The US-based advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA), which is in contact with the Christians, said problems began Saturday, March 29, when police attacked the house church in Dazhou city.
"Seven believers were taken by a group of people who claimed to be from the local religious affairs bureau, community administration and national security," CAA said, quoting an eyewitness. The detainees were identified as Wang Qingxiu, Zhou Yanmei, Zhang Mingxiu, Luo Qinghua, Wan Huabi, Wang Zhenping, and Yan XX.
While Wan Huabi and Wang Zhenping were later released following interrogation, but other leaders as well as three women, Wan Huabi, Wang Qingxiu and Lei Shibi, remain behind bars, CAA said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.
Among others detained are Christians involved in a Sunday School in the area, which was raided Sunday, March 30, CAA said.
"Nine sisters and four children were taken by policemen after their Sunday School service” ended, along with another female believer working at the nearby clothing market, the group explained.
“All children and two elderly believers were released after the interrogation. [However] seven of them are still in detention…and one sister is missing.” Chinese officials have not given more details about the whereabouts of the missing Christian.
CAA said it had obtained documents showing that most of those detained have been held on charges of “using an evil cult to obstruct the enforcement of the law."
A 59-year-old Chinese woman, CLi Xianbi, who was the host of the Sunday School at her house on March 30, reportedly received five days “administrative detention” for "illegal gathering for evil cult activities."
Former house church pastor and current CAA President Bob Fu said he was “deeply concerned about the well-fare of these detained Christian leaders. "
In a statement, he said that, “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."
Torch ceremonies in Europe have been interrupted by pro-democracy protesters as well as by people concerned about China’s role in Tibet. China has denied human rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship, but within the government-approved denominations.