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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Posted by Author on October 16, 2009

Speech by Hon. David Kilgour, 16 Oct 2009 –

What can be done to reduce the persecution of spiritual communities internationally? First, all must stand together. Pastor Martin Niemoller made this point best about the Nazis: “…Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

The link between religious intolerance and political instability/violence is explained by Geoffrey Johnston: “Those countries that do not actively protect religious minorities or prosecute the perpetrators of religiously-motivated violence are ultimately undermining their own security. A climate of impunity tends to embolden militants, who eventually turn against the state, using violence to advance their agenda. Pakistan and Nigeria are prime examples of governments that have allowed extremist groups to attack religious minority communities before they themselves became the targets of terror strikes.”

One estimate of the number of people who died prematurely for their faith between 1900 and 2000 is a dismaying 169 million, including: 70 million Muslims; 35 million Christians; 11 million Hindus; 9 million Jews; 4 million Buddhists; 2 million Sikhs and 1 million Baha’is.

Freedom of religion

In Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. This freedom to worship, or not to worship, is part of Canada’s appeal. It is a universal value; most nations have signed agreements committing them to respect individual freedom of thought, conscience and belief. In too many, their nationals continue to suffer for practising their faiths.

Most of the persecution during the 1900s and early years of the present century was committed by regimes which detested all religions. Here are three sharply differing situations:


One of many cases to come out of China is that of Brother Yun. His experiences are set out in his autobiography, The Heavenly Man, published in 2002. He and the book have impacted many, including those who attended more than one thousand meetings he has held in various parts of the world.

Another Christian, Gao Zhisheng, has been persecuted mostly because of standing up for another spiritual community, Falun Gong (some of whose own horrifying experiences over ten years can be accessed at Gao is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. In 2001, he was named one of China’s top ten lawyers. As a lawyer, he donated a third of his time to victims of human rights violations, representing miners, evicted tenants and others.

First his permit to practise law was removed. This was followed by an attempt on his life, having police attack his wife and 14-year-old daughter. In 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison for. Much worse happened there. The Canadian Friends of Gao wrote Prime Minister Harper earlier this year asking him to intervene for his release: “(I)nstead of honouring the obligations prescribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which China is a signatory, blatant human rights violations persist. Having courageously sought justice for vulnerable groups such as the poor, the disabled, and the persecuted, Gao’s story is a light shining in the darkness, and a reminder that all of us must stand up for what we believe and affirm. ” …… (more details from

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