Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chinese Christian "beaten, warned off seeing U.S. president"

BEIJING-A Chinese Christian says he was beaten by police and warned off going to a church service attended by U.S. President George W. Bush at the weekend, according to a letter written by the religious activist released by a human rights group.Hua Huiqi says in the letter he and his brother were picked up near the church in Beijing early on Sunday morning.He says they were beaten, dragged into two cars and then interrogated at a nearby building.Hua quoted police officers as saying,"You are not allowed to go to Kuanjie Protestant Church because President Bush is going there today. If you go again, we will break your legs."Hua said he managed to sneak out of the building when police were not watching, according to a transcript of the letter released late Monday by the U.S.-based group Human Rights in China, and that he is now in hiding. His brother was later released by police.Bush urged greater freedom of religion in China after visiting the government-approved Protestant church in Beijing on Sunday."Laura and I just had the great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing," he told reporters. "It just goes to show that God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion."The Public Security Bureau in Beijing has yet to respond to Kyodo News' request for information about Hua's case.All religious institutions have to be officially approved and come under some form of government control in China, but many Christians belong to illegal, or "house" churches which do not submit to state authority. Human Rights in China say Hua is a well-known house church activist who has been regularly detained and victimized by the authorities.Human rights groups and activists within China say the government had an organized policy of jailing and intimidating its critics ahead of the Beijing Olympics, an allegation the authorities have repeatedly denied.
As in the days of Noah...

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