PAUL ARCHULETA, ACLJ
Through our European affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the ACLJ recently filed two more submissions with the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. One regarding human rights abuses in China and the other regarding the imprisonment of Pastor John Cao in China. Christians should not face persecution for simply peacefully practicing their faith.
Even though China’s Constitution offers protection for religious liberty and China is a signatory to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Chinese government still routinely targets Christians because of their faith. As we wrote to the UNHRC in our submission on Chinese persecution:
[T]he Chinese government regularly cites Article 300 of the Criminal Law to persecute religious people and to stop their activities. Article 300 of the Criminal Law outlaws “organizing evil cults and sects and using superstition to undermine law enforcement”.
In 2018, beginning with the implementation of the revised regulations, persecution against religious groups in China intensified. Christians suffer a majority of the persecution as they are the most organized religious group in China and have the highest number of members. Instances of persecution were particularly prevalent in the Hennan and Yunnan Provinces, and in Xinjiang Urgyr Autonomous Region. But, as indicated by the arrest and detention of Early Rain Covenant Church members in Chengdu Province, instances of persecution are by no means limited to those areas.
We further reminded the UNHRC of its obligation to protect the rights and freedoms of all individuals and reminded China of its obligation to “ensure the rights of all of its citizens are protected.”
We also raised the case of imprisoned Pastor Cao – a U.S. permanent resident – and urged the UNHRC to take action to ensure his immediate release. As we have previously told you, Pastor Cao was detained and later arrested and convicted on a false charge. Since 2013, Pastor Cao has simply conducted humanitarian work in the Wa region of Burma (Myanmar), a severely impoverished area. His work there included building schools, providing basic necessities, medical help, education, and promoting drug control. All of his efforts can only be regarded as commendable. Furthermore, Pastor Cao has always conducted his humanitarian work openly in front of the government. The Chinese local State Security Police and authorities were well aware of his efforts, as they frequently talked to him about his charity work and travel between China and Burma. He never experienced any problem with either government. In fact, local Chinese authorities were supportive of and actually awarded his efforts. That is why we asked that the targeted arrest and continued wrongful imprisonment of Pastor Cao be addressed by the UNHRC.
Furthermore, we urged the UNHRC to work with China to ensure China upholds its obligations as a Charter member of the United Nations and as a signatory to the UDHR as well as the ICCPR.
This Council should respectfully and firmly remind China of its continuing obligations as a Charter member of the United Nations and a signatory to the UDHR and ICCPR. The purpose of this Council and those bodies of law is to protect the human rights of individuals living around the world. China has an obligation to ensure that the rights of all of its citizens are protected, including the rights to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to receive equal treatment under the law.
Therefore, the ECLJ and more than 117,000 individuals worldwide who have signed our petition, respectfully requests that this Council demand the immediate release of Pastor Cao from prison in China and ensure his safe return to his family in the United States.
It is critical that the international community upholds the rights for people to worship freely without fear of persecution. Join us as we continue to fight for Pastor Cao and Christians facing persecution around the world.
This week marks two years of imprisonment for Pastor Cao. It’s time to bring him home.
In the coming days, we are preparing to make oral interventions at the UNHRC on behalf of these persecuted Christians, where our international team gets to directly appear before the UNHRC. And in Pastor Cao’s case, Pastor Cao’s wife will make the oral intervention on his behalf.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice
Paul Archuleta is the Deputy Director of Government Affairs and Foreign Policy Analyst at the American Center for Law & Justice. As a member of the Government Affairs team in the ACLJ’s Washington, D.C. office, Paul focuses on international religious freedom, persecution of Christians abroad, and other relevant foreign policy issues. Paul received a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and a Masters in International Affairs from Penn State. During college he interned in the United States House of Representatives and in grad school interned at the United States Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the Army War College.