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Archive for July, 2007

Two Men Arrested for Involvement in Riots Against Chinese One-Child Abortion Terror

Posted by radiofreechina on July 30, 2007

By Elizabeth O’Brien

BEIJING, July 30, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two men have been arrested for their participation in massive protests against the one-child policy enforcement that took place in southern China this spring, Reuters reports.

According to the Chinese government Xinhua News Agency, the two men referred to as Peng and Li, were arrested for forging government documents and making 400 photocopies in order to incite people to claim a fake “social support fee” refund. According to Reuters, Peng was one of many whom the government forced to pay thousands of yuan for “unapproved” births.

According to Xinhua, the court stated, “Peng became discontented with the government’s family planning work…and wanted to retaliate by leading the unwitting masses to create disturbances at the government offices.”

While it is difficult to discern truth from propaganda in official Chinese reporting, even should Peng and Li be guilty of forgery, 400 photocopies of forged government documents is an insufficient explanation for what may have been the largest protest against the Chinese family planning restrictions and their violent enforcements. During massive riots from May 17 to 20 this year, thousands of outraged people ransacked government buildings, lit fires, and overturned cars in the southern province of Guangxi, not far from Hong Kong.

The riots were partly the result of growing tensions between families and the family-planning officials, who would raid the private homes of people unable to pay the one-child policy violation fines. Called a “social child-raising fee”, fines can range from $65 to $9,000, Kaiser reports.

A massive population crackdown was ordered in Guangxi this year because the region had exceeded its family population quota. As a result, women up to nine months pregnant were being dragged to the Youjiang District People’s Hospital in Baise City where their babies were killed (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/apr/07042006.html).

Nevertheless, when officials were contacted, they claimed that people who were upset with state family policies fabricated the news reports. Forced abortion is officially illegal in China.

National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition, however, broadcast the horrors of the abortion campaign, describing the abortion tragically forced on the Christian couple Liang Yage and his wife Wei Linrong. According to the report, 10 family-planning officials descended on their home, took the seven month pregnant Wei to the hospital in Baise and aborted her little boy.

Similarly, the NPR reported the testimony of witnesses who saw dozens of hospital beds filled with women whose babies were killed. They had either broken the one-child policy restriction or gotten pregnant before marriage, another violation of the family-planning regulations.

The abortion terror campaign has been in progress-with varying levels of enforcement-ever since the late 1970’s when the one-child policy was introduced. A second child is only permitted if the first is born handicapped.

According to Steven W. Mosher, President of Population Research Institute, news of the recent abortion campaign only leaked so quickly from Communist China because the Guangxi region is close to Hong Kong, the former British Colony with strong ties to the West.

The American media coverage that resulted from the forced abortions, exploding riots, and ensuing arrests, has been a major source of embarrassment to the Chinese government, especially as the Summer Beijing Olympics approach.

Read full National Public Radio coverage of forced abortion stories:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9766870

Previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

China’s One-Child Terror Campaign Continues
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jul/07071008.html

Forced Abortion in China Thwarted by Hong Kong Officials
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jul/05071304.html

Husband and Wife Victims of China Forced Abortion Permitted to Seek Asylum in US
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jun/07060704.html

Forced Abortion Continues in China at Alarming Rate says Latest Report
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102602.html

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Two teachers seriously wounded in Chinese police attack against Vacation Bible School while House Church leaders are also arrested in recent police action

Posted by radiofreechina on July 19, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — A total of 15 house church leaders were detained in Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu and Anhui province and a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for 150 children was attacked with two teachers beaten and hospitalized between July 10-14.

According to eyewitness reports cited by China Aid Association (www.chinaaid.org) , on July 14, four leaders were taken away and detained from the home of Pastor FU Pengtu at Wuda District, Wuhai city, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

At 11:30 am, four military police from the Public Security Bureau of Wuhai City rushed to Pastor FU’s house without providing any legal papers and arrested Pastor FU’s wife GAO Chinxia (31-years-old), sister XIE Yanan, Pastor LIU Yukang, and sister CHEN Binghui. Among them, sister XIE and CHEN are house church missionaries from Pingdingshan city, Henan province.

