China Aid Association (CAA) learned recently the local government of Tongling City, Anhui Province is taking administrative measures to interfere with the religious affairs of Christians by forcing them to join the Three-Self Church.
On November 26, 2006 a house church assembly in Laodong Xincui, Tongling City, Anhui Province, was closed by the local Religious Affair Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church.
The house church was founded by renowned Christian Brother Wang Xingquan 53 years ago and currently has a membership of approximately 200 Christians. Brother Wang was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution.
In order to exert more pressure on Brother Wang, his daughter's work unit stopped paying her salary, and has threatened to fire her unless she sets an example for other Christians by joining the local Three-Self Church. Another brother under threat of losing his job was coerced to resign from the church.
On December 5, 2006 upon the request of the Christians, the government held a hearing in which the Religious Affair Bureau's decision to close the church was upheld.
Currently the Christians hold worship services in their homes; they said they are preparing for further legal action to regain their right of religious freedom.
“The Religious Affair Bureau is only one department in the government in charge of religious affairs. It is definitely not powerful enough to force a work unit to stop paying its employees,” said Bob Fu, President of CAA. “It is obvious that the entire course of action was formulated by the upper level government. Tongling government's resorting to administrative methods to interfere with religious affairs ultimately tramples the spirit and promise of religious freedom stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and International Laws. We hope that the Tongling government corrects their mistakes and protects religious freedom of its citizens.”
CAA also learned that all of the Christians arrested on October 20, 2006 in Qingshuihe Town, Huocheng County, Yili City, Xinjiang autonomous area were released by November 26, 2006. Four brothers were locked in the detention center for 32 days, and one brother and two sisters for 14 days. No legal documents were issued when they were arrested and released.
The four brothers who were locked up for 32 days are now in the hospital for medical treatment as a result of being severely tortured by other prisoners. “I was beaten daily morning, noon and night! They beat me if I ate the food or did not eat the food, ate too much or too little, went to the toilet or did not go to the toilet! They just beat me for no reason,” one brother said. What's more, the Christians were clearly told by the prisoners that they were beaten according to the instructions from the police officers in charge of the detention centre.
Brother Tan's experience is especially horrible. He was intentionally placed in a cell with homosexual prisoners where he suffered the humiliation of being sexually abused as well as physically beaten. “I would not come out alive if I had been with them any longer,” said brother Tan.
“It is totally intolerable to treat a sixty-year old man like that!” said Bob Fu, President of CAA. “We appeal to the Xinjiang government to investigate this event and punish the people involved in detaining and abusing these Christians.”