House Church Destroyed in Zhejiang
MIDLAND, Texas – In the afternoon of July 29, a large house church building that was under construction was destroyed and many Christians were arrested and wounded during the confrontation.
The house church building was being built in Che Lu Wan Village, Dangshan Town, Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. According to eyewitness reports, the destruction of the church building started on July 29, at 2:30 p.m.
Several thousand anti-riot police, military police and government workers along with three hundred military vehicles arrived and surrounded the church building at 1:30 p.m. Around ten thousand House Church Christians rushed to the scene to protest the demolition.
The church has been under construction since July 17, 2006 and was almost complete when it was destroyed. Eyewitnesses reported that the police used electric shock batons and anti-riot shields to disperse the Christians. Several hundred Christians were observed to be beaten and some were arrested and taken away by police while they attempted to protect their church building. According to a reliable source from the house church, on July 28, the Xiaoshan District government declared the church building “illegal” because it was built without government permission and asked the Christians voluntarily to destroy it. This church was built on private land purchased by a local Christian couple.
Sources from both the government and the church told CAA that the local government has repeatedly denied the Christian believers' formal request to build a church, though they have met all the requirements. The Hangzhou Daily (the Communist Party mouthpiece in Hangzhou City) headline on July 30, declared “An Illegal Building Destroyed,” failing to mention that the building was a church. In 2003, a large house church located in Nanyang town of the same district was bulldozed and three House Church Christians from Beijing were accused of “providing national secrets to overseas organizations” and sentenced to 1 to 3 years because they reported about the church destruction. Mr. Liu Fenggang, who was sentenced to three years, is still imprisoned at Hangzhou Prison. “The destruction of the church building and use of excessive police force to beat peaceful Christians is totally unacceptable,” said Rev. Bob Fu, the President of China Aid, “The international community should hold the Zhejiang government accountable for their religious persecution record.”
Additional reporting by Meihua Zhou. Updated 4:00 p.m. EDT, 8-1-06.