CAA also says a Vacation Bible School for 150 children was attacked in Jiangsu Province. At 4 pm on July 11, Zhongzhuang House Church in Jianhu City , Jiangsu Province, suffered persecution. Eyewitness reports say that while the church was conducting a VBS named “Harmony Express,” the county government, the Public Security Bureau (PSB), and the Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), along with policemen, sent 10 vehicles. They took away 8 people from the church, including the pastor of the church and teachers for the VBS.

In its report, released to the media, CAA says: “In assaulting the church members, they resorted to brute force and injured 2 of the church workers. One of them, brother WANG Ya, is still going through emergency treatment in a hospital after he lost consciousness for half an hour. Another brother has had 3 stitches. The 2 brothers who were hospitalized were so beaten that blood came out from their mouths. A total of 10 people were taken away by the PSB, including the church leader Pastor ZENG Zhengliang..”

The CAA report adds: “Church property, including a video camera, a computer and movie camera, were taken by force without receipts. The 150 children were traumatized and they asked to leave the school. Pastor ZENG used to be a respected pastor in the local TSPM church, but last year he was forced to leave the TSPM because he didn’t agree with the TSPM’s liberal, government-dictated theology. After being forced to leave the TSPM church, Pastor Zeng planted a house church.”

Meanwhile, on July 10,CAA says the PSB of Mingguang county, Anhui province, detained a local house church leader. Pastor LU Jingxiang was taken away from his house at Qiaotou town, Mingguang county. The PSB didn’t provide any legal paper for the arrest and claimed that pastor LU was involved “illegal religious activities.”

“We urge President Bush and other administration officials to speak more forcefully on the deteriorating situation of religious persecution in China,” says CAA’s Bob Fu. CAA also urges the Chinese government to immediately release these arrested pastors.

Interested individuals may communicate their concern to the Chinese authorities at the following addresses:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
http://www.china-embassy.org/
TEL: 202-7456743
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512

Premier Wen Jiabao, PRC
PO Box 1741, The State Council, Beijing , PRC (zip code 100017)Contact Phone:10-66012399

Ms. Wu Aiying, minister of Ministry of Justice of PRC
Tel: 10-65205114
Fax: 10-64729863
Address:No. 10, Nan Da Jie, Chaoyangmen, Beijing City (Zip Code: 100020)

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CHINA: AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON RIGHTS AHEAD OF BEIJING OLYMPICS

Posted by radiofreechina on July 13, 2007

Christians report arrests, Bible shortages; foreign believers expelled.
DUBLIN, July 12 (Compass Direct News) – Christians throughout China fear tough restrictions on their freedom to worship in the coming year following the launch of a government crackdown ahead of August 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

MORE

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Chinese City Encourages Two Children Families to Avert Demographic Disaster

Posted by radiofreechina on July 11, 2007

By John Jalsevac

GUANGZHOU, China, July 11, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite a strictly enforced national one-child policy, a city in southern China has developed its own policy encouraging families to have more than one child, The China Daily reported earlier this week.

According to The China Daily the city of Guangzhou is heading towards a demographic and economic disaster, which the new policy is intended to avert. By the year 2010, reports the paper, Guangzhou will have over a million residents who are older than 60, but the city estimates that they will only be able to accommodate 40,000 in homes for the aged. In addition, a sparse generation of young workers will be forced to keep China’s social programs going, and economically support a rapidly aging population.

“If the ageing of the population continues, this will have a certain effect on social and economic development, and on employment and social security,” said Xinhua news agency.

The spokesman for the China National Family Planning Commission, Yu Xuejun, indicated that China has just begun to feel the effects of an aging population, and said that it is appropriate for some of the larger cities to encourage their residents to have more than one child. “Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai…These places, (if) they encourage only child couples to have children, I think it does not violate the policy or the law because they are still following family planning policy in having children,” said Xuejun, according to VOA news.

Xuejun also indicated that the restrictions of the one-child policy have exacerbated the problem of the population imbalance, and admitted that loosening the restrictions would “partially” solve the problem. and that work must be done to ensure that social services in the countryside are equipped to take care of the aged. “The social security is still not fair because now its main coverage is in the cities,” he said.

