European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
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The US Board of Immigration Appeals granted on August 13 a stay of removal to the leader of The Church of Almighty God in four Chinese provinces, who was to be deported to China after August 15.


THE MOTION FOR STAY OF REMOVAL TO CHINA OF SISTER ZOU DEMEI HAS BEEN GRANTED

Bitter Winter reported on August 13  that attorney Russell Abrutyn had filed an urgent appeal to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals to stay deportation to China of Sister Zou Demei , the leader of The Church of Almighty God  in four Chinese provinces, who entered the U.S. with a false passport and should be deported to China after August 15.

We are now pleased to report that the application for stay has been granted.

The Board will now examine the substance of the matter, and the legal battle is far from being over, but the immediate risk of repatriation to China – where Sister Zou would be arrested and may be executed – has been averted.

Mr. Abrutyn commented that “the support from the international human rights community and Ms. Zou’s fellow Church of Almighty God   members made this happen.” This support is now needed for the further legal steps awaiting Ms. Zou.


Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, August 16th 2018 | Comments (0)

An Open Letter to President Trump


Open letter: Like a Lamb to the Slaughter: Will the United States Send This Woman to Her Death?
Dear President Trump,

We are NGOs, some of them with ECOSOC consultative status, active in the defense of human rights and religious liberty, with a special experience and concerns for China, and write to ask for your urgent intervention in a question, literally, of life and death.

It regards an asylum seeker of a Chinese Christian new religious movement, The Church of Almighty God, who is detained in Detroit, Michigan, and threatened with immediate deportation back to China, where she will be arrested and will be at serious risk of being executed.

The Church of Almighty God is a group listed as xie jiao (“heterodox teaching,” often wrongly translated as “evil cult”) and banned in China. Being active in it is a crime under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, punished with a jail penalty from three to seven years “or more,” but being a leader of it exposes to much harsher punishment. The Chinese government has spread for several years fake news about The Church of Almighty God, accusing it of crimes it has never committed.

Ms. Demei Zou was born on August 14, 1976. She was the leader of The Church of Almighty God in four provinces of China. Because of the severe persecution, somebody in the position of Ms. Zou normally destroys all identification documents and operates under aliases. Her role, however, became known to the police. Illegally, her Church obtained a copy of her “Registration as Fugitive,” a document that reputable scholars believe to be genuine. It accuses Ms. Zou to be indeed the leader of The Church of Almighty God in the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing, and Sichuan. It also accuses Ms. Zou of being involved in “stealing and transporting Chinese military secrets abroad,” an absurd accusation for those who know her Church, but one involving the death penalty.

Ms. Zou fled from China to South Korea by using the passport of another person with her photograph pasted on it. From South Korea, she moved to America and arrived at Detroit, Michigan on January 24, 2017. There, her passport was identified as false, and she was arrested. She had her initial master calendar hearing on April 11, 2017, and another one on April 24, 2017. The Court heard testimonies from Ms. Zou and three additional witnesses – two are members of the Church who have been granted asylum in the US on the grounds of religious persecution – at her individual merits hearings on June 13, July 18, and August 29, 2017. She received her notice of losing the case in December of 2017. She took her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), but again, BIA upheld the Immigration Judge’s adverse decision. She appealed on June 15, 2018. But, according to the account she provided to her co-religionists, immigration officers advised her that she would be deported to China and in fact made attempts to put her on a plane to Beijing last week, attempts she physically resisted.

Ms. Zou does not speak English. Although the Immigration Court in Detroit also cited the fake news about The Church of Almighty God it found on the Internet (although they have disappeared even from Wikipedia, and foreign decisions in parallel refugee cases expose them as mere Chinese propaganda), the main problems were Ms. Zou’s difficulties in proving her identity, her identity documents having been destroyed, and in telling their story in a way understandable to the authorities, although her co-religionists testified of knowing her and about her role in the Church. We understand that American courts claim they cannot be sure the woman in jail in Detroit is really Ms. Zou, since she has no identity documents. But several co-religionists who escaped to the United States are prepared to swear that she is indeed Ms. Zou.

We trust that the appeal will clarify the misunderstandings, vast documentation about The Church of Almighty God and its persecution based on serious scholarly studies will be introduced, and well-known scholars familiar with the issue will be allowed to testify. In the meantime, deportation of Ms. Zou to China should be stopped. There are documented cases of members of The Church of Almighty God who returned to China from foreign countries and were arrested and even tortured, or “disappeared” there. For Ms. Zou, who has already been accused of involvement in espionage and identified as a key leader of the Church, the risk of the death penalty is very high.

