Deaths, Assisted Killing, Statistics, and a BBC Charter That Suuposedly Requires Balance When Reporting Ethical Issues… 


Deaths, Assisted Killing, Statistics, and a BBC Charter That Suuposedly Requires Balance When Reporting Ethical Issues… 


In a newspaper article on February 10th  the NHS Psychiatrist and newspaper columnist, Dr.Max Pemberton, cogently set out the arguments for and against assisted suicide(“No one should have to die in agony. But assisted suicide fills me with horror”). He came to the conclusion that while there are no easy answers, and that all of us understand and are aware of heart-rending individual cases,  “with my head I know there are serious risks to assisted dying; that it will be misused.”

Patient safety is the reason why the British Medical Association, and most doctors, have opposed a change in the law – and they also loathe the idea that they will be forced to give lethal injections to their patients. For the doctor, assisted dying means assisted killing.

A very few people choose to go to the euthanasia centre in Switzerland to have their lives ended. Each time this happens campaigners turn the event into a media event.

One organisation trying to force a change in the law has published figures that in a recent year there were 47 such deaths in Switzerland. That figure represents just 0.008 per cent of deaths of Britons in 2016:47 out of a total of 597,211 UK deaths in 2016. Again:  0.008%

In reply to a recent Parliamentary Question that I tabled I asked about the number of deaths in the UK in each of the past ten years. In 2015 it was 602,782; 2014 570,341; 2013, 576,458; 2012, 569,024 – and about the same number in every previous year. Of these 5 million deaths, how many made the headlines? How many required a Court Case or a John Humphrey’s interview on the BBC’s Today Programme (that seems to campaign relentlessly for assisted killing). Yes, palliative care can always be improved; yes, our wonderful hospices could do with more resources; but, no, you don’t need a doctor to kill you to die with dignity.

So why does the BBC constantly distort the arguments and pour oxygen into a highly orchestrated and well funded campaign to introduce assisted killing into the UK? 

If they were observing the balance which the BBC Charter requires them to show on ethical issues they would remind their viewers and listeners of the Royal Colleges that represent medics, the British Medical Association, the disability rights movement and the hospices, along with both Houses of Parliament, that have all said no to changing a law that protects the most vulnerable and doesn’t force doctors to kill their patients. 

Why have they all come to the same conclusion as Dr.Pemberton?

They all agree that the key issue is public protection and in jurisdictions where the law has been changed the so-called “right to die” rapidly becomes a duty to die and public protection is eclipsed as thousands of depressed or disabled people are callously disposed of.

When you ask the question “should people have dignity when they are dying?” of course people say yes – so do I – but giving patients lethal injections is neither ethical or dignified.

Instead  of listening to media cheer leaders for euthanasia we should ask why half a million deaths in the UK each year are unremarked and unreported. Hard cases always make bad laws.

The campaigners who are trying to subvert the medical organisations, and the will of Parliament, should put their considerable resources into supporting palliative care and hospices who do such wonderful work in caring for the hundreds of thousands that die annually, without recourse to euthanasia or the courts, and who need love and care as they enter the final days of their lives, not a lethal injection.

Caring Not Killing pamphlet

Question in Parliament about refugees and the importance of mastering the English Language 

Question in Parliament about refugees and the English Language 


Refugees: Teaching of English Next 06 February 2018



2.43 pm


Asked by


Lord Alton of Liverpool


To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to provide additional resources to programmes for the teaching of English to refugees.


The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)


My Lords, the Government recognise the importance of the English language for refugee integration. The Government have provided additional funding of £10 million under the vulnerable persons relocation scheme for more English classes, childcare facilities and local co-ordination of English language provision. English language tuition is also available for refugees under the arrangements for adult learners.


Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)


My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer and for the very helpful meeting she had with me to discuss this. Since that meeting, has she had the chance to reflect on the 60% reduction in ESOL funding since 2010, the desirability of extending the guaranteed eight hours a week of teaching to all refugees, and the role that voluntary projects can play alongside statutory provisions? Is it not the case that language is the most important precondition for full participation in British society, and that if refugees are unable to speak English, it compromises their ability to integrate, with negative social, employment and security implications?


