U.S. condemns beating of China pastor's sons

BEIJING (BP)--The United States has voiced grave concern over the brutal beating Oct. 16 of "Pastor Bike" Zhang Mingxuan's two sons by public security officials in China.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood released a statement Oct. 23 that specifically highlighted the "continuing official harassment of Pastor Zhang, ... including his arbitrary detention and the forced relocation of his family." The State Department called on the Chinese government to release Zhang immediately, permit his family members to return home, condemn the violent acts committed against his sons and bring the individuals responsible for the persecution to justice.

The statement came the day after two congressmen, Frank R. Wolf, R.-Va., and Christopher Smith, R.-N.J., issued a joint letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking her to call for Zhang's release and demand that the damages inflicted upon his family be rectified. Both congressmen met with Zhang and his wife in Beijing this past July and heard firsthand about the abuses Christians in China suffer at the hands of Public Security Bureau officials.

Pastor Zhang was traveling when his family was attacked and efforts to contact him had been unsuccessful. On Oct. 22, however, he called his eldest son to say he was being detained by public security officers but was not allowed to tell anyone where or in what conditions he was being held, according to a report from the human rights group China Aid Association (chinaaid.org). Zhang's wife and sister also reportedly have been detained in a Beijing hotel.

In order to receive medical reimbursement for his injuries, PSB officials coerced Pastor Bike's eldest son, Zhang Jian, to sign a statement that he received only minor injuries in the beating, China Aid reported. Hospital records, however, indicated he received severe injuries that required complicated surgery.

On Oct. 10, police sealed the door of the house church where Zhang Mingxuan preaches and blocked it with two truckloads of garbage, even though the government just weeks earlier had given the church permission to meet, China Aid reported. Pastor Bike has been arrested 26 times, beaten and evicted from his home numerous times because of his faith.

China Aid, on the web at www.chinaaid.org, said it is assisting Zhang Jian and his family with medical expenses, legal help and other needs and urged concerned citizens to contact the Chinese Embassy by writing to 2201 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007 or by calling 202-338-6688.


Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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