Local Authorities Occupy, Demolish Government Three-Self Churches in Shandong, Jiangsu Provinces

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

China Aid Association
(Shen County, Shandong—March 20, 2012) Government-approved Three-Self churches in two coastal Chinese provinces have had their church property occupied or demolished by local authorities, who also detained or beaten church members, demonstrating once again that even official churches are not safe from government persecution.

In Shandong province, the Three-Self church in the town of Gucheng, in Shen county, was forcibly occupied by government officials, with the support of the government. The church repeatedly called for the return of its property, but the government dragged its feet in responding. Left with no other choice, the church members organized delegations to go to Beijing three times to seek redress by petitioning higher government departments. The first delegation consisted of seven people, the second delegation six people and the third delegation 15 people. Each time, the delegations were met by police officers, who took them into detention and held them in Shen county’s “black” jails in Beijing.

On March 13, the Shen county public security bureau transferred the 15-member church delegation back to the Shen county detention center and ordered six of them to be administratively detained. Four of them who had been to Beijing three times to petition higher government offices and seek redress were sentenced to seven days administrative detention. They included church member Huang Guihua and Yang Aicun. Two others, including sister Liu Fenghua, had been to Beijing twice and were sentenced to five days. To date, two of the six have been released, but the remaining four remain in the detention center, with an expected release date of March 20.

In the other case, the Three-Self church in Dafeng county, Jiangsu province, was forcibly demolished on March 13 by the government’s joint law enforcement team. Two church members were beaten in the process, including a woman believer whose back was broken. In the face of this violence, the government turned a blind eye and allowed the demolition of the church building to continue.

ChinaAid strongly condemns these acts of persecution against these two Three-Self churches.

“To attack and detain these peaceful Christian believers for legitimately petitioning higher authorities clearly demonstrates how limited religious freedom is for Chinese citizens,” said Bob Fu. “We urge the central government to intervene and release these detained believers immediately and restore to the churches their property that have been illegally occupied by corrupt officials.”

ChinaAid will continue to monitor developments in both these cases.

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