CHINA DETAINS NEARLY 2,000 CHRISTIANS
DURING PAST YEAR: RIGHTS GROUP
Tue Jun 27, 12:13 PM ET
BEIJING (AFP) - China
detained nearly 2,000 underground Christians over the past year, a US-based Christian rights group said.
According to the China Aid
Association, 1,958 Chinese underground church pastors and worshippers in 15 provinces were detained between May 2005 and May
The group said in a statement
that police and religious affairs officials displayed hostile attitudes at many Christian gatherings, mistreating and torturing
believers during raids on such meetings.
Underground churches are
for people worshipping outside state-sanctioned churches which are administered by the government and the ruling Communist
The rights group said the
central province of Henan
witnessed the most persecution, with 823 pastors and believers rounded up in 11 raids from July 2005 to May 2006. Five American
citizens were also arrested during that period.
Many Christians were abused
during detention: two women aged 72 and 21 were forced to take off their clothes during interrogation and a disabled pastor,
Li Gongshe, was severely beaten, it said.
The statement did not say
how long the Christians were detained. But in another statement earlier this year, the group said most were released after
they had been interrogated for periods ranging from 24 hours to several months.
The State Administration
for Religious Affairs said it had no knowledge of the detentions and declined to comment.
"The Chinese government
safeguards and guarantees the freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang
"The principle of China (on religious affairs) is to be self-independent, we do not allow any foreign forces
to interfere in China's internal religious