Monday, April 25, 2011

Beijing arrests 34 members of unregistered church on Easter Sunday


A US-based rights group said Beijing detained at least 34 members of an unregistered church who gathered near a public plaza in the city's university district to celebrate the Easter Sunday.
ChinaAid said members of the Shouwang church were taken to a police station when they arrived at the outdoor site in Zhongguancun area in north-western Beijing, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
In a statement, Pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid said, "We are deeply disappointed that the Chinese authorities chose to disrupt peaceful worshippers who were simply celebrating Easter today.
"By doing this, the Chinese government again demonstrates its total disregard for Chinese citizens' basic religious freedom and freedom of assembly. We continue to call upon the free world to stand firm in solidarity with the persecuted faithful in China."
At least 500 church members—about half of its total members—were prevented by the cops from leaving their homes, the rights group said.
Two Sundays ago, Shouwang congregants were also detained when they gathered in the same place. Three weeks ago, the congregation was banned from its usual worship place.
Around 169 congregants were detained last Sunday. Some of them were held for one day.
The country with the largest population requires all religious groups to be registered but some groups refuse to do so claiming religious freedom.
NYT said that there are up to 60 million members in unregistered churches in contrast to the 20 million who attend registered churches.
In December 2009, the state prevented an illegal church to buy a property in the capital city for regular Sunday services.
Authorities often demolish illegal churches and Christian leaders sometimes face criminal charges.
Details of this report here.
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