. Some analysts believe that this means XiJinping will be governing China for a long time to come. So, what sort of situation will human rights and religious freedom be facing in China? At the same time, since the CCP’s persecution of Christianity has gradually been intensifying, some Christians have fled abroad to seek international protection, but their appeals have been rejected in certain countries for various reasons. The situation of these Christians began drawing the attention of some experts, scholars and human rights lawyers.
Recently, prominent Spanish human rights lawyer Mr. Carlos Iglesias gave an interview to the reporter from The Voice for Global Freedom. In the interview, he analyzed and discussed the state of human rights and religious freedom in China, as well as the rejection of asylum requests from exiled Chinese Christians.
M: As we know, on the 11th of March 2018, the proposal for the constitutional amendment to abolish presidential term limits was approved in the National Popular Assembly, and some analysts believe this means that Xi Jinping will be governing China for a long and indefinite time to come. So, what effect do you think this will have on human rights and religious freedom in China?
C: Yes, absolutely. This decision, adopted by the CCP, is making it clear that we are dealing with a relentless dictatorship. Let’s not forget that the will of a dictatorial ruler is always to try and make itself permanent for the longest time possible. And so, this is a clear sign that, once again, we find ourselves up against a relentless and cruel dictatorship. (Saying it’s) cruel is evidently because of the persecution they are conducting hatefully against innocent people and against human rights. The current situation, with this perpetuation at the hands of Xi Jinping, is an exhibition of what has been happening over the last 70 years. It’s nothing new. It’s the decision of the CCP itself to send a clear message to the world that, from now on, what is happening and shall go on happening is that they’ll be persecuting and continuing to intensify the persecution of human rights in China and restriction of religious freedoms. Unsurprisingly, because this was actually what Mao Zedong was going for, right? It’s nothing new, right? And in fact, we could think, has there been any progress for human rights during Xi Jinping’s term of office? The reality tells that there has been no progress. Human rights have continued to be violated. Specifically, this isn’t limited to the persecution of spiritual and religious beliefs, but it’s also a grim and horrible persecution of activists, human rights advocates, for, let’s say, for the whole time Xi Jinping has been in office. Therefore, if this continues over time in a continual and permanent way, what we’ll be thinking is that there isn’t going to be any progress for human rights, but that it’ll actually be the opposite, right? In fact, we could think about what has happened with the previous presidents and main representatives of the CCP, as has been the case with Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao, where, in some way, human rights have continued being permanently violated and, with a particularly focused attack on the universal principle of spiritual belief, of religious belief. This has continued with Xi Jinping, right? The specific cases are the Christians for whom, evidently, persecution has intensified, and particularly the relations that currently exist with the Vatican, where there has been a rapprochement. And actually, all the underground churches right now are completely unprotected. So, we think this decision made by the CCP is bad news, very bad news for human rights in China.
M: Despite many democratic countries and international human rights organizations criticizing the state of human rights in China, the Chinese government showcased its “vision for human rights with Chinese characteristics” and believes that “developing countries should consider subsistence and progress rights as primary human rights.” What’s your opinion on this?
