China: Christians Stage Peaceful Protest Demanding Return of Property
ICC Note: In a bold move to demand the return of church property confiscated by China’s Communist government, Christians gathered in the central province of Henan for a peaceful protest. The protesters were immediately greeted by a large group of police and late arrivals to the protest were not allowed entrance to the city square. Attorney’s representing the Christians confronted the police but were “pushed down.” The local authorities ultimately did negotiate with the protesters but several weeks later the church has not received a firm answer on the return of its property. Millions of Christians continue to worship in illegal house churches across China and are technically subject to arrest and imprisonment for up to four years at a labor camp.
11/12/2013 China (ChinaAid) – Thousands of Christians from Anyang Church in the central province of Henan gathered in front of Anyang City Hall on Oct. 28 to protest the government’s lack of action in returning land on which the church had allowed the city to build a hospital.
The standoff was in response to a broken agreement between Anyang Church and the Anyang Department of Land and Resources.
By 8 a.m. on the morning of the standoff, police had already cordoned off the town square, on which the city hall building is located. Many local residents trying to get through were turned away. It is suspected that police knew of the church members’ plan to gather in the square.
Church members arrived at the town square at 9 a.m. The thousands of believers stood facing the police and began singing hymns.
During the time that the church group was in the square, restrooms were inaccessible. Any member who left the group to find a restroom was not allowed back in the square.
Lawyers representing the interests’ of Anyang Church were also present to confront the police about the lack of concern towards the church. While arguing with police officers, some of the lawyers were shoved to the ground.
Around 12 p.m., government officials acquiesced. The government opened negotiations, but only allowed four representatives to attend. Additionally, when one lawyer demanded permission to take a video camera to document the government’s promises in an attempt to prevent further reneging, he was denied.
At the negotiation, government officials promised the representatives an answer in three days. After the three days had passed, the church pastor called officials, but was told they were too busy. At press time, the church is still awaiting a reply.