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Christianity Daily: Christians Persecuted in China, Says Human Rights Watch Report

Friday, February 26, 2016

Christianity Daily
Feb 25, 2016 01:31 pm EST

■ Instances of arbitrary detainments of Christians and campaigns against churches and crosses in China continues to be reported in international media.

A 2016 report of abuses documented around the globe, mostly carried out by governmental machinery, was recently released by Human Rights Watch.

The report pointed out that in the reign of President Xi Jinping, churches have come under increased scrutiny, while thousands of crosses were demolished and many churches were razed to the ground. The government said that the church buildings were taken down because they violated construction laws. However, Christian groups say that the aim of the state was to suppress the freedom of religion.

"Individuals and groups who have fought hard in the past decade for human rights gains were the clearest casualties of an aggressive campaign against peaceful dissent, their treatment starkly contrasting with President Xi's vow to promote 'rule of law.' Between July and September, about 280 human rights lawyers and activists were briefly detained and interrogated across the country," the report said.

Human rights activists argue that the crackdown on Christians
and churches has become more severe.
(Photo : egorgrebnev/Flickr/CC)
"In addition to the nationwide round-up of about 280 lawyers and activists in 2015, human rights lawyers were increasingly subject to physical assault, including by court officials. In August, lawyer Zhang Kai was detained for providing legal advice to Christians in Zhejiang Province who had resisted the authorities' forced removal of crosses on church buildings. Other lawyers, including Pu Zhiqiang and Tang Jingling, detained in separate cases since May 2014, remain in custody pending trial or verdict," it continued.

The Chinese government denied the allegations made in Human Rights Watch report that the state is acting against the minorities.

"The criticizing of the freedom of religious belief in China by Human Rights Watch is a product of subjective bias and prejudice, and has no foundation in reality. The cases it quoted in its report are only some common criminal cases processed by China's judicial authority, which are not related to religious belief," an official statement from the government said.

The government asserted that those apprehended were "cases of superstition and fraud. Some so-called religious leaders in the report are actually violators of public order, swindlers or rapists, hiding behind the disguise of religion. The trials of these people have been transparent and strictly abide by Chinese laws."

Recently, the leader of China's largest megachurch Pastor Gu Yuese from Hangzhou was arrested. He was at the forefront of protesting the removal of crosses in Zhejiang province since 2014. Charges of embezzlement of funds was brought against him, which Bob Fu of China Aid said was a "political revenge."

Fu had said in a statement, "His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses. He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution."

Some 40 Christians from Hong Kong also published an open letter saying that Gu's arrest was related to his protests against government crackdown on churches in the area.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985

"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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