Western population and economic experts have been encouraging China for years to ease up on their forced one-child policy, which, besides violating numerous international human rights agreements, is leading the country towards inevitable economic disaster. A WorldNetDaily report from 2004 detailed the demographic crisis that China was inflicting upon itself through its disastrous policy.

A recent report by Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm, calls attention to the precarious economic position that China is presently in as a consequence of its demographic crisis. “If China is to prevent the current labor shortages from becoming a long-term phenomenon, it needs to refine its family planning policy and not rely on unpredictable–and socially destabilizing–outflows of migrant labor,” reads Stratfor’s report (http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=291901).

“The most promising solution to this dilemma is to find ways of boosting the fertility rate of the nation as a whole by encouraging women to have more children.”

In addition, the one-child policy has led to a dramatic imbalance in the numbers of men and women in China, with many couples selectively aborting female children in favor of males.

Despite the new decision by Guangzhou to encourage two-children families, in many parts of China, especially the rural areas, the one-child policy is brutally enforced. In May of this year a campaign began in the province of Guangxi, during which many women were forced to abort children, and others were punished with heavy fines for violating the one-child policy. In a number of parts of China, riots broke out in protest against the campaign. Those living in rural areas have also been disgruntled by the unequal enforcement of the one-child policy between the rural areas and the city, with the larger cities being much less strict in its enforcement than other parts of the country.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

China’s One-Child Policy to Cripple Chinese Economy
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/feb/04021806.html

China’s One-Child Terror Campaign Continues
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jul/07071008.html

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China’s One-Child Terror Campaign Continues

Posted by radiofreechina on July 10, 2007

by Steven W. Mosher
President of Population Research Institute

July 10, 2007 (pop.org) – The forced abortion campaign hit the southern Chinese province like a deadly hurricane. The provincial government decided that too many babies were being born. Local officials were warned that population control quotas had to be met or their heads would be on the chopping block. They reacted by hunting down and arresting hundreds of women for the crime of being pregnant. Taken by force to hospitals and clinics, these were aborted against their will. It did not matter whether the women were past the point of viability, or even whether they were already in labor. Their babies were killed all the same.

The above could stand as an accurate description of what I witnessed in China’s Guangdong province in 1979-80. In reality, it is what is happening right now in the neighboring province of Guangxi. And what has happened in county after county, province after province, over the past 27 years. The one-child terror campaign that started back in 1980 continues to the present day, violating women and tearing apart families throughout China.

Guangxi’s proximity to Hong Kong allowed word of the Communist crackdowns to leak out.

In fact, the only thing unusual about this latest campaign is how quickly news of these atrocities spread outside of China. Guangxi province is not far from Hong Kong. No sooner had the campaign begun in May of this year than word reached the former British colony and from there the outside world. Guangxi, like Guangdong and Hong Kong, is Cantonese speaking. It is also one of the more developed regions of China, where many people have cell phones and access to the Internet. It was by these means that the victims of the terror campaign communicated their suffering to the outside world.

National Public Radio, the taxpayer-funded alternative to Rush Limbaugh, actually ran a story on the campaign on its Morning Edition show. This described in harrowing detail the plight of Guangxi resident Wei Linrong. She and her husband, Liang Yage, already had one child but wanted a second. Mrs. Liang was arrested when she was seven months pregnant and forced to abort her child. The Liangs are Christian, NPR reported, and do not believe in abortion.

The Hong Kong and foreign press also reported how local officials were imposing punitive fines on those who had already given birth to second children. These fines were, in some cases, equivalent to several years’ income.

In response to these heavy-handed tactics riots broke out in 28 towns throughout the region. Thousands went on the rampage, storming government buildings, breaking windows, smashing furniture and vandalizing vehicles. Some rioters even tried to set buildings on fire. To quell the unrest, the regional government called in hundreds of armed police.

Tian Congming, President of Xinhua News Agency. This Agency claimed that the Chinese who rioted against the one-child policy were only to be “re-educated.”

