||Monday, January 10, 2005
||Sunday, January 02, 2005
||Thursday, December 30, 2004
2004: TWO TRENDS IN RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- For this end-of-year posting I wish to look at only two trends that were prominent in 2004 and are destined to escalate during 2005.
1)Perestroika. Openness, because of the way osmosis works, is the key which ignites an unstoppable trend towards reform. Openness must therefore be encouraged and used wisely as it provides the momentum and foundations for reform. Meanwhile perestroika (reform) is not an event that occurs at a moment in history, but a process that is fluid, and is a work-in-progress.
2)Liberty. Whose liberty? This is the question arising in multicultural democratic nations as growing Muslim minorities made zealous by the Palestinian Intifada, the War on Terror, and the growth of their own numbers, assert themselves politically and demand Muslim rights and privileges. These however, often involve the removal of others' individual freedoms.
Events in 2004 in Belarus and Ukraine demonstrate the extent to which perestroika (reform and restructure) is fluid and remains a work-in-progress.
Freedoms that were gained in Belarus in the late 1980s have been decisively drained away. Russia's freedoms are slowly and quietly seeping away. Governments can clamp down on freedom but they cannot undo the influence of even a short-lived openness. Ukrainians have just demonstrated that peaceful-people-power can depose corrupt oligarcs and bring political reform. Ukraine's peaceful "Orange Revolution" will stand as a model for action in other authoritarian former Soviet states. This is what can happen when a splintered opposition unites behind a leader of integrity and the people publicly support him or her, and the church prays.
But as analysts note, the "Orange Revolution" was not "spontaneous combustion". For Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was the fruit of a society that has matured. In totalitarian Asia, the foundations that enable peaceful political revolution (some free mea, some political awareness, and the possibility of fair elections) are not yet mature, or even in place. Ukraine will however, stand as a model and inspiration to the region and beyond.
It might be helpful though, and encouraging, to view totalitarian Asia in the light of Eastern Europe. People often think that Communism fell in an instant in Europe - the terms used are cataclysmic and instant: the Berlin wall "fell", the USSR "collapsed" - and grieve that in Tiananmen Square (Beijing, China), the tanks prevailed.
However, it is more realistic and helpful to view these events, not as solitary, decisive "perestroika events" that win or lose the battle, but as positive or negative events in a larger, fluid "perestroika process" that has its own irresistible momentum. Regarding the Berlin Wall, while it did collapse in November 1989, that event was the fruit of a four year process of concerted undermining of the foundations.
National transformation is not fast food. It cannot be purchased in a drive-through. It takes time, and if transformation is to occur without bloodshed, revolution and anarchy, then the foundations need to be replaced in advance.
In 1990, five years after Gorbechev introduced glastnost and perestroika, and one year before the disintegration of the USSR, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote words of frustration and fear ("Rebuilding Russia" Harper Collins 1991). These are words that we could apply to totalitarian Asia today.
"Time has run out for Communism. But the concrete edifice has not yet crumbled. May we not be crushed beneath its rubble instead of gaining liberty." (p9). "And what have five or six years of the much heralded 'perestroika' been used for? For some pathetic re-shuffling within the Central Committee. The slapping together of an ugly artificial electoral system designed to allow the party to continue clinging to power." (p28)
Deng Xioaping introduced economic openness and reforms to China in 1978, but how far has China progressed towards freedom? Is totalitarian Asia today in the same position Russia was in 1990? The momentum for reform is gaining. Whether they realise it not, the Asian Communist Parties and the regime of Kim jong-il may be facing a situation of reform or perish.
Totalitarian Asia has learnt from Gorbechev's accidental political suicide that openness and reform, if not carefully managed, may eventually prove fatal. Totalitarian Asia operates therefore, a sort of glastnost-lite, and perestroika-lite. But since the demise of Gorbechev, the USSR and Communism in Europe, the reins are held especially tight in Asia to ensure that the process does not gain so much momentum that the Communist Party loses control of it. The best way to slow down reform is to slow down and manage openness. Everything, especially information, is controlled by those whose main aim now is to hold on to power.
