Since the Chinese Communist Party came into power, it has been oppressing religious beliefs and frantically arresting and persecuting Christians. In recent years, some Chinese Christians have been forced to flee overseas because of their faith. However, their asylum applications are denied in Western countries, especially some in Europe, as the authorities of these countries do not acknowledge the fact that these Christians have been subjected to persecution, and they are in danger of being deported back to China. Carlos Iglesias, a senior Spanish human rights lawyer, comments on the egregious human rights situation in China, as well as its status quo of religious persecution. Regarding the exiled Chinese Christians being denied political asylum, Mr. Iglesias appeals to the authorities of Western countries to act with caution, saying “when they grant or deny this asylum, what is at stake is that person’s life.”
What follows is an edited version of the conversation of human rights lawyer Carlos Iglesias with the reporter from Eastern Light.
W: Welcome you, Mr. Carlos!
C: Thanks a lot!
W: Carlos, I’d like to know, how many years have you been working as a lawyer?
C: Well, I have been a lawyer for over 30 years, and specializing in human rights for about 16 years, handling various cases, basically defending all human rights that have been violated at the global level, especially in China.
W: Ah, especially in China. So, do you know the human rights situation in China well?
C: Yes, yes, practically since 2003 we started with the first judicial actions when we saw that they were carrying out great persecutions on spiritual and religious levels in China, since then almost 15 years, I know all about the human rights situation in China very well and the violations that are being carried out by the CCP.
W: So, according to your research on human rights in China, which churches or groups suffer the most persecution in China today?
C: Yes, there are several, there are several. Fundamentally the CCP always persecutes any spiritual belief, but especially those that are more rooted, more people who believe in them. This is the case of Falun Gong, millions of practitioners. It is the case of The Church of Almighty God, where Christians are being persecuted too, but especially those churches, those spiritual beliefs that are deeply rooted in China, that are held by millions of Chinese people or many Chinese people, that is the object of all persecution of the CCP. So they are persecuting millions of innocent citizens for their spiritual beliefs.
W: You have mentioned The Church of Almighty God, do you know this church?
C: Yes, yes. I know some members of this church, I have had the opportunity to speak with them. Hey, we have exchanged opinions, and I know their situation, I’ve investigated, the situation that’s happening in China, and outside China, and I know there is a real terrible, bloody persecution, without any justification, because the CCP tries to defame with their strategy in order to justify the persecution, defaming people who are good people, who simply believe in God, who have their principles and values, and that’s why they are being persecuted by the CCP. And these people of The Church of Almighty God with whom I have contacted are good people, honest people, righteous Chinese citizens who are simply trying to be better people, and so are being persecuted, tortured and even killed within China.
W: Do you think Western countries know the situation of persecution of religious beliefs in China?
C: Well, really in the West they have no knowledge of the reality of what is happening in China, there are several reasons which explain this. The first is because of the control and censorship that the CCP exerts especially the media, it controls television, the radio, the press, the Internet, the official Xinhua news agency. And all the news that is produced in China has to be pre-approved by the CCP, this makes it difficult for Western countries to understand the reality, the real news that happens in China. Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to know what is happening within China, but even for the Chinese themselves it is very difficult to also know the reality of what is happening in China, because the only things that come to light, are what the CCP are going to publish and that is what they want to publish. So the reality is that in the West China remains a great unknown, especially at the level of rights, freedoms, human rights violations, all this is hidden, completely hidden by the CCP. And the only way they have to make this known, is for all those people, institutions that really know the reality of what is happening in China, they are the ones who have to disseminate directly all this news to let the world know what is happening.
W: But, according to economic development in China, some think that the human rights situation is improving as well, what do you think about it?
C: No, not at all. The reality is that it is not improving anything. The defenses, the promotion of human rights in China is all a big lie, it is great propaganda, the CCP is an expert in lying. In general, it’s like a stage in a theatre where there are appearances, but the reality behind it is that human rights continue to be violated in a serious, bloody way, torture is still being done in prisons and in the forced labour camps in China to innocent people, who have committed no crime. Their only crime is having spiritual beliefs, their only crime is believing in God, believing in some religious, principles, values, those are their crimes, so they are arrested, so they are persecuted, so they are tortured, and that’s why they’re killed. The reality is that today, in the 21st century, after so many years, terrible human rights violations still occur in China, nothing has improved at all. And it is more, in recent times, the last years it is intensifying, the persecution is increasing even more, pushing people even more so that they cannot have freedom of beliefs.
