House Churches in Xinjiang, Hebei See Encouraging Progress in Lawsuits Against Local Authorities

China Aid Association
(Baoding, Hebei—May 14, 2012) House church Christians in Hebei province and the far western region of Xinjiang have seen encouraging progress recently in lawsuits they filed against local authorities who had raided their meetings and detained church members, ChinaAid has learned.

Both cases are being handled by well-known Christian rights defense lawyer Zhang Kai.

The Hebei case stemmed from the Jan. 31 raid on a house church in Wangdu county, Baoding, during which more than 20 church members were taken away by police. The local police also confiscated books and other church items. Six people, two men and four women, as well as the pastor, Sui Zhigang, were punished by being administratively detained for 15 days. Sui engaged lawyer Zhang Kai on Feb. 12 to seek an administrative review of the case. See ChinaAid’s earlier report on this case:

Five people filed requests for an administrative review, and on April 16, the court accepted the lawsuit of one of the five. Because of repeated prevarication on the part of the court, no decision has been made on the lawsuits of the other four.

In another heartening development, the local United Front Work Committee, a state organ under the Communist Party that carries out religious policy directives, has not only returned all the confiscated books and other church property but also proposed giving Bibles to the church.

There is reason to believe that this case might be settled out of court. Pastor Sui has already asked for compensation, pointing out that the local police delayed until Day 14 of his 15-day administrative detention to produce the paperwork for his detention, and this was done only after his lawyer intervened. This was clearly a violation of basic administrative enforcement procedures. 

The Xinjiang case stemmed from the Sunday March 4 raid on a Han Chinese house church in Khotan, a city in the southern half of the Uyghur autonomous region, when local police and Domestic Security Protection agents who burst in on about 50 Christians holding a Sunday worship service. They took away the preacher, Zhong Shuguang, who was also the head of the household where the worship service was being held, and confiscated a computer and a projector that were being used during the service as well as other church items. Zhong was later released the same day, but the computer equipment and other confiscated items have not been returned. See ChinaAid’s earlier reports: and 

A request for administrative review was filed with the Khotan police on April 26. On May 9, the Khotan police department ruled that its previous administrative punishment decision had violated legal procedures and nullified it. It also ruled that new administrative measures be implemented within 60 days.

Zhong Shuguang wrote in his request for administrative review, “The applicant holds a diploma from the Jinling Theological Seminary and is a Christian whose faith is pure and who needs to practice his faith. Because there is not a single church in the city of Khotan, the applicant, in accordance with practice of house church Christians, met together with friends and family in his home for worship. This activity is protected by the constitution and the law and brooks no interference from state organs.” Zhong also requested compensation.

ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu welcomed the positive developments in the Hebei and Xinjiang cases. He said, “These improvements in the rule of law that protect the legal rights of citizens to practice their faith are bound to promote sustained social development and stability.”

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