Radio Free China

Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Sichuan Church faces Government persecution: 20 arrested, 7 detained, 2 sentenced to Education through Labor

Posted by radiofreechina on June 25, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SICHUAN, CHINA (ANS) — As more than 50 house church members gathered at a residence on Bei Street, Qujiang Township, Qu County of Sichuan Province, they were raided by more than 20 Public Security Bureau officials, Homeland Security Defense Brigade, the local police station, Office for Religious Affairs and cadres from neighborhood committees.

China Aid Association (CAA) said the raid occurred at approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, 2008. It said officials failed to show law enforcement identifications.

According to CAA, the house church members were accused of “engaging in cult activities through an illegal gathering.” Seven women were immediately taken away, while officials confiscated Bibles, books and other objects.

Among the people taken away, Zhou Yanying, Zhang Mingxiu, and Yan Zelie were sentenced to five days of administrative detention; Luo Qinghua was acquitted after a detention of 17 days; Wang Qingxiu, the head of the church, was accused of “undermining the implementation of the state law and regulations by utilizing a cult organization” and was sentenced to one year of education through labor on April 29.

On the second day, 10 members of the same house church met at 9 a.m. on Sunday March 30 to discuss the detentions and sentencing. The members were gathered at the residence of Ms. Li Xianbi located in Bei Street of Qujiang Township, when they were again raided by 20 PSB officials, Homeland Security Defense Bureau, the local police station, Office for Religious Affairs and cadres from the neighborhood committee. The officials again failed to show law enforcement identifications, CAA said.

CAA says the members were also accused of “engaging in cult activities through an illegal gathering.” Officials immediately detained nine women, including Lei Shibi, Wan Chaobi and four children. Bibles, books, personal bags and other objects were confiscated. Among the members involved, Yan Chuanfang, Yu Liyu and Li Xianbi were sentenced to five days of administrative detention; Xiao Yu was released pending trial after being detained for 12 days; Li Chixia, the head of the group, was accused of “undermining the implementation of the state law and regulations by utilizing a cult organization”, and has been sentenced to one year of education through labor on April 29.

CAA reports the members of this church submitted an appeal at Qu County Court House and Dazhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court respectively on May 6 and May 16, but the appeal was rejected. Qu County Department of Administration claimed that these house church members are political prisoners and belong to a cult. On May 27, these Christians submitted their applications for administrative reconsideration to the Legal Section of Dazhou Municipal Public Security Bureau.

In an e-mail sent to ANS, China Aid Association strongly denounces the conduct of Qu County authorities of Sichuan in arresting and detaining citizens at will and infringing upon the citizens’ freedom of belief by bringing upon them criminal charges and sentencing them to education-through-labor programs.

The e-mail states: “The Chinese Government’s labeling of these innocent protestant Christians who wish to worship God in autonomy, is nothing more than an act of cowardice and an attempt to veil the unprecedented religious persecution within China from the international community.

“CAA and those around the world who are concerned call for the unconditional release of those detained and to encourage the international community to continue to show concerns and attention to the trend of deteriorating religious freedom in China prior to the Olympic Games.”

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