Additional Reporting on Chinese Government Tyranny

Chinese Regime Holds Million Uighurs in Secret Camps

Credible Reports

By Reuters

GENEVA—A U.N. human rights panel said on Friday that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”

Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.

“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability the Chinese Regime has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internship camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone,’” she told the start of a two-day regular review of China’s record, including Hong Kong and Macao.

China says Xinjiang faces a serious threat from radical Islamic terrorists and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uighur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

A Chinese delegation of some 50 officials made no comment on her remarks at the Geneva session that continues on Monday.

Men install a CCTV camera in a shopping street in the old town of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China.

Men install a CCTV camera in a shopping street in the old town of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

The allegations came from multiple sources, including activist group Chinese Human Rights Defenders, which said in a report last month that 21 percent of all arrests recorded in China in 2017 were in Xinjiang.

Earlier, Yu Jianhua, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said it was working towards equality and solidarity among all ethnic groups.  But McDougall said that members of the Uighur community and others Muslims were being treated as “enemies of the state” solely on the basis of their ethno-religious identity.  More than 100 Uighur students who returned to China from countries including Egypt and Turkey had been detained, with some dying in custody, she said.

Fatima-Binta Dah, a panel member, referred to “arbitrary and mass detention of almost 1 million Uighurs” and asked the Chinese delegation:

“What is the level of religious freedom available now to Uighurs in China, what legal protection exists for them to practice their religion?”

Panelists also raised reports of mistreatment of Tibetans in the autonomous region, including inadequate use of the Tibetan language in the classroom and at court proceedings.

“The U.N. body maintained its integrity, the government got a very clear message,” Golok Jigme, a Tibetan monk and former prisoner living in exile, told Reuters at the meeting.

The adherents of the spiritual practice, Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) have also been violently oppressed and persecuted. The Chinese regime perceived Falun Gong’s presence as a threat to its authoritarian rule and began a campaign to eradicate the practice in July 1999.


A poster of the film Human Harvest depicts a meditating Falun Gong practitioner, with prices attached to her organs. (Flying Cloud Productions)

The official press office for Falun Gong, the Falun Dafa Information Center, estimates that millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested and detained since the persecution started, often enduring torture, abuse, and even live organ harvesting while imprisoned. The regime also launched mass propaganda campaigns in an effort to turn public opinion against Falun Gong practitioners.

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20180817

Psalms 5:1 Listen to my words, Yahveh; think about what I am agonizing over.

The psalmist believes in prayer. He dares to believe that God will actually pay attention to words that he says.  If we cannot say that about our prayers, we need to revisit the cross. Surely a God who cared enough to send his Son to die for you cares about what you are struggling with!

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Orwellian China And The Sino-Stalags

Denial 

A Million Muslim Uighurs Held In Internment Camps

The country is responding to concerns raised by a UN committee about a crackdown and strict controls in Xinjiang region.

Muslims pray at a mosque during Ramadan in Urumqi, Xinjiang
Muslims pray at a mosque during Ramadan in Urumqi, Xinjiang

By Greg Heffer, news reporter
Sky News

China has rejected claims one million of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority are being held in internment camps, while it has also insisted “there are no such things” as re-education centres.

The country responded to concerns, raised by a member of a UN human rights committee, that its Xinjiang region has been turned into “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone”.

Human rights expert Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, last week highlighted reports that more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities are being held in counter-extremism centres.  Another two million “have been forced” into re-education camps for “political and cultural indoctrination”, Ms McDougall had claimed, as she cited the work of rights groups.

However, a Chinese official hit back at the allegations in an appearance before the committee on Monday, insisting all Xinjiang citizens, including Uighurs, “enjoy equal freedom and rights”.

Ma Youqing, among 50 high-level Chinese officials to answer questions from the committee, said: “The argument that one million Uighurs are detained in re-education centres is completely untrue.”  He added: “There is neither deliberate targeting at a particular ethnic minority, nor suppressing or restricting the rights or the freedom of religious belief of the Uighur people.”

Responding on Monday, Ms McDougall claimed China “didn’t quite deny” that re-education programmes are taking place.  “You said that was false, the one million. Well, how many were there? Please tell me,” she asked. “And what were the laws on which they were detained, the specific provisions?”

