ChinaAid translated the report on the final demolition of the Taishan Church prayer room, by Radio Free Asia reporter, Qiao Long.
By Qiao Long, special reporter for Radio Free Asia
English Translation by ChinaAid | PDF
September 22, 2010
On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, Yuhuan County government of Taizhou, Zhejiang province commissioned nearly 200 police officers and demolition personnel for a harsh task that would take place that morning. On the grounds of a “building code violation,” they demolished the prayer room of Taishan Christian Church. Dozens of church members arrived at the obliterated site where the prayer room once stood to recite Bible passages and sing hymns. They have set their hearts on rebuilding in the future. According to officials, the demolition was a coordinated act of the entire town, yet they wouldn’t give further explanation or details concerning the Taishan prayer room. The following is a report by Qiao Long, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.
For the second time since August 30, 2010, the prayer room of Taishan Christian Church in the town of Qinggang has suffered another forcible demolition by the hands of the government. This time, the job was finished and the site has been completely leveled. From the video provided by the members of the church, the members were seen steadfastly reciting the Bible and singing hymns while the police officers tried to disperse them. A member of the church said a line of police prevented them from removing their belongings from the room. “Several of us wanted to take out one of our windows, but they did not allow us and simply smashed it.”
On Tuesday, pastor of Taishan church Zhu Zugen told this station, “This morning, they came for the second time to tear down the building. It began at 8:30 a.m. and about 10:30 a.m., the demolition ended. The local government of Yuhuan County came and totally leveled our church’s building on Prayer Mountain. They were probably joined by the chief and deputy chief of the township government, and the director of the police station. The last time they came, they destroyed the outer wall of the building — this time, they leveled everything else.
This radio station reported that on August 30th, the authorities dispatched nearly 300 police officers and migrant workers to forcibly tear down the site on Prayer Mountain. In total, they tore down six rooms. Over 20 church members negotiated with the township government, but the talks ended without the parties coming to an agreement. Pastor Zhu said, “The last time they came here, they tore down six of the eight rooms. Last Saturday and Sunday, the villagers tried to save the remaining structures and remodeled them. Today, about 200 people came again and surrounded the entire place. Then, they totally leveled the buildings, stating that the structures violated the building code.”
Radio Free Asia called the township government’s Office for Comprehensive Management and the clerk told reporters that the demolition was the result of a cooperative act of the entire township government.
Clerk: “So you are a reporter?”
Reporter: “Yes. I have a few questions for you.”
Clerk: “You better ask the officials at the site. I’m not clear on the facts of the situation.”
Reporter: “Was this the coordinated action of the entire township or the entire county government?”
Clerk: “This was a coordinated act of the entire township government. Let me stop here. You’d better ask the leaders. I’m going to hang up.”
According to a church member who was an eyewitness at the scene, “Let me begin telling you what happened this morning: I saw approximately 200 people climb over the side of the mountain; they did not dare to come over from the front. When they first arrived, several of them knocked things around, which was exactly what the old Kuomintang policy prescribed. We were angered by the violent tactics they used against us, as we are elderly people. They dealt with us — the brothers and sisters of the church — in a shameless way in order to suppress us.”
A Mr. Li denounced the government’s violent means in tearing down the buildings through force, which runs contrary to their propaganda. “They were simply too brutal to the common people. They claimed that our place was built in violation of the building codes. Buildings in violation of building codes are everywhere, and some of them are even official buildings Temples in the surrounding are were all built in violation of the building codes, yet they singled us out, and don’t seem to care about anything else. They only said ours was in violation of the building codes, and so it must be torn down.” I replied, “We elderly people love to come here for recuperation and recreation. They began talking about “people-oriented” policies, but their actions are just the opposite of what they say.”
Mr. Li said that they will never give up fighting for justice. “Now that [the prayer room] has been torn down like this, we the common people will begin rebuilding and will continue through next year. The suppression imposed on the house churches by the Chinese local government has hindered any hope for improvement in the situation of the believers. This radio station reported yesterday that Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, president of Chinese Christian House Church Alliance, went to Xucheng Intermediate Peoples Court as a visitor to hear the case in which two Christians sued the local authorities for labeling them as “cultists.” As a result, he was detained by the police for three hours.
The above is a report by Qiao Long, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.Translation © ChinaAid 2010.