(Shenzhen, Guangdong—July 7, 2015) Some 200 local police and government workers disguised as volunteers broke into and shut down a shelter run by Christians for the homeless and disabled in the southern boom city of Shenzhen and removed as many as 30 disabled persons and workers from the shelter.
The June 30 action against the Guanai (Caring) Center followed notifications in April and May from the Shenzhen government ordering it to “end illegal religious activity,” China Aid’s special correspondent in Hong Kong, Qiao Nong, reported.
|Using bolt cutters to open the closed metal gate,
Shenzhen government officials and police broke
into the Guanai (Caring) Center’s shelter for
the homeless and disabled.
(Photo: China Aid)
“Most of them were policemen and security guards,” Guanai’s founder, Cao Nan, said of the “volunteers” who showed up outside the shelter’s closed metal gates last Tuesday morning and used bolt cutters to break in.
They went up to the second floor and removed “more than 20 and as many 30 people” who were being housed there, he said.
“They were all wearing the red vests of volunteers, pretending to be [our] workers. They took those with permanent disabilities to the hospital and those who were mentally unstable to [another] shelter. They have diverted our staff and I don’t know where some of them have gone,” Cao said. After removing those who were taking shelter at the shelter, the authorities welded shut the door.
Guanai was founded in 2011 by Cao, a well-known pastor and evangelist, and its mission is to provide shelter to homeless and others who urgently needed help. In the past four years, it has helped 600-700 people.
At the time of the break-in, 57 people were housed at the shelter, of which seven also worked at the shelter. Beginning in May, local authorities had blocked the entrance to the shelter and prohibited the shelter from taking in any new people.
|A disabled person housed at the Guanai
shelter is taken away.
(Photo: China Aid)
On April 20 and May 15, the Shenzhen government issued formal notifications to Guanai ordering it to “cease …illegal religious activities” and to “rectify and improve.” The government cited Guanai for putting up a cross and having Christian books and publications, Bibles and statues of the Virgin Mary on the premises without obtaining permission from city or district governments’ religious affairs departments.
Cao Nan noted that the raid was “led by high-ranking government leaders. Their goal was that before month’s end — today is June 30— our Guanai Center must be shut down.”
The joint government action included officials from the Shenzhen municipal government planning commission, the Dapengxi district government, the public security bureau, the United Front Work Department and the Religious Affairs Bureau, he said.
Cao added that in addition to the Rongyao church that ChinaAid had previously reported was warned not to hold services, two other Shenzhen churches had also been similarly warned and also dared not continue meeting.