Disabled Chinese Pastor Arrested For Printing Christian Literature
A disabled family church pastor, Wang Zaiqing from Huainan city, Anhui province, has been arrested and charged with carrying out illegal business practices for printing and disseminating the Bible and Christian literatures.
On June 14, US headquartered China Aid Association (CAA) issued a press release disclosing that Wang was formally arrested at the end of May. He is now detained in Huainan First Detention Center.
In an interview, CAA President Bob Fu, said that, “CAA urges the Chinese Communist regime to immediately release the disabled pastor. It is very inconvenient for him to move around in jail and the detention center even confiscated his crutch. If a trial is necessary, CAA hope there will be a fair trial.”
According to CAA, pastor Wang is from Haozhou in Anhui province. His right leg was disabled from serious polio; he needs a crutch to help him walk. After he was baptized in 1993, he started to organize family churches in Huainan area, engaged in preaching, church management and spreading the Gospel. He has visited family churches in Jiansu, Zejian, Hanko, etc and is an influential pastor.
At the end of April, the police arrested Wang on a criminal charge of conducting illegal business practices. Previously, he was summoned for questioning for illegally publishing and disseminating Christian literature, and many religious printings were confiscated. Wang’s bank card was also impounded.
Persecution of Faith
Pastor Fu said that this was another persecution of faith under the pretext of business related crime. “The first summons relates only to the distribution of information on the Christian religion. Internal printing and disseminating of the Bible are not considered commercial acts. This is a case of persecution just like the case of pastor Cai Zhuohua.”
It was indicated on the arrest warrant that the Domestic Safeguard Brigade of Jiayan police station under the Huainan city police bureau was the enforcing department. Our reporter telephoned the police station, and confirmed that the real reason for the arrest was not business related crime.
Reporter: “May I ask if pastor Wang Zaiqing was arrested by your station and what crime did he commit?”
Police: “You have to ask the enforcing unit!”
Reporter: “Is the Domestic Safeguard Brigade the enforcing unit?”
Police: “You can call the Domestic Safeguard Brigade tomorrow!”
Reporter: “Does the Domestic Safeguard Brigade usually handle this kind of religious case?”
Reporter: “Which department handles business related criminal cases?”
Police: “The Economic Criminal Investigation Brigade is responsible for such crimes.”
Reporter: “But this case is charged as a business related crime, why is it that the domestic safeguard brigade conducted the arrest?”
Police: “The Domestic Safeguard Brigade will only handle cases that are related to their areas of responsibility, or they would not handle it.”
An internal document was used to summon Wang for questioning leading to his arrest.
This document entitled “Notice on Preventing and Dealing with Illegal Activities by Using Christianity” was issued by the State Council on Religion Affairs and the Public Security Department in October 1988. This document stipulates that Christian classics, books, or training activities of preachers may be published only if they are approved by the government, and religious gatherings held in public or disseminating of preaching materials are not permitted without approval. Hence this is in effect a stipulation that restricts religion freedom.
Against Chinese Constitution
Dr. Li Boguang, a lawyer in Beijing representing Pastor Wang said that this internal policy goes against the Chinese constitution. The fact that the authorities used business related charges as an excuse to attack family churches demonstrates its indefensible position.
Dr. Li said: “I am surprised by pastor Wang’s arrest. I have never seen this kind of internal policy. Not only does it deprive Chinese citizens of religious freedom bestowed by the constitution, it was issued as early as 1988 and is still being implemented. I plan to hold a meeting with experts to discuss this problem and write to the National People’s Congress requesting them to investigate into this internal document in accordance with the legislation.”
In order to avoid public attention, the authorities even threatened Wang’s family.
Dr. Li said: “The captain of the Domestic Safeguard Brigade threatened Wang’s family that if the US and overseas media got involved in this matter, it will not be good to his family! Therefore Wang’s family is quite frightened now. They do not know anything about the situation overseas; they even thought of bribing the police to release Wang. I told them we absolutely cannot do that because we have not violated the constitution and we cannot resolve this matter internally. Later on, his family agreed to follow my approach.”