Baroness Williams of Trafford


I totally agree with the noble Lord about English language skills being the key to employment, integration and contributing to wider society in general. As I said, we have made more than £10 million available over five years, and local authorities are required to arrange a minimum of eight hours’ formal tuition a week within a month of arrival and for a period of 12 months, or until the individual reaches ESOL entry level 3.


Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)


My Lords, there has been a huge cut in the funding of ESOL, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said. Without being able to speak English, refugees, having fled conflict, have to cope with loneliness and isolation as well. Can the Minister explain to the House the Government’s comprehensive strategy for ESOL in England and how they will co-ordinate it with the devolved institutions?


Baroness Williams of Trafford


For refugees, which is what the Question is about, our ESOL strategy is that local authorities have to arrange a minimum of eight hours’ formal language tuition a week within a month of arrival and for a period of 12 months, or until that person reaches ESOL entry level 3. ESOL is a route to employment, and we want people who arrive here as refugees to be able to access the labour market as quickly as possible, because many of them will be quite highly skilled.


Baroness Warsi (Con)


My Lords, I support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. Does my noble friend agree that, as well as resourcing, it is important that in teaching English as a second language the focus is on how we teach it, where we teach it and when we teach it, to allow full access for people coming into this country? Is she aware of a specific Department for Communities and Local Government programme which was put in place in 2013 to effectively expand the way in which English as a second language is taught? Can she tell us about the success of that programme and whether there are any plans to extend it?


Baroness Williams of Trafford


If my noble friend is talking about the same programme I am thinking of, Talk English, it was an excellent initiative, of which I saw an example up in Manchester. The parents, in particular the mothers, dropped their children off at school and then went into the school and were taught English. Things like that not only make women feel part of their children’s environment but also make them feel part of the community in which they live. I remember asking one mother what it was about Manchester that she liked so much. She said, “I love the rain”.


Baroness Hamwee (LD)


My Lords, the Minister has referred to £10 million of funding over five years for additional ESOL teaching, and that is very welcome. But is it not the case that this will benefit only resettled Syrian refugees, meaning that the great majority of refugees in the UK are locked out? On investment for these programmes, the Minister should take comfort from the fact that there is huge public support for funding teaching English for all refugees.


Baroness Williams of Trafford


I certainly agree with the noble Baroness that refugees generally should be able to learn English. What I am talking about today is a £10 million fund for resettled refugees, but tuition is available to refugees under arrangements for adult learners as well.


Lord Watts (Lab)


My Lords—


Lord Hogan-Howe (CB)


My Lords—


The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe) (Con)


My Lords, it is the turn of the Cross Benches.


Lord Hogan-Howe


My Lords, in 2016, Dame Louise Casey conducted a review on extremism. She stressed the importance of integration, which reduced the chances of extremism, and of course speaking English increases the chances of integration. The £10 million that the Minister referred to has certainly helped to assist resettled Syrians, but could that same commitment to provide eight hours of English training be provided to all other refugees as well? That might enhance the strategy mentioned by the Opposition.


Baroness Williams of Trafford


My Lords, as I explained to my noble friend Lady Warsi, English language tuition is also available to refugees under the adult learners scheme. But the noble Lord is absolutely right: integration is the key to tackling extremism and the English language is the key to enabling that integration.


Question Raised In Parliament About Plastic Waste

Question Raised In Parliament About Plastic Waste

February 2018: Plastic Fish Protest at Westminster


Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)


My Lords, what studies have the Government commissioned into the environmental hazards that may occur if we start to burn large amounts of plastic waste, and what percentage of plastic can be recycled according to the Government’s own estimates?


Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Government Minister. Con)


My Lords, following considerable investment, there are now about 40 large municipal waste plants. They are highly regulated by the Environment Agency precisely to ensure that we recover energy and, importantly, they also operate within all the emission tests. I do not have the precise figure for what is currently recyclable but I will write to the noble Lord. However, the whole essence of our objective is to cut the amount of plastic in circulation and to reduce the variety of plastic so that we can recycle ever more.

Also see:


Democracy needs more than votes to sustain it.

See GIS Reports Online:,politics,2419.html

GIS 3 KingsDemocracy needs more than votes to sustain it. Without the solder of commonly held values welding together its constituent parts, democracies can easily disintegrate into competing interest groups and warring factions. When the well of public virtue runs dry, democratic countries are in deep trouble.


