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  Alexander Ryabintsev /

January 3, 2019 (L'Espresso) – “Looking To China” was the five-column headline that “L'Osservatore Romano” – no longer directed by Giovanni Maria Vian, but by Andrea Monda – ran in presenting the news that “two Chinese children, ages six and seven, brought flowers before the statue of the Child Jesus together with Pope Francis,” on Christmas Eve in Saint Peter's Basilica.

Meanwhile, however, things are happening in China that the official Vatican media will never be able to report, gagged as they are by the accord signed on September 22 between the Vatican and Beijing.

Here, in fact, is what was revealed on December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents, in a press release from the CESNUR, the Center for Studies on the New Religions. It is reproduced below in full. With just one notification, that “Bitter Winter” has been referenced repeatedly by “Settimo Cielo” as among the most reliable sources at the international level.

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45 journalists arrested in China. They were sending news to the Italian magazine “Bitter Winter”

45 journalists have been arrested in China this month, under the accusation of sending news, videos, and photographs to the daily magazine on religious freedom and human rights in China “Bitter Winter,” published since May 2018 in Turin, in eight languages, by the CESNUR, the Center for Studies on the New Religions, and directed by the Turinese sociologist Massimo Introvigne, who is also director of the CESNUR.

“Bitter Winter” publishes exclusive news from China every day, provided by a substantial group of Chinese journalists and with commentary by specialists of the CESNUR.

The magazine attained international notoriety when, last month, it published three videos shot inside the heavily guarded reeducation camps for the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, which were rebroadcast by numerous international news sites and television networks.

Together with the publication of confidential documents of the Chinese Communist Party on matters of religion and photographs of destroyed churches, mosques, and statues of Buddha, as well as news on the mistreatment of dissident Catholic priests that continues in spite of the accord between China and the Holy See, these videos provoked a tough response from the regime.

The arrests have been reported by the CESNUR and by “Bitter Winter” itself. “We have credible news,” Massimo Introvigne affirms, “on the fact that some of the journalists arrested have been tortured to obtain information on who else was sending us news and documents from China. And unfortunately the reporter who shot the videos inside the reeducation camps of Xinjiang has disappeared without leaving a trace. And as has happened to other journalists in China, we fear that he is destined never to be seen again.

“We trust that anyone who takes the freedom of the press to heart will raise his voice to protest against these very grave episodes. As for China, I believe that it underestimates the number of journalists  who are willing to risk their freedom for the sake of  telling the world about the violations of human rights in that country. The network of 'Bitter Winter' does not number a few dozen, but hundreds.”

Published with permission from L'Espresso.