CHINA: Shouwang Church requests administrative review

On 14 September, Shouwang Church applied for an administrative review of the actions taken against the church by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Shouwang Church has had to meet outdoors at a city plaza since April 2011, following eviction from its premises. The church has endured 17 months of outdoor worship in all weathers and relentless suppression and persecution by the Beijing government. The application for administrative review is to Beijing Municipal People’s Government, and the applicant is Jin Tianming, head pastor.

The application requests: ‚Ä® ‚Ä®
1. Verification that several acts on the part of the respondent violated the law (placing Jin Tianming under house arrest from 9 April 2011 to the present; failing to issue any legal documents with regard to restricting his freedom; failing to inform him of the legal basis for restricting his personal freedom and how to apply for financial assistance; pressurising the landlord of the premises leased by Shouwang; pressurising the developer of the premises purchased by Shouwang; detaining Shouwang members; forcing members to move or leave their jobs; and restricting the freedom of the church’s pastors and elders by placing them under house arrest.)

2. That the respondent immediately stops restricting the applicant’s freedom.

3. That the respondent immediately stops meddling in Shouwang’s property transaction so that the church can use the property it purchased.

The application follows the requests with a “Facts and Reasons” section, including the following information:
Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau began to raid Shouwang Church meetings in 2008. Since outdoor services began there have been 1,600 detentions of members either by Domestic Security Protection agents under the supervision of the respondent or in more 90 different police stations (for periods of several hours to 48 hours). Sixty people were evicted because they were Shouwang Church members or attended the outdoor worship services. Some members lost their jobs, others were sent back to their hometowns and some were confined to their homes at weekends. Shouwang’s pastors, elders and evangelists have been confined to their homes up to the present.

The application concludes: “Based on these facts, the applicant is of the view that the respondent’s actions… all clearly demonstrate that the respondent is suppressing the religious freedom granted by the Constitution to every citizen and the right of Christian churches to practice their religious faith, all of which constitutes religious persecution.

“To sum up, the respondent’s actions in restricting the applicant’s personal freedom is a serious violation of the principles and regulations of the Constitution and the administrative law. I hereby request the review agency to confirm that the administrative acts specified above violated the law and order an immediate cessation to the restriction of the applicant’s freedom. At the same time, I also request that the respondent stop interfering in Shouwang Church’s normal indoor worship activities, so that Shouwang Church can hold Sunday worship services in the property it has purchased, thus resolving this issue of outdoor worship once and for all. I request that the review agency carry out the applicant’s review request in accordance with the law.”

Recent Outdoor Meetings

The last couple of Sundays have been typical of events since April 2011. On Sunday 16 September the church held its thirty-eighth outdoor worship service of this year. At least 22 Christians were arrested, including a woman who was detained at a hotel from Friday 14 September. Ten Christians were released after they were taken away from the platform area of the plaza. The rest were taken to a police station and were released, one by one, by 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon.

The same thing happened the previous Sunday, 9 September: at least 19 Christians were arrested, and one woman was detained at a hotel from Friday. Seven Christians were released after they were taken away from the platform, while the rest were taken to a police station and were released by 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

Church Announcements

An announcement posted on Shouwang’s Facebook page on 16 September stated: “The Lord knows us; we wouldn’t be able to persevere through such a long period of time without Him sustaining us with His mighty hands. Therefore, we believe that our Lord is still with His church, and is going to manifest His glorious work through our weakness…

“May the peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mercy and love of Father God, and the consolation and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, be with each brother and sister of Shouwang Church and all the churches who remember Shouwang Church in prayers, from this time on and forevermore! Amen.”
An announcement posted on on 9 September stated: “As the battle continues, we hope that the whole church will come before the Lord in unity, fasting and praying that the Lord would renew His church. May the Lord hear our prayer, lead us and strengthen us, so that we can continue to follow Him out of weariness and weakness.”

Background

Shouwang Church was forced to move its services outdoors in April 2011 when it was evicted from its rented meeting place. The church members had purchased a floor of an office building to use for services, but the authorities had prevented them from taking possession.

In December 2011 Shouwang Church signed a lease for a new indoor venue and two days later books and other belongings were moved in. However, the landlord terminated the contract due to pressure from the local police, the housing management office and leaders of various government agencies.

Church leaders signed two further leases, but they were revoked after landlords came under pressure from the police and other government agencies. Arrangements were then made to rent a hotel room for the service on New Year’s Day 2012, but this arrangement was cancelled after police interference. Services have continued outdoors ever since.
(ChinaAid)