Yet, who can doubt that today, in a bout of self-loathing – and at a time when it is susceptible to new threats to its democratic institutions – Europe has taken to denying its Christian roots? As we try to airbrush out this essential part of our story, we are in grave danger of forgetting what makes us who we are.


We turn our back on our identity at our peril. And let us be clear about what alternatives are waiting in the wings.


Democracy needs more than votes to sustain it. 

Without the solder of commonly held values…

View original post 1,983 more words

Government Says Smoking Can Kill Your Unborn Child – Abortion Most Certainly Does. Katie Ascough -the Right Kind of PC politically courageous rather than politically correct. Baroness Nuala O’Loan’s Bill on protecting the position of Midwives and others sacked for following their Conscience. Belfast Meeting on Legislating for Life. SDLP’s Alban Maginness Sounds The Alarm in the Belfast Telegraph.

Belfast Meeting 2016

Click here for coverage of (Baroness) Nuala O’Loan’s Bill on Conscience

Universe 2-2-18 page 1        Universe 2-2-18 page 2       Universe 2-2-18 page 5

It is not right to force medics to act against their beliefs _ Law _ The Times

Irish News [26] Column 8.2.2018 Abortion attitude may cost Sinn Fein dearly


Government Says Smoking Can Kill Your Unborn Child – Abortion Most Certainly Does

Unborn child and smoking kills 2

And especially if you fail the eugenics test…

Well done Gerber for selecting Lucas, a baby with Downs, as their Gerber baby for 2018. Lucas was chosen from 140,000 entries. Perhaps their welcome choice will challenge UK laws and attitudes that permit abortion up to birth of babies with Downs, laws that lead to 90% of British Downs babies being killed. Perhaps Lucas’ amazing smile will soften a few hearts and challenge the UL’s Eugenics Laws.

February 2018 Church of England Synod Debates Our attitudes Towards Downs


Visit the We’re All Equal Campaign Site  Facebook:
Twitter: Instagram:

Downs Syndrome dont_screen_us_out_rally_webDown's Syndrome 3

SDLP’s Alban Maginness Sounds The Alarm in the Belfast Telegraph.

The Right Kind of PC – Politically courageous rather than politically correct.

This week Katie Ascough received the Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignity – presented to her by Fiona Bruce MP on behalf of parliamentarians in the All Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group.

Katie Ascough1

While President of the Student Union at University College Dublin Katie was impeached for refusing to promote the taking of the lives of babies in the womb.


Katie is an amazingly brave and courageous young woman, whose refusal to be bullied into doing the opposite of what she believes, is an inspiration to us all.  She is pictured here in Westminster Hall where Sir Thomas More, Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellor, stood trial for insisting on following his conscience. Appropriate place for Katie to be pictured and appropriate that she is with another brave woman, Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who on Friday introduces her Bill to protect women, like the Scottish midwives who were sacked for refusing to carry out abortions.  Coercion of this kind is a disgrace and we can only be grateful for the leadership and example of  women who combine conscience and compassion – and are politically courageous rather than politically correct.


Katie Ascough in the Media                                                             


Student Body President Impeached After Canceling Abortion Ads in Student Newspaper Wins Pro-Life Award

Irish Times, 24th January 2018


Conscientious Irish Student Leader Katie Ascough Given Westminster Award 2018


Keep the Faith US Christian news broadcaster, 25th January 2018


Ousted student President wins pro-life award


Catholic Herald Online, 25th January 2018


UCD student at centre of impeachment wins award from UK anti-abortion group , January 24th 2018


Katie Ascough Awarded the Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights, and Human Dignity


University Observer (University College Dublin), January 14th 2018


Baroness Nuala O’Loan’s Bill to ensure conscientious objection rights for all medical professionals passes Second Reading – January 26th 2018

Baroness Nuala O'Loan
Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activites) Bill which seeks to ensure conscience rights for all medical professionals has received a second reading in the House of Lords .


The Bill clarifies the law to ensure conscience protections are in place for all medical professionals to protect them from discrimination, enabling them to fully participate in their chosen professions and care for patients to the best of their ability.


