Missing Chinese Church Leaders Held In Labor Camps
ICC Note: Chinese security forces have been holding nine missing house church leaders since July.
10/05/07, China (BosNewsLife) Nine Chinese house church leaders who have been missing for nearly two months are held in labor camps in Hubei province on charges of violating Chinese laws with their Christian activities, BosNewsLife learned Friday, October 5.
The sentenced leaders, four men and five women, are from China’s Anhui, Hubei, Henan and Shanxi provinces, said China Aid Association (CAA), a rights group with close contacts with the growing house church movement in China.
The men, Wang Caizhang, 34, Ma Zhao, 35, Yang Situan, 39, and Du Dongliang, 32, were sentenced to 18 months “re-education through labor” while a one year sentence was given to women Qin Daofang, 40, Hu Rong, 42, Li Mei, 42, Ren Xianxue, 35, and 33-year-old Qin Daomin, according to documents obtained by BosNewsLife.
They are separated with men and women scattered over several camps in Hubei province.
Relatives only recently of their detention after the nine leaders were detained during a Sunday worship service on July 15 at the Hubei province home of Qin Daomin, CAA said. On August 4, the Administrative Committee for Reeducation through Labor of Enshizhou City of Hubei province, sentenced the leaders on charges of “the crime of engaging in organizing and making use of an evil cult organization to undermine the enforcement of State laws,” according to court documents.
The official decision paper listed, among other “evidence” the “singing of Christian hymns to the villagers” and the showing of the film ‘Jesus,’ about the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in a nursing home as well as “praying for disabled elderly men for healing from God.”
CAA said it was particularly concerned about the detained Chinese house church Christians Yang Situan and Ren Xianxue who “are husband and wife with three children at school.” In addition the father of the detained Qin Daofang and Qin Daomin “who are two biological sisters” was sentenced to ten days for hosting the Sunday worship service at his home, CAA said. The father, identified as 65-year-old Qin Hongjun was “also severely beaten,” the group added in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Christian groups have been concerned about what they see as a growing government-led crackdown on ‘house churches’, named this way as they are held in homes of believers, outside the ‘official’ mainstream churches.
Chinese officials have defended their policies saying Christians are free to worship within the government-backed denominations.