C: Well, in reality this is just pure CCP propaganda. We have to stress this: we’re up against a dictatorship, an undeniable, genuine dictatorship, and therefore, this is the CCP’s attempt to deceive the rest of the world once again by sending out these messages that human rights should have Chinese characteristics, right? In reality, human rights are universal. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself, the basic and fundamental claim is that these apply to all of humanity. Therefore, there just can’t be specific “special” human rights with Chinese characteristics, because this would just mean, logically, that you’re wanting to be misleading and have complete freedom to violate human rights. This is, again, another ruse of the Chinese Communist regime’s propaganda. But, in particular, you have to question, let’s say, the principle of the right to subsistence, right? Because really, what is the universal value of human rights? What is the main priority for a person? Obviously, the right to life! The right to life, their physical integrity, but also their beliefs, their freedom to have beliefs, and of course, the right to subsistence. Obviously, right? But, once again, the CCP wants to try and make the world see, misleading everybody, that the right to subsistence should be prioritized, yes of course it should be! But if leaving (all other rights) behind, they may have complete freedom to violate other fundamental rights, the right to life, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and of course, religious freedom, right? So, what situation do we find ourselves in? It’s another hoax that the CCP are attempting to orchestrate, wanting to make the world think that it shouldn’t interfere, it shouldn’t meddle with their personal interpretation of the human rights that their citizens have. And this is extremely dangerous. Because, if in the end it’s left up to the CCP itself to decide which human rights they should respect and which they shouldn’t, we’re finding ourselves facing a logical perpetuation of these terrible violations, right? Even the right to subsistence should be questioned. Because, to a large degree, the CCP is trying to make the world believe, as part of its propaganda, that millions of Chinese people really have been taken out of poverty! Right? But we’re up against a horrible reality: More than a hundred million Chinese people aren’t living at a minimum level of subsistence. For example, it’s very important to know that 1% of the Chinese population, who are multimillionaires, linked to the CCP, holds practically one third of all wealth in China. The inequality is horrific! So, even this principle of subsistence that they’re trying to showcase for the world is false as well, it’s another hoax, right? They are trying to relate this subsistence to the CCP itself, and this progress to the CCP too. But, really, for the CCP, the citizen, the people, they don’t matter at all. No, they don’t. It doesn’t defend their rights, it doesn’t defend their progress, their freedoms. It is a huge, a massive lie! The only thing that interests the CCP is the progress of the Party itself, its structure, the major structures of the Party, and that everything linked to the Party truly prospers, and of course, it is also through corruption (we have proof of this) that they are bringing it about. This massive economic development creates huge opportunities, but the vast majority of the Chinese population don’t have access to. So it’s not true that the right to subsistence and progress is being defended. It’s another lie. The CCP’s right to subsistence is being defended, not the right of the Chinese citizens. This is important to understand. But, the most important thing is not to let them deceive us, not to be manipulated by this message from the CCP. All they want to do is use this propaganda to continue persecuting people for their beliefs, continue assassinating people for their beliefs, presenting to the world “a different reality”, it’s another hoax, right? That human rights are being respected in China! There are no special human rights in China! There are only human rights that are common to all of humanity, and which are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for every citizen, every individual, wherever they are in the world, advocated by the United Nations, and among them, there are the fundamental rights: the right to life, to freedom, to freedom of belief, to religious freedom. These rights are being trampled upon and permanently violated by the CCP.
M: So, they’re deceiving the rest of the world, right?
C: Absolutely! In reality, they’ve been deceiving the rest of the world for 70 years! Let’s say, their methods of communication with the rest of world are manipulation and deceit. Everything that gets in the news outside of China is, logically, censured first of all. Nothing can be broadcast to the world without it having been approved by the CCP first. And then secondly, it’s distorted. Almost nothing that gets broadcast is true. All they are trying to do is clean up the CCP’s reputation but then, behind closed doors, what is happening within China is horrific: People are continuing to be arrested for their beliefs; people are continuing to be tortured for their spiritual and religious principles; people are continuing to be assassinated, right there in China’s prisons and forced labor camps, for whatever spiritual belief, including Christians, right? This reality is something that the rest of the world is unaware of, because it’s being misled by the CCP.
M: As you said, the state of human rights and religious freedom in China under the rule of the CCP is worsening. This has made many Christians unable to continue their belief and have to flee overseas. Over the last few years, some Christians from underground churches have fled abroad to seek political asylum, but have been rejected for reasons such as “the asylum seeker was able to obtain a passport and exit China safely.” As a human rights lawyer who has studied the human rights situation in China for many years, do you think that such reasons for rejection are in line with the Refugee Act?