Solzhenitsyn grieved for Russia as we do now for totalitarian Asia, that the slowness of reform "represents years in the people's life given up to pointless suffering". (p35) However, he also notes that wholesale adoption of a foreign system can be ruinous and that patience is always better than a bloody and violent revolution which results in anarchy, which he describes as "the ultimate peril".
Solzhenitsyn acknowledges in his chapter, "Is the system of government really the central issue?" that continuity and stability are essential to avoid anarchy, and hence, it is more important to resolve the most pressing issues of social reform before tackling government reform. Solzhenitsyn believed that the entire state organism could be eventually reshaped by introducing reforms gradually, progressively, starting at the margins and in grass-roots issues, whilst preserving the central authority until society is ready for political reform.
This is, of course, exactly what has occurred in Ukraine. This, and not "regime collapse" or a revolution that would result in war or anarchy, is what must be encouraged and assisted in totalitarian Asia, including and especially North Korea, where the situation is so extremely dangerous. While we grieve for the 100,000 believers incarcerated in North Korean concentration camps, regime collapse in North Korea would probably lead to their slaughter as the military machine shifted into self-preservation mode.
We do not wish for Korean Christians to be "crushed beneath the rubble" of a collapsing regime and system. We wish them liberty, so we pray for wisdom in 2005, for openness and reform to advance, and for liberty for the oppressed. "The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he turns it wherever he pleases." Proverbs 21:1
There needs to be public debate about whether religious groups, because of a constitutional right they have to religious freedom, can demand that they exercise their own religious law in a way that denies others that same constitutional right.
This issue is affecting multicultural democracies that have growing Muslim minorities who are demanding Muslim laws and rights to accommodate those elements of Islamic law and culture that clash with Western, Judaeo-Christian-based laws and culture.
PARALLEL OR GRID?
Some governments are capitulating to Muslim demands out of sheer (or wilful) ignorance of what Islam permits and demands, or simply in order to capture the valuable Muslim vote or be politically correct and inclusive. Various degrees of Islamic arbitration or law for Muslims now exists in many non-Muslim nations - officially, as in Canada, and unofficially as in much of Europe, while the battle for Islamic courts is still on in Kenya.
We often picture a society that permits both Western / Judaeo-Christian laws and Islamic laws as one that has two sets of laws running in parallel. But really the situation looks more like a grid, as the two systems - Judaeo-Christian and Islamic - regularly intersect and clash as they head in different directions.
In Uganda, women have praised the government's new Domestic Relations Bill (DRB) 2003 (passed November 2004) because it prohibits polygamy, raises the marriage age to 18 years, protects against domestic violence and rape in marriage, which in turn protects against AIDS. The Bill promotes equal rights, bringing Uganda's laws in line with its own constitution. However, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) is protesting against the bill claiming it goes against the Islamic faith and Islamic laws and customs. Hopefully the Ugandan government will not be moved by such protests, and the protections and rights granted to Ugandan women will remain available to Ugandan Muslim women.
Governments that capitulate to Muslim demands are actually stripping Muslims of their religious freedom and shackling Muslim women to the demeaning, discriminatory and oppressive demands and penalties of sharia. There can be no mistake, the two systems do not run parallel - they are in conflict.
Previously in the West, Muslims have had to endure the Western/European practice of open debate and free speech. Criticism was handled by apologists, not by lawyers. But times are changing. Limits are being placed on long-held and respected freedoms in order not to "offend", regardless of how unjustifiable that feeling of offence might be, as if the giving of offence is automatically an intolerable crime. In the process, all critical debate of Islam and the Qur'an by non-Muslims is being silenced.
On 17 December 2004, in Victoria, Australia, two Christian pastors were found guilty of breaching the state's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. The charge of vilifying Islam was brought against pastors Nalliah and Scot (photo, link 1) by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). The case was heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) over the course of nearly two years. The ICV claimed the pastors vilified Islam and thus breached section 8 of the Act in a Christian seminar entitled "Insight into Islam", held in a church in March 2002.
The details are complicated and a more focused posting may be released in early February after penalties have been determined. The most serious element of this case is the fact that truth is not a defence. Section 8 of the Act states: "A person must not, on the ground of the religious belief or activity of another person or class of persons, engage in conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons. Note: 'engage in conduct' includes use of the internet or e-mail to publish or transmit statements or other material."
