China Christians Protest Church Nationalization, Several Believers Detained Elsewhere

Thursday, November 2, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Tensions remained high in a city of China’s Gansu province Wednesday, November 1, after hundreds of Christians reportedly demanded the return of their church property 40 years after it was taken away from then during the Cultural Revolution.

Elsewhere in China, local police arrested at least 10 Christians, including three Singaporeans, in Yili City of Xinjiang Autonous Region for holding a prayer service in a believer’s newly build house, said China Aid Association (CAA), a religious rights group.

Several believers, including three Singaporeans, were released the next day, October 21, but five men remained in jail, Chinese Christians said.

Those apparently still detained Wednesday, November 1, were identified as Ouyang Liang from Uramqi, brother Li Baoming, brother Tan Defu, and brother LouYuanqi from Huocheng.

"All the Christians were locked in Huocheng detention centre, except brother Ouyang, who has been escorted to an unknown place. His home in Uramqi was searched by the police,” CAA said, adding there were signs they "will very possibly" be prosecuted "or sent to a what Chinese officials call “re-education through labor."


Chinese officials have not commented about the incident, which comes as Christians are increasingly raising their voices against the Communist government, reports suggest. In Tianshui city, Gansu province, 300 Christians “sat silently at their original church property protesting the local government who is occupying it,” CAA said.

They are requesting the return of this property to the church of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) denomination, which was taken away in 1966 during Cultural Revolution when all priests and pastors were allegedly removed from the church.

The church was allocated to two state-owned factories and recently sold for 17 million China Yuan Renminbi (almost $2.2 million), CAA said.

Local authorities threatened to withdraw pensions from Christians if they do not stop the protests, but believers responded with "prayers and singing hymns," CAA said. There are roughly 80-million Christians in China and some human rights activists suggest the Communist Party is concerned about the spread Christianity in the country. (With reports from China and BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).

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