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Chinese Authorities Raid Religious Gathering, Confiscate Bibles, Detain Church Members

May 8, 2008


Human Rights in China condemns last week's raid on Chengdu Qiuyu Blessings Church by Chengdu religious affairs authorities who declared the gathering to be illegal, seized Bibles and other religious materials and detained the church members.

“The harassment of independent religious activities such as this gathering makes a mockery of government vows to improve China’s human rights record in this year of the Beijing Olympic Games,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “In the final 100-day countdown to the Games, the Chinese authorities must demonstrate compliance with domestic and international legal obligations, including respect for the right to free expression and freedom of religious practice.”

The harassment of independent religious activities such as this gathering makes a mockery of government vows to improve China's human rights record in this year of the Beijing Olympic Games.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China

According to church members, over 40 members of the Chengdu Qiuyu Blessings Church gathered at a resort near Shuangliu, Chengdu, on May 2 when some 40 public security officers and religious affairs authorities raided the gathering. The authorities questioned whether the gathering had been properly registered and told the participants they were “suspected of being involved in illegal religious practices,” church members said.

The officials detained the church members for more than three hours, photographing them and demanding that they produce their identity cards. The officials also confiscated Bibles, hymnals, and religious education materials and searched computers. The authorities then harassed the owner of the vacation village where the gathering had taken place until the participants agreed to leave immediately.

“Such actions constitute an attack on the government’s wish for a harmonious society, on civilized methods of law enforcement, on China’s human rights situation—which has received much attention domestically and abroad in the run-up to the Olympics—and in particular, on our religious freedom, personal freedom and private property,” church members said in an open letter issued after the incident.

Human Rights in China calls on the authorities to stop harassing peaceful religious practitioners. Human Rights in China is issuing an English translation of the church members’ letter, attached to this press release.

Attachment: Open letter from members of the Chengdu Qiuyu Blessings Church [PDF]