The sympathy of the foreign press was obviously with the victims of forced abortions. NPR’s Morning Edition told not just the Liang’s story, but other tales of Chinese women whose babies were aborted weeks, sometimes days before they were due to be born. The Los Angeles Times published full-color photos of the riots and printed the stories of peasants who had “finally had enough.” Even the New York Times finally got into the act with a long piece about the tragic inner-city abortion rates among young, unmarried Chinese women. (It apparently took the Times several days to figure out a pro-abortion slant.)

The official Xinhua News Agency, reacting to the foreign media coverage, went into damage control mode. Xinhua claimed that only 28 people were arrested in the aftermath of the riots, a number which seems ridiculously low under the circumstances. Xinhua also suggested that instead of jail terms the misguided villagers were to get counseling: 4,200 Communist Party cadres had been dispatched to the area to engage the villagers in dialogue about their complaints and ease tension in the 28 troubled towns. Xinhua did not reveal whether these cadres were armed.

Those arrested, whether 28 or, more likely, several hundred in number cannot expect to be treated well in jail. A blind attorney, who has been one of the leading activists in China against forced abortions, was recently severely beaten while in jail. Human rights groups say prison officials ordered fellow inmates to beat him after he resisted having his head shaved and insisted on his legal rights. This is unusual only in that the officials themselves did not administer the beating.

How many more millions of women will have to suffer forced abortion before China’s leaders realize the bankruptcy of the policy they adopted so long ago?

It is dangerous to question Communist Party policy, but some inside of China are doing so. These include Ye Tingfang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Professor Ye was recently quoted as saying that “In the beginning, it was believed that our big population would be a hindrance to our economic development. But over the past decades, experience has told us otherwise. Japan, for instance, has little in the way of resources and boasts one of the highest population densities in the world, but it is a thriving economy and one of the richest nations. Labor is the most important source of wealth.”

Or, to put it another way, human beings are the ultimate resource.

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Over 100 foreign missionaries expelled by China

Posted by radiofreechina on July 10, 2007

Over 100 Foreign Missionaries Expelled by Chinese Government Secret Campaign
中国政府发起”台风五号”秘密行动大规模驱逐外国宣教士

Midland , Texas (July 10, 2007)
China Aid Association confirms that a central government-directed campaign to expel suspected foreign missionaries has been ongoing since February 2007.
Typhoon No. 5 Campaign
According to reliable China Aid sources and collaborated reports by at least five different mission agencies, over 100 foreigners accused of being involved in illegal religious activities in China have been expelled or deported this year between April and June. Sources inside the Chinese government informed CAA that the Chinese government launched a massive expulsion campaign of foreign Christians, encoded Typhoon No. 5, in February 2007. This campaign is believed to be part of the “anti-infiltration” efforts to prevent foreign Christians from engaging in mission activities before the Beijing Olympics next year.
Citizens from six countries working in Xinjiang, Beijing and Tibet targeted

Most of those expelled are citizens from the United States , South Korea , Singapore , Canada , Australia , and Israel . They were expelled when they were either working or visiting in Xinjiang, Beijing , Tibet , or Shandong .
According to an American who had been working in Xinjiang for 10 years and wants to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic, over 60 foreign religious workers were expelled from Xinjiang alone. Some of the workers had been serving the local people for 15-18 years before they were asked to leave in the past few months. At least 15 Christian couples from the United States and other countries were expelled from Beijing in the month of May. Two American English teachers sent by the English Language Institute/ China (ELIC) were expelled from Tibet . ELIC (www.elic.org), a California based Christian organization, is the largest English teacher-sending organization to China and has trained thousands of Chinese college and high school students since the 1990s.
On May 31, 2007, one Israeli Jewish Christian and an American were arrested and expelled from Linyi City , Shandong province when they worshiped together with 70 House Church leaders. Only July 1, three American Christians from Indiana were detained in Beijing and then forced to leave China after their US passports were taken away for 3 to 5 days by Chinese security agents.

