The charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling for the release of five Christians who have been detained in a rural area in China's south western Yunnan province, near the border with Myanmar, since early August.
CSW's source believes that the Christians were targeted because they rented a house in Fugong in the Nunjiang region where they had held a few Christian gatherings and given free guitar and hymn lessons to some young people. Christian preacher Wang Shunping was arrested along with four others on 2nd August and placed in detention. On 16th September police requested approval to formally arrest Wang who has two young children, on charges of 'organising and sponsoring an illegal gathering'. The situation for the other four detainees is currently unknown.
CSW's CEO Scot Bower said:
"CSW calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Wang Shunping and all those detained or imprisoned in connection to the peaceful exercise of their religion or belief. These Christians have clearly been targeted for gathering to practice their faith, as is their fundamental human right, and yet they have now spent over seven weeks in detention. The international community must show China that such conduct is unacceptable by raising these and other cases at every opportunity in both direct and multilateral dialogues with the country, such as at the UN Human Rights Council."
Nunjiang has been home to a Christian community since the early 20th century, however CSW says there are fears that the Chinese authorities have been trying to eliminate the influence of Western missionaries and many Christians have been detained in recent years.
Scot Bower added:
"We are concerned that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasing its efforts to crackdown on religion and belief groups in the lead up to the Party's 20th National Congress. We call on China to end its violations against all religion or belief groups in the country, including the practice of 'Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location' (RSDL), which has been recognised by the UN as a form of forced disappearance."