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(ANS) – The Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM), an international Christian human rights watchdog, urged China Wednesday, August 11, to release over 100 house church leaders who it said were rounded up last week by security forces as part of an ongoing government-led crack down on evangelical Christians. “We encourage Christians to write to the Chinese embassy in their respective country protesting this action against their citizens,” the third such police operation within two months, said VOM, which has close ties with persecuted believers. Despite fresh reports of persecution of Christians as well as other religious groups and minorities, Australia rejected a bid by an influential Chinese academic and dissident for political asylum, news media said Wednesday, July 11. United Press International (UPI) news agency said Zhao Jing, who slipped away from a tour group in Sydney on July 21 with a colleague, believes her application was rejected “under pressure from Beijing ” as the two countries are currently discussing a free trade deal.