An inconclusive report about persecution against house churches in China revealed that almost 2,000 Christians are arrested last year.
Published on Monday, the report from the Texas-based Chinese persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA) lists the main persecution events in different provinces in China from May 2005 to May 2006. It is concluded that at least 1,958 Christians in 15 provinces, including some pastors, were arrested in the period. Moreover, the government is gaining concern over the rising leadership training gatherings for believers, aiming to control the indoctrination of new generations of Christians.
It was founded that Henan has been the worst province in persecution against house church in the past 12 months. 823 pastors and believers were arrested in 11 raids from July 2005 to May 2006. Five American citizens were arrested at the same period of time. Many of the arrested were reported being abused during detention time, according to CAA.
"Henan province should be put on notice having the worst religious persecution record," said Rev. Bob Fu, president of CAA, "It is morally imperative for any conscientious foreign investors in Henan to address this serious issue."
The second highest number of arrested is in Jilin province. Only in two raids within the year, 640 pastors and Christians are arrested.
CAA condemned the government-coordinated crackdown on house church activities, especially in some provinces where local officials concentrate on raiding large-scale meetings bringing together Christians from other provinces and cities. Many of those present were detained and fined and some were arrested.
While in many cases, the key house church leaders were detained, CAA expressed concern that the authorities have been trying to "brainwash" them in the prison by forcing them to attend study sessions where they are persuaded to affiliate with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).
Under the existing law in China, only protestant churches that are associated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) of Protestant Churches are recognized by the government. House churches are independent and they usually operate underground.
Local Chinese officials have continually repressed house churches by arresting and detaining believers and leaders, closing their places of worship, imposing restriction on movements, contacts or visits, confiscating Bibles and Christian literatures and others. According to CAA, their actions are inconsistent with the right to freedom of religion as promised in the Constitution of China.
CAA calls on Christians or human rights advocate communicate their concern to Henan province authority where Christians are worst persecuted.