by Marshall Ramsey II, Worthy News International Correspondent
JI'NAN, China (Worthy News)-- Members of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Changchunli Church in Ji'nan, Shandong province, were attacked by a mob of over 200 people last week, according to ChinaAid Association (CAA).
Zhao Jing and Cong Mei, information officers of China Human Rights Defenders, received the complaint on Sept. 23, 2010, stating that a large group of young people dressed in police attire broke into tents inhabited by the members of Changchunli Church at a construction site in Wanda Square.
Sixteen people, including elderly and women, sustained serious injuries, along with one person that was left permanently blind in one eye, according to CAA.
Believers immediately dialed the emergency police number (110), but police response was slow. Upon arrival the police officers acted more like bystanders than police, and did not speak with the victims, but land developers that were present. Some 300 believers later that day went to the municipal government to stage a protest and petition the police.
BEGINNINGS OF SORROWS
On July 7, 2008, the director and deputy director of the Ji'nan Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs secretly negotiated with demolition and removal officials about claiming the church's property.
The presidents of Ji'nan Christian Council and Municipal Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee (Municipal CCC/TSPM) were manipulated, then the Municipal CCC/TSPM president signed an agreement authorizing the removal and demolition of Changchunli Church, an agreement that at least twice violated Regulations on Religious Affairs codes.
Management Committee officials and Changchunli church members were not made privy to the arrangement, and the land that belonged to the church was reduced from 1129.33 square meters (1234.734 yards) to just 300 square meters (328 sq. yards).
In an effort to force the belivers into accepting the contract, the Municipal Bureau for Ethnic And Religious Affairs made the Municipal CCC/TSPM on June 8, 2009: stop all religious activities of Changchunli, recall the chief pastor, cancel the church's management committee functions, and disperse its members. The decision was boycotted however, because the decision did not have any legal basis.
PROTESTING THE DECISION
Changchunli church members set up tents on the Wanda Square construction site because they were told by land developers that the area was designated as the site for another church. Upon realizing the congregation objected to it, developers changed their account and said they would be building an underground basement.
After setting up the tents and voicing their disagreements with the demolition decision, Changchunli Church then retold their story to Municipal CCC/TSPM directors and filed a report to a section chief of the Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs.
After not receiving any responses to their report, church members submitted an application to the Municipal Public Security Bureau for a demonstration. Approval for the application was denied, and church members took matters into their own hands by building the tents on the construction site to prevent the illegal agreement from being put into practice.
Since 2008 when the initial agreement was issued, Changchunli Church members have reported to the Municipal Party Committee of Ji'nan, the municipal government, and other relevant agencies. Petitions and written letters have also been sent to the State Council and relevant ministries and commissions of the central government. The issue is still unsolved due to repeated delays, and as a result of such actions conflicts over the demolition and removal of the church has intensified, with the congregation now having to figure out how to handle these latest incidents.