China: Anhui authorities deceive pastor into custody, demand cross removal

Source:                                     www.chinaaid.org

Date:                                           May 19, 2017

 

Brynne Lawrence

Chen Shixin
(Photo: ChinaAid)

ChinaAid

(Huaibei, Anhui—May 19, 2017) Targeted by powerful individuals who were illegally holding land, a pastor was summoned to the police station and detained on April 12, ChinaAid recently learned.

On April 12, authorities tricked pastor Chen Shixin into detention by summoning him to the police station, which is located in the Lieshan District of Huaibei, Anhui. Prior to his capture, influential people from the neighboring Duji District planted pine trees in Lieshan District and accused the church of harming 3,000 trees. As a result, Chen has been held for more than month on the charge of “damaging forest resources.”

A church member surnamed Gu told a ChinaAid reporter: “The people from Duji District forcibly occupied 3,000 mus [494 acres] of land [in Lieshan District] for more than 20 years. They ought to have returned the land by now, but they nevertheless do not want to comply with the law. Those people want to build a temple here, so they are trying hard to find our faults. We contracted 20 mus [3 acres] of land on a hill, and we cleaned up the weeds and wild vegetation from previous cultivation. They then accused us of damaging more than 3,000 trees, which we’ve never laid our hands on.”

Police also alleged that the church was a cult, claimed that Chen was collaborating with a cult, and ransacked his home. When a village official saw the scene, he stopped the officers and asked why they thought they could simply enter someone’s home and search their drawers.

The church was initially a part of a state-run Three-Self Church founded in 1992 and formed after some of the Christians split from the congregation. Now, the Three-Self Church harasses the church’s members in order to coerce them to re-join.

Speaking of an order the church received to remove its crosses, Gu said, “People from the Three-self Church reported us. We have a few buildings on the mountain. We used red paint to draw crosses on the walls, and the officials from the religious department soon broke in and asked us to erase the crosses. They threatened to demolish our buildings if we refuse to remove the crosses.”

ChinaAid reports abuses such as those suffered by Chen Shixin and his church members in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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