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China

Chinese Pastor Cai Zhuohua Released: Forced to Make Olympic Soccer Balls in Prison

18 Sep 2007

A Beijing house church leader, Cai Zhuohua, was released on 10 September 2007 after a three year imprisonment for distributing Bibles, according to China Aid Association (CAA). CAA reports that Cai was forced to make soccer balls for the upcoming Beijing Olympics during his imprisonment.

CAA reported that in his prison, Cai was forced to work for 10 to 12 hours a day and was denied access to a Bible. He still has to report to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office once a month. During his first visit on 13 September he faced warnings and intimidation. His mother told CAA that "He feels (after meeting with the PSB) he won't have any freedom even after his release".

Pastor Cai lead six house churches in the Beijing area. He was abducted from a bus stop and dragged into a van by three plain-clothed State Security officers on 11 September 2004. Authorities found more than 200,000 pieces of Christian literature including Bibles in a storage room managed by Cai. Only the government-sanctioned churches are allowed to print and distribute Bibles in China.

On 8 November 2005, Pastor Cai was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 150,000 yuan (around 10,000) on charges relating to "illegal business practices", even though Cai's churches consistently insist that the confiscated items were solely for internal house church use and that Cai made no profit from them. His wife was also sentenced to two years and fined 120,000 yuan, and her brother was given an 18 month sentence and fined 100,000 yuan according to CAA.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's National Director, Stuart Windsor, said: "We are naturally delighted that Pastor Cai has been released, but it is concerning that he feels his activities are still restricted. This case continues to be a blatant attack on Pastor Cai's freedom to practice his religion. The plight facing Pastor Cai and so many other pastors in China experiencing similar restrictions and punishment must not be overshadowed as Beijing prepares to host the Olympic games next summer."

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