NEW YORK—In his debut statement to the United Nations General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Affairs Committee, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt, boldly demonstrated that he won't ignore China, at once a permanent member of the Security Council and a chronic abuser of religious freedom.
The recently appointed Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt. (Photo courtesy of the United Nations OHCHR)
Bielefeldt spoke at the General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Oct. 21. In a U.N. release translated from French, he is quoted as saying that members of religions or belief systems in some countries are recognized only based on "particular lists of religions," leaving followers of other religions or belief systems "facing problems.”
"Small communities such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i, Ahmadi, Falun Gong, and others are sometimes stigmatized as ‘cults’ and are frequently confronted with prejudices that can escalate into becoming conspiracy theories," he said according to the release.
While Bielefeldt’s predecessor Asma Jahangir identified the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong as one of religion or belief, Bielefeldt’s statement marks the first time the concept was brought to the General Assembly.
None of this was missed by the Chinese delegation, which issued a strong response. More...