China has long been running a “strike hard” campaign in Xinjiang, which it says is a counter-terrorism programme aimed at combating ethnic violence.  China’s state-run Global Times newspaper insisted on Monday the tough security measures had stopped Xinjiang from turning into “China’s Syria” or “China’s Libya”.

However, Human Rights Watch has claimed the programme “is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of political disloyalty, which in Xinjiang could mean any Uighur, particularly those who express, even peacefully, their religious or cultural identity”.  Muslims face regulations banning beards and veils as well as the distribution of unauthorised Korans.

China’s constitution guarantees the freedom of religious worship but the ruling Communist Party is officially atheist and keeps tight restrictions on religious activities.

The word “mosque” was reportedly banned on Chinese social media at the weekend, while internet and 4G mobile phone service was said to have been cut off from the local area in an apparent bid to stop the sharing of videos.

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20180816

Psalms 4:8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace, because you alone, Yahveh, make me live in safety.

Not only does the psalmist appreciate the opportunity to witness about his relationship with God, he is also grateful for the security that knowing God gives. It is a feeling of safety that many accusers cannot take away.

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Letter From the UK (About the Totalitarian Treatment of a Nurse)

Forget Burkas

Christianity’s the faith that is really under siege

Peter Hitchens
Daily Mail

How we love fretting about the wrong thing. While the country convulses itself about Islamic face veils, a truly disturbing event, affecting our freedom and our future, goes almost unobserved.

This is the creepy and totalitarian treatment of a Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh, sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church and (horror of horrors) ‘inappropriately gave a Bible to a patient’.

The good news is that Ms Kuteh, whose abilities as a nurse have never once been questioned, has now been allowed back to work by the political commissars who increasingly control our country. But the price of this is a humiliating process of self- criticism, of the sort once usual in communist states.
Typically, the whole thing is conducted in a hideous mangled form of English which makes a supermarket checkout robot sound like Shakespeare.

A Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh (pictured), was sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church

A Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh (pictured), was sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church

To regain the favour of the commissars, she has had to write a ‘reflective’ screed in which she ‘incorporated your obligations in relation to having clear professional boundaries and not expressing your personal beliefs in an inappropriate way’ and ‘set out the steps you have taken to address the deficiencies highlighted in your practice. You have addressed how you would act differently in the future.’ In other words, she has confessed her thought-crime and promised not to repeat it.

Well, that is modern Britain, a slimy, squelchy totalitarian state in which unemployment, rather than the gulag, is used to threaten people into conformism and force them to keep their deepest, beloved beliefs a personal secret while they are on state premises.

How absurd. Christianity is pretty much the origin of modern nursing. I am glad my beloved Aunt Ena, a nurse of extraordinary courage and devotion, and an exemplary Christian in thought, word and deed, did not live to see this era.

But the cultural revolution has a special loathing for Christianity, perhaps precisely because it was until so recently the idea which ruled all our hearts.  And I doubt the same horrible process would have been imposed on a nurse who suggested her patients attended a mosque, or gave them a copy of the Koran. For while the British State loathes Christianity, it fears Islam. So do lots of other people.

It is this fear that has driven much of the stupid frenzy which followed Alexander ‘Boris’ Johnson’s not especially funny or original remarks about niqabs, burkas and letterboxes.  Here’s a simple point about both these great religions. If you don’t believe in them, and to some extent even if you do, both faiths are a set of political and social opinions, chosen by those who hold them.

People are quite entitled to disagree with and mock them, as they would with any other manifesto and party. I’m against personal rudeness and deliberate offence, such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. But I’m all in favour of reasoned criticism, and some humour, and I’m weary of foolish people calling this ‘Islamophobia’ as if it was some sort of disease.

Being critical of Islam is not the same thing as the Judophobia which is such a big issue in the Labour Party. Judophobes dislike Jews for being who they unalterably are, not because of what they happen to think at the moment.  For example, the Nazis murdered the distinguished German Christian theologian and Roman Catholic nun, Edith Stein, because she had Jewish ancestors. They went to some trouble to hunt her down in her Dutch convent and drag her to Auschwitz so they could kill her. That’s a phobia in action.

As it happens, I have quite a lot of sympathy with some bits of Islam. On a visit to Iran I was much impressed by a beautiful and highly intelligent young woman, a schoolteacher, who made out a powerful case for modesty in dress, and clearly had not been forced by her husband (very much her equal) into the night-black robes she wore.

