Senior China house church leader sent to labour camp

Christian Today Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 10:01 (BST)
The Deputy Chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance has been sentenced to two years in a labour camp.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Pastor Shi Enhao has been sentenced to “re-education through labour” for “holding illegal meetings and organising illegal venues for religious meetings”.
The pastor oversaw several hundred house churches in his role as deputy chairman of the alliance, an umbrella organisation for China’s unofficial house churches.
He disappeared on June 12 before police confirmed more than a week later that he had been detained.
The church in China is divided between ‘official’ registered churches belonging to the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and ‘unofficial’ house churches that refuse to register because of concerns over government interference.

Leaders of the Chinese House Church Alliance have faced severe persecution in the past, including arrest, imprisonment and harassment.
According to China Aid, an organisation supporting the persecuted church in China, Pastor Shi was previously arrested in Jiangsu province on May 31 and made to serve a 12-day administrative detention sentence.
Then on 1 June, Pastor Shi’s home was raided by police, who took away books and papers.
Human rights organisations are uncertain about the exact numbers of people in prison for “re-education through labour” at any one time, but it is believed to be more than 80,000.
The house church continues to face harrassment at the hands of authorities. Four leaders of the prominent Shouwang house church in Beijing are under house arrest.
The congregation has been meeting for worship outdoors after their landlord came under pressure to evict the church. Church members are reportedly being detained weekly for meeting outside.
CSW’s National Director, Stuart Windsor said, “CSW calls upon the Chinese authorities to respect the right of religious freedom for all its citizens to worship in a place of their choice by releasing Pastor Shi Enhao, whose case is representative of countless others of ongoing repression.”

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

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