Under the existing law, some medical professionals are not protected from unjust discrimination. GPs, as well as many nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and other medical professionals have limited statutory conscience protection. As a result, some areas of the healthcare profession are becoming increasingly inhospitable for those with certain deeply-held moral, philosophical or religious views. Not only is this discriminatory, it could also mean healthcare professions will become increasingly less diverse, inclusive, and representative of the views of the general population.

An Inquiry in 2016 found that some doctors and nurses face discrimination in the workplace due to their conscientious objection to practices that they believe end a human life.


The conscience rights of midwives were also undermined by a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which held that the conscience provision in the Abortion Act 1967 did not cover aspects of their employment.


A recent ComRes poll found that a majority of the public oppose forcing doctors to participate in abortion procedures against their will if they want to remain in their profession.


The Free Conscience campaign is calling on the public to visit their website ( where they can write to their MP, asking them to support the Bill.


Baroness O’Loan said:


The reasonable accommodation of conscientious objection is a matter both of liberty and equality: of individual freedom and social inclusion. That is why I believe this is important and timely legislation. I am very happy that many members wished to contribute to the Second Reading debate. The Conscientious Objection Bill’s provisions deserve support from all parts of society, and from all sides of the Lords and the Commons. In passing it we will be able to engage in the well overdue restoration of an important medical freedom”.


Baroness Cox, former Vice-Chair of the Royal College of Nurses, said:

Baroness Cox
For the sake of those going into the medical professions, for the sake of the patients they will serve, for the sake of the integrity of medical professionals and therefore medicine itself, I think ensuring that conscientious objection is given proper protection in law is a truly important reform that ought to be made, and for that reason I am delighted this Bill has been proposed”.


Baroness Eaton said:

Baroness Margaret Eaton
If we care about conscience in society, and particularly in medicine, then we should maintain a framing of our laws that allows for as much liberality as is sensibly feasible in conscientious objection when it comes to the perceived ending of human life. This Bill achieves that very thing, and for that reason I am delighted it has been introduced, and passionately support it.”.


Mary Doogan, one of the two midwives in the Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan & Anor case, and spokesperson for the campaign said:

mary doodgan
I am very glad to see that there is finally Parliamentary action taking place to restore the conscience rights of those who work tirelessly day in and day out to serve and care for others. As medical professionals, we owe patients not only our efforts but also our best moral judgement, and this Bill would allow us once again to practise with the greatest integrity. I fully support this important legislation and commend it to Parliament and the wider public”.


Dr. Mary Neal, leading conscience expert, senior lecturer at Strathclyde University and spokesperson for the campaign said:

dr.mary neal
“There is a pressing need for statutory conscience rights which actually protect those who need protection. The current law fails to do this, so this Bill is a necessary and timely step. I am heartened to see our legislators turning their attention to this issue, and I welcome this Bill as a necessary and timely step.

  • For more information on the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activites) Bill and the Free Conscience campaign please visit
  • Video footage of the speeches from the debate are available here: gl/p6DS3U
  • To arrange a media interview with Baroness O’Loan, please contact
  • To arrange a media interview with Mary Doogan or Dr Mary Neal, please contact

Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill [HL]

2.08 pm: Friday 26th January 2018

David Alton

David Alton

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady O’Loan on bringing this timely Bill to your Lordships’ House and on her eloquent and persuasive introductory remarks.

My unremunerated interests linked to various charities which work on these issues are declared in the register. I served as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group’s inquiry into freedom of conscience in abortion provision, which has been referred to during the course of this debate. The inquiry was admirably chaired by the Member of Parliament for Congleton, Fiona Bruce.

On Wednesday this week, I met Mary Doogan, one of the two midwives referred to by my noble friend and by the noble and learned Lord and others. The call of the midwife is an incredibly high calling. It is a call to bring new life into the world. To tell such women that they must facilitate the taking of the lives of babies in the womb or lose their jobs is not the hallmark of a liberal or tolerant society.

In the 18th century, the renowned German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, understood conscience as,

“an internal court in man”.

It is a core premise that conscience acts as an external constraint on human behaviour. Whether it is inspired by religious or secular belief is largely irrelevant.

