December 19th, 2007 15:59 EST
House Church Christmas Services Raided Throughout Multiple Provinces
On December 16, 2007, Less than two weeks before Christmas, China Aid has learned that, Pastor Liang Qi Zhen, Vice President of the Chinese House Church Alliance, was detained by PSB officials in Er Qi District. After disbursing Liang's congregation, police officials took him by force and transported him to an undisclosed location where he was tortured for several hours. Liang's ears and right hand were injured during the lengthy assault. After being released, Liang was able to identify the one who tortured him as Er Qi Security Bureau policeman, Li Seng. No legal procedure was established during the entire incident. PSB officials continue to threaten the church members to abstain from gathering.
Jiangsu Province- A house church in Chang Zhou City was attacked by police officials in December during a Christmas celebration. The church, led by Pastor Bu Ge Qiao, was in the midst of a Christmas service when police raided the gathering and detained four female members. During the apprehension police assaulted one of the members until she became unconscious. She was later taken to the hospital. Her condition remains unknown.
Yunan Province- On December 5, 2007, policemen and members of the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs raided a house church meeting in Kunming, and detained several members including, Ms. Piao Guihua, the renter of the property. After searching the building, police seized several hundred Christian books and note-pads, and then burned them outside the residence. Police also destroyed the identification cards of three of the church members. After several hours of interrogation, the members were released and told to remove all property from the residence by 10am. The landlord of the building was also instructed to cease rental agreements with Ms. Piao.
The same house church has been raided on several occasions beginning in December of 2004, September 2007, November 3, 2007, and November 29 2007. In each instance, police officials have confiscated the offering donations along with Bibles and other Christian literature. In every raid, police officials have failed to issue legal documentation of the property taken.
Henan Province- On Tuesday, December 4, policeman in Lu Yi district, Henan Province, assailed a local house church prayer meeting. Five church members were detained and taken to the local police station for interrogation. Their names are:
Shao Guang Rong (the pastor of the church), his wife Zhang Ji Zhi, Yan Qi Ying, Cui LianZhi and Wang Xiao Jian.
The members were released on bail after 5 days detention, but not before being forced to pay an 800 Yuen fee for food consumed during their incarceration. According to several house church members, at the same time their leaders were taken by the police, dozens of believers in another town of the same district were also detained. No word concerning their release has been heard.
House church members, labeled by police officials as "cultists", are often sentenced to labor camps when they are detained by police. The members detained in Henan Province are likely to face one year imprisonment in such a labor camp.
"To arbitrarily arrest peaceful Christians for celebrating Christmas, shows how much religious freedom Chinese people have," said Bob Fu, President of China Aid Association. "The international community should be concerned for the increasing religious persecution in China in recent months especially in light of the Beijing Olympics just a few months away."
In spite of increasing persecution, house church members remain adamant and vocal about celebrating the Christmas season. Services continue to be held celebrating the birth of Christ, as members gather to sing songs and worship despite fears of arrest and imprisonment.
Issued by CAA on December 19, 2007