Consulate Protection Rights Violated

According to CAA’s private interviews with some of the expelled Americans, the Chinese PSB confiscated their passports for 2-7 days and treated them professional ly while they were interrogated. They were not allowed to have access to US Embassy in Beijing , a direct violation of US-China consulate protection agreements. Some will not be allowed to return to China for 5 years.
This is the largest expulsion of foreign missionaries since 1954 when the Chinese Communist government expelled all foreign religious workers after taking power in 1949. The Chinese government refuses to recognize foreign missionary status in China so many missionaries choose to work in the education or business sectors as ways to stay in China .

“Given the significant contribution to the Chinese people made by those expelled foreigners, this campaign is certainly misguided and counter-productive,” said Bob Fu, President of CAA. “We call upon the Chinese government to correct this wrong by allowing these selfless good-hearted people of faith back into China .”

www.ChinaAid.org
www.MonitorChina.org

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Two House Church leaders sentenced to one-year re-education through labor in Shandong; One more church leader detained in Shanxi Province.

Posted by radiofreechina on July 8, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — China Aid Association (www.chinaaid.org) has learned that two House Church leaders were sentenced to a year of re-education through labor on June 29 in Shandong Province. According to official notification papers sent to family members, the two church leaders have been sent to Re-education through Labor Camp of Jining City of Shandong province to serve their sentence.

China Aid says the paper issued by Re-education through Labor (Lao Jiao) Management Committee of the People’s Government of Heze City said pastor ZHANG Geming and pastor SUN Qingwen were accused using an evil cult to obstruct the law. Their re-education through labor time starts from June 29, 2007 and ends on June 14, 2008.

House church sources report that both pastors are evangelical missionaries sent from Henan to Shandong province. They were detained on June 15 along with 4 other local church leaders when they had a worship service together. The 4 local pastors were released on July 1 after being forced to pay 10000yuan ($1300) fine.

Meanwhile, in Shanxi province, two forcibly-held church leaders are likely to be sentenced to re-education through labor soon.
Pastor Zhou Jieming and pastor Niu Wenbin have been accused as “suspects of using an evil cult to obstruct of the law” and put in criminal detention since June 10.

On June 9, 2007, the two ministers — along with 12 other church leaders — were detained while they were distributing Bibles in a market place in Jiaocheng county, Shanxi province. Four of them were eventually released on the same day. Six more church leaders were released on June 15 from their detention center without any legal papers or explanation from the Public Security Bureau.

On June 29 one more church leader was detained and sentenced to 10 days administrative detention. According to reliable sources, Ms. GAO Qiuxiang(54-year-old) who is the wife of the senior pastor ZHANG Tuanyuan (who is currently in hiding) of Jiaocheng House church was detained when she went to the PSB office along with the six released leaders seeking official explanation paper.

According to CAA investigators’ interviews, five of the female leaders were beaten up and abused by the PSB during their five days detention and interrogation time.

CAA appeals to the Chinese authorities to unconditionally release these 5 innocent house church leaders in Shandong and Shanxi.

Inquires and concerns can be raised to the following Chinese government officials:

Mr. WU Heping deputy Chief of Staff, Ministry of Public Security 10- 66262549
Mr. WANG Lixian, chief of staff, Ministry of Justice 10- 65206706
Mr. HU Keming, Chief Administrative Secretary, State Council 10- 63097477
Mr. GUO Wei, Director of Foreign Affairs Department, State Administration on Religious Affairs 86 64095157
Mr. LIU Baoju, Deputy Director, Department of Propaganda of Communist Party Shandong province 531-82062258

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Chinese Pastor Needs Help

Posted by radiofreechina on July 5, 2007

Zhang Rongliang’s Health Deteriorating While in Prison

>From OPEN DOORS USA
Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director
Phone: 616-915-4117
E-Mail: JerryD@odusa.org
Website: http://www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) — Open Doors USA is urging Christians to advocate on behalf of prominent Chinese house church pastor Zhang Rongliang

Zhang, who was arrested December 1, 2004, is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year prison term on charges of obtaining illegal travel documents and illegal border crossings. Due to consistent refusal of the Chinese government to issue documentation to top leaders in the Chinese house church networks, Zhang obtained a falsified passport in order to attend mission conferences abroad.
Of primary concern is Zhang’s health as he suffers from five chronic conditions, including severe diabetes and high blood pressure. In early 2006, while in pretrial detention, Zhang’s condition deteriorated, requiring authorities to transfer him to a hospital for emergency care. According to Chinese law, he is qualified to ask for medical parole based on his health problems, according to Compass Direct News.