W: Could we say that there are many people who are being deceived by the CCP?
C: A lot of people. But not just outside of China, but within China. The Chinese people themselves are being deceived. Because the only news they receive, the only information, what they are taught in schools, what they see on television, all of that is usually lies from the party, which only tries to convey its culture, its atheist concept, its one-way thinking, and that’s what it tries to get into each of the Chinese citizen’s brains. Therefore, the first deceived and manipulated are the Chinese people, and logically also outside China: The Western countries are also being deceived, so we talked before: Censorship, control, lying and propaganda that is slowly believed outside of China, when it is given credibility, when it is being proved that it is an authentic dictatorship, the CCP that has always been characterized by lies, deceit, manipulation, and the world must awaken, and the West must awaken, and realize that they are being deceived, manipulated, by a veritable dictatorship that disguises itself in sheep’s wool, but behind it is a wolf that seeks to simply destroy humanity.
W: Right. In spite of that, we see the Western countries and some media were still using the materials the CCP offered to discredit and deliberately condemn The Church of Almighty God. How do you consider this question?
C: Of course, really the Western media sometimes have difficulties in giving complete, truthful information, an objective information. Precisely because they are fed by what they have, the information they obtain is that which facilitates the CCP’s own dictatorship. And that information is manipulated, it’s controlled, it’s censored. Therefore, if the media do not try to balance and do not try to give the real opinion counting for example on the opinion of their own members of The Church of Almighty God, to know the first-hand reality and have the other version, we are not really given complete information, partial information is being given, distorted information only with the version that is by the CCP. Therefore, the media are also being manipulated, the Western media, and the information they transmit sadly is not truthful, it is not complete, it is not objective. Because it is only availing itself of the vast majority of the information that is given from within China.
W: I agree, well, what do you think of the Western media that are being deceived?
C: I am sure, convinced, that the Western media try to be fair, truthful, objective, What happens is that it is not enough just to try, you have to prove it and put up the means for them. And to get that, you need to have complete information. The complete information is obtained when you are able to interview those who are persecuted, the victims, the relatives of the victims. Those who are being locked in prisons, in forced labour camps. Those who are being limited in their rights and beliefs. That’s how you can be given the complete and truthful information. But if you don’t have that part, the weakest part, the part of the victims, the part of those who are really suffering, you cannot say that this information is complete or truthful. Because in the end the most important part, that of those who are suffering, you do not have them in mind. Therefore, my advice to the media is that you never believe what the CCP tells you, there are multiple examples in history that the reality of what they are telling is false, it is a lie. If you want to supplement that information, go to the source of those who are being defamed, those who are generating the rumours, those who they say are bad! Interview them! Get your information! And then I’m sure you’ll have a good part of the truth, if this is achieved!
W: That’s it! The CCP applies all the state forces to deceive the world, to persecute religious beliefs, what do you think could be the CCP’s motive?
C: Eh, in my years of analyzing the persecutions that are occurring in China, the explanation is clear. The CCP really has a … from my point of view, it has a single purpose, and it is to make the world, humanity, lose its essence, its values. Unprotect them completely. Dissect from them the values that define a human being, such as the values of loyalty, honesty, truth, tolerance, which does not interest the CCP, it is only interested in atheism, one way of thinking and to have control over each and every one of its citizens, to define that the culture of the CCP is the one that all Chinese citizens must follow, and consequently that is their pretension but that is impossible that the CCP’s doctrine be compatible with the principles of freedom or respect for the rights of human beings, right? So we really have to be aware that above any dictatorship the CCP is terrible, there should be the defense of freedom and human dignity.
W: Mm, what could we do to make more people know the truth?
