China Releases American Pastor; Chinese Bishop Detained

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (BosNewsLife) -- An American pastor who disappeared after being detained by Chinese authorities for his involvement in human rights protests has arrived in the United States, but a key Chinese bishop leader has been detained, his friends and representatives said Tuesday, August 26.

Eddie Perez Romero had not been heard of since being taken away in a car from Tiananmen Square on Sunday, August 25, after he came out of hiding and presented himself for arrest to authorities. He had been searched since redecorating two Beijing hotel rooms with human rights slogans prior to the Beijing Olympic Games.

"Pastor Romero shouted out about the concerns that led him to protest, namely the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the release of five prisoners representing five key areas of concern," advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife.

The church leader from Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente, California, apparently boarded a flight from Beijing to San Francisco on Sunday August 24. He then took another flight home to Los Angeles International Airport, arriving on Monday, August, 25 CSW said. "Groups of supporters greeted him and he has since given interviews to two local news stations."


British human rights campaigner James Mawdsley, who spent fourteen months in solitary confinement in a Burmese prison for protesting on behalf of political prisoners, issued a statement of support for Pastor Romero at the weekend. “Eddie does not want the Chinese authorities to ignore his message by deporting him. He wants the message to get through to them. He wants the world to get through to them. His cause is good: ratify and release,” he said in a statement released by CSW

However the Cardinal Kung Foundation said Roman Catholic Bishop of Zhengding, Julius Jia Zhiguo, has been arrested for the twelfth time by Chinese authorities. The reason for his arrest, which took place on Sunday August 24, was not immediately known but was believed to be linked to his Christian activities.

CSW National Director Stuart Windsor told BosNewsLife that while his group has been “relieved to hear of Pastor Eddie Romero’s safe return to America, it is important his concerns are not forgotten now.” He said China should ratify crucial rights treaties and those held for their political and religious beliefs.

Chinese officials have defended the government's policy, saying Christians are free to worship in the government-backed churches. Millions of believers however prefer to worship outside Communist control, church leaders say, adding to tensions with the central leadership. (BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar contributed to this story).

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