By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – According to the U.S. based rights group China Aid Association, house church leader Zhang Mingxuan’s two sons were brutally beaten by up to 15 officers of China’s Public Security Bureau. Zhang’s oldest son, Zhang Jian, was “severely beaten” unconscious when police raided the family’s home in Beijing. The injuries were serious, and he may lose sight in his right eye. A younger son was also beaten, China Aid Association added. The family was evicted from their apartment, and Pastor Zhang was detained in Kunming city, southwest China.
U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood called on “the government of China to immediately release Pastor Zhang and permit his family members to return home, to condemn the violent acts committed against his sons, and to bring to justice those individuals responsible for such acts.”
However, Chinese government called remarks by the United States, regarding religious intimidation of Pastor Zhang, “groundless” and “irresponsible.” Jiang Yu, spokeswoman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “We encourage the U.S. to pay more attention to its own human rights problems, instead of viewing itself as a human rights bodyguard interfering in other country’s internal affairs.” Jiang also said that Chinese citizens enjoy religious freedoms, but nobody can use religion as an excuse to commit crimes.
Zhang Mingxuan was nicknamed Pastor Bike for having traveled China by bicycle to distribute Bibles and preach the Christian gospel. Chinese officials have harassed members of the house church where Zhang Mingxuan preaches in the past. “During the past 22 years,” said China Aid Association, “Pastor Zhang has been arrested 26 times, beaten and evicted from his home numerous times for his faith.”
For more information, please see:
AFP – US presses China to free EU prize-winning dissident – 23 October 2008
Reuters – U.S. condemns beating of sons of Chinese pastor – 23 October 2008
Voice of America – Religious Repression In China – 28 October 2008
XinHua – China refutes U.S. remarks on religious beating – 25 October 2008