Police arrested more than 100 church leaders in northwest China during a retreat to train Christian workers in the region, a US-based religious group said Wednesday [21st July].
On 12 July, about 200 officers in 46 police and military vehicles surrounded the Christians at the Retreat Centre for Railroad Workers in the town of Liugong in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to a statement from the China Aid Association.
The Yingshang Church, an Anhui Province-based house church network, had sponsored the retreat.
The term “house church” indicates the group was not registered for Christian activities, making it illegal.
It is also illegal to cross a provincial border for religious meetings without central government approval, so retreat participants from outside Xinjiang are being treated differently, the association said.
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Police took all but 30 people back to their hometowns, where they are being held, the association said. Some are being pressured to give up Christianity, it said, and those who do not give up face charges.
The other 30 are being held at the retreat centre, it said.
Among those arrested was Jin Da, 34, general secretary of the state-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province near Shanghai, the China Aid Association said. His movement oversees 46 churches.
Also last week, authorities arrested 40 house church leaders at a training seminar in Chengdu in Sichuan Province, southwestern China. Most have been released, the association said, but a Taiwanese couple leading the seminar cannot be found.
Meanwhile, a man arrested previously is being tortured to make a confession, the group said.
“These cases show irrefutable evidence of the worsening situation on religious persecution in China,” said Bob Fu, president of the association.
The China Aid Association is a nonprofit Christian group based in Pennsylvania that backs unofficial Christian groups in China.