Midnight Negotiators Offer Fushan Church 1.4 Million
September 23, 2009
SHANXI, China, (christiansunite.com) -- Late on Saturday night, September 19, 2009, local security officials cornered six Fushan Church leaders and brought them to a secret meeting place for negotiations with 20 government officials.
Singled out for their influence, the negotiating party included the wife of the Fushan Church pastor. Under pressure from the Central Government, PSB officers expressed a desire to make amends for their actions, with the goal of preventing any turmoil that could potentially mar the 60th anniversary National Day celebrations. Angered by the brutal treatment, but willing to cooperate, the six members raised their concerns, including the continued critical conditions of several hospitalized victims and the destruction of 17 buildings on the factory compound. They requested 1.5 million yen to cover the damages, and the negotiations wore on heatedly throughout the night.
Despite their apparent willingness to negotiate, the local authorities remained unrepentant: One officer reportedly shouted, "But the church building itself was illegal!" The pastor's wife responded, "Even if it was an illegal church, did it have to be violent?" The authorities had no response.
At daybreak on Sunday morning, the Fushan PSB verbally agreed to pay a reparations fee of 1.4 million yen to Fushan Church, under the condition that the church would not construct a religious building in the future. "Call it whatever you want; just don't call it a church!" The six members were released to return home after a full night of secret negotiations.
ChinaAid President Bob Fu remains wary: "We are not sure if their promise was sincere. I spoke with the pastor of Fushan Church today, and they still had not heard from the officials. This may be a tactic to delay any actions against the government before the National Day on October 1st."
There has been little resolution for the 80,000 members of Fushan Church. Only days after the attack, the Fushan PSB shut off all power, water and communication lines to neighboring Jin Deng (Golden Lamp) Church, whose members aided victims of the attack on September 13th. Believers who have since assembled at the ruined site to pray for the church have been repeatedly chased away by security officers, threatening to beat them and forcibly dispersing the crowds.
The crackdown continued when the Fushan PSB arrested and detained church member Shan Yongchang on Saturday, September 17, for sending text messages to friends and family about the devastation of the church. He is still in custody, and no one has heard from him since his arrest.
It is clear that the Central government will do anything to protect the image of the Party, and suppress all perceived threats to a harmonious National Day celebration. In light of the facts, it remains to be seen whether the midnight agreement with Fushan Church is kept--or compromised.
ChinaAid thanks those who have put pressure on the Chinese government to take action. We continue to call on the international community to voice their protests against the brutal treatment of Christians and the suppression of prayer gatherings and free communication. We pray for justice and healing for the victims of the attack.