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China Releases American Pastor; Chinese Bishop Detained

ICC Note:

Eddie Perez Romero, the American Pastor who was arrested after presenting himself in Tiananmen square and was reported missing, has been released and is now at home in Los Angeles. However, a key Chinese Bishop has been detained.

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8/26/08 China (BosNewsLife) Eddie Perez Romero had not been heard of since being taken away in a car from Tiananmen Square on Sunday, August 25, after he came out of hiding and presented himself for arrest to authorities. He had been searched since redecorating two Beijing hotel rooms with human rights slogans prior to the Beijing Olympic Games.

“Pastor Romero shouted out about the concerns that led him to protest, namely the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the release of five prisoners representing five key areas of concern,” advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife.

The church leader from Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente, California, apparently boarded a flight from Beijing to San Francisco on Sunday August 24. He then took another flight home to Los Angeles International Airport, arriving on Monday, August, 25 CSW said. “Groups of supporters greeted him and he has since given interviews to two local news stations.”

RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER

British human rights campaigner James Mawdsley, who spent fourteen months in solitary confinement in a Burmese prison for protesting on behalf of political prisoners, issued a statement of support for Pastor Romero at the weekend. “Eddie does not want the Chinese authorities to ignore his message by deporting him. He wants the message to get through to them. He wants the world to get through to them. His cause is good: ratify and release,” he said in a statement released by CSW

However the Cardinal Kung Foundation said Roman Catholic Bishop of Zhengding, Julius Jia Zhiguo, has been arrested for the twelfth time by Chinese authorities. The reason for his arrest, which took place on Sunday August 24, was not immediately known but was believed to be linked to his Christian activities.

CSW National Director Stuart Windsor told BosNewsLife that while his group has been “relieved to hear of Pastor Eddie Romero’s safe return to America, it is important his concerns are not forgotten now.” He said China should ratify crucial rights treaties and those held for their political and religious beliefs.

Chinese officials have defended the government’s policy, saying Christians are free to worship in the government-backed churches. Millions of believers however prefer to worship outside Communist control, church leaders say, adding to tensions with the central leadership. (BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar contributed to this story).