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Four House Church Leaders in Sichuan Sentenced to Two Years Re-Education Through Labor; China Aid Association Releases Latest Report on Persecution in Shandong Province

Contact: Bob Fu, China Aid Association, Inc., 267-205-5210, info@ChinaAid.org

 

MEDIA ADVISORY, July 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- China Aid Association learned 4 well-known House Church Leaders in Sichuan were formally sentenced to 2 years “re-education through Labor” July 25, 2006.

 

The PSB of Langzhong City delivered the sentence document to the official village offices where the four pastors reside. However, none of the pastors’ family members have received these papers yet. The four Pastors LI Ming, WANG Yuan, LI Mingbo and JIN Jirong are major leaders of the Chinese House Church Alliance. They were detained June 27 after they went to the local police station to try to free the other 14 Christians who were arrested during a Christian worship service early that morning.

 

CAA also released the latest religious persecution report regarding intensive persecution against house churches in Wendeng City, Shandong Province.

 

According to eyewitness reports, at 9:40 AM, June 11, 2006, Hou Chengxun, the head of the Domestic Security Protection Squad of Wendeng Public Security Bureau in Shandong and the head of the Fifth Squad; Cong Peiqing, the head of Public Security Squad; The Director General and a Department Director, led more than 50 policemen in 10 police wagons to our family church at Bukou Village, Bukou Port Management Committee, Wendeng, and besieged the nearly 60 Christians. They barricaded each door of the house, forbidding them to leave and shouted into the microphone, “Stand still, get in a wagon.” While shouting, they continued taking photos and recording the meeting and Christians, forbidding them to speak. If someone said, “Free belief,” the police would cry out, “Take him/her away!” Two Christians, Liu Yujie and Zhang Shuzheng are more than 60 years old had several strong men drag them into a police wagon with their arms pinned behind their backs.

 

None of the police agents showed their identification to the Christians in compliance with the law, not even a summons paper. Without giving the Christians any chance to legally defend themselves, they took these Christians to Bukou Police Station of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng, ignoring their protests, where each Christian was imprisoned and interrogated in individual rooms. This time, the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng caught 31 Christians, the rest escaped in the chaos.

 

Dr. Li Baiguang, well-known Christian rights lawyer who met with President Bush in the White House in May, went to Wendeng City and filed a legal administrative appeal on behalf of the 3 Christians. The Police have threatened to confiscate the house church where the Christians worship. (Read the full report and legal paper written by Dr. LI Baiguang at www.ChinaAid.org at “Special Report” section).

 

CAA called for the immediate release of these illegally sentenced Christian leaders.

 

Letters of protest and concern can be sent to the the Administrative officials at Wendeng City Shandong province and the Chinese Embassy.

 

Communist Party General Secretary of Wendeng City Mr. Wang Liang and Mayor Mr Gao Jie

Office phone numbers +86-631-8451597; 631-8451597; 631-8452752; 631-8461024; 631-8451520)

 

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008

TEL: 202-7456743                 

Fax:202- 588-0032 ; 202-7457473

Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512

 

Issued by China Aid Association on July 27, 2006

 

This press release is available in Chinese at www.ChinaAid.org

 

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Wendeng, Shandong: Threatens to Confiscate Christian Worship House

by Li Baiguang

 

I. “If you gather to preach illegally, we will confiscate your house!”

 

One Sunday morning before Easter 2006, six officials from the Religion Department of Wendeng, Shandong Province came to the worship room of a family church in Bukou Village, Bokou Port Management Committee, where many Christians were in attendance. A Director General and a Department Director of the Religion Department of Wendeng interrupted our meeting, and asked Tian Yinghua, the preacher of the family church, to go to a back room. At the same time, without permission, the officials opened the donation box and checked the amount of money in it. To their disappointment they only found RMB20.00! Thus, they left the money in the box and went away.

 

At the same time, the Director General and the Department Director of the Religion Department of Wendeng started to interrogate Tian Yinghua:

 

Official: You Christians should not lie.

 

Tian: God said, “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No, anything more than this comes from the evil one.” I have answered your question, we Christians do not lie.

 

Official: The Religion Department has been here several times, you know?

 

Tian: I know.

 

Official: This is an illegal meeting, an illegal breach.

 

Tian: We have not broken any laws, Article 36 of the Constitution of the PRC states that “citizens enjoy the right to believe in any religion.”

