A report by Chinese human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gao Zhisheng has been smuggled out of China, and it reveals the magnitude and intensity of religious persecution that continues in the communist country.
ChinaAid, the Human Rights Foundation, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide translated and edited the report, which they released last week. Gao himself is in state custody somewhere in Beijing after being kidnapped from his home in August, but his report details how the government under President Xi Jinping violently suppresses religious groups, primarily Christians and practitioners of Falun Gong.
"In comparison to 2015, in 2016 the [Communist Party of China] conspicuously intensified its control and suppression of religious faith, especially targeting Christianity and Falun Gong," Gao wrote. "The external environment for religious faith hit a new low in 2016 after 30 years of suppression."
Gao has been an outspoken Chinese dissenter, defending the civil rights of numerous victims of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and rebuking Xi for his leadership of this mass persecution.
"Since Xi Jinping came to power, the CPC's general suppression of Christianity, with a particular focus on individual cases, has become a new and distinctive trend, which has been even more obvious in the past year," Gao wrote.
On Tuesday, the Communist Party of China amended its constitution to elevate Xi to the same level as the People's Republic of China's founder, Mao Zedong. Xi is expected to use his new status to consolidate his power.
Gao accused the Chinese communist government of intensifying its persecution of Christians in response to their strength worldwide.
"Intimidated by the fact that Christianity is a faith practiced around the globe, and Christians pursue goodness and kindness, CPC has been cracking down on it harshly and ruthlessly for a long time, while keeping the suppression implicit and focused on typical cases," Gao wrote.
Gao related many instances of brutal violence in his report, including instances of seizing or destroying Christians' property and even killing the believers themselves.
"In 2016, a pastor and his wife were buried alive in Henan [province] while protesting against their church being forcibly possessed," Gao wrote. "This case marked a new low in the authorities' cruel and brutal suppression of religious freedom in the history of Christianity in China over the past century."
The treatment of practitioners of Falun Gong may be even more violent. Gao lamented how people have become accustomed to this "bloody human rights disaster."
"Hundreds and thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been abducted, forcibly disappeared, framed, and tortured," he wrote.
"Like arrows shot into the ocean, these incidents failed to leave any trace in the world," he wrote. "Only their fellow practitioners monitored their situation and advocated for them, while the general public was numb to their suffering—it left me with a sense of despair."
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu called on the international community to recognize the human rights violations committed by the Chinese government.
"The Gao report further validates the findings of the international community, which indicate that the overall situation on human rights, rule of law, and religious freedom in China has reached its worst point since the end of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution," Fu said.
"We urge President Trump to speak to Chinese leaders about this deteriorating human rights situation and raise the case of Gao and other prisoners of conscience when he visits China in early November," Fu added.