Conscience is not founded on whim or personal preference; rather, it provides meaningful conviction that allows people to structure their own ethical identity and exercise their judgment. It was in accordance with Kant’s dictum that the framers of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written as the world emerged from the horrors of the Second World War, understood conscience. Conscience features prominently in the document, with the very first article recognising that:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience”.

Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights explicitly guarantee the right to freedom of conscience for all, and it has been recognised in every major human rights treaty since then. It was also recognised in another place and here during the debates in 1967 that formed the Abortion Act.

It was David Steel, now the noble Lord, Lord Steel, who told the House of Commons:

“The Bill imposes no obligation on anyone to participate in an operation”,

and that:

“The Clause also gives nurses and hospital employees a clear right to opt out”.—[Official Report, Commons, 13/7/67; col. 1318.]

The case of Mary Doogan shows how that assurance, which was given in sincerity and in the genuine belief that it would be implemented, has at the very least been diluted and watered down.

While conscientious objection was specifically enshrined in Section 4 of the Act, in practice the report that we undertook over the last two years found that medical professionals are far too dependent on the individual attitudes and discretion of their personal line managers or colleagues.

During the inquiry, evidence from the British Medical Association confirmed that some doctors had complained of being harassed and discriminated against specifically because of their conscientious objection to abortion. The inquiry also heard evidence on how career progression opportunities—a point that the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, with so much experience in this field, made during his speech earlier today—particularly in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, had been limited for those wanting to exercise their conscience.

I was particularly struck by a piece of evidence from one of the country’s leading paediatricians, Professor John Wyatt. He told us:

“Over the last century there have been many startling and egregious cases in which the core moral commitments of medicine have been corrupted and violated because of state coercion exercised on physicians”.

The vast majority of evidence that we received accorded with what Professor Wyatt said to us and recognised the importance of conscience as a key part of what it means to live as a free and fulfilled individual in a diverse and democratic society.

My noble friend Lord Rowe-Beddoe referred to Dr Mary Neal, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Strathclyde. I met her earlier this week too. In her written evidence, she said:

“We should not expect someone who believes abortion to be seriously morally wrong to be willing to participate in it in any capacity, and conscience provisions should be drafted and interpreted so as to protect health care practitioners against any such expectations”.

At its core, the Bill is about the minority’s right to dissent from mainstream opinion and to resist compelled action. It prevents the abuse of a dominant position and is deeply concerned with the right of individual liberty.

Most of the arguments against the Bill that have been advanced during today’s debate simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

The Abortion Act already limits the scope of conscientious objection. If it were working in such a pernicious way as some have described in preventing people from participating in abortions, it really would not enable one abortion to take place every three minutes in this country, 20 every hour—that is, over 8 million since the passage of the legislation. So I do not believe that argument stacks up.

However, the state has a duty to safeguard the conscience of individual professionals, as well as providing an effective healthcare service. The denial of conscience is an attribute, indeed the hallmark, of an illiberal society because it is an act of coercion.

A doctor, nurse or midwife is not a functionary or an automaton; as the father of a young doctor, I am acutely conscious of the high calling of a healer.

Two and a half thousand years ago Hippocrates, the father of medicine, enunciated a revolutionary devotion to the preservation of human life. Here I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Richardson: we are not compelled to go to heroic lengths to keep someone alive who would otherwise die. That is not at the core of palliative medicine, and her heartbreaking story is an example of bad medical practice. However, nor should we tell doctors that they have to give lethal injections to take life.

My noble friend’s Bill is consistent with the tradition of Hippocrates, who said, in a fundamental move away from more primitive medical traditions, that there would be prohibitions on abortion and euthanasia. He refused to accommodate those who believed that “care” and “kill” could be used as synonyms. Nor does my noble friend, and that is why I hope her Bill will receive a Second Reading in your Lordships’ House today.



               Fourteen speeches were made in favour of the Bill and ten were opposed. It was given a Second Reading and will now proceed to Committee of the    whole House.  For the full debate and Lady O’Loan’s introductory speech go to:


Cross Community Meeting In Belfast Unites To Protect The Unborn Child

Northern Ireland abortion statistics

At a meeting held on January 25th in Belfast,  David Alton,  Lord Alton of Liverpool, said that 100,000 people- 5% of Northern Ireland’s population – are alive today because abortion is only permitted in life threatening circumstances. By contrast he said that in England a baby is aborted every three minutes.