C: No, absolutely not! Basically, they aren’t in line for several reasons: Because sometimes in Western countries, legal mechanisms for free, democratic societies are used, but China isn’t like that. For China, you have to remember that we are up against a dictatorship, a country whose governors’ corruption is totally widespread, and where there is no existing legal system that acts independently and, let’s say, with complete freedom. For example, how can someone get a passport? Someone who is actually being persecuted, who fears for their very life because they are an object of persecution because of their beliefs, through contracts and motivated by the extreme fear he has, can manage to obtain a passport. It’s not difficult in China. In the system in China, the corruption is widespread, completely widespread, and so it’s not difficult to obtain a passport. It’s really not difficult. It comes at a price and can be obtained. But also, it has to be taken into account that often, persecution isn’t obvious, it’s conducted in secret, using mechanisms that don’t leave any evidence, that don’t leave behind any traces, where sometimes, the legal systems themselves don’t even keep records either. Since China is such a large country, it is possible that someone is being persecuted but at the same time, isn’t recorded as a persecuted individual in the Chinese legal system, right? So, we’re saying that it is perfectly possible for someone to obtain a passport, when at the same time, they are being persecuted. It isn’t difficult to understand at all! If you’re in a situation like China’s dictatorship and in such a large country, right? Therefore, it’s also important to know that sometimes, when people are persecuted, it’s done in secret, without being broadcast, without being made public, even sometimes by the people themselves because they’re being controlled, manipulated by the very citizens in a town, their neighbors or the locals in the region where the person is being persecuted for their beliefs; it’s these people who are acting as instigators, the people spying on the person and no, this isn’t put down in a public record by some official organization. So, it’s not difficult to get a passport. All that the asylum offices in the west need to do is understand what the situation in China is like at the moment, the actual situation where so many innocent people are being persecuted, millions of people are being persecuted for their beliefs; they need to put themselves in that situation, with that terrible fear, that absolute distress where you sense that your life, and your family’s lives, are in serious danger because of your beliefs. That is what they have to understand. Not focusing on whether they have a passport or not, just understand the reality of what is happening under the CCP dictatorship.
M: We have also heard of typical cases where the reason for rejecting the asylum request of some Christians from The Church of Almighty God was that, despite the fact that The Church of Almighty God is being persecuted in China, the asylum seekers themselves are not being directly persecuted. Therefore, the request is not valid. Could you give your opinion?
C: Of course! It should be noted too that, in fact, international protection doesn’t require the person to have been persecuted. The requirement of this right to international protection is that your own beliefs, your religion, your faith, are being persecuted in the country and therefore, that your life may be in danger simply because the sphere of your beliefs, what you think, is being persecuted. It isn’t necessary for each individual to be personally experiencing persecution, it isn’t a requirement for them to be granted protection. This is an important element to take into account. So, first of all, it’s not necessary for someone to be experiencing persecution themselves, just for their faith, their religion (in their region, in their country) to be the object of persecution. But secondly, like we said earlier, it can happen that this persecution is carried out secretly, and it’s obvious that we can’t provide evidence for it sometimes, right? We can’t get evidence, proof that the person is being persecuted because, sometimes, their own neighbors are the people spying on them, taking photographs of them, following them every time they leave to go somewhere, creating this climate of tension, which, obviously, you have no way of exhibiting, of proving it, right? Also, all of this is orchestrated through mechanisms that aren’t public, they’re secret. All of the persecution that is orchestrated in China isn’t carried out in the open, in public, it’s done privately, hidden, in secret, without leaving proof, without leaving evidence. The rest of the world has to understand that when someone holds beliefs, their very life is in danger, this person is in danger of being arrested, imprisoned, tortured, assassinated. Right? Millions of people at this time are being arrested in China, held in prisons, in forced labor camps, because of their beliefs, and they are being tortured and assassinated, and the world needs to know about it. This climate of terror, of panic, of distress that people who hold beliefs are experiencing in China! Therefore, what has to be understood by these countries who have to grant asylum is that in many cases, although these people cannot physically demonstrate that they are being persecuted, in reality, they qualify for that protection, and they have to be granted that protection, right? Because, moreover, it’s highly distressing, sometimes a truly insurmountable fear, living with that terrible distress of knowing that, at any moment, you could be arrested, you could be thrown into prison, you could be tortured, you could be assassinated because of your beliefs. This has to be properly understood, and we have to open up our minds, our hearts, to realize the extent of this terrible distress in which some of the people who have spiritual beliefs in China are living.
