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Beijing Does Not Recognize Domestic Churches and Persecutes Them

ICC Note:

China is not letting up in its repression against underground or “domestic churches” and has responded to increased opposition from activists and human rights lawyers by failing to provide churches or Christians with any documentation of their arrests.

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1/16/09 China (AsiaNews) There’s no letup to the repression against the Chinese “domestic churches,” Christian groups not recognized by the authorities that meet in residences to pray. The government is telling them to ask for “recognition,” but the faithful claim that they are being used as a pretext not to admit even their existence, and to continue arrests and the demolition of buildings.

Attorney Wu Chenglian of Zhoukou (Henan) has been hired to appeal against the sentences for Shu Wenxiang, Xie Zhenji, and Tang Houyong. They are leaders of unrecognized “domestic churches” arrested in December in the county of Taikang while they were conducting “proselytism,” sentenced to a year of “reeducation through labor,” genuine forced labor, with three months to make an appeal.

The authorities actively persecute these groups, but they are careful not to do this in an official way. In Yucheng (Henan), 4 women have been arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for “organizing illegal religious activities” (they gathered the faithful to pray). They were released after serving the sentence, but Zhang Mingxuan, president of the association of Chinese domestic churches, says that “they have been given no official documentation regarding their detention, because they are afraid that our members will sue them.”

The Fuyin Drug Rehabilitation Center in Yunnan, run by Protestant groups, was forcibly demolished at the end of December, with bulldozers and excavators. But Pastor Lin says that he was not given any official documents. Now “the people who were receiving treatment at the center now have nowhere to go, and they are living on the demolition site in tents.”

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