 

Official: We regulate attendance and there cannot be more than 30 people present, and they are limited to relatives, did you know that?

 

Tian: Document No. 145 on religion states that “relatives and friends can join family religious meetings.”

 

Official: No, family meetings are limited to 30 people, if there are more, you have to register.

 

Tian: Document No. 145 on religion states that “family meetings do not need to register,” if necessary, please register for us now.

 

Official: No way, go to the “Three-Self” to register.

Tian: Your words contradict yourself. You said that citizens enjoyed the freedom to believe in any religion, when in fact we have no freedom.

Official: What do you think of ‘Three-Self” church?

Tian: The preachers of “Three-Self” are jealous, they argue and are cliquish. Wang Xinfeng and Zhang Jianjun fought for power. I don’t think they are the son of God, so I left.

Official: If you gather illegally, we will confiscate the house where you meet.

Then the Director General rigorously said, “Was your house was built with your own money or other’s money? You’d better have proof, otherwise we will confiscate it.”

Tian Yinghua sternly answered, “If you quote policy, I will listen. But you have come to bully us. I withdrew money from the bank to build this house, the bank did not give me a note, and how can I prove it? You said if I had no money to build a house, you would take it away, what is your proof? Does the law regulate in this way?”

 

The Director General and Department Director couldn’t answer and hurried away. Before they left, they required Tian Yinghua to sign a note stating that they were holding an Illegal get-together and illegal preaching. Tian Yinghua refused to do so. After they left, Sunday Worship Service continued.

 

II. “If you don’t stop worshipping, we will send you to reeducation through labor.”

 

At 9:40 AM, Jun 11, 2006, Hou Chengxun, the head of the Domestic Security Protection Squad of Wendeng Public Security Bureau in Shandong and the head of the Fifth Squad; Cong Peiqing, the head of Public Security Squad; The Director General and a Department Director (the two officers who once came here before Easter), led more than 50 policemen in 10 police wagons to our family church at Bukou Village, Bukou Port Management Committee, Wendeng, and besieged the nearly 60 Christians. They barricaded each door of the house, forbidding them to leave and shouted into the microphone, “Stand still, get in a wagon.” While shouting, they continued taking photos and recording the meeting and Christians, forbidding them to speak. If someone said, “Free belief,” the police would cry out, “Take him/her away!” Two believers, Liu Yujie and Zhang Shuzheng are over 60 years old; several strong men dragged them into a police wagon with their arms pinned backward, just like criticizing the four categories of people during the Culture Revolution.

 

To our surprise, as agents of national organs, none of them showed their identifications to the Christians in compliance with the law, not even a summons paper. Without giving them any chance to legally defend themselves, they took these Christians to Bukou Police Station of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng, ignoring their protests, where each Christian was imprisoned and interrogated in individual rooms. This time, the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng caught 31 Christians, the rest escaped in the chaos.

 

June 29, 2006, I met Tian Yinghua, Wang Qiu, and Jiang Rong who were just released from prison at the chapel of Bukou family church.

 

Tian Yinghua recalled it was Hou Chengxun, the head of Domestic Security Protection Squad, the head of the Fifth Squad, and Cong Peiqing, the head of Public Security Squad of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng who interrogated her. They clearly threatened Tian Yinghua, the preacher, “If you still preach at the next meeting, we will sentence you to prison, send you to Qingdao Reform School and reeducate you for three years.” Following is dialogue between Tian Yinghua and the Police:

 

Police: When did you begin to believe in God?

Tian: 14 years ago (1992).

Police: Can you cure any disease?

Tian: I cannot. I prayed to Jesus to cure me. Before I suffered terminal breast cancer, it was Jesus who cured my disease.”

Police: You called up all the people?

 

Tian: No. We welcome everyone, you also can come, when everybody believes in Jesus society will be stable, nobody will steal, rob or do evil.

 

Police: What about the house in which you gather?

 

Tian: It is Sister Wang Qiu’s house. She borrowed money from me to send her son abroad, and allowed me to live in her house. She will repay me after her son comes back, if she cannot afford the money he will give me her house.

 

Police: You gather and preach illegally. If you continue, we will sentence you to three years imprisonment.

 

Tian: Citizens enjoy the right to believe in any religion, I have not breached any law.

 

Following is the dialogue between Zhang Shuzheng, a 72-year-old Christian and the

 

Police: Why do you believe in God?

 

Zhang: I am a stomach cancer patient and once went through an operation to remove my left kidney.