As noted by Andrew Bolt, an associate editor and columnist for the Melbourne (Australia) Herald Sun, 8 of the 13 reasons the judge listed in his summary of why he found the pastors guilty of vilifying Islam are actually quotes from the Qur'an. (Link 2). In fact at one point in the VCAT hearing, Daniel Scot was asked to justify his statement that the Qur'an is harsh to women. As he did, he was accused of further vilifying Islam with quotes from the Qur'an! Scot was ordered to refrain from quoting the Qur'an in his response to avoid further vilification of Islam!
Section 11 of the Act provides that a person may be granted an exemption if the conduct was engaged in reasonably, in good faith, and in the public interest. However, the judge determined that: "Pastor Scot's conduct was not engaged in reasonably and in good faith for any genuine religious purpose that is in the public interest... Having made that finding, he receives no protection under section 11 of the Act."
The President of the ICV, Mr. Yasser Soliman hailed the judgement as "a win for religious debate", adding, "This case lays some basic ground rules for religious debate in Victoria." Waleed Aly, a spokesperson for the ICV wrote in a Melbourne paper, that citizens have the right to "inform, but not inflame". This still leaves us with the problem of what to do with potentially inflammatory information.
This silencing of criticism has historically been part of the agreement with dhimmis, people of the Book living under Islamic domination. Dhimmis were granted "protection", that is, right to life in exchange for payment (jizya) and total subjugation. Any breach of the arrangement led to "protection" being withdrawn and a state of war resuming upon the individual or group. Laws that silence or punish negative criticism of Islam place non-Muslims in a position of dhimmitude.
In Britain, Prince Charles recently met with Christian and Muslim leaders to broker efforts to end the Muslim death penalty on apostates. The London Telegraph reported, "The Muslim group, which included the Islamic scholar Zaki Badawi, cautioned the Prince and other non-Muslims against speaking publicly on the issue." (Telegraph 18 Dec 2004)
Of even greater interest are the words of Ahmad Kamal Abul Magd, a prominent Islamic scholar who addressed the recent UN-sponsored seminar, "Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding", on Tuesday 7 December 2004.
Abul Magd believes the word "tolerance" is derogatory of Islam. "What we are aiming at is much more positive than the mere tolerance. Usually you don't tolerate something you admire or like but you tolerate something you are going to live with although you do not like (it)." (Islam Online 8 Dec 2004). Abul Magd is not interested in promoting tolerance - he is advocating that we should respect, admire and like Islam. He then gave reasons why we should revere Islam, reasons which were based on a totally revisionist view of history.
THE PROBLEM OF THE MISSING ABSOLUTES
Most Western governments are honourably keen to advance equal rights for all. But they are unwilling to face the fact that the "rights" of different cultures sometimes conflict. On top of this, they are so committed to secularism and appeasement that they can do nothing else other than advance the myth that all moral values (in the absence of moral absolutes) are essentially equal and good. They refuse to accept the fact that many Islamic laws and customs actually violate the laws of the land and the constitutional rights of citizens. They tolerate, and even advance, intolerance at the behest of pressure groups because that is preferable to, and easier than, imposing moral standards for the benefit of all citizens, including voiceless minorities (eg apostates and Muslim women).
So what will it take for governments and societies to realise how precious and worth preserving are their Judaeo-Christian foundations, rights and freedoms? Will it take sectarian murder and violence, as was seen in the Netherlands this year with the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh, who was slain by an Islamic militant? This followed the screening of his 11-minute film on Islam entitled "Submission", the script of which was written by Ayaen Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who fled an arranged marriage and became a refugee, apostasised in Europe, and became a Dutch MP in 2003. The Dutch are now looking at issues of immigration, multiculturalism and assimilation.
In the light of the events of 2004, Bat Ye'or's new book "Eurabia" (due for release in April/May 2005) will surely beone of the most confronting, controversial and challenging books of 2005.
STANDING UP FOR LIBERTY
As Islamic rights are advanced in the non-Muslim world, Muslims who seek liberty find that sharia is an inescapable stalker, and non-Muslims are being forced to comply with elements of dhimmitude, commencing with self-hatred and advancing to submission.
Standing up for liberty means standing against sharia for the liberty of Muslims, and against dhimmitude for the liberty of the rest of society.
