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Leading Chinese Christian Lawyer’s Continued Detention Suggests Criminal Prosecution Likely

Posted by Author on December 13, 2010, Dec. 13, 2010 –

(Beijing – Dec. 13, 2010) One of China’s foremost legal scholars and advocates of constitutional democracy has been in police custody since last Thursday, and while other “sensitive personages” have had their freedom restored following the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last week, authorities have taken further measures that seem to indicate they are preparing a criminal case against Christian lawyer Fan Yafeng, ChinaAid has learned.
Three days after taking Dr. Fan into custody on Dec. 9, police returned to his home on the evening of Sunday Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. and detained his wife Wu Lingling as well, interrogating her until 4 a.m. Monday. When Dr. Fan was taken into custody, she was told that he would be released four days later, but as of Monday, he remained in custody.

Much of the police questioning of Wu focused on the publications of the Shengshan Church and the Shengshan Culture Research Institution, and the financial affairs of the two organizations. Dr. Fan is a leader of the Shengshan Church and works at the research institute. He is also the leader of Christian Human Rights Lawyers of China.

The nature of the police interrogation follows the pattern of previous cases in which prominent or influential house church leaders were prosecuted and convicted of alleged illegal business operations and alleged illegal activities involving printing and publishing.

In addition to the late-night detention of Dr. Fan’s wife, police also confiscated everything from the church and the research institute premises, then went to the couple’s home and confiscated a large quantity of their personal effects. The police handed to Dr. Fan’s mother a huge stack of receipts for the confiscated items.

ChinaAid Association denounces this shocking development. After the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony last Friday, Beijing authorities released many “sensitive personages” whom they had detained or put under house arrest or surveillance. But the escalation of the measures against Dr. Fan and his house church highlights the fact that the Chinese government has launched a new crackdown targeted at the house churches – Operation Deterrence.

The all-powerful Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party launched the four-month “Operation Deterrence” crackdown on Dec. 1. Although China’s vast house church network are veterans of government persecution, this campaign is far more troubling because the authorities have labeled the house church movement a “cult.”

ChinaAid founder and president Pastor Bob Fu said, “The detention of Dr. Fan Yafeng and the confiscation of such a huge number of items clearly shows the anti-Christian motive of Operation Deterrence. If the Chinese Communist government insists on being hard-headed in its persecution of the church, it is playing with fire and is sure to get burned. Furthermore, this will only induce further church growth and unity. Just wait and see.”

Fu was on his way back to the United States from the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, to which he had been invited as an international guest, when he received the news during a stopover in London of the latest developments in Dr. Fan’s case. He immediately broke his trip and requested an emergency meeting with the British Foreign Office. Fu is now scheduled to meet on Monday with the Foreign Office to discuss Dr. Fan’s case.

Your prayers are appreciated.

– China Aid

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