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Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Archive for January, 2008

Early release from Hubei Labor Camp for three female House Church leaders

Posted by radiofreechina on January 24, 2008

By Michael Ireland

Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

WUHAN, HUBBEI PROVINCE, CHINA (ANS) In another stunning legal victory, three Chinese female house church leaders have been unconditionally released from their labor camp in Hubei province.

China Aid Association (CAA) says the decision was made at 4:30 PM Beijing time on January 23, and follows on the heals of the January 11, appellate ruling to release four male house church leaders from their labor camp following dismissal of charges from government officials.

CAA says the church leaders were arrested and sentenced to 18 months and 12 months re-education through labor respectively on August 6, 2007 after they were detained on July 15 and accused of the “crime of engaging in organizing and making use of evil cult organization to undermine the enforcement of State laws.”

In an interview with one of the recently released male pastors, China Aid Association was told that the director of the Hubei labor camp made a formal apology to the house church leaders for their wrongful imprisonment.

Furthermore, the director went on to state that he and other officials had learned their lesson and would seek to do a better job in the future. He then expressed to the leaders that they should be patriotic and upright citizens.

The admonition from the director was easy to take for the leaders who find empowerment in their true Christian faith to be the best citizens they are able to be in society.

“The Chinese house church is deeply committed to helping China realize the goal of becoming a ‘Harmonious Society,'” said CAA’s Bob Fu. “The released leaders expressed their gratitude to the labor camp officials for their willingness to discern true Christianity from common criminality and for setting a remarkable precedent of progression towards true religious freedom and rule of law in China.”

The leaders are also thankful to the international community for their efforts and prayers during this time.

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Has there been a shift in CCP policy towards religion in China?

Posted by radiofreechina on January 23, 2008

China’s Leaders Signal Shift in Tactics Toward Religion (

BEIJING — There was Hu Jintao, head of the Chinese Communist Party, warmly shaking hands at a party-sponsored New Year’s tea party with one of the country’s main Christian leaders. To make sure the message got through to China’s 68 million party faithful, a large photograph of the moment was splashed across the front page of the official party newspaper, People’s Daily…


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China Frees Tragedy-Laden North Korean Activist

Posted by radiofreechina on January 13, 2008

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Yoo Sang-joon

SOUTH KOREA (ANS) A North Korean activist who was imprisoned in China for helping North Korean refugees has been freed, a Christian human rights group reported on Monday.

This was revealed in a story by Michelle Vu, a reporter for The Christian Post (

“Yoo Sang-joon is now safely in South Korea after spending the last four months in a prison located in northern China, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW),” said Vu. “He is said to have endured extreme cold during his imprisonment and was believed he would die while being confined in China.

Vu said that although he was sent winter clothes early in his prison term, he was only given them on the day of his release.

“Yoo reportedly still suffers from a number of physical problems as a result of his incarceration,” she added.

“I am grateful from the depths of my heart to CSW and CSW supporters for all the deep concern, prayer and advocacy on my behalf while I was in prison,” said Yoo, according to CSW.

Vu went on to say, “Yoo, a North Korean survivor, was arrested near the Chinese-Mongolian border while trying to rescue other North Koreans from danger in China. He had lost his wife and youngest son in the North Korean famine. He realized the same fate awaited him and his remaining son if they remained in the country, and decided to flee to China.

“But unable to travel together, his 10-year-old son, Chul Min, attempted to cross the Mongolian border by himself. Unfamiliar with the inhospitable terrain, he wandered 26 hours and – suffering from dehydration and weakened from the famine – died before crossing the border.

“Yoo himself was able to reach South Korea and is a citizen, but he continues to be haunted by the loss of his family. As a result, he has dedicated his life to helping North Korean refugees in China, especially children, at the risk of his own safety.”

Vu said that South Korean activists consider Yoo’s case unique because of his tragic personal story.

It is said that at least 500,000 North Koreans have crossed the border over to China in the past 10 years. North Koreans who flee to China are considered “refugees” deserving of protection by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on North Korea, but China has claimed they are “economic migrants” and not refugees.

China has used the status as an excuse to return North Korean refugees back to their country where they face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution for leaving the country – a state crime.

“North Korea is one of the most repressive regimes in the world and is ranked by the watchdog Open Doors as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Citizens of the communist state are forced to adhere to a personality cult that revolves around worshipping current dictator Kim Jong Il and his deceased father, Kim Il Sung,” said Vu in her story.

