The China Aid Association has learned that in the past two weeks multiple arrests of house church pastors occurred at Shandong and Jiangsu Provinces. One pastor from South Korea was expelled by the Chinese security agency. A prominent Chinese legal scholar and rights defender was forbidden to go abroad.
CAA has learned from an eyewitness report that House Church Pastor Liu Yuhua was arrested at 11 p.m. on April 26, 2006 at Shandong Province. He has been under criminal detention at the Detention Center of Linchu County, Shandong Province. In the Criminal detention report issued to Pastor Liu’s family by the Public Security Bureau of Linchu County, Pastor Liu was accused of being involved in “illegal business practices.” He has been printing and distributing bibles and other Christian literature to fellow believers free of charge to meet the rapid growth of believers.
According to a reliable source, Pastor Liu’s office was searched without warrant, his bank account seized and cash in the amount of 8600 Yuan ($1100) was confiscated. Legal experts say this case is very similar to Beijing Pastor Cai Zhuohua’s case. Pasor Cai was sentenced in 2005 to three years imprisonment for printing Christian literature. The Chinese government tries to persecute religious leaders by criminalizing their religious activities. Prominent human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng ‘s law firm was closed last year by the Chinese government in part because of his volunteer work defending the rights of Pastor Liu Yuhua.
CAA also learned that at 1:30 p.m. on May 10, 11 pastors and house church leaders were arrested at #3 Chuyuan Residence Region, Suqian City, Jiangsu Province. Approximately 60 house church believers were engaged in a bible study at Pastor Cai Zhirong’s house when the raid occurred. According to an eyewitness report, the PSB officers used electric shock batons to beat those believers who refused to be taken away because the police didn’t have an arrest warrant. After 10 hours of intensive interrogation, all 11 pastors including South Korean Pastor Cui Rongbo (Korean name unavailable) along with his two translators, Pastor Cai Zhirong and Pastor Wu Changle were released. However, on May 11, South Korean Pastor Cui was taken away again by the Chinese authority and ordered to leave China within 48 hours. Pastor Cui left China on May 13.
CAA also learned that a prominent legal scholar, Dr. Fan Yafeng, was forbidden to go abroad. Dr. Fan is a researcher at the China Academy of Social Sciences, a top think tank run by the Chinese government. At 12:30 p.m. on May 9, Dr. Fan was informed by the customs security officials at Beijing Capital Airport that “he has been put on a list of names that are forbidden to go abroad by a higher authority.” Dr. Fan was on his way to the United States to attend a meeting with President Bush. He was not allowed to attend the Freedom in China Summit on May 2 at the Hudson Institute because of obstacles put in place by the Chinese authorities.
“This new wave of arrests is certainly a contradiction to the Chinese government’s commitment to religious freedom,” said Rev. Bob Fu of CAA. “We urge the Chinese government to take concrete actions to demonstrate the true spirit of rule of law.” CAA urges the Chinese government to immediately release the arrested pastors.