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ICC Note: Four elderly Catholics have suffered injuries as they were guarding their church after 100 government officials broke in the church in the city of Ji’an in Jiangxi province. The officers employed are commonly known as Chengguan, a group that has less power than the police but known for their “thuggish” enforcement. Following the attack, around 70 Catholics from the area have marched to Ji’an City government offices demanding those responsible to be accountable for the incident. Gina Goh, ICC’s Southeast Asia regional manager condemns the use of force against innocent civilians and demands the government to investigate the thug-like behavior of its workers and return all property to the faithful.

12/06/2017 China (Christian Times) –Four elderly Catholics suffered injuries after more than 100 government officers reportedly broke into their church in the city of Ji’an in Jiangxi province last month.

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), the officers from City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, commonly known as Chengguan, were employed to confiscate the church property on Nov. 21, although they had no legal basis for doing so.

The four elderly Catholics were injured while they were defending the church from the officials, who also tore religious posters and shattered religious icons and statues.

UCA News noted that the Chengguan have less power than the police but they are known for their “thuggish” enforcement of by-laws relating to street vendors, hawkers and illegal taxi operators.

Following the raid, Bishop John Baptist Li Suguan of Jiangxi called on priests to spread news of the incident to the public. The next day, priests and about 70 Catholics from the area had marched to Ji’an City government offices demanding that those responsible for the violence be punished.

An anonymous source said that the city government has agreed to negotiate with the church to avoid exacerbating the situation.

Priests reportedly started negotiating with the government on Nov. 27. City officials promised to investigate the use of violence by Chengguan, penalize those involved in any wrongdoing and compensate those who were injured in the raid.

The church property — which includes an ancillary building, rectory, convent, hospital and farmland — was originally donated to Ji’an North Gate Church in the late 19th century by a rich French Catholic widow.

While the property had been confiscated by the Communist Party in 1949, the law mandates that all property should be returned to the church.

Ji’an’s local Press and Publication Bureau of Culture, Radio and Television had sought to occupy the property for its use but has only managed to take control of the ancillary building following a series of negotiations with local Catholics.

A prayer request published on a Chinese website is asking Catholics to “pray for the Lord to watch over the faithful there so that they will be treated in a fair and just manner. Based on the principle of rule of law, we will also use non-violent, peaceful means to fight for what we should get and what was ours originally.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, issued a statement condemning the government’s attempts to confiscate church property.

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