China Aid Association
This release was written by Pastor Liu Tongsu, an eyewitness to these events.
(SHANGHAI — February 13, 2009) On the morning of February 10, 2009, six Chinese police officers and officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) visited the chief pastor Cui Quan of Wanbang Missionary Church of Shanghai and ordered him to cancel the 4th Seminar of Chinese Urban House Church Pastors Fellowship. Pastor Cui Quan argued and claimed that the church has its rights. He also pointed out that as the authorities tried to ban the conference at the last moment when most attendants to the seminar had already arrived and checked into hotels, it was really impossible to cancel the conference by that time. The visiting officials persisted in their original order and threatened that if the conference was not canceled, the government would terminate the conference with coercive measures. The next morning, two police officers again came to the church and again ordered that the conference be stopped. Pastor Cui Quan came up with various flexible plans in an attempt to comply with the order, all to no avail. He then had to announce that the conference be held as originally planned. Again, the visiting police officers threatened that they would use harsh and coercive measures to stop the conference.
During the lunch, the delegates to the conference decided that though they had the right to get together, they did not want to make things difficult for the local police or bring unnecessary troubles to Wanbang Missionary Church. Therefore, they decided to move the conference to another location. On the afternoon of February 12, when the conference ended at another place, Wanbang Missionary Church found that the police had ordered the landlord of Wanbang Church to terminate the rental agreement within 30 days. At this time, the congregation of 1,200 of Wanbang Missionary Church faces losing their site of gathering that they have legally rented. Therefore, they are deprived of their right to Sunday worship.
This act of the Chinese government is a serious violation of the people’s basic rights and it is committed in a very unreasonable manner. (1) In using coercive measures to end a small-scale academic seminar, the authorities will obviously deprive the people of their right to assemble. (2) While Wanbang Missionary Church changed the site of the conference out of their understanding of the difficult situation the police found themselves in, it is very unnatural and is against human nature for the police to take revenge on the church for trying to cooperate. (3) Terminating a civil agreement that is completely in line with the legal process, through the use of a state compulsory organ (police) is already a violation of more than one law. We urge people from all walks of life to appeal to Shanghai government to stop its persecution of Wanbang Missionary Church and we also ask Shanghai government to end out of their own accord all improper and unconstitutional acts.
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