China Aid Association
(Washington, D.C.–July 25, 2012) As part of ChinaAid’s 10-year anniversary celebrations, it awarded its “2012 Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Defenders Award”. to three brave Chinese lawyers, Fan Yafeng, Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong.
Regrettably, none of the three lawyers were able to attend the award ceremony on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Below is a statement from Jiang expressing his thanks for the award.
Thoughts on the First China Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Courage Award from China Aid Association
Dear President Bob Fu, members of the board of directors, U.S. congressmen and congressional staff, and distinguished guests:
Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the US-based China Aid Association! On this special occasion, I am deeply honored to win the first “Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Defenders Award” from China Aid Association together with Dr. Fan Yafeng and Dr. Teng Biao.
It is obvious to all that religious freedom and the rule of law in mainland China in the past few years have suffered obvious setbacks. The brutal suppression and persecution of Falun Gong practitioners as a group in the past dozen or so years still has not ended, and in many places, large-scale arrests are continuing. Independent house churches have never and still are not tolerated by the authorities. For many years, Protestants and Catholics have frequently been arrested and detained for crimes such as illegal meetings, gathering a mob to disturb public order, illegal business operation, etc. In recent years, the authorities often use the charge “utilizing a cult to undermine law enforcement,” which they had used for many years to suppressing Falun Gong practitioners, to persecute Christians, Catholics and other religious believers. In Tibetan areas, as the portraits of four top leaders entered temples, more Tibetans and monks have been arrested and the steady increase of self-immolations is causing world-wide concern. The Chinese authorities regularly trample on the very laws that they themselves have passed; the law can in no way guarantee the civil rights of the people. The situation for lawyers and other defenders of human rights is worsening.
Nevertheless, as a defender of human rights, I no longer feel alone. That’s because, more human rights defenders have stood up to face the suppression, and everyone has started to look after one another. Not only that, my clients and their families have also given me a lot of encouragement. The reason they are suppressed and harassed is because they have not lost their conscience and their faith in a society of general depravity. Some of them have lost their lives, some have lost their freedom and are imprisoned. Others are being tortured, and for still others, their families and children are being seriously harassed. Today, while I am honored to receive this award, I cannot help thinking of them.
Winning this award is not only the shared honor of those in mainland China who are working hard for the progress of religious freedom and the rule of law. What is more important is this: I sense that you and I—we—are facing and shouldering this burden together. And we are no longer alone in this world either. My friends: at this very moment, I feel your concern and your support. Of course, I hope more people will join us in facing evil; let’s work together so that all people can live free.
I believe God is with us!
Thank you again!
Jiang Tianyong July 24, 2012, Beijing