By Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 24: More than 45 reporters from mainland China working underground for an Italy-based online daily magazine were arrested, interrogated, and accused of espionage in China since August 2018, announced Marco Respinti, a journalist and Director-in-Charge of Bitter Winter (BW)
Respinti was speaking as a panelist at a conference on religious freedom in China on Wednesday organized at the European Parliament, reports Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers and an associate editor at BW. BW
is an international online daily magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China published in eight languages by the Italian research center CESNUR. BW grew out of CESNUR’s interest and academic activities around new religious movements and religious pluralism in China. BW
began publishing from May 2018 and has been criticized in China for alleged biases based on anti-communism. BW
twitter account claims that it publishes hard-to-get news on religion in China, comments from scholars & human rights activists.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities designated Bitter Winter
as a “foreign hostile website” in August 2018 due to BW publishing secret documents and news reports about the CCP’s suppression of religious beliefs and human rights violations, stated Respinti.
“Reporters are usually detained and interrogated on the charge of ‘divulging state secrets’ or ‘involvement in infiltration by foreign forces.’ Some reporters have been sent to ‘legal education centers’ to undergo mandatory indoctrination, while others have been tortured and abused,” said the report of the arrest published today on their website.Bitter Winter
covers the persecution of all faiths in its daily reports; all religions are persecuted under Xi Jinping in China. BW’
s last report on Tibet, Authorities Use Welfare Payments Against Tibetan Buddhists was published on January 18, 2019.
Respinti urged the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and the members of the European Parliament to make full use of their meetings with the Chinese authorities as well as the UN human rights mechanisms to convey their concerns to the Chinese government and urge it to comply with international standards regarding freedom of religion or belief.
Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit based in Paris, France, released a report in December, naming China as the country with the most imprisoned journalists.