China Detains Americans And House Church Leaders After Worship Service

Thursday, April 26, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Four Americans and nearly two dozen Chinese house church leaders were believed to be in detention Wednesday, April 25, after they were reportedly arrested last week following a Christian worship service in China's Xinjiang province.

US-based religious rights group China Aid Association (CAA), which has close contacts with Chinese house church groups, told BosNewsLife that about 30 "major house church leaders" were detained in Akesu city on April 19 when they met with the four unidentified American believers.

While the Americans, including a senior pastor and an associate pastor, were held for "questioning in an undisclosed hotel" the Chinese pastors were forced to stay at the A Ke Su City Detention Center, CAA quoted its sources as saying. The translator for the Americans, Jinhong Li from Beijing, was apparently also still detained Wednesday, April 25.

Eight Chinese pastors have reportedly been released from the group of 30 church leaders, but at least six others already received "criminal detention papers" for 30 days on charges of being involved in "evil cult activities", CAA said.


The six pastors were identified as Xinglan Zhao, Pastor Xiurong Huang, Pastor Tianlu Yang, 41, Pastor Chaoyi Wang, 41, Pastor Cuiling Li, 48, and Pastor Sijun He. Fellow Christians said China's government may sentence the six pastors to up to three years "re-education through labor" as they were previously detained for one month for organizing house church activities.

CAA quoted "eyewitnesses" as saying that at least two of the arrested pastors were seen with bleeding noses and bruises on their faces from alleged torture at the interrogation site. Chinese officials did not comment.

The problems began after the Americans arrived at Akesu airport on April 17 and worshipped with the house church leaders the next day on April 18 at a local house church in a family house, CAA said. Officers of China's Public Security Bureau also confiscated the luggage of the American citizens, Christians said.


The US Embassy in Beijing was reportedly negotiating the release of the Americans, but the outcome of those talks were not immediately clear Wednesday, April 25. "We urge the Xinjiang authorities to abide by both the Chinese and international laws in respect of religious freedom," said Rev. Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church pastor and the current president of CAA in a statement seen by BosNewsLife.

"These Americans and Chinese Christians have done nothing wrong and the police who are engaging in torture against theses Christians are to be held legally and morally responsible for what they have done," he added.

It comes as Communist authorities have apparently expressed frustration over the spread of Christianity in China. Officials reportedly recently admitted that the number of Christians in China may be as high as 150 million, nearly double the previous estimate of roughly 80 million believers. (With reports from China and BosNewsLife Research).

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