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Christian Human Rights Lawyer Reports Persecution in China

By Jeremy Reynalds

China (Assist News Service) — As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaches, Chinese Christians are facing increased levels of persecution as authorities seek to keep dissidents away from international media, according to a Christian attorney in Beijing .

The Baptist Standard reported that Christian human rights lawyer Li Heping says he was kidnapped and tortured for nearly six hours on Sept. 29, and two other Beijing Christian activists have been held under house arrest since Oct. 1.

Li, who has defended a number of cases involving Christians arrested for underground house-church activities, is a partner in the Beijing Global Law Firm. He also serves as an editorial board member of the journal Chinese Law & Religion Monitor.

The Baptist Standard reported that Li described his ordeal in a statement to the international community titled “May the Light of Rule of Law Shine on China – Personal Statement from Attorney Li Heping on Being Beaten.”

Li reported being kidnapped, interrogated and tortured by four men who claimed to be members of the Beijing State Security Bureau.

According to the Baptist Standard, after severely beating him and shocking him with electric batons for several hours, Li said the men warned him to leave the city with his family. He said the men then put a black head cover on him and released him in a wooded area in Xiaotangshan in Beijing ’s Changping District.

Meanwhile, Beijing house church activists Liu Fenggang and Pastor Hua Huiqi remained under house arrest, despite being released in July and Feb. after serving three year and six month prison terms respectively.

The Baptist Standard reported that Hua was told his 77-year-old mother has been serving a two-year sentence as a result of his activism. He has learned his mother recently was beaten severely, denied medical care and imprisoned.

On Oct. 4, Hua issued a letter titled “Pray for the Chinese Police.” The Baptist Standard reported that in it he called on the international community to pray for the Chinese leadership and police to “soften their hearts and release my ailing mom so that the gospel can spread in China freely.”

According to Amnesty International, abuses against human rights activists – including religious dissidents – have escalated in the run-up to the 17th Communist Party Congress and the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

They claim Li is one of several human rights lawyers and legal advisers who have been subjected to arbitrary detention and torture or mistreatment.

Some have been imprisoned. Others have been placed under tight police surveillance in their own homes. The Baptist Standard reported that Amnesty International says activities such as these contradict official promises to improve human rights before the Olympics.

Bob Fu, president of the China Aid Association, based in Midland , has asked fellow Christians to pray for Chinese Christians who are persecuted for their faith and to advocate on their behalf through letter-writing.

“The brutal act of state terrorism against attorney Li and the two pastors sent a chilling signal to all the peaceful rights defenders in China ,” the Baptist Standard reported he said.