Persecution Watchdog Urges Religious Freedom Ahead of China Olympics

China Aid Association
As China prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Christian human rights organisation Release International is calling on the Chinese Government to guarantee religious freedom for all its citizens.
Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 11:55 (BST)
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As China prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Christian human rights organisation Release International is calling on the Chinese Government to guarantee religious freedom for all its citizens.
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The Chinese authorities bulldoze a so-called ‘illegal’ church.
(China Aid/File)
Release International has launched a petition to press China to halt the persecution of Christians who attend unregistered churches.
“Up to 100 million Chinese Christians are outside the official church. For some there is no church within reach, while many others cannot accept the restrictions imposed by the state,” says Release International’s CEO Andy Dipper. “They face arrest, torture and imprisonment, and the destruction of their church buildings.”
The petition states: “The continuing arrest of Christians, detention of leaders, and their imprisonment on contrived charges stand in stark contrast to the more politically and socially developed nation that the government of China wishes to portray.
“The undisputed existence of a large majority of Christians choosing to practise their faith outside the state-registered church is clear evidence that Chinese Christians object to unnecessary and heavy-handed regulation and control of their religious activity.”
The petition urges the Chinese Government to repeal restrictive legislation and welcome the positive contribution Christians can make to society.
As China prepares to host the Olympics, security officials are maintaining their crackdown on signs of dissent — including so-called “illegal” church gatherings.
Release International’s President Rob Frost has just returned from China where he was on fact-finding mission to gather material for a DVD and PowerPoint presentation Pray for China. The resources have been produced for the forthcoming International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 18.
Frost spoke to a human rights lawyer who has been monitoring the many court cases brought against Christians.
“Many churches are disturbed by the police or government during their meetings, or even prevented from meeting,” he told Release International. “Some of them are accused of being religious ‘cults’; and sometimes people are detained.”
The lawyer described a typical case, where the authorities arrested eight Christians from the unofficial church and jailed them for up to three-and-a-half years.
“The church where the Christians used to meet was taken away from them by the government, to be used as a hospital. So the Christians had to move into a very run-down building for their meetings. This building was very dangerous, so they decided to build a new church.
“When they built the new church, they broke one of the laws, and the government sent three thousand police to destroy the new building.
“During the violence the Christians stuck to their Christian principles, and tried not to harm anyone. They did their best not to fight back when they were beaten. But the police were very violent.
“Most of the Christians charged were sentenced to ‘education through labour’, which means forced labour in jail for two or three years.”
A full report by Rob Frost features in the latest edition of Witness magazine from Release International. For more information and to sign the petition please visit: www.releaseinternational.org


China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected] 
Website: www.chinaaid.org

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