Children among 44 new arrests, journalist detained and pastor’s mother beaten by police as persecution intensifies in China
A further 44 arrests of Early Rain Covenant Church members have been made, including children, and a Chinese Christian journalist has been arrested after writing about how the elderly mother of detained Pastor Wang Yi was savagely beaten by a police officer.
Journalist and church deacon Zhang Guoqing was missing for several days before it was discovered he was being held in police custody for “provoking trouble”, according to a statement issued by the church in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on 2 March.
Mr Zhang published a story of how the pastor’s mother, Chen Yaxue, was beaten up by a policeman on 24 February. He described in the article how one officer grabbed her hair and kicked her, while another held her down, after she refused to reveal her PIN number to him at an ATM.
According to a recent statement by the church posted on Facebook, eight Christian families from Early Rain Covenant Church were evicted from their homes and two fired from their jobs after police pressured landlords and employers. A further 44 arrests were made on Sunday 24 February which included ten children and a two-month-old baby. “This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said the statement, which also noted that at least two members have been violently beaten by police.
Three hundred church members have been arrested or detained since the current wave of persecution against the Early Rain Covenant Church began in December 2018. About 100 others have been ordered by police to leave Chengdu and return to their hometowns.
Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, have been in jail since 9 December on charges of “inciting subversion”. According to the church’s statement, twelve Christians are currently being held in criminal detention, eleven are in “administrative detention” (often used to detain rights protesters and lasting up to 15 days), and one is missing.
Barnabas Fund has launched a global initiative to pray for Pastor Wang Yi and others imprisoned for their Christian faith. Visit our webpage: Christian Prisoners of Conscience.