Sichuan house church seeks help filing lawsuit against government after 36 Christians receive administrative detention

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

China Aid Association

By Rachel Ritchie

(Liangshan, Sichuan—Dec. 23, 2014) A group of Christians in China’s southwestern Sichuan province is seeking help to file an administrative lawsuit against the local government after 36 Christians were administratively detained in late September and had their social security payments revoked for “engaging in illegal religious activities.”

On Sept. 28, 2014, officers from the Leibo County Public Security Bureau in Liangshan, the local police station, and the Liebo County Religious Affairs Bureau raided the house church's gathering sites and detained 36 people.

“Every one of them received a copy of the decision statement for the administrative penalty,” church member Zhang Shucai said. “There are two gathering sites. One site had 13 people, and the other site had 23 people. The police said the worshippers have violated the law and the Bibles and hymnals used are illegal books. The police also said the gathering itself was illegal.”

The decision statement sent to the Christians stated that they had “engaged in illegal religious activities that were banned on September 19, 2014, by the Leibo County Religious Affairs Bureau. They engaged in these activities by studying, praying and singing songs.”

The decision statement also said that the worshippers could file for administrative reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the notice, which expired on Nov. 27, or they could file an administrative lawsuit within three months of receipt.

Zhang said that the Christians want to submit a lawsuit but don’t know how to write an indictment or what procedures to go through.

In addition to the administrative detention, the local government also revoked the groups’ minimum social security payment of 1,500 Yuan (U.S. $241), which villagers can collect twice a year.

Zhang said the worshippers reside in Lijiawan village and Hongyanzi village in Qingkou, Liebo County. “This is a very poor area, and the minimum social security payment of every brother and sister taken into custody has been canceled. I can’t imagine why they canceled it… In the past few years, we have depended on the state for our food and electric bills. Now, elderly people basically don’t have a source of livelihood.”

A China Aid reporter contacted the Qingkou township government to inquire about the canceled social security payments.

“The township government and the village’s Party committee had warned [the Christians] that they would cancel their minimum social security payment if they engaged in cultist activities again” said the government employee who answered China Aid’s call.

The employee told China Aid that the group is a “crooked branch of Christianity” despite the group self-identifying as orthodox Christians.

“Their church is crooked; it is not a regular church. They are not orthodox Christians. That’s why the township government and the county government took exclusive action against [the church] and concentrated their attack on them,” the man said.

When asked when the worshippers’ payments would be reinstated since they are no longer engaging in religious activities, the Qingkou government employee said that the Christians would not be allowed to collect this year’s payments but that payments would begin again in 2015 so long as the Christians don’t resume their worship services.

Zhang told China Aid that the officers who raided the gatherings and the authorities who previously warned the church to cease gathering mentioned nothing of suspected cult activities. The believers were just told that the gatherings were illegal.

Zhang also said that a Bible, one of few written in the Hmong language, was confiscated during September’s raid. The Bible had been passed down through six generations in the area over the past 120 years.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
Tel: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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