Amnesty International criticises Beijing over religious liberty

Amnesty International has criticised Chinese authorities for the “increased ongoing efforts to bring all religious practice within the control of the state”.

In its annual 2012 report released last week, the human rights watchdog said that religious suppression in China included the “harsh persecution of some religious practitioners”.

The report also noted that "harassment, intimidation, arbitrary and illegal detention, and enforced detentions intensified against government critics”.

The human rights group said that Chinese authorities are “bringing all religious practice under state control”, including the appointment of religious leaders and the registration of religious groups.

Amnesty International addressed the difficult situation faced by underground Protestant house churches. It named Shouwang Church in Beijing as a case in point, saying that its members were “detained on a weekly basis as they hold an outdoor Sunday service”, and that the church has been “repeatedly expelled from rented locations”.

It also mentioned the religious situation in Tibet, where monks and former monks have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese authorities.

On the same day as the report's release, the Catholic Cardinal of Hong Kong, John Tong, celebrated a Mass for the “Prayer Day for the Church in China”, a world event established by Pope Benedict XVI five years ago. The congregation prayed for religious liberty in China during the Mass.