U.S. silent as China arrests Protestant pastor and members of congregation

D. Parvaz

D. Parvaz Global Politics Reporter, ThinkProgress

In addition to the ongoing massive round up and detention of Muslim minority Uighurs in government-built internment camps, China has also detained a prominent Protestant pastor and around 100 members of his congregation.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Wang Yi, who leads the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, was taken in on Sunday night as his congregation started arriving for a service. Church members were also rounded up, and on Monday, police vans showed up, with police officers loading them up with materials taken from church offices.

The report comes on Human Rights Day, which was marked by the State Department with a general statement, and President Donald Trump issued a general statement of proclamation for the day three days earlier.

In September, Chinese authorities carried out raids, burning bibles and taking crosses at churches across the county. President Trump said nothing about those raids at the time.

The Early Rain Covenant Church released a statement shortly after Sunday’s arrests.

“Lord, help us to have the Christian’s conscience and courage to resist this ‘Orwellian nonsense’ with more positive Gospel action and higher praise. Without love, there is no courage,” read the statement.

Some of the members were released by Monday afternoon (local time), but have not spoken on the record, fearing government retaliation.

The issue, according to authorities, is that they do not recognize religious organizations that have not registered with the state and operate under its control, although, as the Times reported, the majority of the country’s 60 million Protestants worship at churches that aren’t registered.

Amid news of a trade war and the arrest of a Chinese telecom executive, these arrests represent only the latest in a series of troubling stories on rights violations in the country.

On Monday, Reuters reported that a letter signed by bar associations in nearly 20 countries called on Chinese authorities to release rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang.

Representing those facing religious crackdowns as well as those who allege that they have been tortured by police, Wang has been locked up and incommunicado since August of 2015.

He is the only one of the 321 lawyers and activists who were arrested in that crackdown who has not yet been released. Wang is charged with “subversion of state power.”

AWARD WINNER LU GUANG, WITH LITERARY CRITIC MARCEL REICH-RANICKI, AND GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL DURING THE HENRI-NANNEN-AWARD ON MAY 9, 2008 IN HAMBURG, GERMANY. CREDIT: KRAFFT ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES.

“We understand that no evidence of any form or shape has substantiated the charges put against him,” read the letter, “Wang Quanzhang was not given access to an independent legal counselor of his choosing and has been denied access to his family lawyer, who was allegedly intimidated into withdrawing from his case.”

While Wang’s case is relatively well-known, little is known about the fate of prominent photojournalist Lu Guang, whose wife claims was detained by Chinese National security officers in early November.

Lu, who is a New York resident, was attending a photography event in the Xinjiang region, where the government has built the Muslim internment camps it refers to as cultural “re-education” camps. Uighurs who have left the camp have spoken of harsh treatment, including psychological torture and beatings.

It’s unknown whether Lu, who was known to shoot stories that upset officials — from pollution, to how people in the country became infected with the AIDS virus after selling their blood — had any plans to report on the plight of the Uighurs.

The Trump administration has been focused on trying to close the trade deficit with China, a persistent problem for the Untied Sates, but has thus far only managed to increase that deficit to historic levels.

President Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping at the recent G20 Summit that he was willing to suspend the next round of tariffs on Chinese goods for 90 days as long as Xi used that time to change some of this country’s practices, such as forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work