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Archive for August, 2008

American Activist Disappears After Offering Himself for Arrest In Tiananmen Square

Posted by radiofreechina on August 25, 2008

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — As the Beijing Olympics drew to a close, an American activist who carried out earlier protests presented himself for arrest in Tiananmen Square and has now disappeared.

Pastor Eddie Perez Romero

A statement released today by representatives says that at 10.15 pm Beijing Time activist Pastor Eddie Perez Romero sought to draw attention to himself in Tiananmen Square and to be arrested. While the exact events were difficult to track precisely, the statement says that representatives believe Pastor Romero was eventually taken away by the authorities in a car. He has not been heard of since.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights group, Pastor Romero, while in Tiananmen Square, shouted about the concerns that had led him to protest and the goals of his campaign, namely the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the release of five prisoners representing five key areas of concern.

A CSW spokesperson told ANS, “On August 5, prior to the Beijing Games, Pastor Romero had transformed two hotel rooms, creating effigies of blood-spattered torture victims and painting human rights slogans such as ‘Our World, Our Nightmare.’ The protest took place just days before President Bush issued his strong condemnation of abuse of religious freedom in China. After the protest Pastor Romero went into hiding and has been living in the open with the protection of a small shelter, existing on rations he bought before leaving Beijing.”

Pastor Romero, a father of three, is a well respected church leader at Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente, California, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California.

Stuart Windsor, National Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: “Pastor Eddie Romero is a much-loved church leader, professor and family man whose actions are driven by deepest concern for the abused in China. He took this exceptional step in order to draw much-needed attention to the plight of those suffering persecution for their faith and other beliefs.

“While CSW does not condone civil disobedience we strongly endorse the validity of the calls he is making for China to ratify the ICCPR and to release the named prisoners. His courage in handing himself over to the Chinese authorities shows the depths with which he identifies with the suffering of the Chinese people.”

For further information or photographs please contact Stuart Windsor on 07770 755660, email stuartwindsor@csw.org.uk or visit http://www.csw.org.uk

CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

Notes to editors:

More information on Pastor Romero’s activities can be found at http://exodus8one.org

The five named prisoners are:
* Pastor Zhang Rongliang – house church Christian
* Xu Na – Falun Gong practitioner
* Hu Jia – internet activist (Buddhist)
* Shi Tao – journalist
* Guo Feixiong – self trained ‘barefoot’ lawyer

Further information on the Church in China and the crackdown on the church in the run up to the Olympics can be found situation of the in CSW’s report “China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games” at http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=report&id=95&rnd=0.5403711

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China Plans Crackdown on House Church Leaders and Human Rights Activists

Posted by radiofreechina on August 24, 2008

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) — At the height of the Beijing Olympics there is news emerging of a secret directive indicating a nationwide campaign to crack down on four groups considered to be “unstable social elements” by the Chinese authorities.

Human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in a news release that according to a report from China Aid Association (CAA) the directive, issued by the Political and Legal Committee of the Central Committee of the CPC, targets house church leaders, petitioners, human rights defenders and political dissidents.

It was issued to all law enforcement agents and bodies, and follows a speech on June 16 by Zhou Yongkang, head of the Political and Legal Committee of the CPC calling for “extraordinary measures” to be taken against unstable elements in China.

CSW’s Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, said in in the news release, “The timing of the news of this directive, coming as it does only days after China confiscated Bibles from four Americans at Kunming International Airport, and at the height of the Olympics, highlights China’s disregard for the views of the international community.”

She added, “It is also a stark reminder of the restrictions facing Chinese house churches and the ongoing violations of international standards of human rights in China. House church Christians are not a threat to the stability of Chinese society and it is time that China begins to take its place as a world leader in upholding rather than undermining international standards.”

For more information about Christian Solidarity worldwide, go to http://www.csw.org.uk

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Two Missionaries Released from Detention in Inner Mongolia

Posted by radiofreechina on August 12, 2008

Two Others Remain in Detention

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
INNER MONGOLIA (ANS) — Two of the four missionaries detained in Inner Mongolia in early July have been released after serving 30 days administrative detention.

China Aid Association (CAA) says that Yu Yongqing and Li Shusen were released on Aug. 6 and Aug 10, respectively.

