The chairman of the Federation House Church and his wife were recently forced to live on the streets following repeated harassment and intimidation by government authorities, reported a Chinese persecution watchdog group.
Pastor Bike Zhang and his wife Xie Fenglan were first forced from their home by Beijing public security bureau officials on July 6, reported China Aid Association on Friday. They found shelter at a friend's house, but were again forced from this home when officials found out where they were living. Next they moved into a hotel, but Public Security Bureau officials ordered the owner of the hotel to either evict the couple or face jail time.
Out of concern for the hotel owner, the Christian couple decided to voluntarily leave for another town. But on their way to find new shelter, PSB officials arrested the couple and took them to the town government office where they were interrogated without food, drink or rest.
Xie Fenglan collapsed due to the stress, but was not taken to the hospital until five hours after the event.
The couple was then released but officials repeatedly forced them to leave every shelter they found. Pastor Zhang at one point had begged the PSB to allow his sick wife to stay and rest at the location they were at, but officials refused. Then on July 16, Chinese officials followed Zhang and found that his wife was staying at her sister's house and forced her to move out.
Now, both Zhang and his wife live on the streets and are unable to find shelter.
Officials say that the couple are being expelled from Beijing because "Bike Zhang met the Americans, and destroyed the harmony of the Beijing Olympic Games," according to CAA, referring to his recent meeting with a U.S. Congressional delegation.
"This egregious treatment of one of China's most respected and well-loved house church leaders is a shocking and outright violation of basic human rights and rule of law," said CAA president Bob Fu, in a statement.
"The acts against Pastor Bike Zhang and his wife are unjust and unlawful. This type of behavior exhibited by the CPC (Communist Party of China) is reflective of a dictatorship with no regard for the well-being of its citizens and not a world leader worthy of the honor of hosting the Olympic Games."
President Bush, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act last week, pledged to continue to press China on its religious freedom situation.
Bush spoke about Chinese human rights lawyer Li Baiguang, a house church Protestant, who has been repeatedly harassed and jailed for his work. Li was scheduled to meet members of Congress a few weeks ago, but authorities had blocked the meeting and jailed hm.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged Bush to visit human rights and religious freedom leaders and display America's strong stance on the issue during his trip to the Beijing Olympics.
"We know President Bush has a strong, personal commitment to the issue of religious freedom in China. We hope he will convey his convictions in tangible ways, not only to China's leaders, but to its people," said Commission chair Felice D. Gaer.