01/11/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Chinese Protestants persecuted at Christmas

About 55 members of unofficial Churches are arrested in Xinjiang and Hubei between Christmas and Epiphany as China's anti-Christian crackdown continues.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China's central government has recently intensified its crackdown on unofficial Protestant Churches. At least 44 people were arrested in the central province of Hebei and the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

In one incident, on Friday, about 30 Christians, including a pastor and a church elder, were rounded up by police and government officials in Handan, Hebei, whilst they were attending a Bible study meeting, this according to Rev Zhang Mingxuan, pastor and president of the Chinese Home Church Alliance who was phoned by one of the people arrested.

A day earlier, police in Xinjiang detained 14 Christians at the Nongwushi police station, Aksu district. "They were questioned because they were meeting illegally," local police Chief Chen Xiaolong said.

"We advised them to go to a registered church instead," Chen said. Out of the group of 14, 11 were held for more than 12 hours, "But they have all been released now," the police chief added.

In Xinjiang, a wave of persecution has struck Han and Uyghur Christians alike between Christmas and Epiphany

On Christmas Day, police broke into the home of Wang Qiyue, a 7-year-old widow, and disrupted a Christmas gathering.

On the same day, people invaded the home of 69-year-old hemiplegic He Cuiying where some Christians were praying. More than 30 Bibles and spiritual books were confiscated.

Later, five elderly Christians were arrested with no cause and fined 5,000 Yuan each.

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