Three Sichuan church members detained for planning Christmas gathering

China Aid Association
By Rachel Ritchie

(Langzhong, Sichuan—Dec. 30, 2014) Three house church members in China’s southwestern Sichuan province were placed under administrative detention on Christmas Eve after local police raided the home they were gathered in and confiscated musical instruments and other items.

“On Dec. 24, we… were preparing to celebrate Christmas in Baoma Town [on Christmas Day],” Langzhong House Church’s pastor, Li Ming, said. “As the three church members were making preparations, people from the Langzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau came and took them away and detained them for 12, 10, and five days.”

One of the detained believers, Ma Yuying was released yesterday after finishing a five-day administrative detention.

“The police said our gathering was illegal,” Ma said. “At the time [of the raid], there were eight of us. The church members were outside and I was preparing a meal for them. That place is not our gathering place, and we were preparing to celebrate Christmas on the next day. There was no [illegal] activity in the home.

“When we explained [that we were preparing for a Christmas gathering the next day], they said that we are allowed to celebrate Christmas, but we mustn’t celebrate it in a worshipper’s home. Instead, we must celebrate in a designated public place. We said that we wanted to celebrate in a home because we have many elderly church members who couldn’t make it to a different place,” Ma said.

“They conducted an investigation at the home,” Li said. “When they came, they didn’t show us any identification papers and went directly to searching our homes just like the Japanese invaders during World War II. The police simply have no sense of the law. We are very sad that we failed to celebrate Christmas.”

Police also detained Chen Deying, from whom they confiscated several musical instruments, and Li Chengxi, both of whom have yet to be released. Another worshipper, He Shili, was also confronted by police on Dec. 24. Hongshan Police confiscated musical instruments and detained five worshippers from He’s home.

Ma said that there are no plans to file administrative reconsideration cases because police said they would return the confiscated items after Christmas.

Langzhong House Church, which is home to 1,500 worshippers who are divided into many branches throughout the area, has faced continuous persecution, especially around Christmas. Last year, church member Li Mingbo was placed under a 15-day administrative detention for refusing to pay a fine associated with organizing a gathering.

During a 2011 Christmas gathering, nearly 200 worshippers were dispersed from the town square they had gathered in when police used tear gas against them.

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
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