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RFA exclusive report: Gangtou House Church in Shenzhen forced by authorities to vacate recently rented facility (photo, video)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Radio Free Asia Mandarin September 4, 2012

Only 20 days after a house church with several dozen believers in Longgang District, Shenzhen, settled into a new venue for gatherings, the landlord demanded that the leasing contract be terminated.  The landlord of the facility being used by the church told the reporter of this station that he came under the pressure of the authorities and that he had no alternative but to comply.  This comes on the heels of many house churches in Dongguan, Guangdong province, being shut down by the government.

Photo: Believers of Gangtou House Church of Shenzhen at a gathering (provided by the church)

Video: Believers of Gangtou House Church of Shenzhen at a gathering (provided by the church)

Shortly after three house churches in Dongguan, Guangdong province, were sealed off and ordered to shut down by the authorities, Zhongfu Gangtou Church, Longgang District of Shenzhen, was targeted for suppression by the authorities.  Du Yaping, a missionary from Zhongfu Putian Church, Gaobu Town of Dongguan, told this station on Tuesday: “When I was chatting with a brother last night in Shenzhen, his place came under close watch by the neighborhood committee.  The neighborhood committee put pressure on the landlord.  He has been there for only 20 days and they have signed a 2-year contract.  Now, they want him to move out.  He belongs to our system (Zhongfu), but he is in Shenzhen.”

Authorities continue persecution of house church to newly leased gathering site.
The reporter contacted Zhao Jianjun, a missionary of Zhongfu Gangtou Church in Bantian Neighborhood in Longgang District of Shenzhen.  He stated: “(Not long ago), we had a gathering in Huawei Base in Bantian, Shenzhen.  Then, the neighborhood office and the community station put pressure on the landlord and told us to move out.  Then, we moved to Bantian Neighborhood.  Only two weeks after we moved here, the neighborhood office and the working station again found the new landlord and put pressure on him, saying he can’t rent the house to us.”

He said he negotiated with the neighborhood office on Monday and the people there were vicious in their tone.  They discriminate against Christians: “Yesterday, we went to the neighborhood office and negotiated with them.  The director in charge of the stability maintenance went rampant in the talk.  He said ‘Are there any Christians left in Shenzhen?’  I said: ‘We are Christians.  Why can’t there be Christians?’  Obviously, he discriminated against us Christians.  I was very angry, so I got into an altercation with him.”

The reporter called the Stability Maintenance Office of Bantian Neighborhood Office, but no one answered the call.

According to Zhao Jianjun, the landlord told him that he came under pressure from the officials: “The landlord told us the neighborhood office, the working station, and several departments of our superiors sent notices to order him to make us move out.  If we don’t move out, they will seal off his place.”

Reporter: How long a contract did you sign with them?

Answer: We signed a 2-year contract.  He said if the government pushes them like this, he has to commit the breach of contract unilaterally.  I said to him that he doesn’t have to be afraid of them and that if something happens, we can face them together.  Moreover, we haven’t violated the law and they don’t have the right to punish you.

Landlord acknowledges being pressured to evict house church.

‘The reporter contacted Mr. Chen the landlord.  He acknowledged coming under pressure from the neighborhood committee: {Mark, even though this part is a direct quote, I recommend making a couple minor edits to aid comprehensibility:} “People from the neighborhood committee, the village, and the head of the village came to me and told me not to rent the place to you (the church).  I found they were very unreasonable to make this demand.  However, when they demand eviction, there is nothing we can do but comply.  When one wants to live here, he has to register before he can do so.  We live here and there’s nothing else we can do.  You don’t know how much pressure I feel.”’

Recently, at least three house churches in Dongguan have been sealed off and ordered shut down because they had not registered with the authorities.  Therefore, their gatherings were declared illegal.  The believers told the reporter that the officials wanted them to join the government-sanctioned “TSPM churches” but they refused to do join the communist front-church.  Last week, five representatives on behalf of the believers in their respective gathering sites went to negotiate with Dongguan government.  One of them, Du Yaping, mailed an application for administrative reconsideration to the municipal government, insisting that they repeal the penalty decision made by the Bureau of Religion.  The authorities are supposed to give an answer whether they accept the application or not within five days.  Tuesday is the fifth day.  Du Yaping told this radio station: “Today is the fifth day.  At 12 o’clock, I came back from there (the municipal government).  The employees in the Section for Administrative Reconsideration said they have read our application for administrative reconsideration.  Besides this, they told me to return with photocopies of my ID card and a written statement detailing how the incident happened.  They said they will then give me an answer in another five business days.”

This radio station previously reported that the gathering site for a house church in Gaobu Town was sealed off by the authorities in late August on the charge of “illegal gathering.”  Moreover, the authorities shut off the water supply and the electricity.  The officials said they will do this unless they join the government-sanctioned TSPM church.  In the meantime, Zhongfu Wanmin Church in Tangxia Town was forced to move out by the landlord for the same reasons and circumstances as above.  Later, it was reported that a house church in Huangjia Town was also sealed off and shut down.

The above is an interview report by Qiao Long, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.
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