Paris Conference: Focusing on the Situation of the Asylum Application of The CAG Members in France

Mr. Eric Roux (first from right), president of EIFRF, delivering a speech in the conference. (Photo: Xiao Chen)

On March 9, 2018, the Coordination of the Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP LC) organized a thematic conference on the asylum application of the members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) and the danger for them to go back to China at Hôtel Château Frontenac in Paris, France. This conference was introduced and coordinated by Mr. Thierry Valle, the president of CAP LC. The participating human rights organizations, experts and scholars discussed difficulties the CAG members face when seeking for asylum and called on the French government to provide them with human rights protection and not to deport them to China.

Prof. Massimo Introvigne, an Italian religious scholar and director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), firstly introduced the persecution situation of the CAG in China. He said, there are three to four million CAG members according to Chinese government’s statement, and more than three hundred thousand members were arrested in China, which could be strongly proved by the frequent mention of the full-scale crackdown on CAG in CCP’s confidential documents.

Prof. Massimo Introvigne stressed that, his academic studies have proved and confirmed that the accusations against CAG are out of CCP’s propaganda and they are fake and false.

Mr. Eric Roux, president of EIFRF (European Interreligious Forum for Religion Freedom) conducted an in-depth study on the situation that most asylum applicants from the CAG were rejected in France. In his opinion, he believed it was wrong for French government to reject an overwhelming percentage of the applicants. In addition, Mr. Eric Roux stated clearly: There is no doubt that The Church of Almighty God is suffering persecution in China, with tens of thousands of CAG Christians having been tortured and at least 30 persecuted to death. If deported back to China, its members will face a real and immediate risk of being sent to jail based on their religious affiliation. It is understandable for French authorities to try to separate the real refugees from the fake ones disguised by economic migrants. However, the decisions regarding the CAG asylum seekers should be taken with a real knowledge of the Church based on in-depth studies, not on Chinese anti-cult propaganda or journalists who merely repeat it.

Mr. Eric Roux also pointed out that repatriation is a matter of life or death for the CAG Christians. Sending back to China the CAG members is tantamount to being accomplice of the persecution they will have to suffer.

In recent years, the CCP’s crackdown and suppression of The Church of Almighty God have continued to escalate, and at least half a million church members have been forced to be displaced and some have fled to overseas democracies for asylum. However, the current situation of their asylum application in South Korea and European countries is not optimistic, especially for the members fleeing to France. Of 442 asylum applicants, 335 were rejected, including 156 having received the removal orders, facing the risk of forced repatriation at any time.

Regarding to the worrying situation that asylum seekers of the CAG were rejected in European countries, especially in France, Mr. Willy Fautré, director of HRWF (Human Rights Without Frontiers), stated that although France is considered as the fatherland of human rights, most asylum seekers here are still rejected and the situation is not optimistic. It’s not easy for those Christians to flee China and come to Europe. If they are deported, they will face a serious challenge. He also talked about the asylum application of CAG Christians in South Korea, where 641 applicants are all rejected, including 178 having received the departure order as of January 14, 2018. The situation has become very tense.

Ms. Marie Holzman, a famous French Sinologist and president of the Solidarity China Association, has a broad and deep understanding of the human rights situation in China. She said that she totally understands the great difficulty the CAG members face in France. After meeting and talking with CAG Christians, she came to know that they are dignified and well-educated people from different walks of life, who came to France for neither material help nor economic future.

During the conference, the organizer also played the experience video of two CAG Christians who suffered brutal persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities, which touched a lots of attendees.

In the following discussion section, Mr. Nicolas Legrin, a member of CAP LC, asked if improvements will be made to the persecution of religious belief in China.

Prof. Massimo Introvigne answered that it’s impossible to achieve an agreement with Chinese government. Maybe talks can be held with the CCP government on Catholic underground churches or house churches. However, it is impossible to have a discussion with them about the churches they label as “xie jiao.”

It’s learnt that experts, scholars and human rights groups jointly appealed to the French president, hoping that he can be alarmingly aware of the disastrous consequences of denying the asylum requests from the CAG members in France.

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