Prior to his sentencing on July 4, 2006, Zhang was detained for over a year. During this time, an intermediate court in Zhongmu City sent his case back to a lower court, stating that there was “insufficient evidence and ambiguous facts.” Additionally, Zhang has spent more than 12 years in prison on account of his religious convictions. In light of these aggravating factors, Zhang’s lengthy sentence presents an even greater miscarriage of justice.

Zhang’s wife, Chen Hongxian, has appealed to human rights groups around the world to advocate for her husband and for the international Christianity community to keep him in prayer, according to Compass Direct. Prison conditions are harsh and unhealthy. Zhang and about 20 others are crammed into a 100-square-foot cell with no beds or toilets. Authorities have also targeted Chen’s and Zhang’s two sons, who both worked in ministry. One was a pastor and the other was a lay leader, but since their father’s arrest, they have been pursued by the police and have been forced to go into hiding.

As China seeks to bolster its international image prior to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, U.S. leaders should be urged to pursue policies that will uphold commitment to internationally recognized standards on human rights and religious freedom as a key priority in improving U.S.-China bilateral relations.

Open Doors USA Advocacy Coordinator Lindsay Vessey says: “We are deeply concerned about Pastor Zhang’s failing health. We suspect he is not getting proper medical attention as last year one witness reportedly saw Zhang chained and handcuffed to a hospital bed when he was receiving treatment. This is a critical opportunity for the Chinese government to promote commitment to human rights and religious freedom by releasing Zhang on medical parole.”

Open Doors USA and International Christian Concern have launched a campaign urging U.S. Representatives to sign a letter sponsored by Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) addressed to President Bush. The letter asks President Bush to request the release of Zhang on medical parole during his next meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Open Doors is urging Christians to email their U.S. Representative via our Website; asking them to sign the letter sponsored by Franks. After collecting signatures from other representatives, Frank’s office will send the letter to President Bush.

For more information and to send your U.S. Representative an email, go to the Open Doors USA Website at http://www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at http://www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email jerryd@odusa.org).

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Two Protestants receive ten-day prison terms in Uzbekistan

Posted by radiofreechina on July 5, 2007

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (ANS) Two members of God’s Love Pentecostal Church spent ten days in prison in June after being found guilty of violating laws on religion and “illegal” religious teaching, Protestant sources told a western news service.

In a separate case, Baptist Sharofat Allamova was held for four days in mid-June after a late-night check on a bus taking her back to her hometown of Urgench revealed she had Christian books and films in her bag. Now back at home, Allamova faces criminal prosecution for violating the laws on religion with a maximum sentence if convicted of three years’ imprisonment.

All three Protestants had Christian literature confiscated. In the past, courts have ordered that confiscated Muslim, Christian and Hare Krishna literature be destroyed. No official at the government’s Committee for Religious Affairs in Tashkent was prepared to explain to Forum 18 why religious communities face mounting pressure.

Accoridng to Felix Corley, writing for thre Oslo, Norway-based Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org) , two Protestants from Jizzakh Region of central Uzbekistan each spent ten days in prison in June in punishment for their religious activity, Protestant sources — who preferred not to be identified for fear of reprisals — told Forum 18 News Service.

The two men — Hudoer Pardaev and Igor Kim, both in their mid-thirties — also had Christian literature confiscated from them. In a separate case, 28-year-old Baptist Sharofat Allamova was detained for four days in mid-June after Christian books and films were found in her bag on a late-night bus from the central city of Samarkand [Samarqand] to her home town of Urgench [Urganch]. She now faces criminal prosecution on charges of “violating the law on religious organizations.” She is currently at home awaiting further action against her.

Pardaev and Kim, who are from God’s Love Church, an unregistered Pentecostal congregation, were sentenced on 12 June by the Yangiabad District Criminal Court. They were given the ten-day prison terms under two articles of the Code of Administrative Offences: Article 240, which which punishes “violating the laws on religious organizations,”and Article 241, which punishes “violating the procedure for teaching religion.” Sixteen Christian books and 8 CDs were confiscated from them.

