Executing a secret plan that Bitter Winter had revealed one months ago, the CCP brings to Korea relatives of asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God, and organizes false “spontaneous demonstrations” with the help of pro-Chinese anti-cult activists.
On August 4, 2018, Bitter Winter published a secret document by the Chinese Communist Party calling for harassment in South Korea of the asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God (CAG), a Chinese Christian new religious movement heavily persecuted in China. The CCP called for the recruitment of the relatives of the asylum seekers who still live in China, if necessary through threats and coercion, who would then call for the “return home” of the refugees (who obviously would not return “home” but, once in China, will be arrested and will thus “return” to jail). The plan also sought the cooperation of pro-Chinese activists in South Korea and anti-cultists hostile to the CAG.
Bitter Winter has now learned that the CCP plan is being put into execution. On August 27, Ms. O Myung-ok (오명옥), a pro-Chinese and anti-CAG activist, published several reports on some pro-Chinese and/or anti-cult Korean media, including Religion and Truth (종교와 진리), releasing fake news claiming that CAG members are false refugees and are abusing the refugee system, and that the belief in Almighty God leads to family disruption. These reports strongly called for the deportation of CAG members back to China.
As these media disclosed, between August 30 and September 4, more than 50 people, including a dozen of family members of CAG refugees who are in Korea, and congregants from five Korean Christian groups active in campaigns against “cults,” will demonstrate against the CAG outside the Jeju court, Jeju Parliament, the CAG community in Onsu, the CAG worship building (i.e. the place where CAG members offer prayers regularly), the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state, the President of the Republic of Korea), and other places. They held a press conference on August 31 as well. All this information has been confirmed by confidential sources in Korea and by CAG members Bitter Winter interviewed.
On the afternoon of August 30, one CAG member learned from his mother, who currently lives in China, that CCP officers had gone to his family two months ago, asking his relatives to cooperate with them by going to Korea to get him back to China. At a rough estimate, more than 10 relatives of CAG members were requested by the CCP to do the same thing. The CCP especially opened a WeChat account to have frequent discussions with them about this. This member’s mother also told him that his elder sister and her husband were on the way to Jeju with governmental staff members. They were asked to stay in South Korea as long as possible. His mother insisted, “Things are getting serious. You’d better come back with them, or else we’ll get into big trouble.”
Another Korean CAG member and her husband, who are Korean Chinese, fled to Korea because of the CCP’s persecution in China. On August 29, when she made a phone call to her mother, who lives in China, she was told that her mother and cousin (male) would come to Korea to visit her, and that they were waiting for the plane flying to Jeju at the moment. The CAG member told her mother that they live in Seoul and asked her to fly to Seoul directly. But her mother said she couldn’t do that since they had to stay in Jeju for two days and then go to Seoul later as scheduled, and that their hotel rooms in Jeju had already been booked. The CAG member noticed that her mother hesitated over talking and even left to her cousin the conversation when she couldn’t make herself clear. It is important to note that this cousin is working for a governmental television station in China.
On the afternoon of August 30, Ms. O Myung-ok went to the airport to pick up two cameramen flying from Seoul. As far as we have learned, 11 Chinese relatives had arrived in Jeju (according to Ms O, there were 13 relatives coming to South Korea), while Chinese officers are also coming to Korea to direct the campaign on site. According to their agenda, on August 31 and September 1, they will stage demonstrations at the Jeju court and the Parliament building and organize press conferences; they will stage demonstrations at the CAG community in Onsu on September 2, at the Blue House on September 3, and at the CAG worship building on September 4 respectively.
When CAG refugees learned that their family members were coming to Korea, they asked to meet them as soon as possible. So The Church of Almighty God contacted the Korean police on their behalf, asking for help to arrange meetings with their family members. But Ms O turned them down. According to the written information she rendered to the police, she couldn’t let them meet each other until they finish their demonstrations.
We have learned from informed Korean sources that Ms O and the CCP claim that The Church of Almighty God is trying to prevent its members to meet their relatives coming from China to Korea. This is not the case,and in fact it is Ms. O who is preventing the relatives to meet the CAG members. Obviously, the CCP and the anti-cultists are interested in their propaganda rather than in the welfare of the families.
Nine international NGOs specialized in the defense of religious liberty, including CAP-LC, which has consultative status at the United Nations’ ECOSOC, have signed an appeal (below), dated August 31, to end this ruthless persecution of harmless refugees, strongly condemning the actions of both the CCP and the Korean anti-cultists.
The Appeal of the Nine NGOs
Stop the Persecution of Chinese Refugees of The Church of Almighty God in South Korea
Heavily persecuted in China, with many documented cases of torture and extra-judicial killings, hundreds of members of The Church of Almighty God have escaped to South Korea, where they are seeking refugee status. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pursuing them also in Korea. It has coerced or persuaded with threats their relatives to go to Korea and ask that the refugees “return home,” i.e. go back to China where they would not go “home” but to jail, and is staging false “spontaneous demonstrations” with the help of local organizations against the “cults.”
It is a scandal that for the CCP persecuting religious dissidents in China is not enough. They are pursued even in the countries where they have escaped, with the help of misguided “anti-cultists” and pro-Chinese sympathizers.
We ask the Chinese authorities to immediately stop this campaign of hate against harmless refugees, and the Korean authorities to grant asylum to the believers of The Church of Almighty God who, should they return to China, would face arrest, detention, and probable torture.
August 31, 2018
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
LIREC – Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees