Chinese church members harassed on anniversary of crackdown

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Members of Early Rain Covenant Church have reported harassment and the detention of leaders on the fifth anniversary of a crackdown on the Chinese church.

Five years ago, at the church located in Chengdu, Sichuan province, over 100 members were arrested during a period of half a year.

The arrests resulted in a nine-year prison sentence for the church’s pastor, Wang Yi, and a four-year sentence for elder Qin Defu. Qin was released last year but Wang remains in prison.¬†

Church members report that in the run-up to the 9 December meeting, they experienced intimidation in the form of power cuts, warnings over the phone, stalking, police being stationed outside their homes, threats at their door, and being forcibly taken to the police station. 

A day after the meeting, the church reported that one of its members, Jia Xuewei, had been placed under administrative detention for 15 days, while preacher Dai Zhichao was criminally detained¬†on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

They were detained on International Human Rights Day, which this year coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). 

The EU’s delegation to China issued a statement on Human Rights Day calling for the release of Pastor Wang as well as other Christians and religious freedom defenders.¬†

Mervyn Thomas, the founder president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, welcomed the statement and called for the release of the Early Rain members and “all others who have been detained or imprisoned on account of their religion or belief”.

“These mass police operations against house churches show the Chinese authorities’ utter contempt for universal and inalienable human rights, and they are particularly jarring as the world celebrates the establishment of the fundamental rights enshrined within the UDHR,” he said.

“We also welcome the EU’s statement and urge the international community to continue to highlight human rights violations in China and to hold the Chinese Communist Party to account for these at every possible opportunity.”

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