Church Persecution Continues during President Obama's Visit to China

After meeting in the snow for two weeks, Shouwang Church members were forced to hold service indoors “because of Obama’s visit.”

November 16, 2009

CHINA–Although President Obama addressed the general topic of human rights as a “universal value” in his speech at the Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology on Nov. 15, current religious freedom and human rights conditions in China require stronger measures:

PRESIDENT OBAMA REMARKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS, BUT GIVES NO DETAILS
11/16/2009–President Obama arrived in China late Sunday afternoon on November 15. He wasted no time before speaking to a mixed group of Chinese students and youth at the Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology. ChinaAid learned that public security officials were debating the number of attendees and screening them up to the last minute before the town-hall style meeting. President Obama addressed the “freedom to express worship” and uphold general universal principles of human rights, but failed to describe any particular religious freedom cases in particular. Read the article “Obama presses China over rights” on BBC.co.uk., 11/16/2009. ChinaAid President Bob Fu applauded President Obama’s mention of human rights and religious freedom, but continues to urge U.S. representatives to cite specific examples, and not let the general address become another “green light” for persecution of religious minorities in China.

SHOUWANG CHURCH NOW SENT INDOORS FOR OBAMA’S VISIT
11/16/2009–Mr. Zhao of the Beijing PSB informed Shouwang Church members last week they were not allowed to meet outside Haidian Park for worship this Sunday, Nov. 15, “because of Obama’s visit.” He warned that the authorities would “use whatever means necessary to prevent [them] from having a successful worship meeting this Sunday.” The PSB promised not to harm them if the members met indoors on November 15. Fearing a violent crackdown if the met outdoors, Shouwang church members chose to meet in a theater in front of the Central University of Nationalities. The address was Zhonghua Meide Dongman Theater, no. 30, on Zhongguancun Nan Daijie, Haidian District, Beijing. As of today, ChinaAid has heard of no unrest or actions against the church since this meeting was held indoors.

HIGHS AND LOWS IN PRISON:  5 LINFEN-FUSHAN CHURCH LEADERS ON TRIAL, 4 POSSIBLY BOUND FOR LABOR CAMPS
11/15/2009–On Friday, November 13, Pastor Yang Rongli’s attorney went to Raodu District Detention Center to visit her in prison. The Linfen PSB refused to let him meet with her, reportedly because she was “very sick” due to fasting and praying in confinement. Pastor Yang had been transferred from the Taiyuan Detention Center to Raodu, because Raodu specializes in sick inmates.

Human rights lawyers met with three other detained leaders, Pastor Wang Xiaoguang, Zhang Huamei, and Yang Xuan, to prepare their cases. According to her lawyer, Zhang Huamei is in high spirits, and has been singing praise hyms and sharing the gospel with other inmates in her detention cell. When she was informed she would be sentenced to 3-years imprisonment, she was quoted as saying joyfully and resolutely, “It doesn’t matter.. even for 30 years in prison!”

As of November 15, five pastors have gone to trial: Yang Rongli, Wang Xiaoguang, Yang Xuan,  Cui Jiaxing, and Zhang Huamei. The other four in detention are expected to be sentenced to up to 3 years in laogai work camps for Re-education through Labor.

ChinaAid urges the international community to continue praying for the imprisoned leaders of Linfen-Fushan Church, and to break the silence on religious persecution in China.