 

The Police interrupted him: When did you start?

 

Zhang: 1993.

 

Police: How did you begin? Who told you to believe?

 

Zhang: A sister told me to believe. At that time I did not believe what she said, but just wanted to try. After I joined the church, I recovered gradually, and never took any medicine. So I cannot live without Jesus now.

 

Police: How much have you given to the church.

 

Zhang: We live in the countryside, different from cities; we are supported by our children and have no money.

 

Police: Why don’t you go to “Three-Self?”

 

Zhang: We cannot go there, it is managed by the Government, and there is disagreement and cliques. We shall follow the instruction in Holy Bible, so we cannot go there.

 

Following is the dialogue between Shi Shushuang (female, 74-years-old, became a believer in June 2005) and the Police:

 

Police: Auntie, how did you believe in Jesus?

 

Shi: I believe in God because God is kind. I knew about it from the age of 8 years. At that time, a British missionary worked here. Last year someone told me to come here, I feel I am late.

 

Police: Where did you buy the Bible?

 

Shi: I bought it from Nanjing, you can buy them there, there are many.

 

Police: Auntie, how much have you given the church?

 

Shi: I do not have any income, completely depending on my children, how can I have money?

 

At the moment, Shi Shushuang questioned the Police, “What law did I violate by believing in God? You treat us this way, not letting me to go to the restroom, if you broke the law, would you be treated like this?

 

Police: Auntie, you can not talk this way for you are a Christian.

 

Shi: I will talk to you this way, but I will not talk this way in front of Jesus.

 

Police: Auntie, you should believe in God in your heart.

 

Shi: I believe in my heart - not my mouth. I am illiterate and when I come across something I don’t understand in the Bible I certainly ask a brother or sister.

Following is the dialogue between Christian—Cui Yingshun (female, 41-years-old, Korean National, original place is Jilin) and the Police:

 

Police: How long have you believed in God?

 

Cui: More than 10 years.

 

Police: How long have you been in Shandong?

 

Cui: About 10 years.

Police: Did you believe when you were in the northeast? How did you get to know the church after you came here? Who led you to the church?

 

Cui: I went there by myself, nobody told me.

 

Police: What did you do in the church?

 

Cui: We sang hymns, read scriptures, and prayed.

 

Police: Who is the head?

 

Cui: We don’t have a head, everybody is equal.

 

Police: Your church believes in God, is it because you can cure disease there?

 

Cui: As for me, it can, other’s belief, I don’t quite understand.

 

Police: Can you not to go to church?

 

Cui: No, I feel bad if I don’t go there.

 

Police: When do you usually meet?

 

Cui: On Wednesday and Sunday in the northeast and here on Sunday.

 

Police: You cannot gather anymore.

 

Cui: It is impossible, even if you send me to prison, I will go to service.

 

Police: What is Sister Tian’s name?

 

Cui: I don’t know.

 

Police: You are so stubborn, I will not talk to you anymore, later those from the Religion Department will talk with you.

 

Just as Cui Yingshun wanted to say something, the Police stopped her, “Go, go!” and pushed her out the door. After the Police interrogated the 31 Christians, required them to sign and fingerprint the record, they took them into a room. Then the Director General and Department Director of Religion Department of Wendeng appeared. Each of them took a black-covered booklet, on which were printed and hand-written words.

 

Then the Department Director began to teach us. His words were full of “sympathy.” “You live hard lives, finding it difficult to buy matches and salt, but the money you donate to the church is unsecured. Never let some ill-motivated person fool you. If you give money to Three-Self church, we will secure it.” Then the Department Director recited religious policy according to the booklet, “Citizens enjoy the right to believe in any religion, but do not enjoy the right to choose the place. In the event of any further illegal meetings, we will publicly sell the house used for the meeting.”

 

Having finished his lesson, he told us to return home. Tian Yinghua went to Director General of the Religion Department and to reason with him. Tin Yinghua said, “I want to say something to clarify the truth. Why do leaders of the Religion Department and the Public Security Bureau talk differently? Last time, the Religion Department said a 30-person meeting was permitted, but this time the Public Security Bureau said even one person couldn’t meet, they could only believe in God at home, who is telling the truth?

The head of Public Security Squad fiercely told Tian, “Don’t gab here, go back home.”

 

Sister Wang Qiu said, “You brought us here by police wagon, you should send the older sisters and brothers back.”

