China Continues Crackdown On House Churches As Nation Mourns Quake Victims

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- As China mourned Monday, May 19, some 34,000 people killed in a massive earthquake, Chinese security forces, operating outside the international media attention, continued a crackdown on underground house churches, Christians said.

At least one prominent house church leader in China's Xinjiang Province, Lou Yuanqi, remained behind bars, some three days after being detained, eyewitnesses reportedly said.

Advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA), which represents several house churches, said in a statement that Pastor Lou, who leads a congregation in the town of Qingshuihe in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was interrogated for an hour before being transferred to a local detention facility on charges of "inciting separatism".

Rights groups have said China's Communist government uses the separatism charges to combat the spread of Christianity in the country and as a warning to churches not to use the upcoming Olympic Games to gain worldwide publicity for their cause.


"This will be the second time the Chinese government has used a "Separatist Charge" against a house church leader," in the CAA said. On May 27, an Uygur Christian, Alimujiang Yimiti is scheduled to appear in front of a court in Xinjiang's Kashi City "being accused of separatism and espionage for foreigners," CAA reported.

Pastor Lou has been arrested several times in the past. He was detained on October 20, 2006, along with 3 other pastors for organizing a house church, CAA said. "All four pastors served 32 days in detention where they were severely beaten by guards and inmates on a daily basis."

Chinese officials could not immediately be reached for comment.


Other family members were also targeted, including his 16-year-old daughter Nan, who was reportedly detained for one day along with other 10 minors in February when they were caught attending a children's Bible study.

CAA said is has urged the Chinese government to immediately release "this innocent pastor."

It came as the sound of grief was heard all across China, at the exact time in the afternoon a quake struck in Sichuan Province one week ago. Cars reportedly stopped and blared their horns. Chinese people came out on the streets and bowed their heads, in remembrance of the quake victims.

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