They were among a group of some 30 members who were being detained Sunday morning when they tried to pray outdoors.
Police in China held “about two dozen” pastors and elders of Beijing’s Shouwang Church under house arrest or at police stations over the weekend to keep them from attending a Sunday worship service in a public location.
Three top leaders of the church remain in jail and several others are under strict surveillance. Chinese police arrested at least 160 members of the 1,000-strong church as they tried to assemble.
An ethnic minority house church leader remained detained in China’s troubled northwestern Xinjiang region Sunday, March 6, after a court rejected an appeal to review his 15 years prison sentence on charges of revealing state secrets to overseas groups.
United Nations officials and local Christians have linked the sentence to Pastor Alimujiang Yimiti’s Christian conversion, his leadership of a house church with his wife Gulinuer and two sons, and apparent involvement in sharing reports of religious persecution.
In a troubling setback, Chinese authorities last week launched a crackdown directed at Christians who belong to China’s huge network of unregistered house churches, calling a “cult” one of the fastest-growing populations of Christians in the world.
ChinaAid says according to the Politburo’s top-secret instructions, the crackdown on the largest component of the mainland Chinese church is to continue through March 2011.
A massive global evangelical gathering known as the Lausanne Congress will begin Oct. 16 in Cape Town, South Africa. But it looks likely to take place without the participation of 230 Chinese delegates.
So far, at least 11 people planning to attend have been forbidden to leave China, and many others have come under pressure. Many fear Beijing is moving to exert control over underground Christians.
Christians in China face a pattern of state surveillance, harassment, intimidation and threat that has increased over the past 18 months, as the Communist Party of China struggles to come to terms with what some say is a difficult truth: its policy on religion is failing.
For offenses as minor as printing a Tibetan flag, sending a text message about rioting or holding a photograph of the Dalai Lama, large numbers of Tibetans were badly beaten and tortured, and in some cases killed, by Chinese security forces in 2008, a human rights group reported Thursday.
In the most comprehensive report yet on the crackdown on Tibetans during and after March 2008 protests, the most serious in decades, New York-based Human Rights Watch interviewed 203 people described as Tibetan eyewitnesses.
“The scale of human rights violations related to suppressing the protests was far greater than previously believed,” the report states. “Chinese forces broke international law — including prohibitions against disproportionate use of force, torture and arbitrary detention.”
Video: Participants from different religions compete in the first ”Religious Games” in China, a country sometimes accused of heavy-handedness against religious minorities.
China has sentenced an Uyghur house church leader to 15 years “criminal detention” on charges of “providing state secrets to overseas organizations”, but his supporters linked the sentence to his Christian activities.
China Aid Association (CAA), an advocacy group with close ties to house churches, said Monday, December 7, that 36-year-old Alimujiang Yimiti received the sentence October 28, but that he his lawyers have filed an appeal.
Five pastors arrested without a warrant in China’s Shanxi Province as they were en route to file a complaint over the demolition of their church building have been sentenced to prison terms of three to seven years.
In one of the most oppressive measures against Christians in recent years, house church leader Yang Rongli was sent to prison for seven years for “illegally occupying farming land” and “disturbing transportation order by gathering masses,” according to China Aid Association (CAA). She and four other pastors were sentenced on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at the People’s Court of Raodu district, Linfen City, Shanxi Province.