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Owners of Bibles are the target of a crackdown on “illegal religious organizations” by police in southern China’s Guangxi province.
Up to 40 policemen descended on the homes of Christians in villages in Xilin county in the middle of the night, ransacking them in search of Bibles and other religious materials, according to written testimony supplied to Agence France-Presse.
Guangxi province in south China
Three Bible owners were taken away April 27, but their families did not know they had been sentenced and taken to a labor camp until Sept. 26. Finally, on Oct. 21, the relatives were allowed to visit.
The men were identified as Li Hualiang, Wu Zhengxin and Wu Xinhua, AFP said.
“This is really astonishing. A person is not a cow or a horse,” a villager said in his written testimony of the events. “Even if they had committed some evil act, if they were to be executed, or if they were to be sentenced, wouldn’t you have to inform their families?”
The Chinese government considers all Protestant churches outside the official government-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement to be subversive. The official churches are restricted, to varying degrees around the country, in their doctrine and practice. The vast majority of Protestants are in “underground” churches. Catholics also are restricted to a government-controlled church, which does not recognize the authority of the pope.
Police began imposing fines on the villages in Xilin county several years ago in an attempt to wipe out “illegal religious organizations,” but found it necessary to renew their efforts this year.
Similar crackdowns are under way in Hebei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, officials there told AFP, coming as China transitioned in March to new leadership led by President Hu Jintao.
Authorities in Jiangsu province in east China, north of Shanghai, have shut down 125 places of worship since July, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a Chinese Christian man was severely beaten after arriving at a “re-education through labor” camp, and a believing woman died after apparently being roughed up by police, according to Voice of the Martyrs, or VOM.
Zhang Yi-nan was assaulted at the Ping Ding Shan City labor camp on the first day of his two-year sentence.
The man arrested with Zhang, Xiao Bi-guang, was released from prison last month after publicity from his case elicited the prayers and protests of Christians worldwide.
Xiao was arrested Sept. 26 in Beijing and accused of “subverting” the Chinese government and “socialist system,” according to VOM.
The group said Xiao attributes his release to publicity that came to the attention of Chinese authorities. A policeman reportedly asked him: “How did you get your story on the Internet?”
A source inside the Beijing Public Security Bureau, the agency involved in many arrests of Christians, told VOM sources, “Zhang doesn’t have a criminal problem. He has a mind problem. He is too superstitious.”
International protest apparently pressed China’s communist government to finally notify Xiao’s wife that he had been arrested.
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