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Shouwang Church Leaders Under House Arrest, More than 100 Christians Detained by Police



Saturday, April 9, 2011

China Aid Association
(Beijing – April 10, 2011) Beijing police responded in force Sunday to plans by one of the capital’s largest house churches to meet outdoors, placing two dozen Shouwang Church clergy and lay leaders under informal house arrest and detaining more than 100 Christians who showed up as planned at the open-air meeting site, according to ChinaAid sources.
Police turned out in force and completely sealed off the meeting site in western Beijing’s Haidian district and were waiting with many police vehicles when some of Shouwang Church’s more than 1,000 members arrived. Authorities shut down cell phone service in the area in an apparent effort to prevent news from getting out. Witnesses reported seeing police buses taking away more than 100 church members.
Others, however, initially regrouped as planned in smaller numbers at nearby locations and proceeded to hold their regular Sunday worship using worship order sheets that had previously been distributed. Police dispersed at least one group that was meeting at a nearby restaurant. A tweet from one Christian described the police as behaving “like wolves and tigers” in scattering the believers and detaining one or two members of this group.

Some of the detainees were taken to a nearby elementary school where authorities took down their names and other details. Meanwhile, despite being in police custody, the Christians sang hymns and continued their worship activities.
Some lay leaders were called in to their local police stations beginning Saturday evening. Some spent the night in detention, while others were released and allowed to return home but were not permitted to leave their homes on Sunday morning.
Shouwang Church had notified its church members to meet at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning at an outdoor third-floor public platform linking two buildings in Haidian’s Zhongguancun area, near Beijing’s university district. The buildings are the SinoSteel Building and the South China Poetic Restaurant building.
Afternoon services were planned for 2 p.m., and Shouwang church members were taking a wait-and-see attitude with regard to those plans. Below are Shouwang Church’s announcement and photos about the meeting time and place.
"By using force today in the capital of China to prevent Shouwang Church members from following their conscience in continuing their weekly practice of Sunday worship  in full knowledge of the risk they faced, the Beijing authorities have again demonstrated their total disregard of their citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to religious freedom," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu. “We deplore the Beijing authority's use of force against peaceful Christian worshippers and appeal to the international community to exert maximum pressure on the Chinese government to fulfill its international obligations to respect its citizens basic rights and freedom."
Shouwang Church made the controversial decision to meet outdoors after being evicted from its latest indoor meeting place, leased premises in a restaurant. The church in November 2009 had met outdoors once before, in the midst of an early winter snowstorm, when it was unable to take possession of a building it had purchased because the seller, under pressure from the government, refused to hand over the keys.
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China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org