|Sanjiang Church was demolished on April 28, 2014. (Photo
China Aid Association
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—May 1, 2014) Believers in at Sanjiang Church in coastal China’s Zhejiang reported that the government began clearing the Christians from the church building on Friday, before Monday’s demolition.
On Friday, people from the Yongjia County Religious Affairs Bureau went to the church and told believers to leave, but local Christians said that the authorities were really just trying to gauge the situation. Later Friday evening, unidentified people, presumably government personnel, came into the church and disrupted the members’ gathering.
Believers reported that the group destroyed microphones and other audio equipment and that the church building’s water was shut off.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, church members began sending messages to China Aid’s reporter on assignment in Wenzhou. One said: “Now the situation is becoming chaotic.”
Three hours later, officials began to escort people out of the church. Believers said that two government employees would escort one worshipper out.
“The church was cleared by police. Now everybody is outside the gate. Before this, the authorities tested the waters. Now, the worshippers don’t have leaders [as they have been detained],” one Christian said (see https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/zhejiang-christians-fear-sanjiang.html).
By Sunday morning, church members were sending messages on WeChat, saying that more than 1,000 people, who had been guarding Sanjiang Church for more than a week, had been safely evacuated from the church throughout the night.
“It seems the battle of the defense of Sanjiang Church will come to a conclusion,” “Paul,” a netizen, posted Sunday. “The government didn’t dispatch armed police. Instead, they directly took more than 10 people in charge of the church into custody… Civil servants were warned, and they began to audit [the Church’s] accounts and tax matter in [the Church’s] private business… Last night, several hundred people were guarding the church. However, by early morning, they were almost all driven out.”
A local pastor told China Aid that the Yongjia County Public Security Bureau was in charge of the operation to clear the Christians out of the church building.
According to incomplete statistics, from April 23 to Saturday, at least five church were torn down or had their crosses removed. Those churches include Jianao Church in Pingyang County, Wenzhou, where six people were injured during the demolition; Baiquan Church in Zhoushan; Deen Church in Jiaojiang District, Taizhou; Shuiyang Church in Linhai, Taizhou; and the nursing home of Yangyang Catholic Churchin Liu City, Yueqing, Wenzhou.
Sanjiang Church was demolished Monday after a month long, off-and-on standoff with the government (see https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/zhejiang-tspm-church-faces-forced.html, https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/one-tspm-church-in-zhejiang-finds.html,https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/sanjiang-church-in-zhejiang-facing.html andhttps://chinaaid.org/2014/04/thousands-of-christians-again-guard.html).
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
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