1) NALLIAH and SCOT
2) Playing with fire. By Andrew Bolt.
Herald Sun. 22 Dec 2004
Elizabeth Kendal is the Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) www.worldevangelical.org/rlc.html. This article was initially written for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis mailing list.
. 5:30:16 PM
||Tuesday, December 28, 2004
||Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Chinese Activist Wins Press Freedom Award [VOA]
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) official unveils the 3 winners of the RSF - Fondation de France Prize 2004
Liu Xiaobo, a prominent Chinese dissident, has won an international award as a defender of press freedoms. The announcement comes as a number of prominent activists in China are being arrested or detained.
Despite repeated government efforts to silence him, Liu Xiaobo refuses to back down. The former Beijing University teacher has been in and out of prison since 1989, when he spoke out in support of the students involved in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.
Wednesday, the organization Reporters Without Borders honored his courage and his commitment to a free press, naming him the leading defender of press freedoms in 2004.
Vincent Brossel of Reporters without Borders says Mr. Liu has consistently championed an open society, and has called for the release of jailed reporters, at a risk to his personal freedom. "He's facing a real risk," said Vincent Brossel. "He has been fighting for freedom of expression for years. He can be arrested at any time."
Forty nine-year-old Mr. Liu is the director of the Chinese PEN Center, the country's only independent advocate for the rights of journalists. He spent two years in jail for participating in the 1989 democracy movement. In 1996, the government sentenced him to another three years in a labor camp for criticizing the Communist Party. Earlier this year he published an online essay that criticized government use of subversion charges against some journalists.
Authorities cut off his telephone and Internet service in May, and repeatedly denied his requests for a passport. He and two other prominent intellectuals were briefly detained earlier this month, accused of revealing state secrets to foreigners.
Mr. Brossel says Beijing once again trying to tighten its control over its social critics, and cited a number of recent actions. "Officials are targeting respected intellectuals, journalists, freedom activists in the past three days one journalist has been arrested and one farmers' rights activist was under detention," he said.
Other press freedom awards went to an Algerian journalist who was jailed for libel after exposing corruption, and a Mexican weekly newspaper that saw three of its reporters killed after a series of investigative reports.
. 2:45:15 PM
Chinese workers blog in protest. From Poynter E-Media Tidbits, Fons Tuinstra reports from Shanghai that "Chinese strikers use weblogs for their struggle. " The worker's blog is here. The first article on the blog is the New York Times report on their strike. This is... [China Digital News]
. 2:39:10 PM
China breifly detained 'outspoken' editorial writer. From Reuters, via the New Zealand Herald: "China has arrested the chief editorial writer at China Reform magazine, continuing a Communist Party campaign to silence outspoken liberal intellectuals, sources familiar with the case said on Tuesday. Journalist Chen Min, who... [China Digital News]
. 2:37:21 PM
||Tuesday, December 21, 2004
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES TO PROTEST CHINA’S POLICY OF REPATRIATING NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES
By John M. Lindner
Special to ASSIST News Service
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Human rights advocates are planning a worldwide protest this Wednesday, December 22, against China’s policy of repatriating North Korean refugees.
The protests are scheduled to be held at Chinese embassies and consulates in major cities worldwide, including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Toronto, Houston, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Sydney, Seoul and Pusan. The campaign is being planned by South Korea based International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of the NK Refugees.
Mrs. Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition will lead the 11 a.m. protest in Washington, D.C. at the Chinese embassy, 2000 Connecticut Ave., N.W. A crowd of about 100 persons is expected to join in the D.C. protest, representing a score of U.S. human rights agencies, including the Wilberforce Forum and the Defense Forum Foundation.
Hannah Song of Liberation in North Korea (LiNK) will lead a protest at China’s Mission to the U.N. in New York. LiNK was started by a Yale student in March 2004 and has rapidly grown to 70 chapters across the U.S., with additional chapters in Europe and South Korea.
The protest movement carries the endorsement of U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Congressmen Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Christopher Cox (R-CA). President George W. Bush signed into law the North Korean Human Rights Act (H.R. 4011) on October 18, which defends human rights of N.K. refugees, sets stricter guidelines providing humanitarian help for those suffering in N.K., and provides for NK refugees to seek asylum in the U.S.
