Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Suffering Chinese Christians

"They hung me up across an iron gate, then they yanked open the gate and my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that for four hours."

That is how Peter Xu Yongze, the founder of one of the largest religious movements in China, described his treatment during one of five jail sentences on account of his belief in Christianity.

China's new generation of leaders are trying to consolidate control of the country as it goes through rapid social and economic changes. China's Christian population - especially those who refuse to worship in the tightly regulated state-registered churches - is seen as a threat to this control. And this is exacerbated by the fact that the number of Christians in China continues to rise.

One high-profile case is that of Gong Shengliang, head of the South China Church, who was sentenced to death in 2001. His sentence was commuted to a prison term, but Amnesty has received reports that he has been severely tortured in jail.

Peter Xu said that while he was in jail, he saw several people even being killed for their faith.
"A believer was praying, so a jailer made other prisoners lift him up to the ceiling and drop him to the ground many times until he died," Mr Xu said.

But government crackdowns - and even torture - may not make people like Peter Xu give up their faith. "Despite all the persecution and suffering, God is calling more and more people in China," he said.

Full BBC article

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