Authorities in the Chinese city of Xiamen city have raided the same church for the second time in just over a month, destroying property and confiscating materials.
According to witnesses, the authorities declared parts of the Xingguang Church "illegal" without providing any documentation or evidence to back their claims. The officials were accompanied by construction workers and unidentified persons dressed in riot gear. Church members called the police several times after the group showed up. However, when the police arrived, they informed church members that they had no power to intervene.
Xingguang Church was previously raided on 3 May, with officials shutting down a worship service and injuring a number of congregants in the process.
China's Christian churches have come under increased persecution in recent months, with officials using the Covid-19 pandemic as a guise to enforce brutal measures on congregations across the country. Since the start of the year, innumerable churches have had their Christian symbols removed, with one report claiming that some 250 churches were stripped of their crosses in the first quarter of this year.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns the raid on Xingguang Church in Xiamen, which is yet another example of China’s relentless crackdown on religious groups. A church exercising its right to freedom of religion or belief by engaging in peaceful religious activities has endured property damage, harassment and intimidation without justification.
"This is by no means an isolated incident and we call on the Chinese authorities to cease all harassment of Xingguang and other churches, allowing them to meet for religious activities and upholding the right to freedom of religion or belief for people of all faiths and none. We continue to urge the international community to pay close attention to developments in China, holding the Chinese Communist Party to account for abuses of power and violations of religious freedom.”