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World News

Concern raised after Christians banned from meeting in China

The Christians are all former members of Living Stone Church - an unregistered house church in southwest China, which according to reports from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has faced increasing levels of religious persecution.

In 2015, the church was accused of illegally using a commercial building for its services and several church members were detained or fined in connection with the case.

Many more of its 700 members have since been pressurised not to attend services and several of its pastors have faced prison sentences.

Living Stone Church pastors, Yang Hua and Su Tianfu was were arrested for 'illegally possessing state secrets', Pastor Yang spent nearly three years in prison before being released in 2018 whilst Pastor Su Tianfu remains detained under a suspended sentence.

After authorities effectively closed down the church, the members have continued to meet in small groups, despite ongoing harassment from the authorities.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "Once again the Chinese authorities have used the Regulations on Religious Affairs to violate the right freedom of religion or belief, in contravention of international provisions protecting this fundamental human right.

"Members of Living Stone Church have faced years of unjust hostility at the hands of the government, and CSW condemns the authorities' order to prevent the Christians from meeting together. We call for the immediate repeal of this order and to cease all harassment of the church's members.

"We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Su Tianfu, and all those detained in connection with their religion or belief in China. The international community must take every opportunity in bilateral dialogues to raise the case of these Christians and other religious groups who are facing repression in China."

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