|Shengzhou church members sit on boulders outside the gate
of the church to protect it from demolition on Aug. 21.
(Photo courtesy of Shengzhou church members.)
China Aid Association
As a continuation of the province-wide “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign, more than five churches in Pingyang County, Wenzhou, during the last half of August, including Shangzhou Church, where more than 100 government officials arrived on Aug. 27 to demolish the church’s building.
“After 9 a.m., special police vehicles came to the Shangzhou Church of Mabu town, Wenzhou,” a Shangzhou Church member said on Aug. 27. “There, they used an excavator to reach the building, saying that the building violates codes. Then, they went directly to demolish the wall. At about 9:30 a.m., they again drove people out [of the building] and attempted to demolish the church.”
“The church itself was not demolished, but a small house on the side of the church was demolished, and several elderly people were beaten,” another believer said the day of the incident. “I’ve just learned that more than 10 people were injured this morning and in the afternoon, some people were discharged from the hospital. Three people remain in the hospital for further observation.”
“The [authorities] went there in the morning and in the afternoon,” another Christian said. “I saw the photos. An elderly woman who goes to our church was sent to a hospital. She’s at least 60 years old. A one-story building of the church was demolished. About two or three rooms outside the church gate were demolished.
“Now the big gate is closed, and only a small door remains open,” the Christian said. “The [authorities’] vehicles can’t go up there unless they storm inside and demolish it. Inside the gate, there are stones and wood the church members are using to block the gate.”
|Church members and police line the way to Shengzhou Church
on Aug. 27. (Photo courtesy of Shenzhou Church members.)
Because the church members blocked the gate, the police were unable to demolish the church’s cross as planned. “I think they only wanted to demolish the cross,” one church member said. “However, the church is at the top of a mountain, and there is a wall around it so their vehicles couldn’t reach. They have to demolish the wall before their crane can come up [to demolish the cross]. This time, the cross is safe.
“Those elderly church members wouldn’t let the authorities demolish the cross,” the church member said. “As a result, they were injured and sent to the hospital. They were afraid this incident might get more serious like the Salvation Church in Shuitou, [which is also in Pingyang County]. The church leaders were afraid that there would be a serious, bloody incident so they ordered their subordinates to withdraw.”
On July 21, Pingyang County authorities attempted to fight their way through a human wall at the gates of Salvation Church, resulting in the serious injury of at least 14 people. Two of the injured received surgeries to correct their wounds, and seven of the injured have hired lawyers to pursue a lawsuit against the Pingyang County Public Security Bureau.
The same day, authorities demolished the crosses topping Ruoheng Church in Tiazhou and Chengxi Church in Rui’an, Wenzhou. Prior to the incidents on Aug. 27, authorities in the Gaogao village of Baixiang, Yueqing, Wenzhou, sent approximately 100 riot police to the village on Aug. 21 to demolish a church, resulting in another physical conflict between believers and police. The believers were dispersed when police used pepper spray against them.
The Pingyang County government also sent a larger number of police to Shangzhou Church, Zhengshan Church and Xianqiao Church on Aug. 21, where they failed to demolish any structures due to resistance from believers.
On Aug. 19, authorities demolished the cross on top of Taoyun Church’s building. Other churches recently targeted include Chuiyang Church, Guanming Church, and two unnamed churches in Pingyang County.