I’ve come across similar views in Turkey and Egypt. Forced veiling is another matter, but I cannot see that state bans or public jeering are going to make much difference to that.

We have Muslim fellow-citizens among us, for good or ill. They are our neighbours. We’re going to have to work out a civilised relationship, in which we can talk frankly to each other. I’ve never found any of them upset by serious argument. Many are saddened by much of what they see around them. So am I. Many wish this country was more Christian. So do I.

One of the supreme achievements of a free civilisation is the ability to disagree without hating your opponent. We need to relearn it.

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20180815

Psalms 4:7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when they have an abundant grain and new wine harvest.

The psalmist reflects on his joy at knowing God, and considers it a greater blessing than his accusers have known. He is asking the LORD to help him show that joy as a testimony of God’s existence and faithfulness.

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The State Is New Zealand’s Worst Parent

Our Biggest Parent Is Also our Most Abusive

Government As Parent is Failing Children

It is Also Failing Hired Helpers

Family First NZ Press Release

Family First NZ says that Judge Kevin Phillips has honourably taken responsibility for the consequences of bailing a teenager who went on to commit a serious assault on a young woman. The Judge also raised concerns relating to the multiple State Care placements the teenager had been in whilst in care.

“Sadly, far too many children and youth placed in Oranga Tamariki (previously named CYF) care, are continually being bounced between placements. What will surprise many people, are the actual reasons why,” said Mel Taylor, spokesperson for Family First, and specialist caregiver for 16 years of high at-risk teenage boys.

“More and more children needing to be placed with O.T Caregivers, have serious behavioural and mental health issues. As years progress, the high at-risk behaviours continue to come out, and one reason for children being placed in multiple homes is simply because caregivers are not equipped to deal with these behaviours. All too often, caregivers and their own children are placed at risk from young people with Foetal Alcohol and/or Foetal Drug issues.

“With teenagers in state care, the reasons for multiple placements are quite different. It is usually attributed to them being kicked out of multiple placements.
Very rarely do I hear of youth being removed because of concerns about the caregiver. Many of the youth we have cared for have had multiple placements due to their high-risk behaviours, such as violence, drugs, constant running away, destruction of the caregiver’s home, false allegations against the caregiver, etc. It is at the caregiver’s request that a youth is removed, for the safety of all. I am also aware that a lot of the placement breakdowns we have seen have been from youth placed into Whanau Care.”

“As a specialist caregiver, we are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Governments over many years have only wanted more ambulances. Government must start addressing the root causes for why we have so many children and youth in care in the first place – causes such as break down of the family unit.”

“Because there are sadly so many children in care, the Government must ensure that all measures are taken to provide the best possible care and outcomes. For this to occur, there must be accountability by way of urgently implementing an independent Complaints Authority for Oranga Tamariki. This would ensure that good parents, families and caregivers are protected, that caregivers and Oranga Tamariki are both protected and held accountable, and that at-risk children and youth are receiving the best stable and loving care possible.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says “The easiest way to look at this is at any given time we have roughly 5000 children in state care, and for all intents and purposes we’re the parent. The state is the parent of that child.”  [Emphasis, ours]

“Unfortunately, these ‘Government parents’ are failing not only their children, but their own hired helpers, and need to step up and start being held accountable.”

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20180814

Psalms 4:6 Many are asking, “Who can show us anything good? ” Let the light of your face shine on us, Yahveh.

The psalmist abruptly moves from talking to his accusers about his faith to talking to God about his witness. He sees these accusations not as a negative, but as a positive. They are opportunities to reflect the light of God’s face.

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Foundations for the renewal of covenant blessing in Haggai 2:10-19

This is the spillway at the Lower Nihotapu  dam at Parau in the Waitakere rangers west of Auckland. It is one of the reservoirs that provides water for Auckland City… A real blessing.  

We are working our way through the book of Haggai. We are calling the series renewal in the ruins. Haggai has spoken to the people who had come back from exile to Jerusalem and inspired and encouraged them to rebuild the temple. He had called them to renew their focus as a community, their identity as God’s people was to be found in God’s presence with them symbolised by the temple.  As they started to rebuild and encountered discouragement and despondency he had spoken to them about the renewal of their Hope: Hope found in the presence, providence and purpose of God and now Haggai turns to speak of foundations for the renewal of God’s covenant blessing for them as his people. As I sat down to put this message together my devotions for the day were entitled “only Holiness leads to happiness” and that was a real God moment because it sums up in nut shell what Haggai’s message to the then and there and the here and now is… “Only Holiness leads to happiness”.

