China Aid Association
(Kucha, Xinjiang – Sept. 28, 2012) China Aid Association learned that on the afternoon of September 13, 2012, a house church in Kucha, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was raided and suppressed by the local police and agencies in charge of civil affairs, religious affairs, etc., and the church service was forced to stop. Four Christian brothers and sisters were taken to the police station; property including Bibles, Bible study material, computers, and cellphones were confiscated. Christian brothers and sisters attending the service were threatened, verbally abused, and intimidated.
Recorded Audio interview:
According to sister Luo who attends this house church, the church has approximately thirty attendees. Some local government agencies harshly persecute house churches, making it especially difficult for believers to gather and worship God on Sundays, so they usually gather at sister Luo’s home after 4pm every Thursday to study the Bible, to preach from it, and to sing worship songs. The meeting held on Thursday afternoon September 13th caught the attention of the authorities because three teachers came in from Urumqi to teach the Bible. Less than an hour after their meeting started, about 15 to 16 people forced their way into sister Luo’s home, including officials and staff from the local Religious Affairs Bureau, the Civil Affairs Bureau, Office 610, the police station, and the community management agency. As they forced their way into her house, they immediately declared the meeting to be illegal without showing any legal papers, and claimed that all house churches are cults and heretical. They demanded the ID cards of everyone present and took them by force. They searched the room and confiscated computers, cellphones, Bibles, Bible study materials, notebooks, hymnbooks, etc. Finally, they took four Christian brothers and sisters (including Luo) to the Civil Affairs Bureau for questioning, and kept them there until very late at night. Of all the items that had been confiscated, only three Bibles were returned. On the next day, sister Luo went to the Civil Affairs Bureau to demand the return of the rest of the confiscated items, and was told that computers and other items were kept at the police station, so she went to the police station but only got back a few people’s cellphones, ID cards, and computers. None of the Bible commentaries, Bible study notebooks, nor hymnbooks, which were alleged to be “illegal material” were returned by the police.
Kucha, (old name Kiu-che in Chinese) was a radiant pearl on the ancient Silk Road, a hub of East-West cultural interchanges, and now is the starting point of the West-East Gas Pipeline Project. There are more than 10 house churches in Kucha, similar to the one meeting at sister Luo’s home. Believers attending these churches are at least as numerous as the attendees of the “Three-Self” Church. However, the local government agencies in charge of religion, civil affairs, public security, and Office 610, view house churches as heretical and have increased their intensity in suppressing them. Sister Luo knows some of the people who attend the “Three-Self” Church and she has participated in some activities of the “Three-Self” Church over the years. After the invasion of the church at her house took place, she turned to the “Three-Self” Church for help, but the pastor and elders actively avoided her and they were too frightened to even meet with her, fearing that she would bring trouble to their church. Sister Luo had believed wholeheartedly that believers were family to one another, but when the “Three-Self” Church did not (or dared not) utter a sound while brothers and sisters of house churches were persecuted, it made her feel very disappointed and helpless.
China Aid Association expressed indignation and condemnation of the illegal practice of the local government agencies in suppressing Christian house churches. China Aid is deeply concerned about the ever-escalating illegal suppression of house churches everywhere in China by the government and calls on the brothers and sisters of house churches in mainland China to defend their rights of religious freedom with courage and law. It also calls on the Chinese government to cease and desist from its persecution of house churches, and to take practical measures to safeguard and fulfill citizens’ rights of religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution as well as other enumerated rights.