China on May 20th seized four Christian priests working as seminary professors along with three priests who had been carrying out pastoral work in Hebei province on charges of ‘brainwashing’.
The incident was reported by International Christian Concern (ICC), which monitors the persecution of Christians, reported New York Times Post.
Ten students were also detained in the raid which took place in the town of Shaheqiao. Three briefly managed to escape before being arrested. Chinese authorities seized Giuseppe Zhang Weizhu, the bishop of Xinxiang. Bishop Weizhu had run the diocese of Xinxiang for 30 years since 1991, reported New York Times Post.
The ICC claims the arrested priests were subjected to “brainwashing” from China’s governing communists.
They said: “The bishop and the 10 priests arrested were taken to a hotel, where they were held in solitary confinement.”
According to the ICC, they were instructed to halt their study of Christian theology, reported New York Times Post.
On May 1 China’s new regulations on religious activities, a set of strict rules for religious conduct, came into effect. This country’s Catholic clergy must be approved by the Chinese Catholic Bishop’s Conference, which is state-approved.
To remain in position, they are required to back Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership. For preaching without being officially approved Bishop Weizhu and the priests are considered to be “criminals”, reported New York Times Post.
According to the ICC Christian persecution has increased since the new regulations took effect.
In western China up to a million Uyghurs, and other Muslim minorities, are reportedly being held in re-education camps. There have been reports of serious human rights abuses including torture, rape, and forced labour at the facilities, reported New York Times Post.
However, claims of abuse have been rejected by the Chinese government.
China is officially an atheist country and the regime regards organised religion with suspicion. However, in practice any religious group that does not submit to the regime can become a target.
Officially the government recognises five religions; Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Taoism. (ANI)