China House Church Leader "Homeless" After Meeting US Congress Delegation

Monday, July 21, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- One of China's most respected house church leaders remained homeless Sunday, July 20, with his wife after authorities expelled them from their home in the Chinese capital Beijing for meeting an American Congressional delegation, officials and a rights group said.

Pastor Bike Zhang, chairman of the umbrella Federation House Church and his wife, Xie Fenglan, were reportedly forced to leave their home in Beijing's Chaoyang District this month by officials of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) one of China's main law enforcement agencies.

The couple was initially able to find shelter in the home of a friend, but officials found out and forced them to move into a nearby hotel, said religious rights group China Aid Association (CAA), which supports the two Christians. Last week, July 14, the owner of the hotel in Beijing's Tongzhou District, was reportedly ordered by PSB officers to expel the couple.

While trying to seek shelter elsewhere they were stopped by police who took them to a police station and "interrogated them on a one on one basis without food, drink, or rest,” said the well-informed CAA in a statement to BosNewsLife. Eventually, Xie Fenglan collapsed “due to the stress of the torture" the next morning, at around 6.00 am local time, but was only taken to hospital five hours later, CAA said.


The couple later tried to find shelter in another hotel, but were again forced to leave by PSB officers, the group explained. "Zhang begged PSB officials to allow his sick wife to stay in the location and rest overnight. The officials rejected this plea and forced Zhang to send his wife to her sister's residence in the city of Sanhe, outside Beijing, for recovery, CAA said, adding that Zhang found residence in a local hotel.

"On July 16, while going out to buy medicine for his wife, local police officials followed Zhang and forced his wife to move out from her sister's home," CAA said. "Both Zhang and his wife are now forced to live on the streets and are not able to find shelter."

When asked why the couple was being expelled from Beijing, officials reportedly responded: "Because Bike Zhang met the Americans,” a reference to the American Congressional delegation, which recently visited China. With his contact he allegedly “destroyed the harmony of the Beijing Olympic Games."


In a related development,  some 18 American Republican Congressional members have signed a petition for the release of prisoners detained by the Chinese Government for religious crimes. Some of the prisoners have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their alleged crimes against society.

The delegation directly addressed the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, and charged the Chinese Government of “directly violating the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights," CAA said. Article 18 of that Declaration says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

The letter mentioned several Christian prisoners including Alimujiang Yimiti, Pastor Lou Yuanqi, Wusiman Yiming, Shi Weihan, Pastor Dong Yutao Pastor Li Shentang and 20 other prominent house church leaders, including Pastor Wang Weiliang, Pastor Shen Zhuke, Feng Guangliang Pastor Zhang Rongliang, Pastor Zhang Geming, Pastor Sun Qingwen, Daniel and Eliza Ng,  Pastor Hua Huiqi, Shuang Shuying, Peng Ming and Gao Zhisheng.

The Congressional members said that China's upcoming hosting of the Olympic Games was "a privilege and honor for any country and is a show of human dignity as well as a display of world unanimity." Both concepts, they stressed, "have been grossly ignored by China."

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