04/19/2016, 16.32
CHINA
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Woman dies buried alive in Henan after her church is demolished by the government

Ding Cuimei and her husband, underground pastor Li Jiangong, tried to stop bulldozers. A member of the demolition team said, “Bury them alive for me. I will be responsible for their lives.” Whilst the clergyman was able to escape death, his wife did not. Police arrest the two members of the demolition team but has not revealed any details about the case.

Zhumadian (AsiaNews) – The wife of an underground Protestant clergyman suffocated to death after she was buried alive trying to defend her church from demolition. Her husband, who was also buried, managed to survive. The incident occurred in Zhumadian, Henan Province.

Following the incident, police opened an investigation and arrested two members of the demolition team, but did not reveal any details about the case.

According to China Aid, an NGO that monitors the situation of Christians in China, the homicide took place on 14 April. On that day, Rev Li Jiangong and his wife Ding Cuimei tried to stop bulldozers sent by a government-backed firm to tear down the Beitou Church, by stepping in front of the machines.

A developer had offered to buy the land on which the church stood but wanted the building out of the way. When the two church caretakers stood their ground, a member of the demolition team said, “Bury them alive for me. I will be responsible for their lives.”

Subsequently, a bulldozer shoved Li and Ding into an already dug pit and covered their bodies with soil. Crying for help, Li was able to dig his way free, but Ding suffocated before she could be rescued.

Local Christians have complained about the slowness of the rescue as well as the attitude of the police, who seem unwilling to deal with the case. Rev Li himself is under pressure from the authorities, who fear "negative publicity" after his wife’s killing.

Since the ‘Three rectification and one demolition’ campaign was launched in the southern province of Zhejiang, at least 1,700 crosses have been torn down. Scores of churches have also been demolished in other provinces, including Hebei, Hubei and Henan.

In Zhejiang, the campaign against the crosses and Christian buildings began in early 2013, when local Party boss Xia Baolong deemed that Wenzhou City’s skyline had "too many crosses".

Many Christians believe that the real reason behind the campaign is a desire to reduce the impact and influence of Christian communities, both official and underground, on Chinese society, which has seen a dramatic rise in conversions.

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