China's Zhejiang Government Flexes Its Muscles: Two Church Crosses Removed in One Day
Over 200 Church Crosses Removed in Five Months
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that, on August 27, two more church crosses in Zhejiang Province, China were forcibly removed by city government's demolition squad, injuring at least five senior church members. As of now, more than 200 church crosses have been forcibly removed by the provincial government since early April.
On the morning of August 27, two church crosses were forcibly removed from Ruo Heng Church in Wenling City and Cheng Xi Church in Wenzhou City. In the meantime, a demolition team of more than 100 police officers and SWAT personnel was sent to remove the cross of Shangzhou Church in Wenzhou City. At least five senior church members were hospitalized after suffering injuries for trying to defend their church's cross. Local Christians expressed anger toward Wenzhou police for brutalizing church members. "Are they really the police paid by citizens' tax money or violent mobs?" a local Christian asked over Chinese social media, through which Christians in Zhejiang Province have been sharing information and prayer requests in response to the cross demolition campaign.
In early August, Zhejiang Provincial government's two state-church leaders endorsed the cross demolition campaign through a press conference that "the government removes and modifies illegal construction according to law. Religious buildings are not exception." However, they have never provided the legal basis by which the government has torn down hundreds of church crosses.
"Who is illegal? The government's demolition team who beat up people or Christians who are defending their church cross?" a local Christian asked ICC rhetorically during an interview. "We are Chinese citizens respecting our law," they continued, "but the government ignores it." In late July, ICC reported the bloodshed caused by the government demolition team's second attempt to forcibly remove Jiu En (salvation) Church's cross. Seven Christians were severely injured in the conflict when congregants clashed with demolition crew members in an effort to stop the defacement. Their lawyers have since urged the government to find and punish the assailants responsible for their clients injuries to no avail.
ICC's Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, Sooyoung Kim, said, "In response to today's cross demolitions, we once again call on the Zhejiang Provincial government to end its disgraceful cross demolition campaign and to investigate the brutalization of congregants by police and SWAT personnel. For months, Zhejiang provincial authorities have ignored their own people's cry for justice, refusing to provide the legal basis by which it has torn down hundreds of church crosses. All Chinese Christians hold a human right to exercise their religion publicly, free from abuse and harassment. The baseless demolition of hundreds of church crosses and the brutalization of dozens of peaceably assembled congregants are clear and reprehensible breaches of that right and cannot go unaddressed."
For all concerned individuals, please sign the ICC petition and join Chinese Christians' efforts to stop the destruction of churches and crosses.
For interviews, contact Sooyoung Kim, Regional Manager for Southeast Asia: RM-SEAsia@persecution.org
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