The meeting, held in Belfast’s St.Brides, drew a capacity  audience from across the political and religious spectrum.


During the meeting David Alton also set out his support for the Bill which was being introduced in the House of Lords  by Baroness Nuala O’Loan.


The Bil seeks to protect the conscience rights of midwives and other health workers who do not wish to be complicit in ending the lives of babies in the womb.


The Crossbench Peer returned to Westminster to speak in favour of the Bill which was opposed from the Labour and Liberal Democrat Front Benches.


 Other Peers spoke in favour of its provisions and it was given a Second Reading – although its opponents vowed to vote it down at later stages.


Lord Alton said that “midwifery is a high calling. That call should not cost them their jobs when they refuse  to facilitate the ending of the lives of the unborn. The sacking of two Glasgow  midwives was coercive and deeply illiberal and Lady O’Loan’s Bill would stop such things happening again.”

100 lives

 A New Maoist Cultural Revolution Is About To Begin.As China jails six Protestants in Yunnan Province. Catholic Christians and non believers need to speak out on their behalf. And Lessons from how Matteo Ricci brought the Gospel to China.

A New Maoist Cultural Revolution Is About To Begin

Also see this post from 2011:


The Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province was destroyed this week by paramilitary police officers, according to local news reports and foreign activists

See these reports:

– New York Times



– Independent:


– Daily Telegraph




A New Maoist Cultural Revolution Is About To Begin


What we are seeing in China is a determined crackdown of all unregistered churches before February 1st, when new regulations come into force. These regulations stem from the last Communist Party Congress, which mandated the registration of all religious bodies, which must be ‘Sinoised’ and freed from ‘foreign’ influences and rebuilt on ‘socialist’ principles. 


Effectively, churches and their leaders must capitulate and join the Three Self Patriotic associations or be jailed and their buildings blown-up. This is a wholesale crackdown on civil society and a mechanism to control Christians. Once you join, the Communists can then do to you what they want, including listing members, deciding leaders, controlling what is taught. ‎From February 1st onwards, the process accelerates. 


It will be a real test of the British Government’s avowed commitment to freedom of religion and belief to see what steps they and Washington take to monitor this repression. Is this not another Maoist ‘Cultural Revolution’? President Xi has warned the world what he intends to do and is going about it with great force. ‎From February 1st, the world needs to step up and tell China it is watching and it immediately needs to make it clear that it will not be indifferent. 


And our media should not turn a blind eye to these events – including dramatic video of a 50,000 capacity church being dynamited. The world needs to understand how much suffering continues to be experienced by so many on this planet merely for professing the Christian faith.

China itself  – a great country with much to offer the world – need to think more deeply about the self inflicted damage it will do to istelf by trying to eliminate religious freedom and to suppress Christianity. A country built only on materialism will become a country without a soul – and that, in turn, would be an unhappy society lacking in harmony or respect – values every society needs.  


CHINA – Speak up for persecuted Protestants


As China jails six Protestants in Yunnan Province Catholic Christians and non believers need to speak out on their behalf 


RFA (18.01.18) – – Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan have jailed a group of Protestant Christians for up to 13 years for involvement in an “evil cult,” their lawyer said on Thursday.


The Yun County People’s Court near Yunnan’s Lincang city handed down a 13-year jail term to Ju Dianhong, 12 years to Liang Qin, and four years to Yang Shunxiang, defense attorney Xiao Yunyang told RFA.


Shorter jail terms were also handed down to Zhang Hongyan, Zi Huimei and Zhang Shaocai, the lawyer said.


The six Protestant church followers had been found guilty of “using an evil cult to organize to undermine law enforcement,” he said.


“The judges in Yunnan were really evil,” Xiao said. “They didn’t pay any attention to the arguments that no illegal acts had been committed, and that there was no harm of any kind to society.”


He said the defendants, who have denied being part of a controversial house church group called the Three Grades of Servants, have said they will appeal the sentences.


The sentences come amid a crackdown in Yunnan on the Three Grades of Servants group, which has been designated an a dangerous cult by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.


