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(RNS) — It all started with a bill.
To the untrained eye, it was innocuous: a proposal that would allow China to bring indicted Hong Kong residents to the mainland for trial. But it drove millions into the streets and has resulted in the deaths of two people. Two others have been shot.
History - Chinese - Rights - Drives - Protests
A long history of Chinese human rights abuses drives these protests.
Beginning early in the 1950s, China has conducted decades of anti-religious campaigns, leaving a trail of destroyed churches, mosques and temples and thousands of people behind bars.
Persecution - Rule - Chinese - President - Xi
In particular, religious persecution has spiked under the rule of current Chinese President Xi Jinping. After taking power in 2013, he ordered religions to conform with new regulations designed to secure allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party.
These restrictions limit who can attend religious events, who can preach and which types of religious venues are allowed to exist.
Christians - Churches - Illegality - Targets - Communist
Because of this, many Chinese Christians choose to attend unofficial churches. Their technical illegality makes them prime targets for the Communist Party, and many of their attendees are arrested and tortured.
Early Rain Covenant Church is a clear example of China’s swelling animosity toward religion. On Dec. 9, 2018, around 100 of the church’s leaders and attendees were taken into police custody. The church’s pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife, Jiang Rong, were among those seized — leaving their child in the care of Wang’s elderly parents.
Wang - Jiang
Both Wang and Jiang vanished.
Ultimately, more than 150 members of the church were arrested that week. While most have been released, a few key leaders, including Wang, are still behind bars. Jiang has been freed on bail and reunited with her son.
This isn’t even the worst of it.
In China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, between 1-3 million people from Turkic minority groups — known as Uighurs — have been rounded up and imprisoned in...
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