According to U.S. News and World Report, more than 400,000 persons are believed to have perished in North Korean prison camps the last 30 years. At least 200,000 are currently being detained and brutalized in government-run gulags. Two of the camps are larger in area than the District of Columbia, and a third is three times the size of D.C.
The regime of North Korea President, Kim Jong Il, is also responsible for the 4 million North Koreans who have died of starvation since 1995, using international food aid to stockpile the nation’s military complexes instead of feeding its people.
South Korean human rights groups estimate that more than 200,000 North Koreans are living in hiding in China, waiting for a chance to defect to South Korea. There they are welcomed by ethnic Korean Christians and Chinese nationals, but if caught by China’s military police, are forcefully repatriated back to North Korea, where they face inevitable punishment, imprisonment and even death.
According to North Korean law, defection is punishable by death, and just attempting to defect is considered treason.
Nearly 6,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953, including 1,139 in 2002, 1,281 in 2003 and about 1,500 so far this year.
China’s policy of repatriating NK refugees violates the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees, of which China is a signatory.
At the protest in D.C., Scholte plans to read aloud the list of North Korean defectors seized by Chinese authorities.
“Reading the list is important,” Scholte told ASSIST News Service in an email.
“Having been involved in a number of protests, I did wonder whether reading this list was having an impact since the Chinese usually blocked us from delivering the list and petitions to their embassies at past protests. Earlier this year in March during the International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees sponsored by the Citizens Alliance and held in Warsaw, Poland, we read this list once again in front of the Chinese embassy. In August, 6 months later, I got this email from Human Rights activist Sang Hun Kim:
“I have very encouraging news for you, Suzanne! As you must have been informed, Mr. Kim Hee-tae was found ‘not guilty’ by the Chinese court and he is now with me in Seoul. One of the first things he told me was that sometime last March, he managed to keep a radio at night in the prison...and, one night, heard your voice calling his name in front of the Chinese Embassy in Poland through Radio Free Asia. Isn't it amazing! He was so encouraged and filled with new strength to fight at that time.”
“China cannot avoid international scrutiny for her treatment of North Koreans and their human rights defenders,” says a LiNK press release. “On December 22, 2004, we ask that those of conscience voice their outrage at this grave and tragic injustice.”
Participating agencies based in South Korea include the NK Network for NK Democracy and Human Rights, the Pnan Organization, the NK Defectors Association, the International Coalition for NK Human Rights, the Commission to Help NK Refugees, the NK Defector Businessmen’s Association, the Save Choi Young-Yun, and the Durihana Missionary organizations. 
The Save Choi Young-Hun group was founded out of concern for Mr. Choi Young Yunj, a South Korean human rights activist who was part of the failed boat people rescue, was arrested by the Chinese, and has been in prison for two years, according to coalition spokesperson, Eileen Choi.
A complete list of NK detainees can be found at www.nkzone.org and scroll down for “the List.”
A complete list of participating organizations can be found at www.nkrefugee.org/ and click on “campaign plan.”
. 11:48:40 AM
Chinese President Praises Macau, Criticizes Hong Kong [VOA]
Chinese President Hu Jintao hailed the success of the "one-country, two systems" policy in Macau Monday, as he led 5th anniversary celebrations of the former Portuguese enclave's return to China. But the Chinese leader expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of Hong Kong.
On his first visit to Macau as China's president, Hu Jintao praised the territory's record in the five years since its return to Chinese sovereignty.
The territory, administered by Portugal for more than 400 years, is enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, fueled by foreign investments in its recently liberalized gambling industry.
Mr. Hu says time has proven that the "one country, two systems" formula is, in his words, "entirely correct".
China's late leader, Deng Xiaoping, crafted the concept of "one country, two systems" to deal with the then impending return of Macau and the British colony of Hong Kong in the late 1990s. The policy provided for a high degree of political autonomy for the two territories and preserved their capitalist systems, despite China's communist system.
The model was also meant to entice Taiwan, which has been self-governed since 1949, to return to Beijing's rule.
But while Macau has experienced stability and growth, Hong Kong has been beset by economic and political troubles since Britain handed it back to China in 1997. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome last year and demands for greater democracy have been among the many challenges the local administration has faced.
