Home World Members of exiled Chinese language church detained in Thailand

Members of exiled Chinese language church detained in Thailand



Bangkok — Greater than 60 members of a Chinese language Christian church have been detained in Thailand, supporters mentioned Friday, elevating fears they might be returned to their house nation, the place they face doable persecution.

Deana Brown, one in every of two American supporters detained together with the church members, advised The Related Press that Thai authorities within the coastal metropolis of Pattaya detained the 63 church members, a lot of whom are kids, Thursday.

Thirty-two grownup Chinese language nationals had been charged with overstaying their visas, mentioned Col. Tawee Kutthalaeng, chief of the Pattaya-area Nong Prue police station. Youngsters weren’t charged, he mentioned. The 2 Americans weren’t positioned underneath arrest, he mentioned.

Brown, CEO of the Texas-based Freedom Seekers Worldwide, a company whose mission assertion says it seeks to rescue “probably the most severely persecuted Christians in hostile and restrictive international locations,” mentioned the group had been advised that they’d be given a court docket date later Friday.

Brown mentioned she is working to resettle the church members in Tyler, Texas, the place her group is predicated, however that they’d run into issues with their visas in Thailand. She mentioned she assumed that she and the opposite American, a nurse, had been detained as a result of they had been there on the time the church members had been taken into custody.

She mentioned that because the group appeared into renewing their visas, they’d been advised that there was a brand new requirement that any Chinese language citizen renewing a visa in Thailand should report back to the Chinese language Embassy first.

“After they advised us that we knew that no one may get their visas,” mentioned Brown, who was allowed to maintain her cellphone whereas in detention.

“There was no method, as a result of as quickly as they stroll into the Chinese language Embassy they’re gone, we’d not see them once more. They have been hiding out since then.”

The press part on the Chinese language Embassy in Bangkok didn’t reply its phone and the embassy didn’t instantly reply to an e-mailed request for remark.

The U.S. Embassy mentioned it had no fast touch upon the case.

Members of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, additionally known as the Mayflower Church, got here to Thailand in 2022 in search of asylum. The present standing of their request was not instantly clear.

They fled China in 2019 alleging that their members had been being persecuted by authorities safety forces, initially selecting South Korea’s Jeju Island. They left South Korea for Thailand after conferences with native and U.S. officers made it clear that prospects for refuge there have been dim.

Upon their arrival in Thailand, church members advised reporters that they’d been stalked, harassed and obtained threatening calls and messages even whereas they had been in South Korea. They mentioned relations in China had been summoned, interrogated and intimidated.

At the moment, the Chinese language International Ministry mentioned the matter was “not a diplomatic query” and declined to remark additional.

In China, Christians are legally allowed to worship solely in church buildings affiliated with Communist Social gathering-controlled non secular teams, however for many years, the authorities largely tolerated impartial, unregistered “home church buildings.” They’ve tens of hundreds of thousands of worshippers, presumably outnumbering these within the official teams.

Nonetheless, in recent times, home church buildings have come underneath heavy strain, with many outstanding ones shut down. In contrast to earlier crackdowns, equivalent to Beijing’s ban on Falun Gong, a religious motion it labels a cult, the authorities have additionally focused some believers not explicitly against the Chinese language state.

Most members of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church are younger, married middle-class {couples}, with their kids making up about half the group.

Bob Fu, founding father of ChinaAid, one other Texas Christian group serving to the church, advised the AP that American lawmakers had been urgent the U.S. State Division to get entangled.

In a press release on his web site, Fu mentioned that point was of the essence.

“Earlier than the Chinese language authorities calls for repatriation, the worldwide group can assist stop this tragedy from taking place,” he mentioned.


Dake Kang contributed to this story from Bo’ao, China.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here