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03/05/2012 China (ChinaAid) – Local authorities in coastal China’s Anhui province illegally and secretly tore down a quarter-century-old government-approved church in the dead of night, then apparently drugged church leaders into signing documents agreeing to its demolition, ChinaAid has learned.
At 7 a.m. on Feb. 3, members of the Xin’an Three-Self Church in Lieshan town, in the city of Huaibei’s Lieshan district, heard that their church had been destroyed and rushed to the site, only to find that the local government had leveled the 520-square-meter (5,600-square-foot) structure to the ground in the night. Shocked, some church members started wailing and crying.
After days of negotiations with the local government, local officials on Feb. 14 at about 10:30 a.m. suddenly produced two documents for church representatives to sign: Agreement on proposals about the church building settlement” and “Agreement on the expropriation, compensation and settlement of houses by Huibei Normal University and Administration Service Center.” The church representatives did not agree with the terms laid out in the documents and refused to sign them. But after drinking some tea poured by one of the government officials, the church representatives suddenly became confused and, not acting of their own volition, they signed the documents. The effects of the tea did not wear off until that evening.
The next day at 8:20 a.m. , five members of the church’s management team—Zhang Sijin, Zhang Cuihua, Ma Jie, Ding Shuyun, and Sun Yunlan—arrived at the town government offices to retrieve the documents that had been signed the day before but had not yet been endorsed with official seals. Government officials refused their request, but agreed to let them read the documents. That’s when church leaders discovered that the details of the negotiated compensation had not been included in the document. The church representatives argued strongly, citing the facts of the matter, but were verbally abused by the government officials.
In the following weeks, the church has continued to try to negotiate with the government, determined to protect its rights according to the law. Christian lawyers have now taken up the case, to protect the rights and interests of this Three-Self church according to the law.

 
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