Beijing has refused to allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong in 2007 and 2008, when the next elections for the territory's legislature and chief executive are scheduled - prompting mass protests earlier this year.
On Sunday, Hong Kong's government suffered another embarrassment, when a court challenge forced it to scrap a $3 billion privatization of the commercial assets of its public housing estates.
At the Macau celebrations Monday, President Hu publicly berated Hong Kong's leaders, including Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who stood by looking uncomfortable as Mr. Hu spoke.
Mr. Hu told officials to reflect on what Hong Kong has gone through since returning to China, examine its shortcomings, and improve its capabilities.
President Hu has not visited Hong Kong since becoming China's president and Communist party leader last year.
. 11:46:52 AM
TORTURED FOR THE LORD
By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
CHINA (ANS) -- While Americans gear up to celebrate Christmas and enjoy God’s blessings, numerous Christians in China are carrying their cross for Lord. In His Name they are tortured, jailed, detained, tortured, fined or separated from their families.
The Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China’s (CIPRC) Chief Secretary John Lee sent this compelling and yet tragic story of the torture that four Christian evangelists suffered because of preaching the gospel.
Lee explained by e-mail how his organization obtained the account. He wrote, “God has moved many brave Christians in China in interviewing and collecting the persecution cases. Then they smuggle these reports to us in the United States. In the past several years, we have received thousands and thousands of the bloody cases. (But) we have lost many people because of this.”
Lee added, “Due to the nature of our ministry, our organization has become the target of the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘secret force’ in the U.S. They tried various means to stop us, such as stalking, intimidating, etc. But ‘The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
With that in mind, Lee wrote, “What should we do when knowing what have happened to our brothers and sisters? Where is our own cross? ‘Jesus said, ‘And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’” (Luke 14:27)
A Tragic Story
According to the account from CIPRC, on Feb. 23 2003 four Christians were arrested and brutally tortured by police from Boli County, in China’s Heilongjiang Province.
Four policemen led by Weidong Sun from Chenxi Police Station drove two cars to Xiuying Chen’s home, and arrested Dan Deng, 38, an evangelist who rented a room there. There the police waited for three other Christians coming to meet Deng. They were Qingshan Qi, 29, Shengbin Man, 23, and Jiyan Cheng, 49.
At the police station, Sun and other officers surrounded Qi. Without any warning, Sun grabbed Qi’s hair and pushed his head between Sun’s thighs. The other two officers then kicked him in the back with leather shoes before slapping him on the face and kicking him on the ground for more than a half hour. Then they searched Qi, seizing 400 RMB ($50) and a variety of possessions. The police then demanded that Qi tell them the names of other Christians and where they met.
When Qi kept silent, the officers forced him into an excruciatingly painful posture known as “motorcycle-riding” – where the upper body is bent forward and one’s legs are stretched out. Officers then kicked Qi in the back between 50 and 60 times.
After about an hour, Sun took a chair and sat in front of Qi, saying, “I will see how long you can bear. I swear to make you confess!” Then with one hand holding Qi’s right arm, he used his other hand to hold a cigarette lighter and repeatedly burn Qi’s palm.
Later that day, Cheng was dragged into a room and put onto a “tiger” chair. There her legs were tightened, her left hand was tied to the chair’s low back while her right hand was attached to the upper back portion of the chair. Then the police officer forced her right arm down, making her scream in pain. When another officer saw that this wasn’t having the desired effect, he started slapping her face for a while.
Then another policeman came and continued the torture. Lifting Cheng’s clothes and starting from her breast and working on down, he pressed his fingers between her ribs. This caused such extreme pain she felt her heart was going to come out of her body.
The torture continued with a different officer – this one using a needle. He stuck the needle into Cheng’s knee between her bones a number of times and twisted it brutally. Then he started to poke her arms with the needle. Cheng’s legs were covered with bruises. Finally, the officer poked the needle through her upper lip.
Man was also beaten up. One policeman bashed his nose and followed that by grabbing his hair and smashing his head onto the wall. Sun pushed Man’s head against the corner of a steel cabinet, and then forced him to assume a posture known as “airplane-driving.” Another officer kicked Man on the back between 30 and 40 times for about an hour. The police confiscated his money and possessions. He was beaten again twice before being sent to the detention center.
