Thousands of Christians Resist Church Demolition in Hangzhou

August 1, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: August 1, 2006 12:00 am

According to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China (ICHRDMC), on the afternoon of July 29, 500 public security officers forcibly demolished a church under construction in Xiaoshan District of Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province and were met with resistance from over 3000 Christians. At least 20 protestors were injured, 50 were arrested and the church was eventually torn down during the night.

The Central News Agency reported on July 31 that there had been a church serving around 5000 Christians situated in Xiaoshan's Dangshan Town. However, the building was destroyed by a hurricane in 2005. The followers planned to reconstruct the church on the same site but were unable to obtain construction authorization from authorities. Therefore, the new church was built on land owned by three local villagers. The building was halfway finished by July of this year.

However, the Zhejiang Politics and Law Department and Religious Department of the Chinese Communist Party issued a notice in June clamping down on 'illegal houses of worship'. As a result, the Xiaoshan authorities ordered the destruction of the church and on July 29, dispatched 500 Hangzhou Public Security officers to the site. During the demolition, over 3000 protestors rushed to the church and were beaten by police.

Four Christians Sustain Severe Injuries

According to two witnesses, 20 protestors were injured by the police, four of them seriously. Four ambulances arrived on site to transport the victims while another 50 protestors were arrested and taken away.

The ICHRDMC reported that the four protestors sustaining critical injuries were sent to Xiaoshan First, Second and fourth hospitals. After the Public Security officials took control of the scene, they quickly tore down the entire church during the night of July 29.

The ICHRDMC reports that Hangzhou City had demolished 10 churches between July and October 2003. Then in November 2003, Beijing and Jilin Christians Liu Fenggang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi were arrested for investigating the demolition of churches in Xiaoshan District. They were subsequently sentenced to jail for three, two and one year, respectively, by Xiaoshan District Court for “providing intelligence to foreign organizations.”