That is not a recipe that says if we are good god will be good to us… More that if we simply seek our own pleasure as the returnees had been doing, we meet the law of diminishing returns… we get less out of more we have… If our focus is on God and his Kingdom… then we become more and amore aware of God’s blessings.

Let’s set the scene.

Once again Haggai’s words have a specific date. In this case it is the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius (December 14th if you want to tie it in to our calendar). Three month’s after the people had started to build the temple in response to Haggai’s first message. The previous two oracles had been tied to religious festivals. The new moon festival and the feast of tabernacles, but this one does not fit in with such a religious holiday or gathering. However, in verse 18 Haggai refers to the day that the foundation stone of the temple was laid and in Ezra 3 we have a record of the people gathering for a festival when that happened. In the Ancient near east when a foundation stone was laid there would be a religious gathering and a blessing for the endeavour. This day could also have been a significant other step in the building process, maybe even something being build on the foundation stone. We’ve laid the stone but know we are getting on with the job.

We do know that in the agricultural calendar this would have been at the end of the period of time when people would have been planting out seed for next years harvest. So at the end of that time there may have been a gathering to celebrate that and to pray for the coming harvest, Haggai says in verse 19 is there any seed yet left in the barn? Which fits in with that… and his message that from this day on God will bless you, does fit in with hope for the coming harvest. In his first oracle Haggai had said that because of the people were disobeying God’s call on them to rebuild the temple, that God could not bless them and the harvest were going to be small, now as they have started the work Haggai makes the bold prediction that God will change that.

 What we have in the passage we had read out to us is two oracles given on the same day, given together. In structure it is very much like the first of Haggai’s oracles, it starts with a series of questions that leads into the prophets teaching and calls the people to carefully consider their ways and finishes with a declaration of God’s actions on behalf of his people. In this Haggai sets the foundations for the renewal of God’s Blessing. It is a restoring, a turning round of the way things were because the people have turned round, they have repented and gone God’s way.

In these two coracles Haggai considers the consequences of past disobedience, looks at current obedience, and declares the certainty of blessing. So let’s explore those three things.

 The consequences of past disobedience.

When the people had come back to Jerusalem they had been very quick to re-establish the sacrificial system. The altar was re-established and sacrifices offered. This forms the basis for Haggai’s questions to the priests in verse 11-13. They have to do with ritual cleanliness or holiness. 

The first one asks if food that has been set aside for God is carried in the fold of a garment but then touches other food does it make that food Holy?  The answer to that from the priests is “no”, Holiness being set aside for God is not contagious. It can’t be passed on…

The second question is about dead bodies. If someone touches a dead body then touches food set aside for an offering does the food become defiled? And the answer is yes, uncleanliness is contagious. This being ritually unclean by touching a dead body is at the heart of Jesus parable of the good Samaritan, the priest and the Levi going up to the temple. If they touched the man who was set upon by robbers and he was dead they could not have served their turn in the temple, as they would have been unclean and what they touched would have been deemed ritually unclean.

Haggai uses these questions to show that God considered all the offering they had made as being  unclean and unacceptable because the people had not obeyed God, and rebuilt the temple. Even though they had gone through the motions how Could God bless them if they were being disobedient. Like God’s people down through the ages they had tried to separate the idea of ritual holiness from ethical holiness.

Sacrifices were given for the forgiveness of sins, but the call of God was that people would live a life that reflected the God they knew and served. It is like when my kids were smaller I used to like doing things like taking them out for icecream or another treat, but when they were not behaving I couldn’t do it, I still loved them and cared for them and had to discipline them, but when change happened I would be quick to give them a treat…

For us it is the sacrifice of a totally righteous person, Jesus Christ that has put us right with God, that has atoned for our sins. That has put us right with God, the call we have is that we live that out by hearing Jesus words and obeying them, and we can do that because of the presence and guidance of the holy Spirit in our lives.  We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and we are called to a life of sanctification as we grow in Christ and learn to live and love as Christ lived and loved.

 It is a challenge for all of us, as biblical scholar Mark Boda says “it’s easy for us to get caught up in the mechanics of our religious activities and not focus on the importance and impact of individual and corporate obedience”.

