A new report by religious freedom charity, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) on the situation of oppressed religious communities in China has revealed that some of these groups are especially vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus and its wider impact on freedoms in China.
The report, 'Repressed, Removed, Re-Educated: The stranglehold on religious life in China,' states that the level of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in China is rapidly and significantly decreasing.
Violations are increasing against religion or belief communities across the country, including against Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims.
The report also outlines government oppression of human rights lawyers and activists who defend the right to FoRB.
CSW's East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said: "In releasing this report, we want to stand with religious communities suffering violations against their right to freedom of religion or belief in China. This report is based on their stories, their struggles, and their suffering. We will continue to call on the Chinese authorities to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all people in China, and to cease their campaign of harassment against human rights defenders, until we see real and lasting change in the country."
As the world struggles with the spread of Covid-19, some of the communities described in the report are among those most vulnerable to the virus - especially those detained in the so-called 're-education camps' in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where conditions are dangerously overcrowded and unsanitary, according to CSW.
Benedict Rogers said: "The international community must do all it can to support these individuals as they refuse to accept growing limitations on this fundamental right, and refuse to ignore the suffering of others. We urge governments around the world to press China to protect the right to freedom of religion or belief for all."