Some 200 Christians have been detained in the province and falsely accused of being members, according to the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid.


‘Do good deeds’


Ju told the the court during her trial that she has nothing to do with the Three Grades of Servants church.


“I am a Protestant Christian believer, and I believe in Jesus,” Ju said. “None of my evangelism has contravened any of the principles in the Bible, and my beliefs do not constitute an evil cult.”


“I never preached about the Day of Judgement, and all of my books are available in the Three Self Patriotic Association [of government-backed churches bookstore.],” Ju said. “All I ever wanted to do was resolve conflict and do good deeds.”


Defendant Liang Qin meanwhile denied taking part in the Three Grades of Servants cult, saying she has never committed a crime, nor caused any harm to society.


She also denied following the teachings of sect founder Xu Shuangfu’s group, which has been targeted by Beijing as an evil cult second only to the Buddhism and qigong-based Falungong.


Xu has been arrested more than 20 times and has spent more than 20 years in prison. His group claims millions of followers.


Lawyers threatened


Yunnan authorities also notified the detainees’ defense lawyers that they are suspected of “illegally” defending their clients and that their licenses to practice will be subject to review, they said.


Defense attorney Li Guisheng told RFA in a recent interview that lawyers representing a similar group of Christians in Yunnan’s Fengqing county had had their status as defense lawyers revoked by the court ahead of their clients’ trial.


“Yun county and Fengqing county are acting together on this,” Li said. “The families went and hired another six lawyers, but the court revoked their status too, just before the trial.”


“There are two rights at stake here, the right of the clients to a legal defense, and the right of the lawyers to carry out their profession,” he said.


One of the revoked attorneys, Fan Shiwen, confirm the report.


“According to my knowledge, there aren’t any lawyers involved in the case now,” Fan said. “The authorities are doing this because they know that the lawyers will be able to prove in court that their clients have done nothing illegal.”


Meanwhile, the Yunnan High People’s Court rejected appeals from Li Shudong, Li Meihua, and Peng Zhenghua, who were sentenced last June in Yunnan’s Shaotong on charges related to participation in an “evil cult.”


“We have had a decision in the appeals in the Shaotong case. They were rejected,” Xiao said.


Religious persecution


ChinaAid president Bob Fu meanwhile said the crackdown in Yunnan is a form of religious discrimination and persecution.


“This is a historical, massive case of pure religious persecution against peaceful, independent house church Christians,” Fu said in a statement on his group’s website.


“The large number of arbitrary arrests and extremely harsh, long sentences imposed on these young church leaders under the guise of being ‘anti-evil cult’ shows that [Chinese President] Xi’s regime has no interest in respecting its citizens’ freedom of religion or belief.”


“We call upon the Chinese leaders to immediately release these leaders and make proper amends to those who have been arbitrarily detained and tortured,” Fu said.


See Database of FORB prisoners of conscience in China and information on over 70 countries:


List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths

in 20 countries:


Also see:

and how Matteo Ricci brought the Gospel to China:

Matteo Ricci - first exponent of scientific east-west diplomacy

Matteo Ricci celebrated in Beijing

China and the church


Netherlands joins UN Security Council to shine light on IS genocide – excellent article by Ewelina Ochab on the role Holland is playing in bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice. Why we should see red about the persecution of people for their beliefs. And welcome US help for beleagured communities.

A desecrated church in the Iraqi town of Karamles, in the Nineveh Plains near Mosul (World Watch Monitor)

The Netherlands has just joined the UN Security Council as a temporary member for a year. Ten days before, its Foreign Minister, Halbe Zijlstra, published a letter explaining the Dutch government’s response on the use by politicians of the term “genocide”.

The Dutch Parliament had had several debates on the “genocide” committed by members of the Islamic State group (IS), and came to a consensus that it was not for politicians but for the international judicial system to make such a determination.

The Dutch government’s response – the main points of which can be viewed at the bottom of the article – followed a joint legal opinion from the Advisory Committee on International Law Issues (CAVV) and the External Adjudication Adviser (EVA), which it had requested at the end of 2016.

“The Dutch government must be commended for its work on this topic. Hopefully those promises are translated into action and will be visible over the next year.”

