Wrecking crews are said to have showed up at the church in Wenzhou as state media in Beijing continues to be the only outlet covering this story.
Wenzhou Christians surround church amid renewed demolition allegations
Global Times | Jiang Jie
Published on April 22, 2014 00:58
Hundreds of Christians gathered at the Protestant Sanjiang Church in Yongjia county, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province Monday amid alleged rumors that local authorities had reneged on a deal in which they agreed not to demolish the church, witnesses claimed Monday.
According to witnesses, some 500 people rallied at the church Monday afternoon after around 50 people had originally gathered in the morning. Many guarded the church’s entrance to prevent any demolition measures, but others were being prevented from reaching the church by car, as local police had blocked the road, forcing people to arrive on foot, witnesses claimed.
An anonymous officer from Yongjia traffic police denied these claims of traffic control. “There may just have been too many cars on the road in the afternoon,” said the officer.
Witnesses said that their gathering is to prevent the alleged demolition and rebuilding project which was due to start Tuesday. Previous protests in early April at the church came after local authorities painted the Chinese character for demolish on the church, and said it was an illegal construction. Following negotiations, local authorities said they would only demolish the top two floors of a church administration building.
“The demolition may come to pass soon. I saw cranes, firetrucks and police cars at the scene,” an anonymous Christian at the church told the Global Times.
Some other witnesses also expressed their hopes of further negotiations with the authorities to solve the problems via other measures apart from demolition, the anonymous Christian said. Some believe that the government might reconsider the demolition after seeing so many protesters at the church, he added.
“We are all nervous and worried now,” another Christian at the scene surnamed Wu told the Global Times, adding that it is unacceptable to move or demolish the church or its cross.
Claims about demolition orders for churches in the province have circulated in the local Christian community and on social media since late March, as local authorities have enacted a campaign to demolish illegal buildings at religious sites in an effort to rectify the “unsustainable growth pattern” of Christianity.