China has detained a key official of an umbrella group of house churches, as it escalates its crackdown on “unauthorized” worship in the country.
Advocacy group the China Aid Association (CAA) has reported on June 2, that Pastor Shi Enhao, who holds the position as deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), has been “administratively detained”. They report that he will be held for 12-days at the Suqian city detention center in the Jiangsu province.
“Administrative detention” is the term the Chinese government uses to explain the arrest and detention of individuals without a trial. Officials can use the power if “security reasons” call for such action.
However, the security procedure has been criticized by human rights groups who believe the power is often used without justification.
Along with Pastor Enhao, a number of other lay leaders were also detained on May 31, however, they were released after just 24-hours detention.
CAA has also reported that security forces carried out a raid and search on Pastor Enhao’s home on June 1. It is believed that they confiscated numerous books and other hand-written documents.
Human rights activists have reported that the latest wave of persecution is part of a wider crackdown on unauthorized worship in the country. At the end of May, reports also emerged from the CAA that two female house church ministers were taken and beaten by police in Xinjiang.
The two church ministers, Li Tianping and Wang Ling, were taken into police custody after police raided and broke up an outdoor praise and worship service taking place in Korla Square, where approximately 100 house church members had gathered.