The Washington Times, "Forum" Section

Letís not forget Chinaís persecuted Christians

Renata Y. Jackson

As Georgie Anne Geyer and Stefan Halper pointed out on The Washington Times, Americans now have a serious and legitimate national security concern about China. But as we focus on our security, we shouldn't forget the security of Christians being persecuted by their communist government.

The disappearance, torture and harassment of Roman Catholic bishops and other Christian Chinese are among those we need to remember and struggle to help in China.

I began an international campaign to free three Roman Catholic prelates, Bishops Fan, Su and An, with the goal of informing the Free World of the ongoing human rights violations by the communist Chinese government and with the hope of effecting their eventual release.

Despite China's efforts to desperately establish itself as a more respectable member of the international community, the fact remains that communist China has been increasingly relentless in its torturous abuse against the underground Church, especially the clergy. All Americans should also voice outrage, particularly to their congressional representatives, the White House, the UN Human Rights Commission and other appropriate parties.

Eighty year old Bishop Joseph Fan of Shanghai (coadjutor bishop under Cardinal Kung, now in exile in Connecticut) was first arrested in 1955, and spent 20 years in China's infamous labor camps. When Bishop Kung was made a cardinal, Bishop Fan was again jailed for a few months. In March 1997, the Public Security Bureau ransacked his apartment, confiscated his religious books and some belongings, and has since placed him under 24 hour surveillance. His movements and communications are severely limited, and he is unable to exercise his ministry. This never-ending harassment against the elderly bishop is part of the psychological pressure that China uses against so called "enemies" of the state.

Three years ago, Bishops Su Zhimin and his Auxiliary Bishop Francis An of the Diocese of Baoding, in Hebei Province, simply vanished after their arrests. In fact, all the Roman Catholic priests in Baoding Diocese have either been detained of have disappeared as well, since the bishops' arrests.

These mass arrests occurred after the communist government sent thousands of troops, armored cars and helicopters to destroy a consecrated Marian shrine in the tiny village of Dong Lu, within the Diocese of Baoding. This was a punishment from the communists against the devoted underground Roman Catholics who had trekked to Dong Lu months before, more than 100,000 strong, in defiance of communist China's orders not to pray at the shrine.

Bishop Su, 67 years old, has been no stranger to China's labor camps having suffered 19 years in them. The communist Security Police have been particularly brutal in its tortures of him, including once beating Bishop Su so badly the wooden board splintered. Bishop Su has also been hanged from a ceiling while being tortured, and during another interrogation he was forced to stand for days in a cell filled with water several feet deep.

God only knows what has happened to Bishop An since he vanished. Described as a "saint" by his congregation, this simple, holy, unselfish 50 year old man dedicated himself to his people in Baoding. This "enemy" of the state owned nothing, having given everything he owned, gifts and all, to the impoverished of his diocese. Since 1982, this man of God has been subjected to repeated internment in the communists' labor camps. A letter written by an underground Chinese priest regarding Bishop An includes this telling statement from his communist torturers: "The bishop will not compromise."

Communist China should be put on notice: So long as China continues to attempt to crush the underground Church in its land, China will never hear the end of worldwide protests that God-fearing people are raising against its gross violations of human rights.
(Sunday April 25, 1999 - The Washington Times, "Forum" Section, Page B5)


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