Authorities placed at least 20 Christians under residential surveillance in China’s coastal Zhejiang province over the past two months.
In China, “residential surveillance in a designated location,” also known as holding in “black jails,” is a more severe form of holding than “criminal detention.” Individuals under residential surveillance are held in undisclosed locations and are unable to speak with family or legal representation.
Two Zhejiang cities in particular, Wenzhou and Jinhua, have had more than 20 people placed under surveillance between 25 August and 24 October 2015, according to an anonymous Christian in Zhejiang. The source noted that the names of those detained in Jinhua have not been released and believed that the number was likely to be more than the 20 currently known.
According to church members in Zhejiang, those under residential surveillance in Wenzhou include Elder Wang Xianyun and Pastor Yan Xiaojie in Longwan District, Elder Zhou Aiping in Lucheng District, Pastor Huang Yizi and Pastor Zhang Chongzhu in Pingyang County, Deacon Zhang Zhi. Others taken into custody include some of the legal counsel for the local churches, including prominent human rights lawyer Zhang Kai and his two assistants Liu Peng and Fang Xiangui.
“Where are these people? We don’t know, and most of them have been placed under residential surveillance now instead of criminal detention,” a Wenzhou Christian said. “This is entirely outside the law. These are the actions of totalitarian regimes.”
For many of those held, the justification for the residential surveillance is on “suspicion of stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence.” Because this charge involves national security, authorities refused to let lawyers speak with those under surveillance.
Source: China Aid
- Pray that the Chinese government’s increasing efforts to restrict Christians will only serve to strengthen the faith and devotion of the believers.
- Pray for Christians and church leaders being held to remain faithful to the Lord regardless of the pressure or pain they may experience.
- Pray specifically for these 20 or more believers to take opportunities to witness during their custody; pray also that they will not be embittered but filled with hope.
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