Tightening Restriction on Christian Rights Activists by Chinese Officials Draws Concern

A prominent Chinese Christian rights activist is being monitored by Chinese security agents after his release from a two-year prison term.
( [email protected] ) Feb 13, 2006 06:42 PM EST

A prominent Chinese Christian rights activist is being monitored by Chinese security agents after his release from a two-year prison term, a U.S.-based Chinese Christian persecution watchdog China Aid Association (CAA) reported.

Dr. Xu Yonghai, former psychiatric doctor at Beiijing Pingan Hospital, was a member of the unofficial Protestant church Beijing Christian Sacred Love Fellowship, according to Amnesty International. Being charged with "providing state secrets to foreign organizations," Xu was sentenced to a two-year imprisonment on Aug. 6, 2004 at Hangzhou Xijiao Prison.

Survived through the harsh time in prison, Xu was released on Jan. 29, 2006. However, his freedom is still very limited as the Chinese security agents have installed three video cameras in front of his apartment order to monitor his activities, Xu told CAA.

In addition, Xu’s identification cards were not returned to him. Xu’s wife, Ms. Li Shanna, have refused to sign a form demanding she report her husband’s activities to the Chinese authorities, CAA learned.

Xu, along with other two individuals the 48-year-old Mr. Liu Fenggang and 30-year-old Zhang Shengqi, were detained under the same charge during an intensified crackdown campaign against unofficial churches in Zhejiang Province launched by the authorities since March 2003, according to CAA.

Amnesty International reported that the accusations against the three Christians are probably connected to their peaceful investigation and disclosure of the persecution of fellow Christians in Zhejiang Province.

Liu Fenggang has written, disseminated and publicized several reports documenting the destruction of churches and the harsh treatment suffered by members of underground congregations. Xu sent these documents to a U.S.-based Chinese-language magazine- Christian Life Quarterly- while Zhang Shengqi, a computer technician, e-mailed the reports overseas, according to Amnesty International. They are then sentenced to one to three years of imprisonment in August 2004.

CAA expressed deep concern over the tightening restriction of Chinese security agents on religious rights activists, according its statement. CAA described the situation as "worsening."

The case of Xu follows after Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese Christian lawyer, was reported to be tightly followed by the Chinese policemen in Beijing for over 70 days in mid-January. According to New-York based newspaper Epoch Times, plain-clothes policemen and their cars were always stationed around Gao’s office and home. Not only the officials followed after Gao everyday, but they have also attempted to videotape his activities with his friends and his family.

Gao has come under fire after he presented himself as one of the leading attorneys in the court in the high-profile case of the Beijing house church pastor Cai Zhuohua last year. Cai was charged for running "illegal business practices" after police found a large number of Bibles and religious materials in a church warehouse.

"May God soften the hearts of the Chinese leaders and grant justice and mercy to these brave rights defenders like Mr. Guo Feixiong, Ms. Ai Xiaoming and Mr. Gao Zhisheng who are the true conscience of China," said Rev. Bob Fu, president of CAA.

CAA urged international Christian communities including the Chinese House churches to start vigil relay fasting and prayers for both the Chinese authority and rights defenders, according to a statement.