ADHRRF – At 6:30 p.m. on April 20, 2018, an event was jointly organized by Association for Chinese Human Rights and Religious Freedom (ACHRRF) and Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) under the theme of “Focus on the Truth of Religious Persecution in China” at Exile Room in Athens city center. This event aims to broaden the awareness of religious persecution in China and call for more attention to asylum applications of Chinese Christians in Greece through a film screening and discussion.
On that day, about 60 people participated in this event, including Mr. Yonous Muhammadi (President of GFR), Ms. Alexia Tsouni from Greek Section of Amnesty International, Mr. Dove Barbanel from Melissa Network, plus representatives of some other NGOs, Christians, and local citizens. The film shown in the event is Chronicles of Religious Persecution in China: To the Brink and Back, a documentary produced by The Church of Almighty God, which recounts the true experience of persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suffered by Chen Wenzhong, a Chinese Christian.
After the film, the representative of ACHRRF, David Lu, gave a speech on the past and the present of the CCP’s persecution against house churches. He pointed out that the CCP proclaims freedom of religious belief in the international community, and has signed the United Nations Conventions, yet it secretly suppresses and cruelly persecutes religions at home. Ever since the CCP took power in 1949, many house churches have been forcefully outlawed, and countless Christians have been arrested and imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to labor reform, with at least tens of thousands of Christians being murdered by the CCP.
David Lu also introduced the situation of Chinese Christians seeking asylum in Greece. He said, about 110 Chinese Christians are applying for asylum in Greece. In Athens, 31 asylum applicants have received a decision, among whom 20 were denied. In Thessaloniki, 10 asylum applicants receiving a decision have all been refused. Due to the information blockades imposed by the Chinese government, it is difficult for the public to know the brutality of persecution Christians have suffered and their precarious position in China. He is deeply concerned that more Christians’ asylum applications might be refused, and that those who have been refused will risk being arrested, detained, and even deported back to China. In this respect, he hopes that the Greek government and more human rights organizations can pay heed to the truth of Chinese religious persecution and provide further assistance to Chinese Christians who seek asylum in Greece.
Mr. Yonous Muhammadi, president of GFR, maintained that the situation of Christians in China is really concerning so they are entitled to the refugee status. Greek Forum of Refugees, as a non-governmental organization to support refugees, will endeavor to help the Chinese Christian refugees and asylum seekers, and also call for support from other human rights organizations to give maximum publicity to the truth that Chinese Christians have suffered brutal persecution and to change their asylum-seeking situation.
Based on Amnesty International’s annual reports in previous years, Ms. Alexia Tsouni narrated the truth that the Chinese Communist authorities have always been suppressing religious groups. She said there is no true freedom of belief in China. All the religious groups are persecuted to various extents, and Christians from house churches are most aggressively persecuted. Chinese Christians, once repatriated, will face the risk of being arrested and persecuted. She affirmed that Amnesty International will actively help the refugee groups.
Mr. Dove Barbanel, the representative of Mellisa Network, expressed that he looked forward to the cooperation in the future, to better help those Chinese Christians who seek asylum in Greece.
After the event, most participants said that they gained a better understanding of the CCP’s persecution against house church Christians through the film, and expressed their support to Christians.