It is inconceivable that the United States, a country whose commitment to human rights and religious liberty is well-known and has been solemnly reiterated under your Presidency, would render Ms. Zou to the persecutors of her Church and to the executioner, and immediate action is needed to prevent such a tragic occurrence.

July 4, 2018

Yours faithfully,

CAP-LC Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
EIFRF European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom
FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief
FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers
Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice
LIREC – Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Freedom of Refugees

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, July 5th 2018 | Comments (0)

The Faith and Freedom Summit: Practicing what we Preach in Europe is a non-partisan summit, which brings together leaders from the various fields of politics, government, academia, activism and the non-for-profit sector from across Europe and beyond, in order to propose and develop initiatives that will put Freedom of Religion or Belief in Europe back in the spotlights.


Register to the Faith and Freedom Summit
Top international speakers at the event include:

Jan Figel
EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union

Salvatore Martinez
Rep of the Italian presidency at OSCE

Dr. Eli Nacht
Official Representative of International Committee of Human Rights in Israel

Marco Ventura
PROFESSOR OF LAW & RELIGION at University of Siena

Vincent Berger
Former Jurisconsult of European Court of Human Rights

Kristina Arriaga
USCIRF Commissionner and Vice-Chairwoman of the Commission

Ahmed Shaheed
Special Rapporteur on human rights to UN Human Rights Council

Sam Brownback
U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

Thomas Schirrmacher
President of the International Society for Human Rights

And many others that you can find on the website of the Summit: 
http://faithandfreedomsummit.eu 

You'll find also on it the address, the agenda, and everything to register to this historic event.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, June 18th 2018 | Comments (0)

EIFRF will participate to this event that will take place on June 27 in the EU Parliament, organized by Human Rights Without Frontiers International


CAG Poster
 
 
 
 
If you need access to the European Parliament, please be sure to complete your registration by 20 June, 2018.
 
Questions? Email: events@hrwf.org
 
 
 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, June 18th 2018 | Comments (0)

Summary of the conference Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue
On Saturday May 5, the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom organized a conference called: “Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue - Is interreligious dialogue part of your religious duties, and what can it do for peace?” 
 
The conference was hosted by the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights.
 
In front of a very attentive audience, several religious leaders developed on the scriptural roots of interreligious dialogue, and brought the public to the realization that a strong faith and a strong commitment to its own religion does not and should never lead to the reject of others. To the opposite, the understanding of the scriptures leads to the willingness to share, to exchange and to understand others with respect and affinity.
 
Father Stan Nwaigwe, a Catholic priest from the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, started by quoting the bible. Then commenting on the Acts of Apostles 10, and the Gospel of St. John, he said: “The essential element of the Word of God, which Jesus has accomplished can also be recognized outside the Christian-fold. To assume otherwise is to underestimate and diminish the universal scope of Christ's power. Besides, we only contradict ourselves to assume that God who is almighty could not make Godself known in forms incomprehensible to us. In a nutshell, there is no contradiction in the Christian bible about the plurality of the way to God. By recognizing that God has no room for favoritism, the bible recognizes religious practice outside Christianity.” He concluded by stressing the importance of interreligious dialogue in order to create harmonious relationships between people.
 
Then Mr. Manik Paul, an activist of interfaith and intercultural dialogue promotion, honorary President of the Hindu Forum of Belgium, explained how Hinduism is the source of a natural trend to practice interreligious dialogue: “Today, I feel myself fortunate enough to be the part of this conference as a speaker to highlight on the issue of interreligious dialogue from my Hindu perspective. In this connection I owe my gratitude to the members of the Church of Scientology. Any great civilization is a product of diversity. It is able to bring together many different views and practices in science, religion, art and culture as well as embrace various racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. It also has a long sense of history and can integrate within itself many different historical currents. A culture where everyone must have the same beliefs and follow the same practices is not a true culture and it denies the human spirit that always seeks to grow and express itself in a variety of ways. My value system thought to acknowledge religious plurality and inclusive secularism. Still I can remember the advice of the great Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna – “as you remain firm in your own faith and opinion, so leave the others the same freedom to remain firm in their faiths and opinions.” That was the first lesson in my life to understand pluralism and the imperativeness for respecting all other traditions and religions.”
 
