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China Sentences House Church Leaders To Labor Camp

Friday, July 28, 2006 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Four key leaders of China’s house church movement have been sentenced to two years "re-education through labor" in the central-western province of Sichuan, fellow believers confirmed Thursday, July 27.

The four pastors, Li Ming, Wang Yuan, Li Mingbo and Jin Jirong are major leaders of the Chinese House Church Alliance, a platform of house church congregations, said Christian Aid Association (CAA) which has close contacts with relatives of the sentenced Christians.

CAA said the pastors were sentenced to the labor camp July 25 for trying to win the release of 14 house church members who were arrested during a Christian worship service. The pastors went to the local police station June 27 where they were soon detained themselves after demanding the release of the other Christians, BosNewsLife learned.

CAA said elsewhere in China, in Shandong province, persecution of house church Christians also increased since last month. The group quoted eyewitnesses as saying that Chinese security officials on June 11 led "more than 50 policemen in 10 police cars to our family church at Bukou Village" in the Wendeng region "and besieged" the nearly 60 Christians.

BARRICADED DOORS

Police allegedly barricaded each door of the house, forbidding believers to leave the house while shouting through a microphone, "Stand still, get in a car," CAA quoted the witnesses as saying.

Christians were not allowed to speak with each other and some were detained including two Christians in their 60s, identified as Liu Yujie and Zhang Shuzheng, CAA told BosNewsLife. “Several strong men dragged them into a police wagon with their arms pinned behind their backs,” the group claimed.

In total 31 Christians were brought to the Bukou Police Station of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng, "ignoring their protests, where each Christian was imprisoned and interrogated in individual rooms," CAA investigators claimed.

PRESIDENT BUSH

Li Baiguang, a well-known Christian rights lawyer who met President George W. Bush in the White House in May, reportedly went to Wendeng City and filed a legal administrative appeal on behalf of the jailed Christians. It was not immediately clear how many Christians were still in detention Thursday, July 27.

US-based CAA, which has investigators in China, has called for "the immediate release of these illegally sentenced Christian leaders." The Chinese government has strongly denied reports of religious persecution, saying Christians are free to worship in the official government-backed churches.

However human rights groups have repeatedly said that most of China’s estimated 80 million Christians prefer to worship outside the denominations supported by the Communist authorities. Most of them gather in the rapidly expanding house churches, despite reports of increased attacks against them. Rights groups have linked the alleged persecution to fear among Chinese Communists to lose control over what they regard as Western style free churches and "dangerous sects." (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from China).

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » China » China Sentences House Church Leaders To Labor Camp