A Chinese church claims that three of its leaders have been tortured and mistreated in prison.
The Church of Abundance in the city of Xian reports that Senior Pastor Lian Changnian, 69, his son, Pastor Lian Xuliang, 41, and preacher Fu Juan, 38, had been held under Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location (RSDL) for six months.
Religious rights advocate Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports RSDL is a type of ‘incommunicado’ detention that has been recognised by the United Nations as a form of forced disappearance.
CSW says interrogators used coercive methods to obtain false statements from the men.
President Mervyn Thomas said: “We are appalled by the inhumane treatment these three pastors from the Church of Abundance have endured while in police custody. We repeat our call on China to abolish the practice of RSDL detention, which leads to widespread torture and violates its obligations under the Convention against Torture and other international treaties.”
“The Chinese government must end its outrageous crackdown on unregistered religious groups and release all church leaders who have been arbitrarily detained or jailed for their religious activities.”
The human rights group notes there has been a recent flurry of reports of police operations against unregistered Protestant and Catholic churches across China.
Leaders have also been detained in Beijing, Chengdu and other cities.
Chinese authorities have tightened security throughout the country in the run-up to this month’s annual Two Sessions meetings of Communist Party leaders to consider major reforms and government appointments.
Some dissidents, rights activists and religious leaders have reportedly been taken away from their cities by police, ostensibly for ‘tourism’, or placed under 24-hour surveillance.
CSW’s Mervyn Thomas said: “The international community must continue to take every opportunity to hold the Chinese government to account for its violations of freedom of religion or belief and other basic human rights.”