M: One of the reasons for rejection is that the asylum seekers cannot provide direct proof of their personal experiences, such as police evidence and arrest warrants, or legal evidence of having been injured or mutilated by persecution. Because of this, their request for asylum is not accepted. What do you think about this?
C: Again we find ourselves up against a decision that is irrational, (and) unjust. We have to put ourselves in the situation of a dictatorship, a dictatorship like that of the CCP. It’s obvious that, when someone is being persecuted, there’s no evidence for it, there doesn’t tend to be any evidence, any traces left behind, there don’t tend to be any records that are then put into the hands of this individual. If someone is imprisoned, obviously they’re put in jail but, if somehow they manage to get out, they aren’t going to be given a piece of paper (or some document) stating that this person has been imprisoned, has been tortured, has been beaten. It’s completely irrational to think that the torturers themselves, the people who are persecuting, who are even intending to go as far as assassinating people, will be the ones leaving evidence of all of the crimes and human rights violations that they are committing. That just doesn’t happen, they’re not going to leave proof, they’re not going to leave evidence. No dictatorship, or no crime that is committed under a dictatorship leaves proof, leaves visible evidence, right? So, we have to place ourselves directly in the situation that is being experienced by the section of population being persecuted for their beliefs, and then, trust the rational testimony of the individuals, that these individuals can explain their own experiences, how they feel, how they are living in this terrible distress, with their faith, their beliefs, and also, see directly into their heart, whether their testimony makes sense (what they’re saying), whether they are really speaking sincerely and sense that they are speaking sincerely. Right? Evidence is absolutely secondary for one reason, because we are not dealing with a free and democratic country where the legal system wields power, or is independent, or where there are courts that keep all of the evidence, that record everything. In China it’s not like that. The CCP always operates in the dark, in the greatest secrecy possible, in obscurity. They have always, absolutely, during their 70 years of history, acted that way, in secrecy, deceiving, concealing, always carrying out completely mafia-type practices. They are a genuine mafia, a cult. They operate in this way, leaving no evidence, no proof. We have to trust the hearts of the people who are suffering, look them in the eye and realize what they are suffering. And that’s why we have to grant them the protection they’re seeking.
M: In the worsening situation of human rights and religious freedom in China, the political asylum applications of Chinese Christians and other persecuted Chinese groups are hindered. What can we do for this?
C: Well, this is a problem. These truly are difficult times; they are very tough times for all those people in China who hold beliefs, Christians and other majority groups who are being persecuted, right? Right now many people around the world, in western countries, still don’t really know the true face of the CCP, who is the genuine criminal, dictator, torturer, genocider. So, it is necessary to broadcast as much as possible, through the mass media, so that more people throughout the world can know the real face of the CCP, so the world will not be deceived by the CCP, manipulated by the friendly face of the CCP’s economy. It’s time to wake up! People’s hearts and minds need to open up. We need to realize that we are facing a genuine, tragic dictatorship whose hands are stained with the blood of millions of innocent people. The world has to wake up! So, we have to broadcast this as much as possible, through mass media, so that the world will realize the true face of the CCP as a genocidal party, torturers and a terrible and cruel dictatorship. So, my advice is also that this type of program and, especially, other types of communication must show the world the truth. THE TRUTH! The only truth of the CCP that exists. We have to achieve this too, so that many people, more and more people will know what is happening.