Ailing House Church Leader Remains Detained In China

Monday, September 8, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- An ailing house church leader and owner of a Christian book store remained detained Friday, September 5, despite mounting pressure on China to release him because of health concerns, friends said.

Shi Weihan, who has been behind bars since March 19 this year, was transferred to the Beijing Haidian District Detention Center, said religious right group China Aid Association (CAA). "Shi’s case has been transferred from the Public Security Bureau to the Beijing Procurator."

He is reportedly awaiting the outcome of an August 19 court appearance and may be back in court within 10 days, despite health concerns, Christians said. "According to personal acquaintances who have visited Mr. Shi, his health has degenerated to the point that he is hardly recognizable to his closest friends," CAA group told BosNewsLife.

Family members have said he has been denied proper medication and diet for his diabetes. Shi is almost “unrecognizable” due to severe weight loss, according to family members.


Shi was first detained on November 28, 2007 then acquitted of charges on January 4, 2008. On March 19, of this year he was detained for the second time and has been incarcerated until now for his Christian activities and involvement in distributing Christian literature. He reportedly was forced to sign a "confession" convicting him of engaging in the printing and distribution of a large number of what China described as "illegal" publications.

Chinese security forces also forced Shi’s Antioch Eternal Life Church to close in June and so far his attorney Zhang Xingshui was allowed a single visit with him, rights watchers said. CAA President Bob Fu, a former house church pastor, said he has "strongly condemned the Beijing authorities for their cruel and unjust treatment of Shi Weihan."

Fu said he has urged authorities to release Shi as soon as possible “to avoid adversity amongst the international community."


CAA said Christians could express their concern to Tang Long, City of Beijing Deputy Secretary General of the Municipal People’s Government via phone: +86-11-86-10-6236 2008 or Liu Jianchao, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director of Information Department via phone: +86-11-86-10- 6596 3342.

News of the latest detention came a day before the start of the Beijing Paralympics. Communist officials have expressed concerns that Christians would use the event and the previous Beijing Olympics to ask attention for reported cases of religious persecution.

China has denied religious rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship within the government backed churches. However rights groups say many of China's millions of Christians prefer to worship outside control of the Communist government.

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