China Accused Of Religious Attacks

AP, Aug. 23, 2002
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-1965920,00.html

BEIJING (AP) – About 70 Christians have disappeared or been secretly arrested in China in recent months, a group of Chinese religious activists said Friday.

The Christians worshipped in underground or “house” churches that operate outside the communist government’s control, said the New York-based Committee for Investigation on Persecution of Religion in China.

The group said the crackdown came as China prepares for the Communist Party’s national congress, a major meeting of China’s leaders that takes place about once every five years. Authorities usually arrest political and religious activists and others who might embarrass the Communist Party during such high-profile events. The government has yet to announce the date for the congress, expected to be held this autumn.

The committee compiled a list of 71 people who have allegedly been secretly arrested or have disappeared – most in July. The list included the detainees’ names, ages, addresses, brief descriptions of how they were arrested and where they were held.

Calls seeking comment from the Ministry of Public Security and the Bureau of Religious Affairs went unanswered Friday evening.

The Associated Press tried to call the homes of some of the people on the list, but operators in their towns – mostly in rural areas of the northern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin – said that they had no telephone service. It is common for rural homes not to have phones.

The committee, run by Chinese Christians living abroad, has released detailed reports before that have been praised by human rights researchers and scholars.

Foreign religious scholars have estimated that the number of house church members run as high as 60 million. China’s official Christian churches have about 15 million followers.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday August 25, 2002.
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