China Releases Detained Americans And Interpreter Amid International Pressure

Friday, May 4, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese authorities have released four American Christian workers and their interpreter from detention amid international pressure, but at least six other Chinese pastors arrested with them remained behind bars Thursday, May 3, BosNewsLife monitored.

US-based religious rights group China Aid Association (CAA) said it learned from US officials involved in the negotiations that the Americans, whose names were not released, returned home while their interpreter, a man identified as Jinhong Li, was "released and sent home to Beijing on May 1."

The released believers were reportedly detained by security forces April 19 with about 30 key house church leaders in Akesu city, in China's Xinjiang province, following a worship service. CAA said that at least six Chinese pastors of that group have "already received criminal detention papers for 37 days detention" on charges of suspected "involvement in evil cult activities."

The accused pastors, Xinglan Zhao, Xiurong Huang, Tianlu Yang, 41, Chaoyi Wang, 41, Cuiling Li, 48, and Sijun He, are held at the Akesu City Detention Center, CAA added. It was nknown Thursday, May 3, what would happen with the two dozen other church leaders who were detained in Xinjiang amid signs of what CAA described as "intensified" pressure on Christians in the province.


Following the arrests "two of the host families [of the pastors] were raided again in recent days. Their lands and other valuable household items including computers were confiscated," the group claimed.

"We appeal to the international community to continue to intervene on behalf of these arrested Chinese pastors," said CAA president and former Chinese house church pastor Bob Fu. "We urge the Chinese government to sincerely respect the spirit of the rule of law and religious freedom as a responsible 2008 Summer Olympic host."

Fu's group said that intensive media coverage and international pressure impacted the release of the Americans and interpreter. China's goverment has denied human rights abuses saying Christians are free to worship in the official churches. The problem for authoritites is, human rights watchers say, that most of China's possibly 150 million Christians prefer to worship within house churches, outside government control. (With BosNewsLife Research).

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