35 Christians Arrested in China

BEIJING, MAY 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- At least 35 people were arrested recently in Inner Mongolia for holding a clandestine Christian meeting, considered an «illegal religious activity.»

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The 35 were arrested Saturday during a Protestant celebration in a home in Dongsheng city. The arrested were questioned throughout the night, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Twenty of the 35 were released the next day after paying a $24 fine, the center said. The remaining 15, including the meeting´s organizers, might be sent to re-education work camps, said Frank Lu, director of the center.

Lu said there are 40 million Protestants and 15 million Catholics in China. Half the Catholics practice their faith illegally, that is, not in accordance with the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Association.

Meanwhile, in a letter to China´s ambassador to the United States released Friday, Cardinal Bernard Law registered a formal protest of the reported arrest of «a significant number» of Catholics in China.

«By all accounts, there seems to have been a marked increase in the number and severity of actions taken by the State against many of our fellow Catholics in China, as well as against other religious believers there,» said Cardinal Law, the archbishop of Boston and chairman of the U.S. bishops´ International Policy Committee. «This is a very disturbing development.» Two bishops and several priests are among those reported arrested recently, according to Cardinal Law.

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