|The seal across the door to Shenzhen
International Church, placed by authorities.
Anyone who goes inside could be detained
from 10 to 15 days.
(Shenzhen, Guangdong—Feb. 21, 2018) Authorities in China’s southern Guangdong province closed down a large house church, saying that the building in which they were meeting violated the fire code.
Shenzhen International Church received a notice from the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau on Jan. 19, saying that their building failed to meet regulations for fire safety. On Feb. 5, an official seal was placed over the doors, keeping anyone from entering. According to Article 64, Item 6 of the Fire Prevention Law in China, anyone who removes the seal or uses the building could be detained for 10-15 days.
Authorities commonly use falsified claims of fire code failure or other fake safety violations as a tactic to cover up religious freedom suppression.
One of the Christians who attends the church, Mr. Chen, said Shenzhen International Church serves about 3,000 members, 30% of which are people from Europe, the United States, Australia, Africa, or Southeast Asian countries who currently work in China. A majority of the other church members are from other Chinese provinces who work in Shenzhen.
Three years ago, the church came under fire after authorities pressured the landlord of the building into limiting the number of meetings, revoking their lease, and attempting to force the church to move out of the location.
Many of the church’s members fear that now that the church has been closed down for “fire safety,” authorities will continue to create new reasons to stop the church from starting back up again elsewhere.
ChinaAid reports on cases of religious persecution, such as the closure of Shenzhen International Church, to call attention to the abuses which the Chinese Communist Party commits against its citizens.