Yu Yongqing was released after paying an undisclosed amount of money to Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials for his release.

Two of the four detained missionaries, Li Li and Wang Shuang remain in detention.

CAA says Mr. Wang’s wife and sister visited the PSB detention center where he was being held and upon entering the station they were shown into Wang’s cell where he was seen being hung by handcuffs. The two women left seriously distraught yet helpless to change the situation.

The other detainee, Li Li has been diagnosed by PSB officials as having a serious lung disease and possibly lung cancer. Detention guard officials, fearful that Li will die under their watch, have determined that Li will be placed under house detention with the condition that Li will promise not to escape while at home.

In a July 31 report by China Aid, the human rights watch group said the four missionaries in Inner Mongolia were arrested on July 20 and that police also searched their houses. Among the arrested, Wang Shuang was hung up and tortured by the police.

In that report, CAA said that missionary Li Li and her husband Li Shusen were arrested on July 17. At 9:00 p.m. on July 25, missionary Wang Shuang was taken away by the police and arrested. The charges against them were “utilizing a cult to undermine the implementation of the state law.”

According to an insider, “The authorities are apt to arrest leaders of the churches. They arrest whoever is in charge of the affairs. A sister of mine and I went to visit Li Li at a detention center and tried to give her some luggage. They directed us to the Homeland Security Defense Brigade office.

“The Homeland Security Defense Brigade of the Municipal Public Security Bureau is in charge of arresting people. They asked me direct questions and the investigation was thorough. They asked me how many years I have been a Christian and where I was baptized. Upon seeing me, she knew immediately that I am an ordinary believer and not a leader. Therefore, she didn’t arrest us.”

According to information obtained by China Aid, most of these believers are peasants living in rural suburban areas and they are very simple people without sophistication.

China Aid stated: “On the other hand, Li Li came to this area to preach the Gospel from Jilin Province. She lived in urban areas. When they first arrested Li Li, the police also took away her two brothers who were not released until the second day. The above-mentioned insider also said: ‘The charges against other people are not as serious as Li Li. They accused Li Li of associating with overseas reactionaries. They said people from overseas once sent her a remittance of 1,500 at a time and sometimes even 20,000. In fact, there is no such a thing.'”

Another insider told Fang Yuan, reporter from Radio Free Asia, that when some sisters went to the PSB to visit Wang Shuang, they saw with their own eyes “a scene of horror.”

The insider told the radio station: “When his sisters and his wife went to see him (Wang Shuang), they saw upon entering the door that he was being hung with handcuffs. His trousers were at the bottom and his underwear was up there without the waistband. When the sisters came back and told other people, they were shocked.”

A reporter from the radio station called Wang Shuang’s wife, Ms. Sun, for more information and she told him that at 9 o’clock on the 25th of the month, four policemen from the Homeland Security Defense Brigade of the Municipal Public Security Bureau climbed over the wall to enter the house of Wang Shuang. They took away Wang Shuang by force. On the second day, they interrogated her for a whole day. After that, they also searched her house.

She said: “When I went to the public security bureau to ask for the reasons, they also detained me for a day there. They interrogated me and asked me where I was baptized and where I began to believe in Jesus. After the interrogation, they hauled me back and turned my house upside down. They didn’t find anything but took away my notebook and my Bible. They also destroyed my kang the warm-bed just to look for Gospel flyers and books.”

The reporter said: “According to our understanding, the police also told her to go to the PSB again on Monday, July 28. She didn’t go there as she is afraid.”

As the police searched the houses of the four people arrested, all the belongings in the house church, including Christian books, computers and disks were all confiscated, Radio Free Asia stated.

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For more information, contact:
China Aid Association, Inc.
Tel: (267) -205-5210
Fax: (432)-686-8355
E-mail: info@ChinaAid.org
Websites: http://www.chinaaid.org; http://www.monitorchina.org
Contact: Daniel Burton (432)-689-6985

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House Church Pastor Hua Huiqi Arrested and Escapes from Police Custody as President Bush Visits Officially-Staged Church Service

Posted by radiofreechina on August 11, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — As President Bush today (Sunday) visited and attended a service at the Three Self Patriotic Movement’s (TSPM)Kuanjie Church established by the government, a renowned Christian social activist in Beijing was arrested once again by the Chinese police, but has since eluded authorities.


