By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- Church leader Li Shuangping, a leader at Linfen church, was beaten and threatened by unknown assailants on the night of Aug. 13.
According to a story by human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), relying on reports from China Aid, Li had been driving to his home in Shanxi Province and was forced to stop his car when a man who seemed to be intoxicated staggered into the road.
CSW said Li was then dragged into a black car which had pulled up alongside his vehicle, tied up, blindfolded and pinned down while three men beat him around his head and body. One man also threatened to kill Li and his family members, including his children. Li was then thrown out of the car.
Li believes the alledged perpetrators were working for the local government and he sees this is an attempt to threaten house church leaders. During the incident, one of the men asked Li how he would like to die as a result of being a house church leader.
In 2009, CSW reported, the 50,000-strong Linfen church was raided by several hundred police and plainclothes officers, after which Li was sentenced to two years of reeducation through labor. During the raid o n the property, Bibles and the building itself were damaged and a number of church members were beaten and injured.
Some church leaders attempted to travel to Beijing to file a formal complaint but were arrested on the way. Li Shuangping and several other leaders were released in July 2011; others were released in 2012 and 2013. However, some remain in prison, including Yang Rongli who is serving a seven year sentence.
Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in the news release, "This attack appears to be an attempt to intimidate the Linfen church leaders and their congregations. The Chinese authorities have a responsibility to protect all citizens from attacks on their personal safety and to investigate serious threats against them and their families by both state and non-state actors."
He added, "We call on the Chinese government to immediately put an end of all kinds of attacks and restrictions on Linfen church leaders, and urge the authorities to immediately release those leaders still in prison."
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.