13 house church leaders detained in Sichuan Province

China Aid Association (CAA) has learned that thirteen house church leaders were detained at Qu county, Sichuan province in China on March 30.

According to an eyewitness within the church there, at around 3pm on March 29, a house church service in Qu county was attacked during a praise and worship service.

Seven believers were taken by a group of people who claimed to be from the local religious affairs bureau, community administration and national security. Their names are Wang Qingxiu, Zhou Yanmei, Zhang Mingxiu, Luo Qinghua, Wan Huabi, Wang Zhenping, and Yan XX. Wan Huabi and Wang Zhengping were released after the interrogation.

On March 30, nine sisters and four children were taken by policemen after their Sunday school service was let out. Another sister who was working in the cloth market was taken at the same time. All children and two elderly believers were released after the interrogation. Seven of them are still in the detention centre, and one sister is missing, CAA said.

According to three copies of official criminal detention notices obtained by CAA, which were issued to family members of Ms Wan Huabi, Ms Wang Qingxiu and Ms Lei Shibi on March 30, 2008 by the PSB of Qu County, Sichuan province, these arrested leaders were accused of being "suspected of using an evil cult to obstruct the enforcement of the law". Ms Li Xianbi, 59, who was the host of the Sunday worship at her house on March 30, received five days administrative detention for "illegal gathering for evil cult activities".

"We are deeply concerned about the welfare of these detained Christian leaders, " said Rev Bob Fu, President of CAA. " Their arbitrary detention totally contradicts the spirit of rule of law. It is another step backward toward improving the religious freedom record in China as the Chinese Government promised both before and after the 2008 Olympics was awarded to Beijing."