Pastor Hua Huiqi

According to Zhang Lujia, writing on behalf of China Aid Association (CAA), at about 6 a.m. this morning Beijing time, Brother Hua Huiqi, and his 51-year-old brother Hua Huilin were illegally arrested by the Chinese police on their way to Kuanjie Church.

Lujia says the two brothers were detained in the courtyard of Hong Kong New World Development Limited Company in the vicinity of Chongwen Gate of Beijing. At about noon, Hua Huiqi took an opportunity and fled. He is now at large.

More than 10 years ago, Hua Huiqi was baptized at Kuanjie Church. Later, he began to worship with believers in the House Churches. As the Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Beijing, Hua Huiqi’s movements came under the surveillance of the Chinese police in the past few months. As a result, Brother Hua and his family had to go back to Kuanjie Church to attend the services.

Lujia says that because President Bush was scheduled to visit Kuanjie Church, Brother Hua Huiqi has been prohibited by the police to go there for services. However, Brother Hua thinks the police ban does not have any legal basis and is totally unreasonable. So he decided to refuse to obey.

This morning, Brother Hua Huiqi successfully evaded the police squad placed on surveilling his movements and met with his brother Hua Huilin. Together they then rode bikes through Beijing and were bound for Kuanjie Church. They were by arrested police at a location about 1.5 kilometers from the church.

High-ranking officials from the Public Security Bureau, Bureau of Security, Bureau of Religion and TSPM/China Christian Council met at Kuanjie Church established by the government and made ingenious arrangements for President Bush’s visit. They did not give the ordinary believers of the church a chance to meet President Bush or overseas media. Instead, ordinary believers were removed from church before and after President Bush’s visit.

Lujia says that informed sources have disclosed that a red slip of procedure for the worship ceremony was a mark for their identification. The red slips were distributed before noon Sunday. Most of people President Bush and the overseas media were due to meet in the church were security people, political workers and people trained by them to pose as believers.

Before the service, an ‘old believer’ who was baptized at Kuanjie Church nearly 20 years ago complained: “Whether you are a believer or not, no one is allowed to enter the church. When President Bush comes tomorrow, where can we do our Sunday service?”

Another believer who lives nearby Kuanjie Church joked: “President Bush is coming to preach the Gospel to those who don’t believe in the Lord (referring to those police officers and officials). We are already believers, so we certainly don’t have to come here tomorrow.”

After the church service, President Bush said: “Laura and I just had the great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing, China. You know, it just goes to show that God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion.

“And I want to thank the pastor for his hospitality. And I want to thank this beautiful choir for singing Amazing Grace and Edelweiss. It was a touching moment. It’s been a joy to worship here. Again, I want to thank you, sir, and God bless you. God bless you.”

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China Aid Association, Inc.
Tel: (267) -205-5210
Fax: (432)-686-8355
E-mail: info@ChinaAid.org
Websites: http://www.chinaaid.org; http://www.monitorchina.org
Contact: Daniel Burton (432)-689-6985

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Bold stunt by human rights activist underlines tragic lack of freedoms

Posted by radiofreechina on August 10, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — In a bid to draw attention to the desperate state of human rights in China, a daring human rights activist has transformed two hotel rooms in Beijing into pictorial protests, painting slogans about China’s deplorable record of human rights abuses and depicting the torture that continues to take place in China.


One of the two hotel rooms redecorated to protest China’s human rights record.

Video footage of the redecoration of the rooms, with an explanation of the process and the reasons for the protest has been released by protest organizers and can be seen at http://exodus8one.org/blog/ from which the following is taken.

As described on his Blog, the daring activist left the Trader Hotel in a hurry minutes before midnight of August 5. He had just completed a nearly four-hour stretch of painting two four-star hotel rooms with messages like “Our world, our nightmare” and “Ratify the ICCPR” (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). But he had no idea how the story would continue to unfold.

