Security forces in Zhejiang province have arrested a number of activists opposed to the government’s program of removing crosses from church buildings. Among those arrested is noted human rights activist and lawyer Zhang Kai, who had been offering his services to a number of churches in the province.
The authorities claim they are targeting illegal structures, but church activists say it is a program of intimidation of the church, which is particularly prominent in Zhejiang.
According to British news site the Guardian;
So far more than 1,200 crosses have been removed, activists say. Several churches have been completely demolished, including the Sanjiang mega-church in Wenzhou, a city known as “China’s Jerusalem” because of its large Christian congregation.
In recent months there have been series of protests against the intensifying campaign, with one Catholic leader denouncing the cross removals as an “evil act”.
Authorities appear to have been angered by the growing pushback. This month China’s government-controlled media warned Zhejiang’s Christians not to resist the removals or to speak out to foreign journalists.
Representatives of Amnesty International report they are monitoring the situation, which intersects with recent Chinese government actions to silence domestic human rights activists and lawyers. Church members themselves also say they will not be intimidated or cowed.
Said one church leader;
“We are not intimidated by their tactics. We have not done anything wrong or against the law. Our actions are all restrained and reasonable while theirs are shady.”
image from the Telegraph