The Dutch government supported this legal opinion, and confirmed its reluctance to use the word “genocide” where such a determination had not been previously made by an international court or UN body.

However, concerning the atrocities perpetrated by IS against Christians and Yazidis, the Dutch government confirmed that it “is the opinion that sufficient facts have been established to judge that [IS] is most likely guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity”. It added that the obligations under the 1948 UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide apply to IS’s atrocities.

This declaration is late, in comparison with other actors. The opinion published by the Dutch government, relying on the joint legal opinion of CAVV and EVA, clarifies the approach to be taken by government and parliamentary officials concerning mass atrocities that may amount to genocide.

Additionally, the Dutch government indicated in its letter the possible direction of work, including: referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC; supporting the work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, a new mechanism established by the UN General Assembly resolution to collect evidence of atrocities in Syria; and assisting the Investigative Team, a new mechanism established by the UN Security Council to collect evidence of IS atrocities in Iraq.

The Dutch government mentioned that it would further advocate focussing on atrocities perpetrated by other actors in addition to IS. Concerning Iraq, this position has been abandoned by other states for the sake of achieving consensus on the issue of IS.

But the Dutch government emphasised that the atrocities perpetrated by other parties must not be neglected and forgotten.

Analysis by Ewelina Ochab*

Ewelina Ochab (Twitter)

The Dutch government must be commended for its work on this topic. Hopefully those promises are translated into action and will be visible over the next year.

It should also be emphasised that apart from the commendable joint opinion of the CAVV and EVA, the Dutch government has had great assistance on the topic from MP Pieter Omtzigt, who represents the Netherlands at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and became a rapporteur on bringing IS to justice in late 2016.

His mandate included preparing a report outlining the options to bring IS to justice, and a resolution proposing recommendations to member states to the Council of Europe. The report and the resolution were adopted by the EU in late 2017.

Omtzigt will continue to hold his mandate for another year to follow up on the recommendations made in the EU resolution, as he looks to ensure the Dutch government makes a firm stance at the UN Security Council.

He has said he wants to ensure IS militants are prosecuted for their involvement and complicity through an international or hybrid tribunal (a domestic court with significant support of international expert and judges).

The UK recently claimed that it was not “crucial” to make such a determination of genocide, and that it has fulfilled its international obligations by working with the Iraqi government on UN Security Council Resolution 2379, establishing the Investigative Team to collect the evidence of IS atrocities in Iraq, and has been providing humanitarian assistance. However, there is more to the story.

Indeed, the determination of genocide should not be crucial to trigger the obligations under the 1948 UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; historically, however, this has been done first after the use of the word “genocide”.

The UK was the leading force behind the UN Security Council Resolution 2379 that passed successfully on 21 September 2017. However, the resolution proposes that Iraqi courts will deal with prosecutions of the perpetrators. The question is whether Iraqi courts can do so.

British peer David Alton questioned the UK government on what checks it had done before proposing, by way of Resolution 2379, Iraqi courts prosecute IS militants. The UK government responded that it was currently considering the issue, namely after the resolution was adopted and not in preparation of the resolution, to allow it to propose the best solution for bringing IS to justice.

If, in fact, Iraqi courts do not have the capacity, it means that an international or a hybrid tribunal will need to be established, as proposed by Omtzigt. Furthermore, the UK has failed to prosecute returning IS fighters. According to the information submitted by the UK to the Council of Europe, as of early 2017 only 101 individuals connected with IS atrocities have been convicted, which may be just the tip of the iceberg, considering that 425 are said to have returned to the UK.

The UK has been actively supporting the work of the Global Coalition against IS, a coalition of 74 countries with the aim to tackle IS on all fronts. However, at the same time, the assistance provided to the victims of the IS genocide is concerning. The UK government confirmed that it is funding 171 projects in the Christian areas affected by IS atrocities and 80 projects in the Yazidi areas. While this may sound reassuring, the extent, impact, and benefit of these projects is unclear. I attempted to obtain this information by way of Freedom of Information request but have not received word back yet.

However, as indicated in the letter from the Dutch government, the determination of genocide is a vital step towards the fulfilment of the obligations to prevent and punish.

*Ewelina Ochab is a human-rights advocate and author of ‘Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East’