The Chinese regime is trying to destroy religion But Bitter Winter is exposing what’s happening. But getting these stories out of China Can be deadly. Welcome back to China Uncensored. I’m Chris Chappell. The officially atheist Chinese Communist Party has launched an unprecedented war on religion. But to get away with it, the Party needs to move in secret. And that’s what makes Bitter Winter a thorn
in Beijing’s side. For over a year, the online magazine has been getting exclusive stories and video
out of China, shining a light on what the Communist Party tries to keep in the dark. But the battle has not been fought without
a cost. Shelley Zhang went to Milan to sit down with
Marco Respinti, the Director-in-Charge of Bitter Winter. Mr. Respinti, thank you for joining us in
this park in Milan. Thank you. Your magazine last November published a ground breaking video of what the Chinese
communist party calls the vocational schools in Xinjiang for
the Uyghur muslims. We’re going to play a little clip from the
video now. Could you tell us why this video’s so important? Yes. We know for sure that Xinjiang is full of
detention camps that CCP is calling something like training
school or vocational school, professional schools. We know for sure again that they are there. There are proofs. There are evidences of that. For the first time, Bitter Winter was able to release some footage from within one of those detention camps and this is something very cool, something
very unique. In fact, it was a very successful video. This documents without any doubt that the
CCP is lying when it says that those camps are
school for supposedly professionals. They are as you can see from the footage, they are indeed prisons, detention camps, detention places, jails. They are devised for detaining unlawfully
people and unlawfully because they had no trial. They had no, in many case, they had no official
charges. One of the reasons why this is so important is that it shows people what these so called
schools are. They are lies and they are jails. Has the Chinese communist party responded to the release of that video?Well, they didn’t
respond directly because it’s quite impossible to respond directly. Other than saying that this is a fake thing, but you can demonstrate that it’s real footage. They did it indirectly and they, this is a common policy of the CCP. They did it indirectly in two ways. First of all, in the beginning, they denied that they had
any camps. Then when we and other people published articles, resources and then the video, they said yes. This is a school again. The third way of trying to respond to that
is silence which is very revealing. They are not dealing directly with things
like our video and this tells a lot of what is the truth. That video showed a so called vocational training
center which is for adults to go to, but your organization also released a video about what happens to children in Xinjiang. Could you tell us a little bit about that? Yes. One of the dramatic part of this tragedy is then when adults are put into jail, detention
camps. They are put in families like mother, father, uncles, aunts, grandma, grandpa, they try to erase the whole family. What remains out of that many times are children. Underaged children that are left to no one. This CCP manages to take care also of them and there are special structures, special
camps, special vocational camps for children—and
this is a very clever move that the CCP makes because here in the sense the importance of
education and they try to indoctrinate to the communist
ideology this younger children starting from a very
young age. Putting in jail or in detention camps, their families, their relatives, easy for them the way
to indoctrinate them because they take care completely of them. We know and we published, released the video that there are special structures also for
children. Essentially they are creating orphans by taking away their family members and then putting them in places where they are educated or brainwashed by the state? Yes, of course. We’ve published many articles just saying that one of the policies of the
CCP is destroying families because they can divide
people and rule upon them much more easily this way. How was Bitter Winter able to get videos like the ones that you talked about out of
China? One of the unique features, peculiarity of
Bitter Winter, is that of having many correspondents and
journalists in China. Of course, they work undercover. They work at the risk of their own lives and sometimes the risk is very high, but this is the only way first of all to get real stuff out of China to have the truth and to publish reliable
things. Of course there is a long process through
which we verify what we get from inside China, but this peculiarity makes Bitter Winter unique. The risk that these journalists or correspondents take on themselves put them in real danger. In more or less six months, 45 of them last year had been arrested. Half of them, more or less have been released after that, but the second half just disappeared. We know nothing on them. The guy who published the video on the Uyghurs from the detention camps, inside the detention camps was one of them. In fact, we published his video after he has been already arrested and we didn’t know. We published the video and he was already
in jail. He’s one of the people about whom we know
nothing. He disappeared. Do you know if he was arrested for filming
that video? We are not sure. We don’t have any proof, but we suspect that. We know for sure and we published documents
from within the CCP, mentioning namely Bitter Winter and pointing at Bitter Winter as an enemy, as a danger for the state, for the CCP, for
the regime. We are sure that if they know that people
work with us, they go after them. From what you said, they really are risking
their lives to report some of these things and take them
out of China. Why do they do that? Totally. They risk their lives … I think they do that for an easy reason. Not doing that would be worse. They think that helping Bitter Winter speaking the truth all over the world will in some way or another help their cause and their cause is freedom and respect for
human rights and human liberty and for religious freedom. Once our correspondents were arrested as I
said, half of them have been released and we were
thinking of maybe stopping what we were doing because that would put people in danger. When those people that were arrested and then liberated knew that, they told us, “No. Please don’t stop. We’ll keep on. We’ll continue.” This is very rewarding and they’re doing it. They’re still reporting. Tell us a little bit about why Bitter Winter
was founded? Why focus on religious persecution in China? One of the other peculiarities of Bitter Winter is that it is kind of a regional combination between professional journalists, activists for human rights, refugees excised from China, escaping in the West and other countries and academic scholars. I am the director in charge. The editor of Bitter Winter and to some extent the founder is professor Massimo Introvigne, a very well known scholar worldwide of religion. I mean, he’s a scholar of new religious movement
and religion. He got interested in the study of religion
in China and very soon he realized that it’s not possible to start a religion in China. Academically only without taking care or at least paying attention to the problem of religious freedom. He got the idea that starting religion, we need to do something to address the topic of religious persecution and religions freedom. He managed in that two months, he managed to put together different people. He was an academic. He needed some activists. He needed some journalists to do the real
work so we put together this very unique combination
of people and that’s Bitter Winter. In just over a year and a half, you’ve already come to the notice of the Chinese communist party as you said. Yes, yes, yes. This means that we’re doing the right thing and I’m not taking the merit to bat. We westerners are not taking the merit to
bat. The merit goes to those people that I just
mentioned. They are in China. They risk every day of their lives. They risk every day their job, their family and their health, but they keep on. They deserve all the credit to do that. Without them, Bitter Winter would be nothing. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you. Join us next week for Part Two, which Marco Rispinto talks about how the Communist Party puts religions in
three categories: Black Market, Gray Market, and Red Market. And then uses those to undermine people’s
beliefs. Once again, I’m Chris Chappell. Thanks for watching China Uncensored