06/08/2017, 13.21

Henan, Protestant church destroyed, 40 Christians arrested

The faithful were beaten, thrown onto the ground and searched. At least 10 are still in prison. Among them is the community pastor accused of having assaulted the police. The community refused to pay an (illegal) tax on the use of the road to the church. 

Shangqiu (AsiaNews / ChinaAid) - A Protestant church under construction was destroyed and 40 faithful were arrested in central Henan province. The episode happened in May, but news has come only emerged in these days.

According to local witnesses, on May 5, 300 policemen and city inspectors demolished the small Protestant church of the Shuangmiao community in Shangqiu, carrying away at least 40 of the 140 faithful who resisted the demolition.

During the operation, police officers beat dozens of members of the community throwing them to the ground and twisting their arms. Of the 40 arrested at least 10 are still in prison. These include Pastor Zhang Di and his deputy of the Church Liu Yuexia, whose cases have been transferred to the prosecutor's office, to decide whether or not to formalize the arrest.

The Order to demolish the church came from the Party, who billed the building as an "illegal structure". In addition to demolishing it, police officers inspected the documents and properties of the faithful and bricklayers, confiscating their phones, destroying offertory boxes and lockers, seizing computers, money and jewels.

The government admits that demolition was a punishment on the community for refusing to pay 4,000 yuan a year (about US $ 588), an unofficial tax imposed by the village for use of the street outside the Church. Before demolition, the community tried to negotiate with government representatives. But they called Pastor Zhang on May 2 and arrested him with the false accusation of having assaulted the police, having limited the freedom of others and having beaten a village representative.

Now the community wants justice and the government to punish the perpetrators of these abuses and to free the detained Christians.

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