China plans crackdown on house church leaders and human rights activists

20 Aug 2008

At the height of the Beijing Olympics news has emerged of a secret directive heralding a nationwide campaign to crack down on four groups considered to be "unstable social elements" by the Chinese authorities. 
According to a report from China Aid Association (CAA) the directive, issued by the Political and Legal Committee of the Central Committee of the CPC, targets house church leaders, petitioners, human rights defenders and political dissidents.  It was issued to all law enforcement agents and bodies, and follows a speech on June 16 by Mr Zhou Yongkang, head of the Political and Legal Committee of the CPC calling for "extraordinary measures" to be taken against unstable elements in China.
The campaign, which is based on the pretext of promoting future political and social stability in the country, is scheduled to be launched in October. It is the latest in a series of repressive moves by the Chinese government against members of the targeted groups. Only last week CAA reported that a number of Chinese house church leaders had been forced to sign an agreement saying they would not participate in religious services during the Olympics. 
CSW's Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, said: "The timing of the news of this directive, coming as it does only days after China confiscated Bibles from four Americans at Kunming International Airport, and at the height of the Olympics, highlights China's disregard for the views of the international community.  It is also a stark reminder of the restrictions facing Chinese house churches and the ongoing violations of international standards of human rights in China.  House church Christians are not a threat to the stability of Chinese society and it is time that China begins to take its place as a world leader in upholding rather than undermining international standards."

Notes for editors

For more information on the CAA report click here:
For the report showing Churches forced to sign the agreement click here.

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