C: All that could be done is precisely to make known the truth, to disseminate all that knowledge we have at the individual level or by group, by associations that have knowledge of the reality of what is occurring, with the victims, with the relatives of the victims that are released worldwide, disseminating through media, through web, social networks, in every possible way so that the world knows the reality
of what is happening in China. Therefore, I encourage all institutions, associations that defend human rights, even those brave western governments that want to take the step, to really tell the truth of how the Chinese people are also suffering from all these human rights restrictions, the freedoms, the religious spiritual beliefs that are being persecuted in China even to death, even with torture, with murder, taking people’s lives for their own beliefs, this is happening in the 21st century, now in China, and it’s been going on for many years. The reality is that in all the history of the CCP, almost 70 years, 80 million have been killed, 80 million people have been killed throughout the life of the CCP, since the Cultural Revolution, the famines of the 50s, the Tiananmen Square massacre, all religious persecutions, reach such a huge number of 80 million people killed, and today people are still being tortured and killed for their spiritual beliefs in China.
W: What could Western countries do to enable the Chinese people’s religious freedom?
C: The first thing they would have to do from my point of view that the western governments should
look inward and think what the CCP is. Where does power come from? Power comes from the citizens,
the power that the governments have derives from society, the power that the governments have derives from the universal values that are above people. If they want to regain their dignity, if they want to regain being considered truly worthy representatives of their citizens, they have to take a step forward, and demand that the CCP cease all the atrocities it is carrying out, that they impose themselves on the bilateral relations an express dialogue of human rights where the CCP is imposed a condition, and is respecting life, respecting the dignity of human beings, respecting their values, their beliefs. Because that is what the United Nations say that any people should do. Therefore, Western governments have to be courageous, and not submissive to power—the CCP’s theoretical economic power. Economic agreements cannot be exchanged for human lives, it cannot be exchanged, institutional relations that have economically important interests can not be exchanged for restricting human rights. You can’t do this! If we are doing this, we are liquidating the greatest assets of any free society, which is the freedom and dignity of human beings.
W: In fact, in the last few years, some persecuted Christians in China have fled to European countries to seek asylum, but most of them have been rejected. Do you know this situation?
C: Yes, I know … I know the situation. The right of asylum is a guaranteed right, from the point of view of the United Nations, of the most civilized nations, with a clear purpose: The purpose is to protect. Total international protection to those people who are being persecuted for their political, religious, spiritual ideas. And for example, the case of The Church of Almighty God, it is clear that it is being terribly persecuted in China. Therefore, asylum is an institution created to endow these people with protection internationally, to protect them from those who want to torture them, to assassinate them for their beliefs.
And therefore, that exercise of the right to asylum should be respected, and it should be authorised, because there is a legal basis and it is fair that they be granted in all the countries where these petitions are requested, right? Therefore, those who have been rejected, have been rejected in a way that is not just. They have to be accepted, there is a legal basis for them, there is a real evidence, which is persecution.
W: In view of the unfair attitude toward Chinese Christians applying for political asylum in some European countries, what are your suggestions?
C: Well, simply look at reality, when a petition for asylum is made and there is a foundation for persecution, and there is a risk that that person, if he or she is deported to China, is going to be detained, tortured and killed, they do not have to hesitate to grant this asylum, they have to grant it! So they have to think, when they grant or deny this asylum, what is at stake is that person’s life. We are not talking about an administrative question or a right of one country or another country, we are talking about the life of that person, and that if they do not grant asylum, the risk is that the person will be tortured or killed. So, they have to think about that! Therefore, they must grant asylum! For that is why the institution created: to provide this guarantee and security.
W: It is distressing that the repatriation of religious refugees has occurred in democratic countries.
C: Well, in some way they effectively collaborated with what finally happened to that person. If this person is arrested and tortured, they who have denied asylum, have obviously made it easier for that situation to occur. And that must be thought by those Governments and institutions that have the responsibility to grant asylum, which can become, even if they do not know it, true accomplices, unwillingly, but accomplices of murders and tortures, and this is very serious!
W: Well, thank you so much for accepting our interview today.
C: All right, thank you very much.
Source: Eastern Light