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Church leaders tried for revealing crackdown
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 03/20/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
China has conducted a secret trial of three leaders in the underground church charged with exposing a crackdown against Christians.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Liu Fenngang, Xu Yonghai and Zhang Shengqi were accused of “providing intelligence to overseas organizations” in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou.
Police detained Liu in October while he was researching a crackdown on Christian groups in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district last year. The men reportedly told overseas groups how authorities destroyed more than a dozen house churches and arrested at least 300 Christians. Some of the believers, they said, were physically abused.
The court’s verdict could come anytime in the coming weeks. The men face imprisonment of 10 years to life.
Xu and Zhang were active members of Liu’s house church. Authorities detained Xu, a psychiatrist, in Beijing last November. Zhang, an Internet writer, was arrested in Jilin province the same month.
Xu’s wife, Li Shanna, and other family members were barred from the hearing Tuesday, reported Agence France-Presse.
“My husband is not guilty,” Li told AFP by telephone as she rode the train back to her home in Beijing.
Hangzhou court officials refused to comment, AFP said.
“This involves state security. We cannot speak to the reporters about this,” said court employee Xu Minghui.
A report last month by the evangelical magazine Christianity Today said more than 50 Chinese Christians, including three prominent Protestant leaders, have been arrested in a new crackdown that followed the release of a video and book in the United States documenting the massive growth of the unregistered church.
China has more than 15 million Christians in government-sanctioned churches but as many as 80 million in unregistered congregations branded by the communist regime as “illegal cults,” though estimates vary widely.
In January, police arrested three prominent Protestant leaders from Henan province, Qiao Chunling, 41, Deborah Xu Yongling, 58, and Zeng Guangbo, 35. Guangbo escaped two days after his arrest and remains in hiding, CT said.
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. Catholics also are restricted to a government-controlled church, which is not allowed to recognize the authority of the pope.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a video recently was smuggled out of China documenting the destruction of an unregistered church in Zhejiang Province, according to VOM.
In November, Chinese officials closed 125 places of worship, affected 3,000 Christians.
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