China Agents "Torture" Christian Businessman Amid Crackdown

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Tuesday, October 4, 2005
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- A Christian businessman and friend of an evangelist in China's Xinjiang province was rushed to hospital after being "tortured" by security agents amid an ongoing "comprehensive campaign" against Christians in the region, a US-based religious rights organization said Saturday, October 1.

The China Aid Association (CAA), which has close contacts with Christians in China, said 45-year old Tong Qimiao was interrogated by state security agents in the eastern town of Kashgar on September 28, and "beaten so seriously that he could not walk." He was allegedly beaten after Tong indicated to his interrogators "he had no idea about the information" they wanted.

No details about the demanded information were immediately available, but CAA linked the apparent abuse to Tong's ties to a local unofficial church. The agents reportedly "sent him to a nearby hospital to be X-rayed, [but] then dropped him off on a sidewalk, urging him to hurry home," CAA said.

"After several hours of investigation...Mr. Tong could not move even a single step. So he [managed] to call his wife Wang Miaofen, who immediately sent him to the hospital [where it was established] that his chest bone was broken. Mr. Tong is currently being treated in the Second People’s Hospital of Kashgar," the organization explained.


China's Foreign Ministry has not commented on the report. However Chinese officials have in the past denied human rights abuses against religious minorities in the country, saying they follow the law and crackdown only on "sects" deemed dangerous for society.

Tong and his family reportedly moved to Kashgar in Xinjiang in 2000 to expand their furniture
business while also supporting church activities. In 2003, his church friend Wang Xinrong, an army veteran and full-time evangelist, was arrested and detained for almost three months, CAA said. "Due to inhumane torture and extreme intimidation, Mr. Wang suffers from mental disorders," the group added.

"What is happening to Christians in Xinjiang is worrisome,” said CAA President Bob Fu, who was himself allegedly persecuted in China for his Christian faith. "It appears a comprehensive campaign against Christians is underway in this region. People’s freedom of religion [must] in no way be sacrificed in the name of the state security. We hope the state security authorities can bring true security to the people," he commented.


CAA has said these are not isolated incidents. Last month it claimed that China arrested five
American church leaders and dozens of Chinese believers in the cities of Luoyang and Yichuan in central China's Henan province. "After several hours of investigation, the [five Americans] were released on the same day," Bob Fu told BosNewsLife, who did not identify their names. It is not clear if all other arrested Chinese believers arrested with them were released.

China only allows religious activity in state- approved churches, which it closely monitors. Nicolas Becquelin, a spokesman for Human Rights in China, said China's Communist Party wants to prevent any organization from challenging its hold on power. "The Chinese authorities are still very, very wary that this kind of development, this religion developing could take away more legitimacy from the government and the state," he told the Voice Of America (VOA) network in August.

Members of China's secret, or "underground" house churches are often harassed and arrested, rights groups say. However, despite the risk of prison, experts believe millions of Chinese worship in unofficial churches.

Becquelin said Chinese people have lost faith in Communist ideology and many are now looking to religion. "Not many people in China still believe in Marxism or Communism and therefore there is a sort of spiritual void," he added. There are at least up to 80 million Christians in China and over 60 million of them attend church services which are not approved by the state, Christian rights group Open Doors estimates. (With BosNewsLife Research, BosNewsLife News Center and reports from China).

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