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China: Repression escalates in the lead-up to Olympics plus Turkey: Critical update

December 14, 2007


Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 458 | Wed 12 Dec 2007


The Olympic Games will open in Beijing at 8.08pm, on 8-8-08 and
China is getting ready. In a recent article, \'Faster, higher,
censored\', Graeme Philipson (The Age, Melbourne) states: \'China
will use the 2008 Olympic Games to market itself to the world. All
countries do this, but the Chinese example will look more like
Berlin 1936 than Sydney 2000.\' Philipson\'s point is that the image
will not be real -- it will be a facade or an illusion -- with
China using the Olympics to \'airbrush out the full extent of its
oppression . . . just like Hitler and the Nazis 70 years ago\'. He
ominously warns: \'Visitors to China next year will see the new
stadiums and the expressways and skyscrapers and apartment
complexes. They will probably even be able to access their hometown
newspapers on the web. They will probably not stop to think that
the 1936 Olympics were followed by the most vicious repression the
world has ever seen.\'

Human rights advocates and Christian ministries report repression
is intensifying in the lead-up to the Games. The government wants
to ensure \'subversive\' elements or \'reactionary\' forces do not
spoil the show. Shi Weihan (37) runs a Christian bookshop near the
Olympic village. According to Compass Direct, though Shi worships
in an unregistered house-church, his bookshop has only ever sold
books for which he has had government permission. Recently Shi, his
wife Zhang, and several employees were arrested. Whilst most have
since been released, Shi and a female employee, Tian Hongxia (whose
father was seriously beaten during the arrest), remain in custody.
Shi Weihan is diabetic and there are concerns for his well-being.
As China Aid Association (CAA) notes, this is not an isolated case.

CAA also reports that on 7 December a major police operation raided
and detained all 270 house-church pastors meeting for prayer and
Bible study in Linyi City in the northern coastal province of
Shandong. They were handcuffed in pairs like criminals and taken
off for questioning. As of 10 December, 150 pastors were still in
custody.

In July 2001 Radio Australia reported China\'s Vice Prime Minister
Li Lanqing as saying at an anti-cult exhibition that winning the
2008 Olympic bid proved the international community appreciated the
social stability and economic progress in China and the healthy
lives of the Chinese people. He concluded that this justified
China\'s fight against \'cults\'.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD -

* will protect and keep Shi Weihan and Tian Hongxia in body, mind
and spirit so they will grow in grace and knowledge of him; may
he, the God of justice, sweep away Chinese injustice.

* will sustain and encourage all China\'s detained pastors and
freedom advocates (including numerous writers and lawyers); by
the working of his Spirit may he grant his faithful imprisoned
disciples the honour of being used as channels of his blessing
and saving grace into dark places.

* will fill China\'s pastors and influential Christians with great,
divine, spiritual wisdom, insight and grace, so they may lead
not by human inclination but according to his will and purpose.
(Matthew 16:23)

* who is sovereign over all \'kings\', will use the Beijing Olympics
for his purpose. \'Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but
it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.\' (Proverbs 19:21
ESV)

~~~~

SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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REPRESSION IN CHINA ESCALATES IN LEAD-UP TO OLYMPICS

Repression is escalating in China in the lead-up to the Beijing
Olympics as the Communist Party government prepares the country to
go on display before the world. The government is determined that
visitors and television viewers will witness only stability,
harmony and economic development and not human rights abuses,
neglect or repression. The government wants to ensure \'subversive\'
elements and \'reactionary\' forces do not spoil the show. Though Shi
Weihan\'s Christian bookshop near the Olympic village sells only
government-approved books, Shi and an employee were recently
arrested. On 7 December, 270 house-church pastors meeting together
for prayer, study and fellowship were arrested in a major police
raid. As of 10 December, 150 are still in custody. Please pray for
justice and for God\'s purpose to prevail.

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CRITICAL UPDATE - TURKEY: MALATYA MURDER SCANDAL

As was reported in RLP 454, the files prepared by prosecutors for
the Malatya murder trial focus primarily on the \'missionary
activities\' of the three victims -- Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and
Tilmann Geske -- while failing to investigate the crime or its
perpetrators. The prosecutors and much of the Turkish media appear
keen to find justification for the murders. Furthermore, the
prosecutors included in the files (which are public and available
to the killers) material downloaded from the personal computers of
Necati, Ugur and Tilmann, including the contact details of numerous
Christians. We specifically asked God to \'protect Christians,
reveal truth, and secure justice\'.

Investigation of the prosecutor\'s files has revealed some ugly
truths, resulting in scandal and a media storm. Compass Direct
reports it appears the murderers had \'direct, repeated links with
local police officers, members of the special military forces, a
regional council member of the Nationalist Movement Party and even
a chief public prosecutor\'. Turkey\'s Interior Ministry has now
opened a judicial investigation into alleged collusion of public
officials. Investigators want to know why the prosecutors did not
pursue evidence they had, such as cell phone records, video footage
(now erased), incriminating letters from informers (including one
who was willing to testify) and links to leading ultra-
nationalists.

At the time of the murders, RLP 427 (2 May) commented: \'Turkey at
the moment is like a restless sea with several dangerous currents
getting stronger and stronger, threatening to create a serious
storm.\' We prayed for the storm to be stilled (Matthew 8:23-27).
Now these \'dangerous currents\' are being whipped up by monsters
raging with agitation. The stronger one is \'Turkish nationalism\'
and the weaker but growing one is \'Islam\'. Please pray that they
will be fully exposed, confronted and dealt with.

See Compass Direct < http://www.compassdirect.org/ > for a full
report. For WEA RL Prayer and News & Analysis on Turkey go to
< http://www.ea.org.au > and run a site search for Turkey.

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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.