Mainland China is the site of some of the largest and most brutal human rights abuses. Chinese of faith have been persecuted since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in 1949. They have been arrested, tortured, put in labor camps as prisoners of conscience, and even mass-murdered for their organs.
Tibet was part of the last Chinese dynasty, but exercised rights of self-rule until the victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. The persecution of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture began on July 10, 1950 when troops from the newly-formed communist China occupied parts of the region and defeated the local military forces.
By early 1957, the Tibetan government had rebelled because of the CCP’s harsh religious and economic policies. The CCP is an atheist regime, but demands control over all religious groups.
To put down the rebellion, the CCP caused mass terror and destruction. Many Tibetan civilians were tortured and murdered, and the Chinese army destroyed buildings and temples. The daughters of Tibetans who expressed discontent were stripped and molested by Chinese soldiers. To humiliate Tibetan Buddhism, many nuns were gang-raped and both monks and nuns forced to marry in order to break their vows of celibacy.
Tibet was a severe victim in the Great Leap Forward campaign that resulted in the starvation deaths of tens of millions of people across China. As many as one million Tibetans perished because they were forced to abandon their traditional herding lifestyle and join inefficient communal farms.
During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Red Guards destroyed thousands of Tibetan monasteries. Only a few survived.
Today, the CCP still persecutes Tibetan Buddhists and enforces policies that discriminate against Tibetan people and culture. Some Tibetan dissidents have been killed for their organs to be harvested.
The CCP fears religion because it demands that the people place faith in the teachings of Marx, not gods. The Christians are no exception and were persecuted and murdered in large numbers from the beginning of communist rule. Today, the CCP only allows Christianity to be practiced by followers of CCP-controlled Protestant and Catholic Churches; it does not allow Chinese Catholics to recognize the authority of the Vatican.
Christians who choose to attend congregations not controlled by the CCP can be detained and sent to do slave labor. In 2014 over 2,000 church crosses were removed from churches in Zhejiang, usually under the excuse of violating building regulations. Priests have been detained and some of them tortured or killed in custody.
China Aid reported: “In response to the growth of Christianity in China, the Chinese government has instituted various campaigns to persecute both house churches and government-sanctioned TSPM [‘Three-Self Patriotic Movement’] churches throughout China by harassing, abusing, arresting, and, in many cases, sentencing pastors and church members to prison,”
“It is fair to say that the rapid increase in the number of Christians in China over the past decade as triggered a unique sense of crisis within the CCP. As the Christian faith continues to grow in China, so does the number of Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance, and support the expansion of civil society. As ongoing growth of house churches in both rural and urban areas is perceived by the CCP as a serious threat, the CCP’s suppression of Tibetan Buddhism, Islam in Xinjiang and surrounding areas, and Falun Gong practitioners persists.
Chinese people have practiced meditation and spiritual cultivation for thousands of years. In the 1980s, China experienced its qigong boom, with millions of people doing traditional exercises such as Tai Chi.
Falun Gong, a practice with ancient roots, was introduced to the public in China in 1992. Because it was free, easy to learn, and effective in improving physical and mental health, it gained an estimated 100 million adherents in just seven years. The Chinese government supported Falun Gong because it taught its practitioners to apply the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in everyday life.
But some in the communist regime considered Falun Gong’s traditional beliefs and morality to be dangerous to the CCP’s power. Jiang Zemin, who was head of the Party at the time, directed state propaganda to slander Falun Gong and paint it as a dangerous cult. In July 1999, he ordered a nation-wide campaign to crush the peaceful, non-political practice.
Police around China detained millions of Falun Gong practitioners, who became the biggest group of Chinese persecuted for their beliefs. Many were tortured to death in prison, or were forced to do heavy labor.
Since 2006, human rights investigations show that the CCP has carried out widespread organ harvesting on Falun Gong prisoners while the victims are still alive. A report by former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and journalist Ethan Gutmann— collates publicly reported figures from hospitals across China to show what they claim is a massive discrepancy between official figures for the number of transplants carried out throughout the country. It is revealed in the report that the Chinese government, the Communist Party, the health system, doctors and hospitals are complicit.