09/09/2005, 00.00
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Euro parliament calls on China to protect religious freedom

Strasbourg (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The European parliament adopted a motion presented by deputy speaker Mario Mauro and MEP Jose' Ribeiro y Castro calling on the Chinese government to put an end to discrimination and religious repression. The motion singles out the "long-time persecution" of the members of Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China who were "forced to go underground".

Meeting in a plenary session, the European parliament calls on the" Commission, the Council and the Member States to raise specifically the issue of the persecution of Chinese Christians" in their dealings with the Chinese government.

The motion also urges them to obtain from the Chinese government information about Chinese bishops and priests who have gone missing or who have been arrested as evinced in a list published by AsiaNews.

 "The motion comes before the assembly late with respect to the arrest of these men because of the obstinate opposition of those parliamentary groups more sensitive to trade deals than human rights," MEP Mauro said.

"We cannot continue to accept that bishops, priests, and religious groups who ask for religious freedom be accused of being terrorists, counterrevolutionaries, enemies of China and sent to prison and be persecuted. It is time we make it clear to Beijing that without religious freedom its economic development might be compromised," he added.

The motion, backed by every party in the European parliament, calls on Beijing "to put an end to religious repression and to ensure that it respects international standards of human rights as well as religious rights."

It also urges the Commission and the Council to demand "the unconditional release of all Chinese Catholics incarcerated on account of their religious convictions and to cease immediately all kinds of violence towards them." 

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