Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
WUHAI, INNER MONGOLIA (ANS) -- Fifteen house church leaders from two remote regions of China have been in detention since mid-July.
According to a news release from the ChinaAid Association, during this period local police have tried to extort money from their families with promises of their release once the money has been paid, and threats of labor camp sentences or criminal prosecution if it is not.
ChinaAid said the incident began at 10 a.m. on July 26, when dozens of local police and officers of the Domestic Security Protection Department entered a meeting in the city of Wuhai, Inner Mongolia. There more than 20 church leaders from Wuhai and Ningxia province's Shizuishan were gathered to plan summer church activities.
ChinaAid said police surrounded the meeting site and arrested 21 people. They also confiscated everything at the meeting site, not just Bibles but even the bamboo mats that attendees use to rest and nap on after meetings. Everything was loaded into police vehicles and taken away.
The 21 detainees were later criminally detained on suspicion of "using a cult organization to undermine national law enforcement." However, ChinaAid said, police failed to notify the families as required, and didn't provide families with paperwork (also required) for the detention.
ChinaAid said before the 21 detainees were transferred to the Wuhai Detention Center, they were given physical exams. Six of them were elderly, and found to be in poor health. As a result, the detention center refused to accept them and they were released.
The remaining 15 church leaders were held for 15 days, after which the Public Security Bureau notified the families that their case had already been sent to the prosecutor's office. The families were told that if they raised 50,000 yuan (US$ 7800), the detainees would be released.
ChinaAid said when the families delivered the money to the prosecutor's office, the case was sent back to the Public Security Bureau.
According to ChinaAid, the Public Security Bureau then told the families that if they raised several tens of thousands of yuan (thousands of dollars) again, the detainees would be released. If not, they would be sent to labor camps or criminally prosecuted.
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu was shocked when he learned of this case and has been following it closely. He condemned the local officials and speaking in a news release, called on them to "immediately and with no pre-conditions release these innocent Christian believers."
Fu commented, "As the Bible says, 'It is hard for you to kick against the goads,'" quoting the words that God spoke to Paul of Tarsus, who had been brutally persecuting the early church, when he had his miraculous Damascus Road conversion.
Fu added, "The church will not retreat in the face of persecution. In fact, it will grow larger and stronger with each passing day."
For more information about ChinaAid go to www.chinaaid.org
|Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter,http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."|
Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at http://www.homelessinthecity.