The Blog says that on the other side of the world, friends and family were also wondering about what kind of story would be released from Beijing. Security has been remarkably heavy in the city. The Internet has been censored. Journalists have been restricted. And housekeeping might very well have found these rooms before any of the media.

According to the Blog, several media contacts had been sent a secret press release within 24 hours of the event, indicating something was going to happen. At 6:30 a.m. another email was sent with the exact locations of the events. Room keys had been taped to the back of the “Do Not Disturb” signs. Now all that was left to onlookers in the US was to watch and wait.

The Blog states that at 11:45 p.m. that evening, the first video was posted on YouTube. It was a grainy recording of the activist painting and talking about the purpose of “the Gadfly Project.” The audio cut out a bit, giving the whole video a mysterious feel. So there was at least one video. But did any other media get into the room? After all, with no outside verification, the Chinese government could simply claim that the whole thing was staged in the US. The answer came early the next morning (PST), when an article in Spanish surfaced on the El Mundo website with pictures taken by a Spanish journalist, Aritz Parra.

The story was still practically legend for the rest of that day, with no other major news sources running the facts. The activist was stuffing effigies in a second video that was released on YouTube, designed to symbolize those that have been silenced in China for speaking out for human rights and religious freedom. Most media attention was turned on the four demonstrators who unfurled a “Free Tibet” flag at an Olympic Venue.

Finally, on the morning of August 7, the Associated Press ran an article detailing the events of the Gadfly Project that included an interview with the activist’s spokesperson, Pastor Tony Thomas of the United Kingdom.

The Blog says it didn’t take long before more news sources such as Fox News and the Washington Times picked up the AP article. Part of an interview with Tony Thomas was aired on KNX news radio early in the evening. The story was also picked up on a Los Angeles Times Blog called “Ticket to Beijing”. Channel 4 featured the Gadfly Project at the top of the 11pm hour along with other protesters in Beijing. At the time of writing the original post, the original YouTube video had received 3,709 hits. The story is spreading, even to other countries such as Australia and Japan.

One man took a risk, and left a hotel in a hurry, not knowing whether the story would get out. “It looks as if the Gadfly has gone public, and the story is not over,” the Blog states.

Organizers say the action is designed to highlight the severe suffering that Chinese people still endure at the hands of the Chinese authorities. While China prepares to host the world at the Olympic Games she continues to flout the most basic human rights laws she is bound by within the international community.

The two calls for action accompanying the activism are the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the release of five prisoners representing five key areas of concern:

Pastor Zhang Rongliang – house church Christian
Xu Na -Falun Gong practitioner
Hu Jia – internet activist (Buddhist)
Shi Tao – journalist
Guo Feixiong – self trained ‘barefoot’ lawyer

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said: “The twin message of ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and releasing prisoners is right on track and a message China can ill-afford to ignore. Human rights and religious freedom have deteriorated in the run-up to the Olympics. China has chosen to deliberately flout international law while hosting such a prestigious international event.

“Despite promises to improve its human rights record, the opposite has happened. This event occurs as US President George Bush prepares to deliver an address tomorrow, the same day that he arrives in Beijing, expressing deep concerns about human rights and religious freedom. The world is watching. China must understand that if she wants to be an international player she must play by international rules.”

Among the concerns, Pastor Zhang Rongliang’s seven and a half year sentence highlights the issue of the repression of China’s unregistered Protestant church (house church). Further information on the situation of the Church in China and the crackdown on the church in the run up to the Olympics can be found at in CSW’s report ‘China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games’ at http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=report&id=95&rnd=0.5403711

CSW says China still refuses to allow freedom to choose one’s own religion, forcing all Protestant Christians to belong to the official Three Self Patriotic Movement, thus making the vast majority of Christians in China illegal.

The group says that among the forms of mistreatment meted out to Christians are detention, torture, humiliating treatment, re-education through labor, as well as confiscation and destruction of property, fines and other forms of punishment.

It adds: “The run up to the Olympics has been accompanied by a disturbing increase in persecution of unregistered Christians, including the largest mass sentencing of house church leaders in 25 years; a level of expulsion of foreign Christians not seen since the 1950s; targeted repression of the Chinese House Church Alliance: restrictions on religious believers renting properties and attending the Games; and persecution and church raids in Beijing.”

