Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Church of
Shouwang, one of the most influential unofficial Protestant congregations in China, has denounced the Beijing police for having prevented his
followers from meeting to pray together for over a year. The pastor Jin
Tianming submitted a request for an "administrative review", the term
used to describe the ability of citizens to challenge governmental actions to
the municipal government of the capital.
The review, inspected and approved by one of the faithful of the church, was then posted on the Web. In the text Jin accused the police of repressive policies towards the congregation, which can not move to its new home - a ' area of about 5 thousand square meters purchased for 3.2 million euro - and can not rent another hall.
In addition, the pastor complains that he was put under house arrest along with his followers and other Protestant leaders since last April 9, the day before a planned outdoor function. On that occasion, police detained 169 faithful, but despite this, every Sunday the congregation met the same.
According to Jin's calculations, in the last 17 months the faithful of Shouwang were arrested more than 1600 times in 90 different police stations, and each time for more than 48 hours. In addition, 60 Christians have been forced to move house and have lost their jobs because of authorities' pressure : "It is a clear suppression of the right to religious freedom of citizens and the right of the church to practice its faith."
The Church of Shouwang has over a thousand followers: in 2005 it requested registration, but was denied it by the state. In China only registered religious groups are allowed. But there are more unofficial Protestant Christians (about 80 million) than members of the official Three-Self Movement (20 million). For fear that the situation might slip from the Party's control, for almost five years there has been a campaign to eliminate the underground communities or merge them into the official community.