(Photo: China Aid)
Authorities place new restrictions on released pastor’s freedom
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.
(Hangzhou, Zhejiang—April 7, 2016) Officials in China’s coastal Zhejiang province imposed a series of restrictions on the recently released pastor of the largest government-sanctioned church, forbidding unapproved travel and unauthorized contact with the outside world.
Gu “Joseph” Yuese, the senior pastor of Chongyi Church in Hangzhou and former chairman of the Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council (CCC) publicly voiced his opposition to an outbreak of state-organized cross demolitions currently sweeping across Zhejiang. As a result, authorities published a letter to churches in Hangzhou calling for Gu’s removal and replaced him with a different government-approved minister. On Jan. 27, officials alleged that Gu had embezzled funds and held him in administrative detention issuing a formal arrest on Feb. 6. On March 31, he was released on bail and allowed to return home the next day.
However, according to a local Christian, “Now, even though he is at home, he has received certain restrictions on his actions. He cannot go anywhere as he wishes. His communications with people, [such as] social contacts and meetings [with people], have all received restrictions. If he wants to go to a place or do something, he cannot do it until he obtains the public security department’s approval.”
Additionally, officials prohibited Gu from traveling without approval and giving interviews.
Gu’s release occurred just before Chinese President Xi Jinping was scheduled to meet with Obama on the fringes of the Nuclear Security Summit, stirring suspicions that he was freed in order to minimize conversations on human rights.
China Aid president Bob Fu recognized Gu’s release as “a small step in the right direction.” However, he continued, saying that “…the scope and depth of suppression are both still … [more] severe than before. Specifically, in the process of forcibly demolishing crosses, violence has been used against innocent [Christian] believers. China should not violate Article 36 of the [Chinese] Constitution, which concerns safeguarding the religious freedoms promised to citizens as well as a commitment to [protect] human rights. All of the people currently apprehended should be released. We are very worried.”
China Aid reports cases such as Gu “Joseph” Yuese’s in order to expose abuses and promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.