Beijing Protestor’s Name and Plans Revealed; Pastor Arrested as Bush Condemns Religious Violations on Arrival in Beijing

The details of the activist who transformed Beijing hotel rooms into protest venues were released at a press conference in Los Angeles yesterday.

Protest representatives revealed the identity of the protestor as Pastor Eddie Perez Romero, a well-respected church leader and professor, and revealed that he will surrender himself to the Chinese authorities after the Olympic Games.

The news comes as prominent Chinese Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, interviewed from detention by BBC’s John Simpson three days ago, has been re-arrested, together with his wife and his colleague Pastor Wu. Pastor Zhang, the President of the Chinese House Church Alliance, was on his way to deliver medicine to his sick wife when he was arrested. The three are being held in a PSB office in Zhengzhou City in Henan Province.

Pastor Romero is Pastor of Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California. He is married with three children.

Representatives described how the idea had come to Pastor Romero in July 2001 after sensing outrage as the Olympic Games were awarded to China despite its appalling human rights record. The timing of the event and his appearance for arrest are designed to avoid disruption during the Games themselves. The goals of the campaign are given as ‘Ratify and Release’: the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the release of five key prisoners.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: “Pastor Eddie Romero is a man driven by his passion for those suffering in China. He is an affable much loved church leader and family man as well as a respected professor. He is willing to risk all in order to provide a voice for those who have no voice in China. While CSW does not condone civil disobedience, we do share his deep concern over the serious violation of religious and other freedoms in China. China should indeed ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and release those held for their religious and political beliefs.”

U.S. President Chides China on Freedom Issues

As President Bush issued his strong condemnation of abuse of religious freedom and human rights, the organizers explained that the event was aimed: “To call attention to the covert state-sanctioned persecution of Christians, specifically, and all other persecuted religious faiths inclusively. Furthermore the goal of this event is to bring about dramatic and verifiable changes in state policy and attitude toward Christians and all other people of faith.”

At the opening of the new US Embassy in Beijing, President Bush made some measured remarks. “All people should have the freedom to say what they think and worship as they choose,” he said.

President Bush said he has tried to foster “trust” between China and the United States and that the two countries had “built a strong relationship built on common interests.”

“America will continue to support China on the path toward a free economy,” Mr. Bush added.

In a speech on Asian policy delivered in Bangkok, Thailand, on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Mr. Bush chided China over its record of religious freedom and human rights.

“America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” Mt. Bush said during that trip.

“We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights — not to antagonize China’s leaders but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential,” he said. “And we press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs.”

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Notes to editors:

Information released by the organizers can be seen at
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Exodus8One/2dc5f6a5fd/8ed156d185/257a6a9ee9

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Exodus8One/2dc5f6a5fd/8ed156d185/7a0d675caf

The progress of the project can be followed at

http://cts.vresp.com/c/?Exodus8One/2dc5f6a5fd/8ed156d185/0aff397e4d

Information about the five prisoners is provided at
http://www.persecutionandtheolympics.com/secureblog/?p=50#more-50

For further information, including on the protest, religious freedom and Pastor Zhang, together with photos, please contact the Advocacy Team at CSW on +44 (0)7770 755 660, email stuartwindsor@csw.org.uk or visit http://www.csw.org.uk

CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

For CSW’s original press release describing the events, providing links to the organisers’ websites and additional information on religious freedom, please visit http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=press&id=753

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Three Christian Protesters in China Arrested Again, Then Deported to U.S.

Posted by radiofreechina on August 10, 2008

By John Jalsevac

August 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Three American Christians were arrested for a second time in Beijing, China earlier this week.

Rev. Pat Mahoney, Brandi Swindell, and Michael McMonagle were arrested and forcibly dragged away as they knelt in prayer outside the Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum. The group was in Beijing speaking out against China’s forced abortion policies, religious persecution, and other human rights abuses.

After their first arrest the trio called a press conference in Tiananmen Square.

“We have come here today to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government,” said Mahoney, while Chinese security officials attempted to disband the media who had gathered for the conference.

“We have come here today to be a voice to those who are in prison because of their religious beliefs. We are here to peacefully pray.”