Third Speaker, Father Petar Gramatikov, Hierodeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, in a speech that he entitled “The Power of Love Must Defeat the Love of Power”, commented on words from St. Luke Voyno-Yasenetsky, Archbishop of Crimea and Simferopol in the middle of the 20th Century, and declared: “In its depth the opposite of peace is not war, but self-centered - personal, collective, national, tribal, religious. It generates the various forms of violence that kill peace in different ways.
The antidote to egocentrism is not the vague moral appeals, nor the legal formalities and mechanisms for their application. But it is necessary to strengthen an active and multidimensional love that is not limited to its own national borders, prejudice and discrimination. Here lies the great opportunity and responsibility of people with a strong religious consciousness. Even in the face of long-standing conflicts, it enables forgiveness and reconciliation. The strength and power of love must and can defeat the love for the power that destroys peace.
 
The last speaker, Reverend Eric Roux from the Church of Scientology, concluded his speech with these words: “why Dialogue is so important? Dialogue, when well conducted is communication. Communication will create more affinity, more reality. Communication will create understanding. And when you understand your fellow, war is over. Actually, if you understand each other before war happens, there will never be any war. And if you continue to create this dialogue, there will be no space for misunderstanding, and the efforts of the ones who seek to create war will be useless, as the understanding will be so strong that any effort to undermine it will vanish. Of course today, in several situations, we are late at creating this understanding. But that does not mean that we do not need to catch up for lost time. Interreligious dialogue is a needed and effective way to contribute to a world without war, and the strength of religions lies in their willingness to engage in communication and to put their wisdom to the service of humanity.”
 
The conference concluded with a Q&A that allowed the attendees to ask their questions to the speakers, and the speakers to develop on specific points that had retained the attention of the attendees.
 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, June 12th 2018 | Comments (0)

Bitter Winter: Daily News Online of Religion in China
On May 14, 2018, a new online news magazine has been launched at the International Book Fair of Torino, in Italy, Bitter Winter. The name refers both to the difficult situation of religious liberty in China and to a theme in classical Chinese painting.

The launch of Bitter Winter came at the end of FIRMA-Faiths in Tune, a five-day festival of religions and music that ran parallel with the Book Fair. At the Book Fair, two FIRMA awards were presented by an international jury, one to President Daisaku Ikeda of Soka Gakkai for his lifelong commitment to religious dialogue, and one to The Church of Almighty God, a Chinese new religious movement, for its resistance to religious persecution in China. Authorities, journalists, and a significant public attended both the festival, where The Church of Almighty God’s performers were among the most admired groups, and the award ceremony.

“This has a lot to do, commented Bitter Winter’s editor-in-chief, Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne, with our new magazine. I am a scholar of new religious movements. They are often the most persecuted groups in China and The Church of Almighty God is now the most persecuted of them all, replacing Falun Gong as the religious minority most severely targeted by the regime. While other worthy publications on China ignore the new religious movements, we will cover them together with mainline religions.”

Bitter Winter is in English, but Chinese and Korean editions will be online soon. Assistant editors of Bitter Winter are Willy Fautré, the veteran and highly respected Belgian human rights and religious liberty activist who leads Human Rights Without Frontiers in Brussels, and Rosita Šorytė, president of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees and former chairperson of the European Union Working Group on Humanitarian Aid. Italian journalist Marco Respinti serves as technical editor.

“What is also new in Bitter Winter, added Introvigne, is that we were able to establish a network sending news and pictures directly from China. To these unpublished news, we add a digest taken from international and Chinese media.”

Bitter Winter also publishes articles and interviews. In the first issue, the magazine publishes an interview with Father Bernardo Cervellera, the leading Catholic expert of China. He explains that the agreement between Holy See and China, much rumored about in the last months, is not being signed due by resistances within the Chinese regime. He also believes that claims that the agreement would be signed soon were spread by factions within both the Vatican and the Chinese Communist establishment favorable to it, while other factions are hostile.

Home: https://bitterwinter.org/
 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, May 14th 2018 | Comments (0)

Conference - Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue
Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue
Is interreligious dialogue part of your religious duties, and what can it do for peace?

Organized by

The European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF)

The conference will be translated in English and French 

Father Ignace Berten
Theologian - Dominican Order

Father Stan Ebere Nwigwe
Catholic Priest

Karim Geirnaert
In charge of the conversions to Islam in Belgium
In charge of the Muslim Scouts and Guides of Belgium
President EuroHalal


Rev. Hierodeacon Petar Gramatikov
Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Doctor of Theology

Manik Paul
Hindu community of Belgium

Rev. Eric Roux
Vice President - European Office of the Church of Scientology 
For Public Affairs and Human Rights



Saturday May 5, 2018 from 14h30 to 17h30
Churches of Scientology for Europe - Boulevard Waterloo 103 - Brussels 1000

RSVP at ericroux@europeanaffairs.eu 
Refreshments and hot drinks will be served

Rédigé par EIFRF le Monday, April 16th 2018 | Comments (0)

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