A Christian persecution watchdog group is urging the release of Chinese Christians who have been victims of the most recent crackdowns. While international outcries have led to the release of many imprisoned believers, the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reports that there are many more that need the support of Christians worldwide.
In a recent persecution update made by VOM, Oklahoma-based agency reported that most of the 100 Christians arrested July 12 in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region have been released by China’s police following international outcry about the arrests.
Five Christians, however, are still being held in the area and could be facing long prison sentences. Mr. Zhao Xinlan, 50; Ms. Li Cuiling, 44; Mr. Wang Chaoyi, 39; Mr. Yang Tian Lu, 39; and Ms. Gao Rui’er, 28 are still being held in the A Ke Su prefecture, near the provincial capital of Urumqi.
Meanwhile, in another province, Anhui, a major underground church leader has been transferred to prison. Luo Bing Yin is a leader in the Ying Shang house church group that includes about five million members. He has been sent from a local detention center to the Funan Prison. VOM sources say there has not been a court hearing, and the charges against him are unknown. He has twice been imprisoned before, first in 1978 and then again in 2001. The case against him in 2001 was handled by the national public security office, as he is considered an important figure in the underground church.
“This case has become very serious,” said Todd Nettleton, director of news services for The Voice of the Martyrs. “We urge the Chinese government to publicly state its charges against this brother and hold a public hearing on his case.”
According to VOM, Luo’s wife, Huang Xiu Lan, and their two children, a 17-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, are under intense pressure from the police.
VOM sources say that police raided Brother Luo’s business, a DVD-duplication company, and also confiscated computers and other equipment. These computers reportedly contained information about other underground Christians in China.
Also, VOM sources report additional arrests in Henan Province, following the arrest of more than 100 Christians meeting for a retreat on August 6. In the days following that raid by more than 200 police and military personnel, family members of some of the arrested Christians have also been arrested. Pastor Han Quan Shui was arrested on August 6. His wife, known simply as Mana, was arrested the following day. Ru Xi Feng, the mother of a pastor who died in 2000, was also arrested on August 7. Xue Ying, the wife of arrested pastor Zheng Wan Shun was detained and interrogated by police.
In addition to those arrests, the families of six of those arrested August 6 have received formal notice of the “criminal detention” of their family members. Chinese law allows incarceration up to three years without formal charges or a trial.
“China talks about religious freedom,” said Nettleton, “but where is it? We urge the release of these Christians who simply want to worship God freely according to the dictates of their conscience.”
VOM is urging Christians everywhere to send letters to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC to protest the current persecution of China’s Christian community.