Plain clothed policemen were filmed dragging Rev. Mahoney and Ms. Swindell by the arms as other men, presumed to be additional plain clothed officers, attempted to shield the arrest from cameras with large umbrellas.

The three Christian activists were detained and released earlier in the week as they stood in Tiananmen Square with a banner that read in English and Chinese, “Jesus Christ is King.”

The trio told the Associated Press (AP) that while in custody the second time Chinese police had disabled their cell phones, and threatened them with a lengthy prison stay unless they paid the $2000 each for plane tickets back to the States.

“We didn’t do anything wrong. We were speaking up for the Chinese people. We refused to pay,” said Mahoney. Eventually, he related, the police relented and bought the plane tickets.

The three Christians were put on a plane back to the U.S. and arrived in L.A. late Thursday night, carrying nothing but a plastic bag with clothes, the rest of their luggage remaining behind in China. They were greeted by a group of supporters.

Mahoney’s wife, Katie, told the AP that it was disconcerting not to hear from her husband for some 24 hours.

“It was very disconcerting” she said. “Let’s face it, China doesn’t have a very good record on human rights. … It’s very troubling when you don’t hear from someone in 24 hours.”

Katie Mahoney also released a statement, saying, “We pray that this oppressive government will perhaps recognize through this incident that their own citizens deserve to have the basic human rights of free speech, freedom to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, as well as the protection of the weakest members of society — their precious unborn children. That is the message that my husband and the others were simply trying to send. They are not criminals.

“I say, China, the eyes of the world are upon you; if you want the respect and acceptance of other nations at this critical time during the Olympics, afford your own wonderful people the human rights they have been yearning for.”

The three Christians are not the only protestors to have drawn attention to China’s abysmal human rights record in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. News reports reveal that several other incidents have taken place.

Iain Thom, 24, from Scotland, and fellow British activist Lucy Fairbrother, 23 were arrested earlier this week after unfurling a massive Free Tibet banner near Beijing’s Olympic Stadium. Another unidentified man wearing a mask climbed Beijing’s Tsing Ma Bridge early today and unfurled banners asking for “human rights”, “democracy” and “freedom” for the “Chinese people.”

Other protests are expected to take place throughout the duration of the Olympic Games in China.

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House Church Leader Arrested as Chinese Believers Ready to Welcome President Bush; Deeply Concerned over President Bush’s Second Visit to Government Sanctioned Church

Posted by radiofreechina on August 8, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — Three days before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, China Aid Association (CAA) has learned that House Church Alliance President, Zhang Mingxuan, together with his wife , has been detained by Chinese Authorities. The two, along with a fellow pastor, are being held in an undisclosed location in Henan Province.

The arrest comes on the eve of President George Bush’s visit to China for the Beijing Olympic Games.

According to CAA, President Bush has been a stalwart supporter of the Chinese House Church and Religious freedom within China since his inauguration. In order to further his commitment to the House Church, President Bush has committed to visit the Kuanjie Protestant Church at the behest of the Chinese Government.

According to PRC officials the Kuanjie Protestant Church is a Government sanctioned church which has incorporated House Church Christians into its ranks therefore validating to the World the CPC’s tolerance of religious worshipers.

CAA says that in reality however, “China’s embracing of Kuanjie Church is a misleading and deceptive ploy used by China to deceive the international community into believing the CPC is no longer persecuting Christians.”

Upon further investigation of Kuanjie Church, CAA has found that the so-called “House Church incorporation,” is nothing more than a series of Government-sanctioned “House Cells” that have permission from the CPC to meet outside of the Government sanctioned building.

CAA says these “cells” are lead by pastors who have been trained and appointed by the Government and who are required to obey all rules dictated by the TSPM (Government “Three Self Patriotic Movement”) Church.

CAA states: “By creating such a system the Chinese Government has created a false sense of inclusion of house churches into mainstream society and has deceived many world and even evangelical leaders into believing China has ceased religious persecution. Unfortunately, this deception has lead to the increasing persecution of the House Churches across China. With outside leaders adding validity to the TSPM churches, House Churches are constantly being painted as dissenters and lawbreakers, while simply trying to worship in true freedom.”

