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Large-Scale Police Action Against Yunnan Christians

June 18, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that 12 members of an unauthorized house church in Yunnan Province have been arrested, with eight members facing imprisonment.

According to sources in China, the arrested persons, including Wang Qiyou, Huang Yuting, Huang Changshou, Huang Tingyi, Huang Guojie and Huang Shaoxian, were members of a house church in Nanong Village in Guna Town, Funing County, Yunnan.

In order to free themselves from the routine oppression that Chinese authorities impose on unofficial churches, Wang Qiyou and other church members had for some time been applying to local authorities for official permission to conduct worship services under the guarantees of religious freedom set forth in China’s constitution. On the evening of June 6, Guna Town officials turned up at four locations where the church was holding worship services, ostensibly for the purpose of carrying out the necessary documentation to register the church. Instead, Wang Qiyou and the others were taken to the Funing County Detention Center without any warrants issued or any notice given to their families.

Finally on June 13 family members received notice from the Funing County Public Security Bureau that Wang Qiyou and seven others were being detained indefinitely on charges of engaging in feudalistic superstition. Four others were placed under administrative detention for 15 days. In addition, local authorities carried out a sweep of other church members with the cooperation of Public Security police in neighboring Baise County in Guangxi Province. Sources say police action against house churches is still ongoing in Yunnan Province in what is believed to be the most wide-scale crackdown on house churches carried out in China this year.

“Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the international covenants to which China is a signatory,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “That includes the right to worship in the privacy of one’s home as much as the right to worship publicly in a church. Labeling this worship as engaging in feudalistic superstition does not excuse Chinese authorities’ relentless persecution of people exercising this basic human right.”

HRIC calls on the Chinese government to respect the right of Chinese citizens to freedom of religion by immediately releasing those currently being detained for their peaceful religious activity and to desist in the ongoing police action against other house churches.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495