 

Tian said, “You should resume our reputation.”

 

Hou Chengxun, the head of Domestic Security Protection Squad of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng, said, “Ok, send them back.”

 

The head of the Fifth Squad said, “Ok, come on, I will send you back one by one.” The policemen agreed to take the ones who get in their police wagon. In the courtyard of Bukou Police Station, the Policemen began to drag people into their wagon. Several policemen grabbed female Christian, Wang Qiu’s arms and dragged her into the wagon in handcuffs where they used electric batons and Wang Qiu’s mouth bled, and blood blisters appeared on her arms. Sister Jiang Rong, a Christian, challenged the policemen by asking them why they beat others, the policeman took her into the wagon without a word, and send them to prison. Then, six policemen forced Tian Yinghua, the preacher, into a police wagon. Tian Yinghua’s older sister, Tian Aihua, and her younger brother, Tian Hongxu, are not Christians but witnessed the scene.

 

Afterwards Tian Yinghua recalled that her sister and brother had gone to the Bukou Police Station for answers and saw Tian Yinghua caught by the police. Then Tian Yinghua saw her brother being pressed to the ground by four or five policemen twisting his arms. When Tian’s sister walked forward the police grabbed her arms and she cried, “Today is my mother’s 80th birthday? Does your mother celebrate her birthday? Does your mother like to celebrate her birthday in this way? My sister is a kind woman, she believes in God, I know she does not do evil, this is her belief, and she has to cure herself.” Tian Yinghua said that her heart was broken at the sight of this scene. But her mind was calm, continuing to pray, she knew it was God who was comforting her. After her prayer she told her mother, sister, and brother not to be sad.

 

That day the Police sentenced Tian Yinghua, Wang Qiu and Jiang Rong to 10-days detention for “illegally meeting and preaching.”

 

III. Policemen in Wendeng Prison: “You are not a Christian, you are a cult follower.”

 

Tian Yinghua told me on the way to the prison, that the head of the Public Security Squad of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng said to her, “Listen, Tian Yinghua, don’t you understand? We want to send you back home to celebrate your mother’s 80th birthday and arrest you tomorrow. You can even take the police wagon and keep your reputation. Then we have to send you into prison today, to see whether you still want to take our wagon, and keep your reputation. ” Having arrived at the prison, policewoman Liu asked why she was detained. Tian answered, “Because I believe in God.”

 

The policewomen said, “You talk nonsense, policeman never arrest Christians, you must have disturbed the social order under the guise of Christianity, this is a cult, a Falun Gong Cult, Christians should go to the “Three-Self” church to worship.” Then other policemen followed and said that Tian Yinghua, Wang Qiu and Jiang Rong did not believe in God, but in a cult.

 

After detention, Tian Yinghua’s second older brother went to pick up Tian Yinghua at the prison. He asked the head of the Fifth Squad of the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng why they always arrested Christian believers who are mainly old people and women. The head of the Fifth Squad said that Wendeng Religion Department went to the family church in Bukou several times, there were dozens of people the first time, about forty or fifty the second time, there were more than 60 people the third time. At that time I had told Tian Yinghua it was an illegal gathering and told them to stop, if not we would confiscate their house and property. These Christians would not listen and continued to meet. We werre afraid it was cultic activity under the guise of Christianity, intending to overthrow the Government as Sanban Puren and Dongfang Shandian, so we forbad their gathering.

 

The day when Tian Yinghua left the prison, the head of the Fifth Squad warned Tian again, “In the event that another meeting was raided, it would not be detention. Next time it will be Weihai Police who arrests you, and they will send you into Qingdao Reform School.” Tian Yinghua, confused after hearing his threats, said, “I know our country respects law and human rights, but now I have lost the freedom to meet other Christians. I have not broken any national law, only because I believe in God.

 

Then what will be the result when caught next time? Will Tian Yinghua really be sent to Qingdao Reform School like the head of the Fifth Squad said?

 

June 30, 2006, I, as the agent of Tian Yinghua, Wang Qiu and Jiang Rong, proposed administrative reconsideration to Wendeng Municipal Government on the administrative punishment by the Public Security Bureau of Wendeng. I believe a legal battle to defend freedom of belief will follow. The process may be long, but no matter whether it is a success or a failure, it will be learning experience for legal executors.

 

(Beijing, July 11, 2006

 

Issued by China Aid Association on July 27, 2006

Copyrights reserved © China Aid 2006