China Aid urges President Bush as well as other leaders to not be deceived by the Communist Party of China’s ploys to appear as if they are tolerant of Religion while at the same time brutally persecuting House Churches and their members across China.

In order to view a full length letter from House Church Pastor Luke Zhang, outlining the Church as well as President Bush’s visit, click here: http://www.earnedmedia.org/Pastor%20Luke%20Zhang%20Appeal%20Letter.pdf

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China Banishes Pastor from Beijing Prior to Games

Posted by radiofreechina on August 6, 2008

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
BEIJING (ANS) — As U.S. President George W. Bush attends Olympic events in Beijing this week and a church service in the capital next Sunday, Chinese authorities have banished house church pastor Zhang Mingxuan from the city for the duration of the Games.

Compass Direct News (CDN) reported in a story that several other Christians are still in detention, or face ongoing harassment.

Plainclothes police officers forcibly removed Zhang and his wife Xie Fenglan from a guesthouse in Beijing on July 18 and took them to Yanjiao, Hebei province, to prevent them from meeting foreign officials visiting Beijing for the Games, according to Friday’s (August 1) South China Morning Post (SCMP).

According to CDN, the couple had moved from one guesthouse to another at least six times prior to the raid to escape police harassment. They have since moved from Yanjiao to another remote town in Hebei to await the completion of the Games.

CDN said Zhang told reporters that constant police crackdowns had reduced the number of house churches he has established over the past decade from more than 10 to just three.

According to CDN, thousands of Christians throughout China belong to similar house churches, which have refused to register with official government agencies so they can avoid legal restrictions on the size of their gatherings, appointment of clergy and sermon content.

History of Arrests

CDN said that Zhang, a Christian for 22 years, traveled as an itinerant evangelist throughout China before moving to Beijing in 1998. He is co-founder and president of the China House Church Alliance, established in April 2005 to defend the rights of house church Christians.

In 2005, CDN reported, President Bush invited Zhang to a meeting during an official visit to China. The meeting never took place, however, as officials detained Zhang before he could attend.

In June Zhang met with U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf and Rep. Christopher Smith during a visit to Beijing, but officials placed him under house arrest the following night, according to SCMP. Also in June, CDN reported, officials detained Zhang when he attempted to meet with Bastiann Belder, an official from the European Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.

CDN said that when police tried to persuade Zhang and his ailing wife to leave Beijing prior to the Games, Zhang refused.

“A police officer even suggested paying us 5,000 yuan (US$730) if we would leave Beijing for three months,” CDN said Zhang told reporters. “We’ve been praying for a successful Olympic Games for eight years. We didn’t do anything wrong, so why are they doing this to us?”

CDN commented that officials are perhaps aggravated by the activities of the China House Church Alliance, backed by a team of Christian lawyers who file cases against local authorities when Christians are jailed or sent to labor camps. To date some 30 cases have been filed, and six have been successful, Zhang said. Prior to the formation of the alliance, Christians rarely took such cases to court.

CDN reported that one of the lawyers, Li Baiguang, said it was very difficult to win such cases, but when they ended, at least officials stopped harassing these Christians.

Baiguang was scheduled to meet with members of the U.S. Congress in Beijing in June, but officials detained him and one other lawyer to prevent them from attending the meeting. Several other lawyers were warned not to attend, or they would face severe consequences.

Bookstore Owner’s Health Worsens

CDN reported that Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan, detained without charges by authorities on March 19, has suffered a rapid deterioration in health. In addition, officials have reportedly convinced Shi to sign a “confession” convicting him of engaging in the printing and distribution of a large number of illegal publications.

CDN said China Aid Association (CAA) reported on July 31 that Shi’s weight had dropped by more than 22 pounds. Shi suffers from diabetes, a condition exacerbated by a poor diet and restricted access to appropriate medication.

Sources told CDN that Shi’s bookstore continues to operate in its prime location near the Olympic Village.

The bookstore is registered with authorities, and Shi had permission to sell Bibles and other Christian materials. CDN said that officials objected, however, when Shi printed some Bibles and Christian literature without authorization for distribution to local house churches, according to Asia Times Online.