Then in Haggai’s second oracle on that day he turns from consequences of the past to look at the people current obedience. Here they are they have started to rebuild the temple. During the harvest time they had thought carefully about what they were doing and had started to rebuild the temple, they hadn’t just stopped at cleaning off the altar and having the sacrifices, but had begun building the temple. They were doing what God had called them to be doing. The temple was not just a place for sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin but was a place to focus on God’s presence with his people and that they were called to live as a witnessing community to the goodness and holiness of God by the way they lived. In 1 Chronicles 28 as David lay out his plans for the temple, he calls Solomon and all those who were to build the temple “to give careful thought to their ways” sound familiar “ to keep all the commandments of the Lord, that you may possess all the good things of the land.”

Amos was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel, he had come at a time of great prosperity and religious fervour in the city of Samaria. The people saw their prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing, and God’s word through Amos was that this was not the case, in fact they were laying the foundation of their own judgment, by treating God, like one of the other gods around them, thinking he would simply bless them because the observed the right religious rituals. While at the same time their prosperity was based on the exploitation of the poor and unjust trading practises.  Amos’s message is that “God hates your festivals and your songs and sacrifices make God sick to the stomach, what God wants is that justice flow like a river and righteousness like a never ending stream.’ 

The difference of the foundation in the two builder in the parable Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount in Matthew’s gospel is that on with the solid foundation is the one who listens to Jesus word and obeys it, the other hears the word and carries on their own way.  They both experience the storms and floods of life, but the one who obeyed Jesus words stands.

 Now Haggai also calls them to carefully consider their ways. The obedience wasn’t just in rebuilding the temple that was a symbol of that deeper call to live as God’s people. But the current obedience laid a foundation for the renewal of  God’s blessing.

Haggai finishes his oracle with a declaration of certainty that God would Bless his people. They had not had a good harvest, when they had come back to Jerusalem they had expected that it would be wonderful and prosperous and full of happiness, but it had not been. Now Haggai takes a bold step by telling them that as they had started to obey God’s purpose for them, that the deprivation of the past would change and God would bless them. 

For Haggai his focus is specifically that they would have a bumper crop. Maybe as he was speaking the autumn rain that was so necessary for the agriculture of the region to grow was starting and the Haggai is tying that in with what is happening in Jerusalem, or he is making a bold prediction. Up until know Haggai has told forth the word of God, bringing God’s word to the situation and context, but here is foretelling. But it is based on what he knows of God and God’s character.

The foundation for God’s people in Haggis’s day and in our own is the goodness of God, that God is with and for his people. That it is God’s desire to bless his people, that is a certainty. God’s desire is that his people, all the people of the earth, come to know God and his goodness. Haggai’s previous oracle had finished with and in that place I will give you peace… which means wholeness. In the book of Timothy, Paul tells us all to pray because it is God’s desire that all may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That we will be put right with God through his gracious sacrifice for us. In John’s gospel that saving knowledge is called abundant life, full life, it’s so abundant because of the presence and provision and purpose of God that it goes beyond the grace into eternity, lived with our eternal God.

And If the book of Haggai finished here we might be tempted to say that we can earn God’s blessing by our good deeds and equate God’s blessing with prosperity.  In the end the grace and hope of Haggai’s declaration is God’s sovereign promise to bless his people, it’s God’s grace, God’s grace, God’s grace…  

The challenge of Haggai is the same for us as it was for God’s people then and there. It is to consider carefully our ways, it is a call to see that fulfilment and fullness comes from knowing God through Jesus Christ, hearing God’s word and putting it into practise in our lives… “Only Holiness leads to happiness”. The promise is God’s blessing…

Also the book of Haggai does not finish here. There is one more word that Haggai brings on the same day as the two we looked at today. It is a word for Zerubbabel and it is a word that finishes the process of renewal by speaking of the renewal of covenant relationship, which is at the heart of covenant blessing… the heart of our hope… that points us forward to Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of all the promises and hopes of the remnant in their coming back, the fulfilment of Israel’s hope and ours. The fulfilment of God’s promise to bless his people. We are going to look at that in a fortnights time.

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20180813

Psalms 4:5 Offer the correct sacrifices and put your confidence in the LORD.

The psalmist continues to instruct his accusers in right behavior. He now tells them to try his religion. Sacrifice and faith are the two elements of his relationship with God that he mentions— but just as examples. In a sense, he’s saying that if they had the relationship with God that he has, they would not act the way they do.

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