"In the last seven years 3,000 Christians were killed," said Ulrich Delius, the Asia expert of the German-based Society for Threatened Peoples, which campaigns against all forms of genocide and "ethnocide". The allegations were expected to further increase international concerns that China's pledged economic reforms are not backed-up by more religious and poltical freedoms.
Most Christians however, about 34,000, were murdered in the first decade of China's Cultural Revolution, launched in 1966, said Heinz Muller, chairman of the German Working Group Evangelical Missions ('Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Evangelikaler Missionen'), an influential group of 89 evangelical mission groups and related organizations and churches.
Muller said about 30 million Chinese people were killed in that period, making Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung probably one of the biggest "mass murderers" in human history, along with the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin, Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler and Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge and prime minister of Cambodia.
The latest claims made by senior officials came after British historian Jon Halliday claimed in his book ‘Mao’, published in 2005, that under Mao Tse-tung more people were killed than previously thought. Halliday said as many as 70 million Chinese people were massacred. That figure was not confirmed by other historians.
China's current government has denied reports of widespread human and religious rights abuses. It says Christians are free to worship in the official, government-backed, denominations. Human rights groups and churches in China say however that many Christians are held in harsh labor camps and prisons across the country, in many cases because of their involvement in evangelism, Bible distribution and 'underground' house churches.
Some Communist officials have reportedly confirmed there may be as many as 30 million Christians in China, more than previously estimated. China has come under increased international pressure to improve its reported record on human rights, ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. (With BosNewsLife Research and reporting from China).
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