“In the face of these grave consequences, Yoo’s punishment is considered light.”

“The fact that Yoo Sang-joon was released after only four months, in contrast to other activists who have served up to and surpassing four years, is surely a testament to your prayers, network and fervent advocacy,” said a CSW contact on the ground in Asia (location cannot be identified for security reason). “We thank you all so very much!”

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Senior House Church leader issues second Open Letter to Chinese President regarding intensified persecution

Posted by radiofreechina on January 11, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

HUBEI PROVINCE, CHINA (ANS) Several orphan children and their caretakers were forced to spend the night in a hotel room after having been evicted from their orphanage by local police officials on Christmas day.

China Aid Association (CAA) says the orphanage’s caretakers, Ming Xuan Zhang along with his two sons, had prepared to celebrate Christmas with the children, but were in no way prepared to deal with the situation that unfolded that morning.

After presenting an eviction notice, officials then proceeded to beat the care-takers and the children until they were literally forced onto the street. The Director of Security order of the Village of Sanhe, along with other government officials from the Religious Bureau and United Work Front Department, had threatened the landlord to stop renting land to Zhang and the children or face imprisonment.

Left with little choice, the landlord was forced to evict Zhang after 5 years of faithful occupancy. The children slept in a hotel room as Zhang frantically searched for space to rent for the orphanage. Unfortunately, Government officials had not limited the Christmas Day eviction to a single affair. On three separate occasions, landlords were threatened not to rent space to Zhang and the orphans, or face criminal charges and prison time.

Government officials continue to persecute Ming Xuan Zhang for his leadership role in the Chinese House Church. Affectionately known as “Bike”, Ming Xuan Zhang has experienced severe persecution and has been imprisoned 12 times by Government officials, who are trying to isolate him from the Chinese house church alliance.

In 2006, US President George W. Bush requested a meeting with Ming Zhang during his visit to China, but was denied by Communist Party officials. Zhang and his son were kidnapped at a train station after CPC officials discovered he had been invited to meet the President.

Zhang has written a second open letter to President Hu Jintao, in hopes of receiving relief from persecution. No response has been issued. Government officials continue to hinder Zhang from renting space for his orphanage by threatening landlords who offer to lease to him. Zhang and the children continue to remain homeless as they search for permanent living space.

In a statement, CAA says: “We implore the international community and those involved to take action against the crimes committed against Ming Zhang and his orphanage. The eviction and closure of an orphanage on Christmas day, due to the religious persecution of its caretaker is behavior that can not be tolerated of any Government or nation.”

Click Here to view full text of Ming Zhang’s open letter to President Hu Jintao 

If you would like to personally contact Ming Xuan Zhang, he can be reached at:86-139-3067-8090.

Please contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC for more information. Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20007; Tel: (202) 338-6688, (202)5889760 Fax: (202) 588-9760

China Aid Association, Inc.

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Tian Min-ge, Su Dean, Prominent Chinese Leaders of the Fangcheng House Church of Henan Arrested

Posted by radiofreechina on January 9, 2008

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA (ANS) China Aid says that it has learned from well-known Chinese House church historian Mr. Zhang Yinan that on December 20, 2007, the prominent leaders of the Fangcheng parent house church, Tian Ming-ge and Su Dean, were detained by local police in Jiuquan City.

A spokesperson for China Aid, based in Midland, Texas, said that Su and Tian Min-ge, also known as Tian Jin, were in the midst of conducting a church service with fellow co-worker, Wang Hongliang, when local authorities disrupted the gathering and detained the pastors.

“The three church leaders,” the spokesperson said, “were arraigned under the charges of ‘gathering in an illegal assembly under the guise of religion.’ Mr. Wang was released after serving 15 days detention, while Tian and Su’s penalties have been elevated to criminal detention on January 5, 2008. With a shaved head and donning prison garb, the 71 year old missionary, Tian Jian, was escorted by authorities from Jiuquan Detention Center to the Fangcheng County Public Security Bureau of Henan.”

China Aid says that Tian Jin, affectionately known as “Uncle Jin”, has

Uncle Jin

been intricately involved in the development and growth of the Chinese House Church since becoming a Christian in 1977. Retired and unmarried, Tian has devoted the past 20 years of his life to full-time missionary work in China. He founded the management team of Daqing Church, Heilongjiang province and in July of 1994, was elected as one of the seven leaders of the Fangcheng parent church in his home county. In 1997, Tian was involved in the missionary work to unite all of the house churches in China. Together with Zhang Rongliang and leaders from several different denominations, he worked with the counsel to educate and unite the different denominations in orthodox Christian doctrine.”The group also officially declared that the Chinese house church was not a cult,” the spokesperson continued. “Since then, Tian has made indefatigable efforts in eliminating the rumors, misunderstandings and splits among the various denominations. Zhang Rangliang is currently serving a 7-1/2 year sentence for his involvement with the house church.

