300 Chinese Christians Protest by Sitting Demonstration

Michael Ireland | ASSIST News Service | Wednesday, November 1, 2006

300 Chinese Christians Protest by Sitting Demonstration

Three Singapore Christians Arrested & Released in Xinjiang, Five local Believers still in Detention

MIDLAND, TEXAS / GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA   -- A demonstration lasting fifteen days and involving 300 Christians from a Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church in Qinzhou district, Tianshui city, Gansu province is still in progress.

The Christians have not succumbed to pressure from the government, which is occupying its building, but are sitting silently at their original church property, protesting against the local government occupation. They are requesting the return of this property to the church.

In a media advisory obtained by ANS, the China Aid Association (CAA) states: "In 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, all the priests and pastors were kicked out of the church. The church property of 650 square meters was freely allocated to two nation-owned factories. After the Cultural Revolution, the church repeatedly requested the government return the property.

"In 1984, the government unilaterally decided to remunerate the church 50,000 RMB for the property occupied without any real estate evaluation. Due to the huge gap between the church property worth several million RMB and the merely 50,000 RMB the government offered, the church refused to accept the decision, and continually appealed to the higher-level government and People's Council. But the governments insist the decision not be changed."

CAA says that recently the local government sold the property to a developer for 17 million RMB, and that the Christians "can not keep silent any longer and started the sit-down demonstration on the original church property."

"The government declared that the implementation of the religious policy only means to redress the case politically rather than settle the account financially, thus insist the 50,000 RMB as remuneration," CAA says.

The government also threatened the Christians to stop issuing their retirement subsidy, even resorting to violence. Yet the Christians answered by praying and singing hymns, CAA said.

The group adds: "The Christians believe that the government's decision contravenes the central government's stipulation of returning the occupied property of the religious organization to its owner. They insist that the local government return the church property to the church according to the stipulation of central government."

CAA also said that it learned that on October 20, 2006 the local police arrested more than 10 Christians, including three Singaporeans, in Qingshui Town, Huocheng County, Yili City, Xinjiang Autonous Region. Most Christians arrested, including three Singaporeans, were released October 21, 2006.

Five of the believers are still in detention, they are: Brother Liu and brother Ouyang Liang from Uramqi, brother Li Baoming, brother Tan Defu, and brother LouYuanqi from Huocheng.

CAA commented: "All the Christians were locked in Huocheng detention centre, except brother Ouyang, who has been escorted to an unknown place. His home in Uramqi was searched by the police."

According to the eyewitnesses, the event was triggered by a local Christian family's invitation to their fellow believers for the blessing ceremony of their newly rebuilt house. While the Christians were singing hymns in the beginning of the ceremony, the police besieged the house and took them to the local police station for interrogation, CAA explained.

"Signs indicate that they will very possible be prosecuted or sent to the Re-education through labor camp directly," said Bob Fu, the president of CAA, adding: "We appeal the local police to release these five Christians as soon as possible, because they have done nothing harmful to either the society or the country."

© 2006 ASSIST News Service, used with permission