Deng was interrogated for eight hours the next morning. He was brutalized so badly that his face was deformed.
Around 6:00pm the same day the police sent all the evangelists to the county North Jail. On March 10 they were transferred to the county detention center.
Qi was bailed out by his family at 4000 RMB ($500). He was released at about midnight on March 10.
Cheng was half dead from the torture before being released at midnight the same day.
Man was detained for 48 days. On April 12 his family bailed him out for 800 RMB ($100).
Deng was assigned to cook at the detention center but escaped and nobody knows where she is now.
According to CIPRC, the group was founded in 2000 in New York. Its objectives are to reveal the plight that the Chinese house church Christians have suffered, and to call on believers in the free world to help their brothers and sisters in the persecuted church.
For additional information about CIPRC go to www.china21.org
. 11:33:43 AM
||Thursday, December 16, 2004
NORTH KOREA'S BALANCING ACT
- plus two articles on two kidnapped South Korean pastors
By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- NK AMENDS CRIMINAL CODE TO ASSIST MARKETS AND CRUSH DISSENT
Park Song-wu reports for the Korea Times, "North Korea has strengthened legal measures to protect private property in a recent revision of its criminal law, while stiffening penalties for anti-state crimes, according to a copy obtained by a local broadcaster.
"North Korea experts in Seoul said the revision, the fifth since 1950, can be understood as Pyongyang’s efforts to achieve two goals at the same time – safeguarding its communist regime and boosting its impoverished economy." (Link 1)
While prison sentences for theft, counterfeiting, evading tax and infringing copyright have been increased, so too have sentences for "anti-state crimes". Instead of facing a prison sentence of 5-10 years, those participating in armed riots will now receive "more than 5 years" – the ceiling has been abolished. Instigators of armed riots will face life imprisonment or the death penalty. Likewise, defectors who flee North Korea in an act of betrayal will also face "more than 5 years", instead of 5-10 years. Those who have defected, but are willing to declare loyalty to the regime and confess to being "economic migrants" will be pardoned upon their return. In future, those who flee for "non-political reasons" will receive two years in prison instead of three.
One new subject for punishment under the revised criminal law is keeping or distributing "anti-state broadcast materials". A person found guilty will receive a 2-5 year prison sentence. According to the Korea Times, "Experts believe the clause was created to prohibit North Koreans from listening to U.S.-funded radio broadcasts that will be bolstered next year with the endorsement of the North Korean Human Rights Bill in October."
Another new subject for punishment is the distribution of culturally "obscene" materials such as CDs, videotapes and music.
The Korea Times reports that Professor Ryoo Kihl-jae of the Graduate School of North Korean Studies at Kyungnam University questions Pyongyang’s intentions for the revisions of the criminal law. He believes that criminal law is not important in North Korea and the authorities will punish whoever they want using other means. Professor Ryoo believes the purpose of the revision is purely to make the world aware of North Korea's criminal law and of the penalties law-breakers will suffer. It is designed to give confidence to investors, and deter reformist agitators and "anti-state" agents.
MARKET REFORMS PRODUCE OPENINGS
The Kim jong-Il regime introduced market reforms in July 2002. The reforms, however, sent inflation soaring and drastically widened the income gap. Paik Hak-soon, director of North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, told the Korea Times that, "Kim Jong-il is now trying to prevent social problems from drastically undermining his regime."
The free-market reforms have also brought many North Korean traders into contact with the outside world. As noted in a recent Washington Post (WP) article entitled, "For North Korea, Openness Proves a Two-Way Street" (13 Dec 2004), "...diplomats, analysts, intelligence sources and recent defectors say that the once airtight lid on information in what is known as the Hermit Kingdom is gradually loosening."
The WP article states, "Asian intelligence sources estimate that as many as 20,000 North Koreans -- particularly those trading in the newly thriving border area with China -- now have access to Chinese cellular phones, from which they can make undetected international calls in large areas of northern North Korea." Also, at the new Kaesong Industrial Park near the border with South Korea, and the tourist resort at Mount Kumgang, South Korean firms are directly employing and paying North Korean workers for the first time.
