By Radio Free Asia
Translation by ChinaAid | PDF
October 6, 2010
October 4, 2010
On National Day, October 1, 2010, Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, president of Chinese House Church Alliance, wrote an open letter for the fifth time to Chinese President Hu Jintao, calling on the central government of China to show concern for the various incidents of persecution involving house churches and Christians. The following is an interview report by He Ping, reporter from Radio Free Asia.
Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan signed the open letter on October 1st, which was National Day in China. During an interview with Radio Free Asia on Monday, October 4, 2010, he said he had written several other open letters to President Hu Jintao which have been published by media both in China and abroad. Yet, the treatment of house churches (and TSPM churches in many provinces) by the government has not improved; some local governments have even intensified their suppression of Christian believers.
House churches in China have always been systematically rejected and oppressed. State policies are entirely different than what they claim to be. The top-level leaders seem to turn a deaf ear to the persecution of Christians while the officials at lower-levels continue to tyrannize them.
In his open letter, Pastor Bike listed a series of incidents that happened in September throughout China. He recounted the popular case in Shangqiu Municipality in Henan, when Christians were charged with belonging to a cult and sentenced to re-education through labor. The letter also contained the story of when the Qinggang Township Church building was torn down by the Yuhuan County Public Security Bureau (PSB) and the Bureau of Religion in Zhejiang province. He also mentioned the event when Christians conducting a normal gathering in Dazhou County, Sichuan were detained and fined by the local Youqing Township Police Station. They were charged with “disrupting public order under the guise of religion.” Pastor Bike said although the Chinese Constitution unequivocally states that citizens’ right to enjoy religious freedom is protected, occurrences in which the legitimate rights of churches not sanctioned by the government are violated happen almost daily.
In this era of liberalization, the state has repeatedly emphasized the freedom of religion and human rights, yet cases of persecution are happening throughout China continually. Those who were able to contact the Shangqiu PSB told them innocent people were arrested and detained for 15 days, and they still have not been released.
To protect their positions, local officials will not let anyone expose their corruption to higher authorities. They are able to hold meetings that will determine what is being said on the news. How can we allow our country to be governed like this? There is much talk from the authorities about social harmony, human rights and law, but their actions go in a different direction.
The US-based China Aid Association, a Christian advocacy group that focuses on religious rights, was the first to publish Pastor Zhang Mingxuan’s open letter. Mark Shan, spokesperson for Pastor Bob Fu, the president of the association, gave the following report to RFA:
“Pastor Zhang Mingxuan is not only a Chinese citizen, he is also part of the voice of Chinese churches. His fifth open letter demonstrates that ordinary Chinese citizens are becoming more aware of their rights as citizens. The house church Christians who suffer persecution now pay more attention to their adherence of Christian ethics and morality. This not only helps them to have strong standpoints in face of persecution, but it also enlivens them to voice their own opinions on the legal system of the state, the rights of citizens, freedom of religion and other issues. I actually think this is a good situation because it shows the church is maturing and growing in theological knowledge.”
Mark continued, “In the open letter, Zhang Mingxuan emphasizes that President Hu Jintao should personally pay attention to such issues as the blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng from Linyi, Shandong, and Alimujiang Yimiti, the ethnic Uyghuyr who converted to Christianity in Xinjiang who has been sentenced to a long imprisonment. We can see Pastor Zhang Mingxuan is concerned about the affairs of the state.”
Events like those that Pastor Bike wrote about happen on almost a daily basis. This is really unusual. It is doubtless that the persecution is carried out systematically and the intensity of the suppression is extensive. This indeed needs attention from people in all walks of life.
It is very important that Pastor Bike mentioned Alimujiang, who has been sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. This is a serious issue. Imprisoned, Alimujiang represents part of the complex problems in Xinjiang.
While Chen Guangcheng is not a Christian, he is a upstanding citizen representing a disadvantaged social group in China. The persecution he has suffered has aroused the concern of Christians and churches. Here, we see that Christian ethics and morality have begun to have an impact on the Chinese society. Christians in China are practicing principles of justice. Pastor Zhang Mingxuan shows he knows very well the current status of the Chinese society and is very concerned about the stability in China by mentioning these things. He also illustrated the way Christians adhere to justice and demonstrate the spirit of love.
In the open letter, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan said that as president of Chinese House Church Alliance, he has been arrested 49 times by the authorities because of his faith. This is the fifth open letter he has sent to President Hu Jintao on behalf of Chinese House Church Alliance.
The above is a report by He Ping, reporter from Radio Free Asia.
Link (Chinese 中文): President of Chinese House Churches Calls on Hu Jintao to Show Concern for Incidents of Religious Persecution