Crackdown on christians


Reuters, December 10,1999

Chinese authorities have detained 103 people who belong to Christian sects, a human rights group said.

Authorities targeted sects that mixed Western Christian doctrines with elements taken from Chinese culture, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said. Some of the groups held mainstream beliefs, while others were more unorthodox, the Centre reported, adding that Beijing was broadening the crackdown on groups it regards as cults. Officials are especially suspicious of fringe groups in China's vast countryside, which they think could see an upsurge in apocalyptic and superstitious belief with the millennium.

In July, the government banned the mass Falun Gong spiritual movement and labelled it a cult. In October, the legislature tightened a law against cults to make it easier to punish Falun Gong leaders.

Authorities also designated 10 Christian groups as cults, saying the groups had about 3 million followers, the Information Centre said. 75 members of one of the groups; The ALL Scope sect, were detained on November 19 in southern Hunan province, the centre said. In central Henan province, 15 members of the Orient Lightning sect were taken in on November 23, and another 13 members of the Zhu Shen sect were detained on November 22 in southern Guangdong province, the centre said.

The crackdown on the doomsday Zhu Shen cult follows the arrest last year of its leader, Liu Jiaguo for the alleged rape of more than 20 women. The centre did say if the detainees were still being held.

Though China allows some Christian churches on the mainland, its relations with the Vatican remain tense. Among other things, China has demanded that the Vatican break ties with Taiwan as a condition for establishing diplomatic relations.


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