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China: An Appeal for Consistency

ICC Note:

An appeal has been filed in court for Guo Xinwel, a Christian House Church leader who was arrested during a worship service along with a number of other Christians present at his home for the service. The appeal is based on an article in the Chinese constitutional law which states that religious activities held in believer’s homes are protected by the law from any interference.

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4/29/08 China (ChinaAid) As Guo Xinwei and the 40 plus believers who had gathered at his house held worship service, no one could anticipate what would happen next. Barging through the door came 20 Public Security Officials from Xiangcheng County. The officials showed little regard for proper procedure or rule of law as they detained the entire group while confiscating objects without documentation. The house church members were then taken to the Public Security Bureau for interrogation.

After two and a half hours of questioning Xiangcheng officials imposed a 15 day administrative detention sentence on Guo and 18 others. One month later the same officials imposed a 15 day detention sentence on several other members of the house church. Without so much as being able to defend themselves in court, the house church members were forced to carry out their sentence.

Many Chinese Christians and even Government officials are unaware of such Constitutional rights such as
Article 3 of the White Paper, which states:

”Status of Freedom of Religious Belief in China” promulgated on October 16, 1997 by Information Office of the State Council of China stipulates that: “All the normal religious activities held by believers in their own private homes according to religious customs, such as Sunday services, prayers, Bible lectures, sermons, Mass and baptism, etc. shall be handled by the religious organizations and their believers themselves. These activities are protected by the law and nobody may interfere with the religious activities held in their own private homes and mainly attended by their relatives such as praying and Bible reading (habitually referred to by Christians in China as ‘house meetings,’) are not required to register.”

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