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Police detain at least 34 Christians in Beijing

Beijing (AsiaNews): Around 34 members of an unofficial Protestant community in Beijing, the Shouwang Church, were detained by police before or after Sunday services on July 21. 

“It was a sunny day. As far as we know, at least 34 people were taken away from locations near the platform or from home,” Reverend Jin Tianming, the leader of the community, wrote in a statement. “Some of them were released soon after they were taken away and the rest of them were detained at Zhongguancun Street police station.”

Shouwang Church claims more than 1,000 members. It tried to register with the government in 2005, but was denied and members have been forced to meet in the street for Sunday services since 10 April 2011, after the authorities banned them from several locations they had tried to lease. 

In 2009, the community bought a 1,500 square metre building in which to hold their activities, but authorities prevented them from using it. They then tried to use a private home and then a restaurant, each time the police intervened.

In June 2011, the Public Security Bureau set a record by arresting dozens of people over seven consecutive Sundays. 

 

Unofficial Protestant organisations count around 80 million members  in China, while membership in the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches is estimated at about 20 million.

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