13 European NGOs urge China, Iran and Russia to release prisoners from a dozen religious groups in light of the COVID-19 threat

HRWF (10.12.2020) – Thirteen human rights NGOs call upon the authorities of China, Iran and Russia to release religious prisoners under threat of being infected by COVID-19. These are the three countries that have the highest number of believers of all faiths behind bars, according to Human Rights Without Frontiers’ (HRWF) database of FoRB prisoners which documents thousands of individual cases.

In China, 1-2 million Uyghur Muslims and half a million Tibetan Buddhists are at risk of contracting COVID-19 in so-called ‘re-education camps.’ Furthermore, thousands of peaceful Christians of all faiths, but mainly of The Church of Almighty God, and thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been languishing in detention for years.

In Iran, over 60 Baha’is, a dozen Protestants and a number of Sufis have been sentenced to long prison terms for the mere exercise of their right to religious freedom.

In Russia, about 50 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been in detention since this movement was banned for alleged extremism in 2018. Over 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently facing criminal charges. Muslims from two peaceful groups, Said Nursi and Tabligh Jamaat, have also been systematically imprisoned for many years.

More about the imprisonment of believers of all faiths in 14 countries can be found in HRWF’s latest annual report: “In Prison for Their Faith 2020”.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Willy Fautré

Phone: + 32 478 202069

Email: international.secretariat.brussels@hrwf.net or w.fautre@hrwf.net

Website: http://www.hrwf.eu

Organizations supporting the call of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l

AFN – All Faiths Network (UK) http://www.allfaithsnetwork.org

CAP-LC – Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (France) http://www.coordiap.com/

CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions (Italy) https://www.cesnur.org

EIFRF – European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom (Belgium) https://www.eifrf-articles.org

FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief (Italy) https://freedomofbelief.net

FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (Austria) https://foref-europe.org

FVG – Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism (Belgium) http://antwerpfvg.org

IOPHR – International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (UK) https://preservehumanrights.org/

LIREC – Center for Studies on Freedom of Belief, Religion and Conscience (Italy) https://lirec.net

Noodt Foundation – Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief (The Netherlands) http://noodt.org/

ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees (Lithuania) https://www.orlir.org

PoC – Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund (UK) https://www.prisonersofconscience.org/

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