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Police in China detain 8 leaders of unauthorized Protestant church: Watchdog
IHT ^ | June 27, 2007 | AP

Posted on 06/28/2007 1:35:17 PM PDT by siunevada

SHANGHAI, China: Chinese police have detained eight leaders in the country's unauthorized Protestant church movement on charges of violating rules on religious activity, an overseas monitoring group said Wednesday.

The detentions, the latest reported in an ongoing campaign of harassment against underground church groups, came earlier this month in the northern provinces of Shaanxi and Shandong, the China Aid Association reported.

Pastors Zhou Jieming and Niu Wenbin were picked up on June 9 while distributing religious literature in a market place in Shaanxi's Jiaocheng county, along with 10 other church activists, said the group, based in Midland, Texas.

While the others were released, Zhou and Niu are being held on "suspicion of using evil cult to obstruct of the enforcement of the law" — a charge authorities use to punish those worshipping outside official Communist Party recognized religious groups.

It wasn't clear what their punishment could be, but the Aid Association said they could face a three-year sentence in a labor camp without the benefit of trial.

Six other church activists were detained in a police raid on a church service being held in a private home in Shandong's Cao county, the group said.

It said four were pastors in the local underground church, but the identities of the other two weren't known. They too face possible labor camp sentences, although police were offering to release them on payment of a 10,000 yuan (US$1,312; €975) fine, the group said.

Officers reached at the Jiaocheng and Cao county police stations said they had no information about the reported detentions. Neither would give their names as is usual with Chinese bureaucrats.

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TOPICS: Current Events; Evangelical Christian; Religion & Politics

1 posted on 06/28/2007 1:35:18 PM PDT by siunevada
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