Two Americans were roughed up by plain-clothes Chinese police during a raid of a house church in the Communist state, reports Christian-persecution monitor China Aid Association.
According to the group, the raid came during a crackdown on house churches that has seen 210 Chinese house pastors and members arrested since last month.
On Aug. 2, the two Americans, students believed to be from Westminster Theological Seminary campuses in Texas and California, were in their host family’s home in Lutou Town, Zaoyang City, Hubei Province with 41 pastors and other Christians when approximately 30 Chinese plain-clothed police officers rushed in.
According to several eyewitness reports, the two Americans were handled “very unprofessionally,” China Aid Association stated. One sustained injuries to his wrists after being handcuffed because he wanted to put his shoes on before he was forced into an unmarked police car.
The two Americans were neither permitted to contact the U.S. Embassy nor permitted to show their U.S. passports and other identification cards. Both were taken to a government “hotel” for interrogation and were released after a seven-hour interrogation. Some of the Americans’ belongings, including their personal bibles, notebooks and books on the Westminster Confession of Faith, reportedly were confiscated.
China Aid Association reports the 41 Chinese Christians were taken to No. 2 Zaoyang Prison, where some of them were tortured. According to eyewitness reports, Ren Daoyun, the 60-year-old hostess of the Christian gathering, was repeatedly beaten by Lei Youxin, the director of the prison. He reportedly kicked her, punched her face and beat her head against the wall with a prison chair. One eyewitness told China Aid that Ms. Ren’s mouth was bleeding and swollen. One teenage arrestee was hospitalized for a serious nosebleed due to repeated beatings.
The Chinese arresting officers reportedly confiscated the equivalent of several hundred dollars from the Christians and took the host family’s television set.
“To disrupt and close normal Christian fellowship meetings, as well as confiscate personal property, is contrary to the government’s claim to guarantee religious freedom in China,” said Bob Fu, CAA’s president. “To handcuff innocent American tourists and mistreat them is unprecedented, totally unacceptable and certainly deserves strong diplomatic condemnation. We urge people of all faiths to take action to protest the mistreatment and torture of these pastors and demand their immediate release.”
Fu is urging supporters to contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., to protest the arrests.