Released Christian Leader Re-Arrested on Christmas Eve in Xinjiang; Christmas Celebration Disrupted in Beijing: Closed House Church Appeals to the Local Government in Anhui Province
Posted by radiofreechina on December 29, 2006
By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
XINJIANG, CHINA (ANS) — A house church leader in Xinjiang, who was just released November 26, 2006 after 32 days detention by the local police, was arrested again December 23, 2006.
According to China Aid Association (CAA), Brother Lou Yuanqi was arrested October 20, 2006 for organizing and participating in Christian gatherings in Qingshuihe town, Huocheng County, Yili city, Xinjiang autonomous area.
CAA says: “It is believed that the arrest is to deter the Christians from holding any Christmas celebration activities. Brother Lou is currently held at the Detention Center of Huocheng County. So far, none of brother Lou’s family members have received any official notice regarding the reason of his detention.”
Moreover, CAA learned on Christmas Eve, a Christmas celebration was disrupted in Beijing. While about 150 young people were celebrating Christmas in a house church in Haidian District, Beijing, two-dozen Public Security Bureau officers and officials from Religious Affairs Bureau suddenly surrounded them. The hosting house church used to be pastured by Cai Zhuohua who is serving three years imprisonment because of bible printing work. All of the participants were videotaped and forced to register their ID numbers. The government officials declared the meeting as an “illegal religious gathering” and warned them not to meet anymore. In addition, CAA says that on December 19, 2006 a recently closed house church appealed to the local government for the church’s illegal closure by the local Religious Affair Bureau.
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The house church in Tongling city, Anhui province was established by Brother Wang Xingquan in 1953, according to the previous report by CAA. The local Religious Affair Bureau had resorted to administrative measures, including holding the church leaders’ salaries and threatening to fire them from the national unit, to force the Christians affiliate the government run Three Self Patriotic Movement church.
“We are very concerned about the arbitrary detention of brother Lou again,” said CAA’s Bob Fu. “We urge the Xinjiang government to release him immediately.”
The closed House Church’s Administrative Reconsideration Application Request states that the administrative punishment made by the local National & Religious Affair Bureau to close the house church is illegal. The church is asking the government to revoke the administrative punishment made by the local National & Religious Affair Bureau of closing the house church, and compensate the church 1 dollar in accordance with the provisions of Law of the People’s Republic of China on State Compensation.
In its request, the church offers the following facts and reasons for requests: Being converted in his young age, brother Wang established the house church in Tongling in 1953, though the current church building was bought legally in 1994.
On November 20, 2006 Tongling national & Religious Affair Bureau sent the church an “Administrative Punishment Decision” proclaiming that it is illegal for the church to hold their religious activities in the church building, and the church is to be closed down, according to “the State Council’s Regulations on the Religious Affairs.”
On December 5, 2006 upon the request of the Christians, the government held a hearing in which the church expressed its stand and arguments. But the Religious Affair Bureau’s decision to close the church was upheld.
The Tongling Religious Affair Bureau “proclaims that the church is an illegal gathering point and should be closed down referring to Article 43 of ‘the State Council’s Regulations on the Religious Affairs,’ which states:
“If a place of religious activity is established without authorization, or if a place of religious activity is deregistered yet continues to conduct religious activities, or if a religious academy is established without authorization, the department of religious affairs shall outlaw such place or academy and seize illicit income. The departments in charge of construction shall handle illegal buildings and structures according to law. Violations of public security shall be subject to public security penalties. If a non-religious group or a place of non-religious activity conducts a religious activity and accepts donations of a religious nature, the department of religious affairs shall order a halt to such activity and will seize illicit income, if there is any.”
The Religious Affair Bureau also proclaims that the church set up gathering place violates that article 20, item 2 of the Chinese State Council’s Religious Affair Regulations.
The RAB states: “Places of religious activity may, in accordance with religious customs, accept contributions from citizens. However, they may not coerce or apportion such contributions. Non-religious groups and places of non-religious activity shall not organize or hold religious events and shall not receive contributions of a religious nature.”
The church believes that the church’s administrative punishment made by the Tongling Religious Affair Bureau is illegal and should be revoked because of the misunderstanding and misusing of the above law.
According to the stipulation in the Law on the Legislation article 78, “The Constitution is the highest legal authority; no law, administrative regulation, local regulation, autonomous regulation, special rule or administrative or local rule may contravene the Constitution.”
CAA states that Article 36 of the Chinese constitution stipulates, “The Citizens of People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organization, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. ”
CAA continues: “Religious freedom means that the place for religious activity can be set up without the approval of government, because religious belief concerns simply the inner feelings or mental activity of a citizen, secular law can only regulate the outward conducts of a citizen, rather than examine the inner emotion or mental activity of a citizen. Secular law shall not at any time intervene and evaluate the specific religious contents of a citizen, nor shall it exercise its ‘authority of license’ on the religious activity.”
It adds: “At maximum, the place for religious activity of believers may be filed in the entity holding the public power for reference, without the need to receive a license or permission, otherwise, the action of the entity holding public power constitutes illegal intervention or discrimination of the religious freedom protected by the Constitution.
CAA also says that Article 2 of the Chinese State Council’s Religious Affair Regulations states: “Citizens have freedom of religious belief. No organization or individual shall force a citizen to believe or not believe a religion. No organization or individual shall discriminate against citizens who believe in a religion (hereinafter referred to as ‘religious citizens’) or who do not believe in a religion (hereinafter referred to as ‘non-religious citizens’). Religious citizens, non-religious citizens, and citizens who believe different religions shall all respect each other and co-exist harmoniously.”
According to the White Paper “The Situation of Freedom of Religious Belief in China” (issued by the Information Office of the State Council on October 16, 1997), the religious activities conducted by Christians according to customs of Christianity at their homes such as Bible reading and prayer, attended primarily by family members and friends (customarily referred to by Chinese Christians as ‘house gatherings’) are not required to register. Thus the local Religious Affair Bureau’s requesting the church to register to the government contravenes to the Chinese government’s religious policy.
CAA says religious freedom is proclaimed to be a legally inalienable human right of Chinese citizens by the Constitution and laws. Religious freedom is one of the greatest achievements in the modern legal domain for the development of human civilization. This achievement is the result of the arduous efforts and bloody struggle of the Protestants for several centuries, part of whom lost their lives for the struggle.
CAA also cites Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed in the UN General Assembly on December 10 of 1948, which recognizes that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
CAA concludes: “The house church was established as early as in 1953, long before the ‘the State Council’s Regulations on Religious Affairs’ took effect. Even the local government affirms the history of the church in its documents. Thus as a government acknowledged religious organization, the church is protected by the Chinese Constitution. The administrative punishment made by the Religious Affair Bureau has no legal basis in that it contravenes the Chinese constitution, which is the superior rank in the Chinese legal system.”
For further information, contact: Bob Fu
China Aid Association, Inc.
PO Box 8513 Midland, TX 79708
Tel: (267) 205-5210
Fax: (432) 686-8355