House Church leader in Xinjiang formally arrested for receiving Bibles and abused in jail
Posted by radiofreechina on September 6, 2007
By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
Xinjiang Christian businessman Zhou Heng, shown with his daughter, arrested for receiving 3 tons of Bibles.
MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — A well-known house church leader was formally arrested on August 31 for receiving 3 tons of bibles.
According to China Aid Association (CAA), Mr. Zhou Heng is also the manager of a registered bookstore which is called Yayi Christian Book Room which is used to sell some Christianity related books published legally and officially inside China. His bookstore was already forced to close after his arrest by the local authority.
CAA says Mr. Zhou Heng’s formal arrest’s notice was approved by Shayibake District People’s Procuratorate of Urumqi city on August 31 and sent to his wife Chen Jihong by Urumqi Municipal Public Security Bureau.
A copy of the notice paper that CAA has obtained, says Zhou Heng was accused of “illegal business operation.” Zhou Heng is currently detained at Xishan Detention Center.
He was jailed on August 3. He was detained when he went to pick up three tons of Bibles at a bus station. The Bibles were reportedly donated by South Korean churches and were intended for local believers free of charge.
However, says CAA, the Chinese government only allows officially sanctioned (state) churches to print and distribute a limited number of Bibles each year. If convicted of the charges, he faces a 15-year prison sentence.
CAA China investigators spoke with a recently released inmate who shared a cell with Brother Zhou. The inmate reported Brother Zhou was beaten in prison severely by other inmates and prison guards.
CAA is helping the legal defense work for brother Zhou’s case. A well-known Christian human rights defense attorney Mr. Zhang Xingshui has agreed to represent and defend Zhou Heng in the court.
Moreover, according to the CAA investigators report, the seven house church leaders who were detained since August 21 from a house church meeting in Inner Mongolia were released recently after CAA’s reports.
Four pastors from Liaoning province including pastor QIN Tao(29 year-old), WANG Cong(34 year-old), WANG Shengjun(34 year-old), WANG Youjun(47 year-old) along with three Christian women leaders from Inner Mongolia were taken away from their worship location at Leizhiwa village, Kouhe town, Kulun Qi, Inner Mongolia.
The translated text of Zhou Heng’s formal arrest states:
“Urumqi Municipal Public Security Bureau
NOTIFICATION OF ARREST by Wu Gong (Sha) Dai Tong Zi (2007) 783 Chen Jihong, With approval from Shayibake District People’s Procuratorate, Zhou Heng was arrested by this bureau at 17:00 on August 31, 2007 on suspicion of illegal business operation. Zhou Heng is currently detained at Xishan Detention Center.
August 31, 2007
Seal: Urumqi Municipal Public Security Bureau.”
“If the family or the work unit of the arrested person is not notified within 24 hours after the arrest, please explain the reasons for this.
Person handling the case:
Ma Shujun, Zhang Yong August 31, 2007.
“This copy is to be handed to the family or the work unit of the arrested person.”
Rev. Bob Fu, President of CAA, says: “This is another religious persecution case in the name of clamp-down illegal business operation. Beijing pastor Cai Zhuohua was sentenced to 3 years in 2004 for distributing bibles. “We call upon the Chinese government to stop this tactic and allow all of the ordinary Chinese citizens to have access to bibles.”