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    » 03/11/2006, 00.00

    CHINA

    Wave of arrests of Protestant Christians



    Police raided a bible study meeting in Henan, arresting three pastors "devoted to an evil, illegal cult". Su Wenxing, a Christian musician of international fame, has been placed under house arrest.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/CAA) – Chinese police have arrested three leaders of an official Protestant church in Henan for being "devotees of an evil, illegal cult". One of them, Pastor Liu Tuanjie, was released shortly after his arrest because his family paid a fine of 3,000 yuan (around 300 euros).

    News of the arrests was disseminated by China Aid Association (CAA), a US-based, non-governmental organisation which lobbies for freedom of worship in China.

    The Henan raid took place last Monday: police surrounded a Protestant Church in a village in Xiangchen county while a bible study meeting was under way. Around 50 people were in the building at the time.
    According to the Association, the police also put Su Wenxing – a Christian musician renowned abroad for his repertoire of sacred music – under house arrest in Beijing, and arrested other Protestant leaders in Xinjiang and Shanxi.

    Last month, a campaign targeted the unofficial church of Xinjiang, leading to the arrest of dozens of Christian leaders. On Monday, two more people were arrested in Shanxi.

    Beijing allows the practice of Protestant Christianity only within the Movement of the Three Autonomies (MTA), born in 1950 after Mao seized power and the expulsion of foreign missionaries and church leaders, including Chinese ones.

    Official statistics reveal that there are 10 million official Protestants in China, all belonging to the MTA. Unofficial Protestants, who meet in unregistered "home churches", are estimated to reach more than 50 million.

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    See also

    02/03/2006 CHINA
    Police clear Anhui bible school by force and arrest 36

    The operation is part of a national campaign aiming to forcefully eradicate unofficial Catholic and Protestant churches.



    05/09/2005 CHINA
    Underground Church priest arrested

    He had already been sentenced to three years in a labour camp.



    02/07/2005 CHINA
    China: a priest of the underground church is released

    Fr Vincent Kong Guocun of the Wenzhou Diocese is freed after nearly six years of house arrest.



    23/11/2005 CHINA
    Two unofficial priests freed, but not Bishop Jia Zhiguo

    The Catholic priests were arrested the day before their bishop, who is still being submitted to a "study session". The priests – and also a pastor – were released the day after Bush's departure from China.



    17/02/2006 CHINA
    Gao Zhisheng, the lawyer "who defies the Communist Party"

    Five human rights activists have disappeared of late. Together with Gao Zhisheng, they are fighting to "restore human rights in China". AsiaNews introduces the man who makes Communist government leaders tremble with his open letters, his criticism of political and religious repression and his legal work in defence of the persecuted. His group has launched a hunger strike which has drawn many participants and enjoys widespread media coverage.





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