On Christmas Day, two hundred police and officers from China’s Religious Affairs Bureau raided a Christmas service in Xinjiang province. The service was being held in a rented commercial building in Manasi County, just north of the provincial capital of Urumchi.
The Christmas celebration service, being attended by 210 Christians was broken up by the police who declared it an “illegal religious gathering”. They presented a search warrant and proceeded to confiscate items belonging to the worshippers.
Among the items confiscated by police were a rented minivan, a car, a piano, a video camera and 80 Bibles. Police also took away Christmas food which had been carefully prepared by church members. Twelve church leaders were arrested including the pastor, Guo Xianyao (aged 54) whom the police said they had been following for some time. Guo, who works as a civil servant in the local government’s industry and commerce bureau, was beaten around the head, punched, kicked and dragged by his hair before being taken away to the Manasi detention centre.
All of those arrested were required to pay a fine and while seven leaders were released on the following day, five remain in custody. They are: