For Immediate Release
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai authorities arrested more than twenty members of an underground church and sentenced the church’s leader, Xu Guoxing, to 18 months of Reeducation Through Labor.
HRIC learned of Xu’s arrest and sentencing through an emergency appeal from China’s Christian community to religious and human rights groups all over the world. The appeal letter states that on December 8, 2002 while more than twenty Christians were gathered in Xu Guoxing’s home for a worship service, a large number of Public Security police officers burst into the house, searching the premises and arresting all those present. The police also confiscated a quantity of printed materials, tapes and a computer, and even the stools the worshippers were sitting on. Eventually all of the worshippers were released except for Xu. On January 7 the police contacted Xu’s mother and gave her written notice that Xu had been sentenced to 18 months in a labor camp. It appears that this sentencing was handled entirely by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, as Xu’s family was never notified of any formal charges or trial.
Xu Guoxing, aged 47 and also known as Philip, is an important leader in Shanghai’s underground church. According to HRIC’s information, Xu has consistently refused to accept Chinese authorities’ restrictions on unofficial worship, and has been subjected to repeated acts of persecution for conducting religious services in private homes. He was previously sentenced to six years and four months in a labor camp, during which he was reportedly forced to carry out inhumanly arduous labor.
HRIC President Liu Qing observes, “The Chinese government likes to claim to the international community that Chinese citizens enjoy full religious freedom. Yet the authorities continue to persecute religious groups that operate outside of official control. What makes this case even worse is that Xu Guoxing wasn’t even granted the right of due legal process but was summarily sentenced to a labor camp without a trial.”
HRIC calls on the Chinese government to immediately release Xu Guoxing from the labor camp, and to demonstrate true religious tolerance by allowing China’s underground churches to function without interference.
For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495