BAODING, China, NOV. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Bishop Su Zhimin, the underground Catholic leader of Baoding arrested six year ago, has resurfaced in government custody and is reportedly suffering eye and heart ailments, a watchdog group says.
Inquiries to the Chinese government from various U.S. government and non-government agencies about his whereabouts and state of health were never answered satisfactorily, said the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation.
The group said that on or around last Saturday, Bishop Su was taken to the Officers’ Ward of the Baoding Central Hospital in Baoding, Hebei province, for an eye operation and for heart ailments.
He was heavily guarded by about 20 plainclothes government security personnel, the Kung Foundation said. The name of Su Zhimin was not officially registered in the hospital record, the group said.
Bishop Su is a prominent leader of the underground Catholic Church in China. In January 1994 he met privately with U.S. Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey, during the congressman’s official visit to China. Immediately after Smith’s departure from China, Bishop Su was arrested and detained for nine days.
The bishop has been arrested at least five times and has spent about 27 years in prison so far, the Kung Foundation said.
Joseph Kung, president of the Kung Foundation, said: “Now that Bishop Su has reappeared and found very sick, the Chinese government should immediately release him to the care of his family,” Kung said. “While preparing for the Olympic Games, China would do well to demonstrate to the world that it sincerely respects all principles of peace and humanitarianism, and not perpetuate such a violation of human rights just 80 miles from Beijing.”