Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Vice-Grip on Linfen Church Tightens: Beijing Lawyer and Pastor Barred from Entering Shanxi

October 20, 2009

SHANXI--Returning home from his forced vacation in the mountainous regions of Henan, Pastor Bike learned of the recent arrests of Pastor Wang Xiaoguang and Sister Yang Rongli. Moved by these unjust actions against Linfen Church, Pastor Bike and his wife, Xie Feng-Lan, left their home on October 12th to visit the leaders in detention. As they crossed the Shanxi border into Linfen City at 4:30 the morning of October 13th, twelve public security officers seized them, searching their persons for contraband, and roughly escorted them to immediate detention in a nearby hotel. The officers had been alerted to his movements by the police network, and had apparently been up all night "waiting for him."

At the hotel, they separated Pastor Bike from his wife, assigning four male guards to watch him, and more male guards to monitor his wife. After three hours, the guards shoved a sack over his head, and led him to the Linfen City "drug rehabilitation center"--which he later learned, according to a handwritten sign beside the building title, doubles as the local detention center.

Inside the cell, the officers wasted no time in shoving him to the ground and interrogating him: "Why are you here?!" Pastor Bike expressed his desire to visit his brothers and sisters in Linfen City. The Chief of the Linfen PSB personally questioned him "Why were you traveling here? You are not welcome! You are forbidden from entering Linfen City!" For 30 hours, the Chief and his four male guards alternately interrogated him, shouted at him, and played cards loudly, while Pastor Bike prayed and fasted. In another room, Xie Feng-Lan was detained and questioned separately, forced to sleep in a crowded room with two female guards and three male guards.

On October 14th, the Linfen City Public Security Bureau phoned the Nanyang Public Security Bureau in Henan at 9:00 AM to come remove Pastor Bike from their province. Back in the room, they demanded he write a self-incriminating statement, disclosing why he and his wife subversively traveled to Linfen. Refusing to comply, Pastor Bike and his wife were shipped home to Henan at 5:20 PM on October 15, banned from returning to Shanxi for the foreseeable future.

The eyes and arms of Beijing stretch far beyond its provincial borders, and the incident with Linfen-Fushan Church has escalated to a reveal a systemic persecution of the faithful throughout China.
Not only restricting physical movement, the Chinese government has taken further precautions and tightened their grip on Linfen Church on the legal side of the case.

Only days before the 60th Anniversary of CPC-rule celebration, prominent Christian human rights attorney Li Baiguang was warned not to defend Linfen Church in court. The Beijing Bureau of Justice informed Attorney Li that the church had been classified as "anti-government," and was therefore considered a threat to the State. Any movement toward supporting Linfen Church would be considered an act of collaboration against the social order.

ChinaAid's legal defenders in Beijing voiced genuine concern and fear for the safety of any lawyers who might dare to approach the case. It has become a high profile and dangerous situation on all fronts. To date, Linfen Christian Church members have not been allowed access to legal counsel, and there is evidence to suggest all attempts to defend the "anti-government' organization in court will be barred.

The gross abuses against religious freedom cannot be tolerated. ChinaAid calls for the immediate release of Pastor Yang Rongli and the other church leaders, and for the right to legal counsel to defend themselves in a court of law.

To contact the local authorities, call the following agencies;

Secretary of Linfen City, Shanxi Province: +0-357-202-6513 (phone)

Secretary of Linfen Committee Office: +0-357-209-0427 (phone)

Mayor of Linfen City: +0-357-209-1044

Linfen Bureau of Public Security: +0-357-218-8317

Linfen Office of Petition: +0-357-209-1341

Secretary of Fushan Town: +0-357-812-6099

Director of Fushan Town: +0-357-813-6099

Fushan Bureau of Pubic Security: +0-357-812-6199

For English-speakers, contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington:

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 495-2000
Fax: (202) 588-9760

NOTE: If you are a citizen of another country, please click here to find the contact information of the Chinese embassy in your own nation http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/2490/.

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