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    » 08/03/2006, 00.00


    Hebei: bishop, priest and 90 unofficial Catholics arrested

    Police from the province – which has the highest density of Catholics, mostly of unofficial status – did not explain why they took the bishop into custody. Local Catholics protested against the injustice: a pregnant woman miscarried and two men were seriously injured in clashes with the police.

    Xiwanzi (AsiaNews) – Police of Zhangjiakou arrested the auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Xiwanzi, Mgr Yao Liang, on 30 July and went on to arrest a priest from the same diocese and 90 members of their community who called for their release. This was revealed by the Kung Foundation, a US-based organization that lobbies for religious freedom in China.

    The bishop (82years) is being detained in Zhangjiakou city in Hebei: this is the second time he has been arrested; previously he was taken on 31 March 2005. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Fr Li Huisheng (33 years), who was arrested on 1 August, are unknown.

    On 2 August, the unofficial Catholic community of Xiwanzi mobilized and presented a petition calling for the immediate release of the bishop and priest. Police responded at 2am of the same day by deploying 500 officers and arresting around 90 people. In ensuing clashes, a pregnant woman miscarried and another two Catholics were seriously injured and hospitalized.

    Seventy of those arrested have been released and 20 remain imprisoned.

    Hebei is the region with highest density of Catholics (more than 1.5 million) in China and where unofficial Catholics, that is, those who are not recognized by the government, are in the strong majority. For years, a harsh repression campaign has been under way in the region.

    The arrest of Mgr Yao adds one more entry to a growing list of bishops from the province currently in custody. The bishop of the diocese of Baoding, Mgr James Su Zhimin, 72 years, was arrested in 1996 and has been missing since; His auxiliary, Mgr Francis An Shuxin, 54 years, met the same fate a year later; Mgr Han Dingxian, bishop of Yongnian, has been missing since the end of 2005 and Mgr Julian Jia Zhiguo, bishop of Zhengding, is always being kidnapped by public security officials. There are around 23 priests in prison too.

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    See also

    20/08/2008 CHINA
    Beijing, religious freedom according to the Olympics
    Foreigners are guaranteed ceremonies, meetings and even mass in their own language; Chinese Catholics from the Official Church are ordered not to hold large gatherings that last too long. Bishops and priests from the underground Church are under house arrest. Msgr. Giulio Jia Zhiguo under round the clock police surveillance. The pretty pictures of China Daily.

    13/01/2007 CHINA
    Released two of the nine underground priests arrested in Hebei
    Their arrest dates to December 27th. Both of the released suffer ill health. The others still detained are pushed to sign up to the Patriotic Association. The vice President of the AP denies the arrests and also that there is a campaign against the Church in Hebei.

    29/12/2006 CHINA
    Nine underground priests arrested in Hebei
    The priests had gathered together to study. The reason for their arrest is unknown. For some time now, the Patriotic Association has been conducting a harsh campaign to clamp down on unofficial communities.

    03/10/2009 VIETNAM
    Bishop Dac Trong, the struggle of the Vietnamese Church under Communism
    The diocese of Hanoi publishes the memoirs of the auxiliary bishop who died on September 7. "Story of an era" narrates, in diary form, the life of the Church in the country since the advent of communism to this day. The events of the '50s to today tells of the sufferings of bishops, priests and lay people and offers useful elements to understand the relevance of Christianity in Vietnam.

    30/09/2006 CHINA
    Two clandestine priests arrested in Guangdong

    Fr Shao Zhoumin and Fr Jiang Sunian, who had just returned from Europe, have already spent time in prison. AsiaNews sources in China said the release of the bishop of Zhengding, Mgr Jia, was decided "for fear of popular protests" and they warned that "he could be arrested again".

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