“In the spring of 1994, Tian was arrested by PSB officials for receiving Pastor Dennis Balcombe from Hong Kong. After generating much concern from the international community, the case forced prominent Chinese lawyers, Ye Xiaowen and Han Wenzao, two leaders from State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) and TSPM to defend the religious policies of the Chinese Communist Party.

“In the end, Tian was released from prison on medical parole. Tian was again arrested in 2007 by Fangcheng officials, while teaching Christianity outside of his home town. He was released after serving a one month sentence.”

Su Dean, a friend and co-worker of Tian’s, was commissioned by the Fangcheng parent church to teach in Sichuan Province. An eloquent lecturer, Su has spoken in over 30 counties and cities in Sichuan. At one time Su oversaw a ministry of more than 200,000 Christians He also led efforts in the training and equipping of full-time missionaries. For their unwavering devotion to the progress and growth of the Chinese house church, Both Su and Tian carry great influence amongst the united underground believers in China.

China Aid went on to say that the arrest of these highly respected and founding members of the house church comes but two days after the Chinese Communist’s politburo held a national session on the implementation of its “religious freedoms” policy. During the conference, President Hu Jintao, reiterated his party’s past position on religious affairs and expressed new ideas on implementing religious freedom in China. This latest proposal strategy will be measured by the way Tian and Su are treated in the coming weeks. In light of over 50 years of persecution amongst its leaders and members, the house church remains weary of the CPC’s promising rhetoric.

The China Aid spokesperson concluded by saying, “With the privilege of hosting the upcoming Olympic Games, the religious policies of the Chinese Communist Party should become more progressive. The international community should use the Tian/Su Incident to urge the Chinese Communists party to keep their constitutional promise on religious freedom. It has been 10 years since the CPC signed the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is time that they kept their promise on religious matters.”

For more information send an e-mail to or go to their website –

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Beijing Christian Businessman Shi Weihan released on bail as Chinese Government officials decide not to pursue criminal charges

Posted by radiofreechina on January 8, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) A Christian bookstore owner, Shi Weihan along with two dozen others associated with his case, have been released on bail and Chinese officials have decided against a formal trial for Shi, and criminal charges against the accused have been dismissed.

Mr. Shi Weihan with his family.

Eyewitnesses told China Aid Association (CAA) that Shi was in good spirits and relatively stable physical condition. Shi’s family members asked CAA to thank the tireless efforts of the international community for his release.Shi, and the others, have been detained for the past 37 days under charges of illegal printing and distribution of Christian literature. According to Chinese law after 37 days of administrative detention, a formal arrest warrant must be issued or the accused must be released.

Sources state that the Beijing Haidian District prosecution office assigned to Shi’s case determined that they were unable to proceed with formal charges due to “insufficient evidence.”

CAA says that regardless of the reasoning for Shi’s unconditional release, it is evident that international attention and pressure on the case were instrumental in influencing the court’s decision.

“The Chinese government has made a positive step in the right direction regarding this case,” CAA’s President Bob Fu stated. “This is a clear victory of rule of law and international intervention.”

CAA states the Government’s upright decision to release Shi and the others is a virtuous development following the Communist party’s conference on the collective study of Religion and Religious policy on December 18, 2007.

During the conference President Hu Jintao, reiterated the Government’s stance on the “implementation of free religious policy” stressing law-abiding management on religious affairs and support to self-governance of religious groups.

While the Government’s decision in the Shi Weihan case should be lauded, hundreds of prisoners persecuted for their beliefs, still remain in custody. CAA cites the case of Xinjiang church leader Zhou Heng, who was arrested in August of 2007, for receiving “illegally printed” Bibles.

China Aid says that Zhou, who was arraigned on the same charges as Shi Weihan, continues to serve an unjust sentence behind bars.

“These accounts, and others, are examples of the Chinese Government’s failure to remain consistent in cases receiving less international attention,” CAA says in a media release.

China Aid encourages the Chinese Government to follow the example set in the Shi Weihan case, and maintain consistency in its policies and rhetoric on religious freedom.

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