Local Protestants complained to Forum 18 that the accusations were brought against Pardaev and Kim “illegally.” They report that the two have lodged official complaints with various state agencies.

Forum 18 tried to find out from officials why detentions and imprisonment of believers for peaceful religious activity are increasing in Uzbekistan. No official at the government’s Committee for Religious Affairs in the capital Tashkent was prepared to talk to Forum 18 on 4 July. When Forum 18 introduced itself on each of the Committee’s numbers, the line was cut.

Meanwhile, Protestant sources who preferred not to be identified for fear of reprisals told Forum 18 that Allamova was detained after the bus she was returning home on to Urgench was stopped for an inspection at 11 pm on 10 June at a control post near the small town of Gijduvan [Gizhduvan] near Bukhara [Bukhoro].

Eleven books, eleven films on disc and other Christian material were confiscated. The books included four copies of the New Testament and three copies of the Book of Proverbs in Uzbek, while the discs contained the Jesus film and other Christian productions. She was held by Gijduvan police for four days with no arrest warrant or other documentation.

The Bukhara Regional Internal Affairs Directorate then launched a case against her under Article 216-2 of the Criminal Code, which punishes a second offence of “violation of the law on religious organizations” with a sentence of up to three years’ imprisonment. The material in the case was drawn up by an official of the anti-terrorist department of the Criminal Investigation Directorate, Nusrat Jahonov.

On 14 June Jahonov led a raid on Allamova’s home in Urgench which Protestants have told Forum 18 was “illegal” as it was conducted without a warrant. Joining Jahonov in the raid was a colleague from the Khorezm regional anti-terrorist department of the Criminal Investigation Directorate, Suhrob (last name unknown).

A total of 51 Christian books were confiscated, as well as four copies of the Baptist children’s magazine Tropinka, 25 audiotapes, three videotapes and six CDs. A list of the confiscated material was handed over. Protestants have insisted to Forum 18 that all the books had been imported into Uzbekistan legally.

Forum 18 reached Jahonov and Suhrob on 4 July, but neither was prepared to explain why Allamova had been singled out for such harsh treatment merely for carrying Christian books in her bag while travelling.

Allamova has already faced pressure from the authorities in Urgench for her involvement in church activity. In June 2004 she was summoned by the Khorezm Regional National Security Service (NSS) secret police, where she was interrogated and threatened. One officer jeered at her for maintaining her Christian faith.

This year has seen increased harassment particularly of Protestant Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Several Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been given harsh prison or corrective labour sentences in recent months in punishment for their religious activity. At the same time, raids on religious worship services, fines, confiscation of religious literature and deportation of foreign citizens engaged in peaceful religious activity have also intensified.

The authorities take particularly harsh measures against religious literature they do not like. Officials often believe it will be used for proselytism, which is a crime in Uzbekistan. Censorship of religious literature was tightened in June 2006 with increased penalties for unauthorised publication or distribution of it.

Courts have often ordered that confiscated Muslim, Christian or Hare Krishna literature be destroyed. Material confiscated from Pentecostal pastor Dmitry Shestakov was ordered destroyed in March after Andijan [Andijon] Regional Criminal Court declared it was “banned” literature.

However, Protestants have reported some success in attempts to have what they regard as “illegal” prosecutions withdrawn. Back in March prosecutors tried to bring a case under Article 240 and Article 241 of the Code of Administrative Offences against Vyacheslav Tskhe, youth leader of the registered Grace Pentecostal Church in the Mirzo-Ulugbek District of Tashkent. Protestant sources in Tashkent told Forum 18 that Tskhe protested to several state agencies about the actions of police officer E. Ismailov and how the case had been presented. “We received an official response on 3 July that the violations of the law Ismailov had committed were discussed at an operational meeting and he was severely reprimanded,” one Protestant told Forum 18. The case against Tskhe was withdrawn.

Forum 18 has learned of several other instances where court officials involved in cases against Protestants have been warned over mistakes they have committed.

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