Churches refuse surveillance order, electricity cut off

Friday, May 26, 2017

This notice, sent to Gesan Village Church,
announces that its power supply has been
turned off for alleged overcrowding and fire
hazards. However, the church members
suspect they are being punished for not
complying with a campaign to install
surveillance cameras. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—May 26, 2017) In the midst of escalating religious tensions, authorities in China’s coastal Zhejiang province cut off two churches’ electricity supply after they refused to comply with orders to install security cameras.

Fire safety departments in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, issued a notice to Gesan Village Church on May 24, claiming the 400-500 member church is overly crowded and poses fire hazards. As a result, the government temporarily cut off its power and water supply temporarily and demanded that the church fix the aforementioned problems or face forced intervention, saying they could not use the building until the issues were resolved.

According to reports, an unnamed church’s power supply was also severed.

Despite the government’s claim that it severed the power supply for safety reasons, Christians suspect it is a retaliation against the churches for failing to comply with efforts to install surveillance cameras in a campaign that is sweeping the province. Officially, authorities allege the cameras will improve church security, but it will also make it easier for them to monitor religious activity. Some Buddhist temples have also been required to use surveillance equipment.

In their vicinity, these churches remain the only two without the cameras.

Although Gesan Village Church refuses to succumb to this pressure and purchased a diesel tank in order to continue carrying out its regular services, one of its attendees said, “We are trying our best to avoid the installation, but the church is too weak to fight against the government. We can’t do anything if the government decides to take violent measures.”

ChinaAid reports abuses, such as those enacted against the churches and Buddhist temples affected by the security equipment installation campaign, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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