To control internal pressure, the Chinese Communist Party is letting local officials lock up large numbers of people on administrative sentences without charge or trial, according to the Religious Liberty Commission of a global network of Christians.
"The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knows the greatest threat to its totalitarian rule is internal,” stated the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) in a recently released bulletin. “The CCP watched as a coalition of intellectuals, workers and the church brought down Communism in Poland and Central Europe. To control internal pressures the CCP uses a tool of the Mao era: 're-education through labor', involving a vast gulag of over a thousand concentration camps or slave labor prisons known as 'laogai.'”
According to the RLC, the laogai system lets local officials or the central authority lock up large numbers of people on administrative sentences without charge or trial. This is used against those deemed problematic, like drug addicts and prostitutes, or who threaten the status quo, such as political and religious dissidents. The aim of 're-education through labor' is 'thought reform', i.e., forced submission to the CCP, the RLC reported. While multitudes of Christians are incarcerated in laogai camps, others are imprisoned on false criminal charges or social security charges. The degree of repression varies widely across the nation.
Persecution watchdogs groups such as China Aid Association (CAA) and Voice of the Martyrs, have reported on incidents of repression such as the ones that took place on Sunday, May 22, when police and Public Security Bureau officers reportedly raided 60 house-churches simultaneously in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin province in north-eastern China, bordering North Korea.
Over the following days, another 40 churches in the area were reportedly raided and more than 600 house-church Christians were taken into custody. CAA’s president, Bob Fu, noted that “the man-power, coordination and planning involved in raiding such a large number of church meetings simultaneously shows that this effort came from high levels of the Chinese government.”
Meanwhile, the CAA pointed out that the raided house-church groups have a majority of university students, professors and other young intellectuals. The CAA believes this could be a co-ordinated campaign to eliminate the house-church influence in the university areas.
While most of those arrested were released after 24 to 48 hours of interrogation, some 100 influential Christians are still held in various detention centers, the organization claimed.
The RLC has requested prayers for all Christians incarcerated in China, “that the ever-present, comforting, counseling Holy Spirit will fill them with hope, faith, courage, and assurance of his love (Romans 8:38,39), enabling them to be victorious in persecution and suffering” and also for “God to remove the laogai system, the instrument of Maoist injustice and repression in China.”
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