The WP quotes Sohn Kwang Joo, managing editor of the North Korea Daily (a Seoul-based website) as saying, "North Korean people and the elite bureaucrats all want more reform. But the faster the doors open, the more vulnerable becomes Kim Jong Il's tight grip of the nation. Kim Jong Il will therefore try to control and limit the opening. But as more people cross in and out of the border, there are more mobile phones, and more flows of information, the North Korean people will begin to realize the truth about Kim Jong Il."
David Wall, an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, recently traveled along the China-North Korean border and wrote a report that was published in the Japan Times. (Link 2)
He notes that Koreans have been crossing the frozen border rivers for generations and at least 2.3 million Koreans now live in China along the North Korean border. He says there have been between 200,000 to 300,000 recent illegal arrivals and, "The Korean communities are easy to identify by the many Christian churches, complete with spires and crosses on top." Wall believes that the immense vastness of the refugee/illegal immigrant situation makes it simply unmanageable for Chinese police who, he says, tend to leave the "migrants" alone unless they engage in criminal activity or publicly expose themselves in media stunts.
Wall says, "There is growing legal and even cross-border investment in which the Chinese Korean community is active. Every day hundreds, sometimes thousands, of traders and tourists cross the borders. They are not closed. It is easy for the migrants to move between the communities and send goods and money back."
MAINTAINING A TIGHT GRIP
North Korea is following China and Vietnam and gingerly opening up and reforming, to some degree, under a dictator who will not permit his rule to be threatened and who will, in any way, be propped up and supported by China in the event of any threat. The reforms are threatening the regime, so to ensure that situation does not get out of control, the regime (especially when it feels threatened) slows the process down and tightens its oppressive grip in a perpetual give and take balancing act.
Hamish McDonald reported to the Melbourne AGE (Australia) on 29 November that Pyongyang has asked the United Nations aid agencies to cut their foreign staff in the country by half. The regime has also said that it wants all international non-government organisations to quit once current programs are ended. There are five UN agencies, with about 64 foreign staff, operating inside North Korea. McDonald writes, "A narrowing of the world's main window into North Korea - through international aid organisations - could fit with the scenario of a hardliners' backlash, some UN officials speculate."
North Korea specialists in South Korea and China are positive that Kim's grip on power is rock solid, and that there is no imminent threat of regime collapse. However, Cho Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification told Reuters recently (26 Nov 2004), "I think there will be a drastic change to the Kim Jong-il regime at a certain point in time. But the change to the power structure is not likely to come from below. The change is likely to come from a high level, and once it happens, it's going to move very quickly."
Cho Min seems to believe that "change" (and he uses that term quite ambiguously) is inevitable, given the momentum now for openness and reform.
Next year – 2005 – will be the fifth anniversary of the signing of the North-South Joint Declaration at the historic15 June 2000 Reunification talks in Pyongyang (see link 3), and the 60th anniversary of Korean independence (15 August 1945 – liberation from Japanese colonial rule). And we continue to pray.
TWO ARTICLES ON TWO KIDNAPPED PASTORS
South Korean pastor, the Reverend Ahn Seung-un (60), is believed to have been kidnapped from Yanji city while assisting refugees on the China/North Korea border in 1995. He has now emerged in North Korea, working for the official Korean Christian Federation and tightly controlled by North Korean guards.
Ex-South Korean Pastor Works for N. Korean Christian Federation
Korea Times, 7 Dec 2004
South Korean pastor, the Reverend Kim Dong-shik (57) was kidnapped from Yanji in 2000. He remains missing. On Friday 10 December, a 35-year-old Korean national named Ryu was detained in South Korea and charged with pastor Kim's abduction. Ryu was trained in Pyongyang and worked with a team of 10 North Korean agents to abduct pastor Kim whose name was on a list of those targeted by Pyongyang for abduction.
Government Urged to Press for Release of Kidnapped Pastor
By Reuben Staines, Park Song-wu
Korea Times, 14 Dec 2004
1) NK Adopts Market-Friendly Criminal Law
Korea Times 8 Dec 2004
2) No witch hunt for North Koreans in China
By DAVID WALL, Special to The Japan Times, 6 Dec 2004
3) North-South Joint Declaration
. 6:58:36 PM
© 2005 Radio Free China
Last Update: 1/10/2005; 7:34:00 PM