|Photo by ChinaAid|
On the previous Sunday, police detained 169 worshippers of the Shouwang Protestant Church, as they tried to worship outside a commercial building. They had been evicted from their usual premises.
The recent crackdown on Shouwang, one of the largest house churches on the mainland, and a few smaller churches prompted fears that a fresh crackdown on unregistered churches was under way.
Church members who were taken into custody most recently said large numbers of police officers were deployed near the building where Shouwang members planned to worship. They said police shoved them into buses and took them to different police stations for interrogation. They were still in custody as of Monday.
Pastor Jin Tianming, who was taken away by police on Saturday night and interrogated for nearly 12 hours, said about 50 people in his congregation were detained. Many were among those detained last week.
Pastor Li Xiaobai and his wife were also taken away for a few hours on Saturday night, and Pastor Zhang Xiaofeng had been removed from a restaurant near the planned place of worship Sunday morning, church members said. Jin and Li remained under house arrest.
Beijing police refused to make any comment.
In late 2009, the church bought a 1,500-square-metre office space in a commercial building for 27 million yuan ($3.96 million CAD), but the property's management was pressured by the authorities not to hand it over, even though the church had paid in full.