How Victimization of Christians Has Continued Unabated in China

It’s unimaginable how victimization of Christians has continued unabated in China despite the spirited public outcry of millions of Chinese Christian public, who’re meant to undergo all sorts of hardship because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

This gross violation of people’s right to worship or belong to religious groups of their choice in China has continued to increase despite the constitutional provisions which allow citizens to practice their religion freely.

The government has even gone ahead to restrict religious practice largely to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and controlled growth and scope of activities of both registered and unregistered religious groups, including "house churches."

Chinese government has also intensified its clamp down on churches and other religious groups despite unending international cries and it has also designated some Christian groups as “cults,” referring to the unregistered churches, which are otherwise called the “underground churches.” They are so-called because their activities are not done in the open view of everyone.

Further to that, the government has also tried to control and regulate the growth of religious groups that they say could constitute sources of authority outside of the control of the government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and that notwithstanding, membership in many religious groups is growing rapidly.

Reports have it that there were so many reported cases of repression of unregistered Protestant church networks and house churches of which the national religious affairs ministry, known as State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), had in the past stated categorically that friends and family holding prayer meetings at home need not register with the government, but the regulations on religious affairs (RRA) said that formal worship should take place only in government-approved venues.

There are so many reports of how the Police and officials of local Religious Affairs Bureaus (RABs) always interfere with house church meetings, sometimes accusing the house church of disturbing neighbors or disrupting social order and that the Police sometimes detained worshippers attending such services for hours or days and prevented further house worship in the venues.

Just recently it was reported by China Aid that one Shen Peilan, a seasoned campaigner against government corruption, has not been seen since she was seized on March 24, when officials from the Bureau of Letters and Petitions raided her home twice on the same day. And it’s said that on their first attempt, they were actually deterred by police who were summoned by Shen’s family, but the officials succeeded in abducting her in a later raid, after the police had gone.

Further to that, it’s also reported that the Chinese authorities have 'quietly sentenced' Uyghur house church leader Alimjan Yimit to 15 years in prison in Xinjiang, which has been described as the most severe penalty given to a house church leader in nearly a decade and that the ten leaders of Fushan Church in Linfen city, Shanxi, have been sentenced to up to seven years in jail in a move which China Aid has branded 'farcical'.

Reports also have it that one Alimjan, 36, who has been detained since January 2008, was convicted of the apparently contrived charge of 'providing state secrets to overseas organizations,' he is said to have granted interviews to foreign media and his sentence is the maximum penalty for this charge, meaning he is considered to have caused 'irreparable national damage'.

Meanwhile, in Shanxi, five Fushan Church pastors, including senior leaders Yang Rongli and her husband Wang Xiaoguang were convicted in what China Aid also called a 12-hour 'pre-determined show trial' on November 25 and that five days later, the Public Security Bureau sentenced five other leaders to two years’’re-education through labor', this they did by entirely bypassing the courts.

It would be recalled that the United States (U.S.) embassy in Beijing and the consulates general in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang had in the time past made concerted efforts to encourage greater religious freedom in the China, this they did by condemning out rightly the religious abuses in the country, while supporting positive trends within the country.

Further to that the U.S Secretary of State since 1999, has designated China a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

In their sharp reaction to this incessant human and in particular religious right abuses the Religious Rights Campaigners have strongly condemned the harsh jail sentences handed down to 11 church leaders in different parts of China in the recent past.

These undue victimization of Christians and by extension other religious adherents by the government of China must stop forthwith if the outside world would take her seriously at this time of its economic expansion as it’s fast jostling to become the biggest growing economy in the world.