5/2/2011 China (AsiaNews) – About 30 followers of the Protestant Church of Shouwang have been jailed and dozens more are under house arrest in Beijing. The faithful sought to meet to pray in the streets of the shopping area of Zhongguancun, despite a ban by the authorities.
For four weeks the faithful of Shouwang house Church, one of the most influential country with over 1,000 members, have been gathering on the streets to pray, after the authorities evicted them from the premises they used. Since 1993, the faithful have been sent away from their places of worship at least 20 times and have always gathered to pray in the streets, waiting to find other premises. This time, however, for 4 Sundays they have been prevented, with police arresting the faithful as they arrive and keeping them in jail for a night or two.
Yesterday, the police also blocked access to the area to 3 Al-Jazeera journalists, taking away their tapings.
Pastor Jin Tianming has been under house arrest since April 9 and also several other leaders are confined indoors. The Church has purchased premises to meet, but police gave notice to the seller not to allow the sale go through, though the price has been paid.
For years the Church of Shouwang has sought approval without getting it. In recent days, the Global Times has accused it of “politicizing” religion. The Church responded on the Internet that they just want to get together to pray and would be happy to have a “closed place” where to do it.
China counts tens of millions of Protestants, mostly affiliated with unregistered house churches. The authorities demand they all join the Three Autonomies Movement, a Protestant organisation controlled by the Communist Party; however, only about 20 million have done so.