House Churches in Beijing and Jilin Raided; Public Security Denied Jailed Beijing Pastor to Meet with his Mother; Five Detained Church Leaders in Xinjiang Released
China Aid Association (01/16/06)
China Aid Association learned that a campaign to clamp down on house churches in Beijing has intensified since Christmas.
According to several eyewitness reports, on January 8 and 15, a well-known Beijing House Church was raided during their Sunday services by Beijing Public Security agents. Beijing Ark House Church was raided at 4:30 PM, January 15, by four PSB agents. The two uniformed policemen and two plain-clothed agents rushed into the rented apartment where believers were having Sunday worship. One PSB officer, Mr. Gao Xijun, (badge number 035250) declared that the church was disturbing the neighbors and another PSB policeman told the congregation that the gathering is an illegal religious gathering place because its not registered and quoted the new State Council Regulations on Religious Affairs. One plain-clothed PSB policeman started beating a member of the church when he noticed the PSB were being video taped.
According to Mr.Yu Jie, one of the founders of the church and a best-selling author and internationally-known commentator, their Sunday church service was raided last Sunday by 7 PSB agents. 20 to 30 believers have been worshipping there for two years. Its a very well-known church because many of the members are prominent writers and lawyers. Among them are freelance writer, Mr. Bei Cun, Professor Jiao Guobiao of Beijing University , and human rights defense lawyers Mr. Li Baiguang and Mr. Gao Zhisheng. According to Mr. Yu, the owner of the rented apartment where the church meets, he cant let the church continue to worship there any more because the pressure (from the authority) is already very heavy.
CAA also learned, Beijing PSB raided several other house churches in Beijing . Right after Christmas, Pastor Jin Tianming, a pastor of at least 9 house churches in Haidian District, was detained and questioned at a police station for one night. Dozens of other leaders in his church were also questioned. Pastor Jin, a Korean minority and a Qinghua University graduate dedicated his life to Christian ministry in the beginning of the 1990s. According to a reliable source, Pastor Jins church had been negotiating with the government to register his churches with the government, but the PSB denied Pastor Jins request to register his church with condition that they not join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).
On January 4, 2006, a house church in Dayinjia Village , Mi Sha Zi Town, Dehui County , Changchun City , Jilin Province was raided where 40 believers were gathered. Five officials from the PSB and Religious Affairs office put up a government seal notice and declared that gathering as illegal. The raiding officials ordered the congregation to move to a TSPM church. The church Pastor Cui Guojun, 40, was released after a three hour interrogation in a local PSB office.
CAA learned the mother of jailed Pastor Cai Zhuohua was denied the right to meet with her son on January 9. The director of Qinghe Detention Center where Pastor Cai and his wife are jailed told Pastor Cais mother that the PSB made that decision because her sons case was posted on the internet and Pastor Cais defense lawyers are all counter revolutionaries.
CAA learned the five detained church leaders in Ma Na Si County, Xinjiang Autonomous Region were released on January 8 under intensive international pressure. They were jailed at Ma Na Si County Detention Center because they were leading a Christmas celebration on December 25, 2005. According to an eyewitness report, Pastor Guo Xianyao (54), Ms. Lu Jianzhen (47), Ms. Wu Haifang (28), Ms. Wang Ximei (54), and Ms. Zhou Bin (50) were all in good spirits. However, despite many efforts by the church, none of the private property that was confiscated was returned. The confiscated items were one rented minivan, one Buick car, one piano, one video camera, 80 copies of the Bible, 230 new towels as well as two drivers licenses.
CAA is deeply concerned about the escalation of crackdowns against house churches before 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Chinese house churches have their constitutional right to hold free religious worship, said Rev. Bob Fu, president of CAA, house churches like the Ark House Church chose purposely to worship openly without hiding because as Mr. Yu Jie said, the church welcomes every sinner even President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are welcomed to worship with them.
CAA calls upon the international community to continue to pay attention to the escalating situation on religious persecution in China . CAA urges the Chinese government to sincerely comply with the international human rights covenants they signed to respect religious freedom for Chinese citizens.