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American Journalist with Translator Detained in Henan; Chinese Central Government Further Restricts Religious Freedom by Banning Chinese House Church Alliance

Contact: Katherine Cason, 267-210-8278, Katherine@ChinaAid.org; Washington, D.C. contact: Jenny McCloy, 202-213-0506, Jenny@ChinaAid.org; www.ChinaAid.org www.MonitorChina.org

 

NANYANG, HENAN, Nov. 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- China Aid Association has learned that at 7 a.m. on November 28, 2008, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, head of the Chinese House Church Alliance, was forcibly taken by four plain-clothed officers from Henan Public Security Department and City of Nanyang to the building where Nanyang Municipal Union Hotel is located.  Over 20 government officials who claimed they were from Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Henan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs, Department of Public Security Bureau and State Administration for Religious Affairs forcibly announced to him the decision statement to abolish the Chinese House Church Alliance coded Min Qu Zi (2008) No. 1 and signed on November 28 by Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China (please see the scanned document).

 

Photo: Decision statement of abolishment the Chinese House Church Alliance announced on November 28 by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

 

The decision statement claims: It has been found out through investigations that the "Chinese House Church Alliance" is not registered and it engages in its activities in the name of a social organization without authorization.  Pursuant to Article 35 of the "Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations," this agency has hereby made the decision to abolish the "Chinese House Church Alliance." ---Public Seal of Ministry of Civil Affairs.  November 28, 2008.   After that, the government officials wanted Pastor Zhang to sign the document, but Zhang refused. Zhang's cell phone, camera and camcorder were taken by force and were confiscated.  During the interrogation, Zhang's wife was also taken by force from her home to that hotel.  It was until 5 o'clock in the afternoon that Pastor Zhang's wife was released.  The whole process was videotaped by people specially assigned for the task.

 

In the meantime, at 10 a.m., the 17 Christians who were holding a prayer meeting in the residence of Pastor Zhang, Peter Ford, reporter of Beijing Bureau of the Christian Science Monitor of the US (phone number: +86-10-6532-3127) and his Chinese translator, were all taken away and detained by the officers from the Bureau of State Security.  Peter Ford and his translator were escorted to the plane in the afternoon flying from Nanyang to Beijing.

 

The 17 Christians who were holding a prayer meeting in the residence of Pastor Zhang were taken to the local police station and were illegally detained and intimidated. They were released at 1 p.m.  Each of them was forcibly photographed and they were made to sign documents.  Over 600 Bibles, computers, VCD players, Shengshan magazines and many cell phones were confiscated. CAA believes that announcing a decision of abolishment of the Chinese House Church Alliance in the name of the Ministry of Civil Affairs is a new tactic of the Chinese government in suppressing and encroaching upon the freedom of religion. What is thought provoking is that according to its own study, the Ministry of Civil Affairs believes the number of unregistered non-governmental organizations is 10 times that of the registered organizations.  When the Ministry of Civil Affairs abolished the house church with the decision statement coded Min Qu Zi (2008) No. 1, it is obvious that it has got pressures from higher authorities. 

 

According to the statistics by the Ministry of Civil Affairs itself, among the volunteers and organizations who went to disaster areas in Sichuan for relief efforts, 63% of them were Christians who spontaneously organized themselves, including the relief personnel organized by the Chinese House Church Alliance. Dr. Fan Yafeng, a prominent constitutional law scholar from China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, believes that the Chinese House Church Alliance is legal and constitutional on two aspects and should not be regarded as an illegal organization.  First of all, it is in conformity with the law of the Bible and God and the natural law in people's hearts; second, it is in conformity with Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution which states: "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."

 

The essence of the so-called "Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations" is actually to limit the basic rights of citizens with administrative regulations, which violates the principles in the constitutional jurisprudence that the basic rights of citizens can't be restricted unless the Constitution or the law dictates it. CAA calls on churches all over the world and people with conscience to make inquiries to the relevant agencies in China on the suppression of the Chinese House Church Alliance.  The phone numbers and addresses of the agencies for your inquiries are:

 

The Ministry of Civil Affairs.  Chen Chuanshu, Director of General Office.  Yu Jianliang, Deputy Director of General Office.  Tel: 010- 58123032

 

Address of the Ministry of Civil Affairs: 147, Beiheyan Blvd., Dongcheng District, Beijing.  Postal code: 100721.Telephone exchange: (010) 58123114  State Administration for Religious Affairs.  Guo Wei.  Director of Foreign Affairs Department.  Tel: 010-64095157 Ministry of Justice.  Wang Lixian.  Director of General Office.  Tel: 010-65206706

 

Henan Province.  Lu Wuwei.  General Secretary of Provincial People's Government. To request permission to reproduce ChinaAid photos and/or information, please contact Katherine@ChinaAid.org.