Taipei Times: PRC oppression a key talking point at Taoyuan forum

Friday, February 19, 2016

Taipei Times
By Peng Hsien-chun, Chou Min-hung and Jake Chung / Staff reporters, with staff writer

■ China’s oppression of Falun Gong and nations and territories in the Asia-Pacific region that lack religious freedom were among the concerns expressed by participants at the Asia-Pacific Religions Freedom Forum in Taoyuan yesterday.

More than 99 religious freedom advocates, leaders of non-governmental organizations and religious leaders from 26 nations are attending the three-day forum, which is being jointly hosted by a group of organizations, including the Democratic Pacific Union, China Aid and Freedom House.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom chair Katrina Swett told the forum that the oppression of religions in the Asia-Pacific region, including China’s oppression of Falun Gong and North Korea’s autocratic rule, is severely affecting global stability and peace, adding that every effort to remove such oppression must be made.

Swett said that under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), churches are being destroyed, while Muslims and Tibetans are also being oppressed.

Freedom House president Mark Lagon said the Chinese government still does not allow religious freedom within the nation and the the Chinese Communist Party monitors all religious activities and oppresses all religious groups that are not collaborating with the government.

Tibetan traditional religious ceremonies that have been performed for hundreds of years have been banned by the Chinese government, Lagon said, adding that China is an example of the radical oppression of religious freedom.

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who founded the Democratic Pacific Union, said in her speech that weight needs to be given to the core values that are shared by all major religions.

Those values are the ability to tell right from wrong and to stand up for what is right, she said.

The oppression of women by men, the poor by the rich and the weak by the strong have directly led to the conflict-filled world we live in today, Lu said.

She said that religion is as important to people as air and water, adding that religion teaches us right from wrong.

Religion is like a mirror, reflecting humanity’s beauty and ugliness alike, or a washing machine, cleaning the sins from the soul, Lu said.

Everyone needs religions and they should always have the freedom to choose which religion to believe in, she added.

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