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    » 06/06/2011, 00.00

    CHINA

    Arrest of Shouwang Christians and other believers relentless



    Yesterday, 20 more members of the Church of Shouwang were arrested, some of their leaders are under house arrest for over two months. Beijing wants to suppress any religious activity outside the control of the Communist Party.

    Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Police yesterday arrested 20 more members of the Christian Shouwang church, when they tried to pray together in an outdoor square in Beijing. There is an ongoing harsh repression against members of the 'house' churches in the country, with arrests of leaders and persecution against the followers.

    Shouwang's faithful have gathered in the public square to pray every Sunday, since April 10, after the authorities threw them out of rented premises where they had been meeting. In recent years, on other occasions the police moved them on from premises and believers had been forced to pray on the streets. This time the police every Sunday, including Easter, have arrested all those who pray in the streets, including children as young as a few years old and the elderly over 70 years.

    Pastor Jin Tianming, founder of the church, who has been under house arrest for nine weeks, says the police have detained hundreds of them. Before June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, dozens of the faithful were summoned by police and threatened or placed under house arrest for several days to avoid protests and public prayers.

    Police persecution has also targeted the personal lives of some followers, with threats of losing their jobs, and it is getting results. Jin said that four leaders of the church, including a pastor and two deacons, have distanced themselves from the decision to meet to pray in the streets. In a letter to the faithful, Jin said that "our colleague’s departure has shaken the whole Church, like an earthquake." But he also insisted that the Church, which has about 1,000 followers and is one of the biggest "house" churches, remain firm.

    The Church of Shouwang in 2009 also acquired a building of 1,500 square feet for its activities, but the authorities have blocked its being used.

    The authorities are increasingly targeting house churches, to curb their activities and assimilate them into the Three-Self Movement, which is controlled by the Communist Party. Last week, the China Aid Association denounced the "administrative" arrest of pastor Enhao Shi, Vice President of Chinese House Church Alliance, held for 12 days at the Suqian prison (Jiangsu).

    Even Meiling Chang, also a follower of the CHCA, was sent to 12 days of administrative detention imposed without trial.

    In China there are more unofficial Protestant Christians (80 million) than members of the Three-Self Movement (20 million). Lest the situation get out of the Party’s control, for almost four years now a campaign to eliminate the underground communities or merge them into the official community has been underway.

    The series of arrests of Protestant Christians coincides with a series of arrests of democracy activists and human rights lawyers. Beijing fears that any movement not controlled by the Party could trigger a "jasmine revolution" similar to the one that is rocking the North Africa and the Middle East. This fear is caused by the fact that many human rights activists have converted to Christianity

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    See also

    16/05/2011 CHINA
    Persecution mounts against the Church of Shouwang
    Police yesterday arrested the faithful gathered in the square to pray for the 6th consecutive week. Dozens of followers are now under arrest at home every weekend. Meanwhile, dozens of the faithful are losing their job or home, under pressure from the authorities. But the case is becoming international.

    23/05/2011 CHINA
    Shouwang Christians will not give up, they pray in public and the police arrest them
    For the seventh consecutive Sunday, police arrest the faithful, including elderly and children, one only 2 years old. Experts say the authorities may ban the group and the incarcerate leader. Beijing seems determined to crush any dissent, particularly religious.

    02/05/2011 CHINA
    Fourth Sunday in a row, police arrest Shouwang Christian for praying
    The followers of the Shouwang home church for four Sundays gather in the square to pray, after the authorities evicted them from their premises. Every time the police arrest dozens of Christians and their pastors are confined at home for a month.

    22/10/2010 CHINA
    Story of ordinary religious repression in China
    Threats, physical and psychological violence and, finally, the simple restriction of freedom: this is how the regime in Beijing treats Chinese Christians, the story of a delegate who wanted to attend the Protestant conference on evangelisation in South Africa.

    21/11/2013 CHINA
    Henan, Protestant pastor arrested for defending faithful from authorities
    Zhang Shaojie leads the Christian community of Nanle: Communist officials "invited him for an interview" and he has since disappeared. In a raid on his church 20 other Christians were arrested. The pastor's family had to flee from the area. Zhang is a member of the Three-Self Movement , the "official " Protestant Church built by Mao.



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