BosNewsLife and other media reported on their detention, a religious rights group confirmed Wednesday, December 14.
China Aid Association (CAA) said all of the 29 arrested house church leaders detained on Monday, December 12, were released the next day "less than 24 hours after intensive interrogations and heavy international media and US government pressure."
The US-based rights group cautioned however that the Public Security Bureau of Xincai County in Henan province "refused to return" confiscated personal properties including three motor bicycles, Bibles, one cell phone "and a large number of blankets."
CAA said the leaders were reportedly "in good spirits" despite alleged threats by security agents of more arrests "if they have any further 'illegal' gatherings." The leaders also pledged to continue their work among predominantly peasants suffering from AIDS in the region, the group added.
Despite international pressure, Chinese authorities managed to reject a civil law suit filed by a mistreated Christian businessman in Xinjiang province, CAA said. Tong Qimiao filed the claim at the District People's Court of Kashi City in Xinjiang after he was allegedly "severely beaten and suffered a fractured rib" by at least one agent of the Xingjian State Security Bureau in September.
Tong was interrogated for his relationship with a house church in that area. Because he took legal action against the alleged torturers, "his furniture factory and store in a local shopping mall was closed," CAA claimed. On October 13 and 14 "many items of furniture" were reportedly confiscated by the local authorities.
CAA said it "welcomes the release of the church leaders" but now "urges the Chinese authority to return their private property and give Mr. Tong a fair hearing and due process."
Most of China's estimated up to 80 million people worship in 'underground' house churches, according to human rights groups. China's government has denied religious rights abuses and says Christians are allowed to worship in state supported churches. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos and reports from China).