Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

16th Party Congress in China is Latest Excuse for Continued Persecution of Christians

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
A leading member of an underground church and his wife were detained as part of a crackdown on dissidents before the start of the Communist Party Congress, according to a human rights group. The New York-based Human Rights in China (HRC) said police recently took Hua Huiqi and Ju Mei from their Beijing home and took them to the northern province of Shanxi, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Hua is one of the earliest and most important members of Beijing's underground church and has been beaten and arrested on many occasions because of his religious activities. Police did not present a warrant, nor did they give a reason for taking the couple, the AP reported. "Once again under the pretext of conducting the 16th Party Congress in a peaceful and stable atmosphere the Chinese government is abusing human rights," HRC president Liu Qing said. In the weeks leading up to the party congress, the government banned books, blocked Internet sites and clamped down on other activists.

China allows only government-monitored churches, and has harassed and imprisoned Christians who worship outside the official system. Meanwhile, reliable sources in China have informed The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) that Pastor Gong Shengliang started a hunger strike on November 14 to protest the confiscation of two documents by officials of the prison in Jingmen City, Hubei province where he is serving his life sentence. The two confiscated documents were written after his trial in October, an appellate paper (about 20,000 words) and another containing historical facts on South China Church (about 30,000 words). The prison authorities are very angry at the release of news on the vast practice of torture in the prison and subsequently denied Gong's right of appeal. VOM sources indicate that Pastor Gong's heath was very fragile even before the hunger strike due to the numerous tortures to which he was subjected. He is reportedly not able to stand up at all. A journalist from Radio Free Asia called No. 1 Prison of Jingmen City yesterday to verify Pastor Gong's condition. In an interview with Bob Fu of China Aid Association, she recounted how she was strongly cursed with very dirty abusive language from an official there. "I can imagine how they treat prisoners if they treated a journalist like me [in this fashion]," she said. VOM has also received reports that the appeals of the four women declared to be innocent by the court on October 10 but rearrested only hours later and immediately sent to the Shayang Laogai Camp of Hubei for "re-education through labour" was denied by the Hubei provincial Re-education through Labor Commission. Continue to pray for them as their lawyers look to other options to obtain their freedom. (From Voice of the Martyrs)

Please keep these Christian brothers and sisters in your prayers!

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