CDN said that despite a law restricting detention without charges to a maximum of two months, officials in June stated they would delay action on the case indefinitely. By late June, they had granted only one visit by Shi’s lawyer, Zhang Xingshui.

Elsewhere in China

CDN said that CAA reported officials also evicted Christian rights activist Hua Huiqi from his home in Beijing on July 2. After using a heavy hammer to break down the doors and locks of his apartment, they beat Hua’s brother and forced the entire family, including Hua’s 90-year-old father, onto the street with their furniture.

CDN said CAA also reported that on July 6, officials moved Pastor Zhang Zhongxin of Jiaxiang county, Shandong province to a labor camp to begin two years of re-education through labor. With the help of a lawyer, Zhang’s wife Wang Guiyun has since submitted an appeal to the Jining City district court asking it to withdraw the labor camp sentence.

On July 14, CDN reported, police raided the home of Lu Xiaoai, a fellow church member of Zhang and Wang, seizing Bibles and Christian materials. They also investigated church member Lian Dehai, seizing Christian material from his home and placing him in criminal detention.

Police then carried out several other raids on the homes of house church members in Jiaxiang county.

CAA reported on other incidents in Beijing municipality, Gansu and Henan provinces during June and July.

CDN said that at Olympic venues however, China has presented a different face, with clergy from the five accepted religious groups providing official religious services to athletes and other visitors.

The Chinese Olympic committee has granted athletes permission to bring personal religious articles into the Olympic village, and permission for well-known evangelist Luis Palau to distribute his evangelistic book, “A Friendly Dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian,” to athletes and coaches during the Games.

In June, CDN reported, Chinese authorities announced they would print 50,000 gospel booklets – including 10,000 Chinese-English complete Bibles – for distribution during the Games.

CDN said that in July, the state newspaper Xinhua published a visitors’ guide to churches in Beijing. The article gave a brief history of the Catholic and Protestant streams of Christianity but made only a brief mention of four Catholic churches in the capital.

Xinhua also noted that “since the Chinese constitution was amended in 1982 to allow freedom of religion,” the number of Christians in China had “surpassed 16 million,” an official figure given by the China Christian Council, an agency representing government-approved Protestant churches.

CDN said that Compass sources, however, estimate there are at least 60 million evangelical Christians in China: 10 million in major house church networks, 35 million in independent rural house churches and 15 million in independent urban house churches.

In addition, there are 15 million Catholics and 15 million members of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement church.

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Beijing Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan’s condition deteriorating in prison

Posted by radiofreechina on August 1, 2008

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — Beijing bookstore owner and House Church leader Mr. Shi Weihan, has been suffering a deterioration in health since his imprisonment four months ago.

Shi Weihan and Family

China Aid Association (CAA) says that poor prison conditions and refusal of diabetes medication have contributed to Shi’s lack of health. Shi has lost more than 10 kg in body weight amidst the constant physical and psychological torture employed by prison officials.

CAA says that recently Shi was coerced to sign and recognize a confession convicting him of “engaging in the printing and distribution of a large number of illegal publications.”

The charges stem from Shi’s printing of Bibles and Christian literature which were sold at his Beijing Christian bookstore, but were deemed “illegal” by Beijing authorities because the books were not printed by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church.

Pastor Bob Fu, president of China Aid, strongly condemned the Public Security Bureau of Beijing, citing the hypocrisy and contradictory nature of the Chinese Government’s pledge of religious freedom amidst the upcoming Olympic Games. He called on the international media to continue paying close attention to this incident, and provide support and help to Mr. Shi Weihan’s family in this time of need.

Fu said “(China as) The host of the Olympic Games, which signify honor and freedom amongst world citizens, has continued to mock the World community by pledging to uphold religious freedom while simultaneously persecuting its own citizens for their personal beliefs.”

To voice your concern over this matter contact:

Municipal Government Departments
Information Office
Bldg 10, Fahuananli, Chongwen
Tel:01186-6715-2383
http://www.Beijing.org.cn

Legislative Office
2 Zhengyi Lu, Dongcheng District
Tel: 01186-6512-2146
http://www.bjfzb.gov.cn

China’s Anti-Corruption hotline — reporting of corrupt Government officials (within China) – 12388

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