China Conducts Massive Arrests Of House Church Pastors, Group Says

Thursday, May 18, 2006

By BosNewslife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese security forces carried out massive arrests of house church pastors in two provinces and at least one church leader from South Korea was expelled from the country, investigators said Monday, May 15.

US-based religious advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA), which maintains close contacts with the house church movement in Communist-run China told BosNewsLife that it has learned that the arrests occurred in Shandong and Jiangsu Provinces within the last two weeks.

In addittion "one pastor from South Korea was expelled by the Chinese security agency," the group added. CAA said it has also established that "a prominent Chinese legal scholar and rights defender was forbidden to go abroad." The group quoted an eyewitness as saying that House Church Pastor Liu Yuhua was arrested at April 26 in Shandong Province and that he has been under criminal detention at the Detention Center of Linchu County, Shandong Province.

"In the Criminal detention paper issued to Pastor Liu's family by the Public Security Bureau of Linchu County, Pastor Liu was accused of being involved in illegal business practices." CAA said the charges are linked to his involvement in printing and distributing Bibles and other Christian literature to fellow believers "free of charge to meet the rapid growth of believers."


Human rights groups estimate there are currently roughly 80-million Christians in China, most of whom are worshipping in 'house churches', named this way as they did not receive permissions for church buildings from the Communist authorities.

CAA said Pastor Lius office "was searched without warrant, his bank account seized and cash in the amount of 8600 Yuan ($1100) was confiscated." Legal experts have reportedly said that the case is very similar to the case of Beijing Pastor Cai Zhuohua, who was sentenced in 2005 to three years imprisonment for printing Christian literature.

The Chinese government tries to persecute religious leaders "by criminalizing their religious activities," CAA claimed. Gao Zhisheng, a prominent lawyer, was forced to close his law firm closed last year by the Chinese government because of his volunteer work defending the rights of persecuted Christians, the human rights group said.


CAA said it also learned that 11 pastors and house church leaders were arrested last week, May 10, in Chuyuan Residence Region of Suqian City, Jiangsu Province as they and dozens of house church believers engaged in a bible study at Pastor Cai Zhironga's house.

The organization quoted eyewitnesses as saying that security forces used electric shock batons to beat those believers who refused to be taken "because the police did not have an arrest warrant." They were released after 10 hours of "intensive interrogation," including South Korean Pastor Cui Rongbo, whose Korean name is unavailable, along with two translators Pastor Cai Zhirong and Pastor Wu Changle.

The South Korean Pastor Cui was however taken away the next day by Chinese authorities and ordered to leave China within 48 hours, the group said, adding that the pastor left China Saturday May 13.


CAA said it also learned that prominent legal scholar Dr. Fan Yafeng was forbidden to travel to the United States where he was scheduled to participate in a meeting of house church officials with President George W. Bush. Dr. Fan is a researcher at the China Academy of Social Sciences, a top think tank run by the Chinese government.

"At 12:30pm on May 9, Dr. Fan was informed by the customs security official at Beijing Capital
Airport that he has been put on a list of names that are forbidden to go abroad by a higher authority," CAA claimed. Dr. Fan was also not allowed to attend the Freedom in China Summit on May 2 at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

"This new wave of arrests is certainly a contradiction to the Chinese government's commitment to religious freedom," said CAA President and former house church leader Rev. Bob Fu, who fled to the US. "We urge the Chinese government to take concrete actions to demonstrate the true spirit of rule of law" [and] "urges the Chinese government to immediately release the arrested pastors."

China's government has denied human rights abuses and saying it only crackdown on criminals and "dangerous sects." It also stressed that Christians are free to worship in the official churches. The latest reports about the arrests come shortly after on Sunday, May 14, Beijing installed a third bishop not approved by the Vatican. (With BosNewsLife Reports and reports from China).

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