Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A. - While the United States is celebrating more than 200 years of freedom, another nation, China, continues its 54 years of persecution of its own citizens. The Chinese government arrested 5 Roman Catholic clergy on July 1, 2003 at Siliying in Boading, Hebei, approximately 70 miles from Beijing. Fathers KANG Fuliang, CHEN Guozhen, PANG Guangzhao, Joseph YIN and LI Shujun, all between the ages of 25 and 32, were arrested by the Chinese authority when they were on their way to visit another underground priest, Father LU Genjun, who was just released from labor camp after serving there for three years. At this moment, we have no other details.
Two weeks ago and in another part of China, Father LU Xiaozhou (Bosco), a priest in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, was arrested by the Chinese authority in the afternoon of June 16, 2003 when he was preparing to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of The Sick to a dying Catholic.
Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "The Beijing government continues to declare that its constitution guarantees human rights and religious freedom. Yet, these arrests of Catholic clergy continue only 70 miles from the capital of the Beijing government, which can no longer avoid its responsibility by blaming it on over-enthusiastic local officials. In the face of this unrelenting assault on human rights in China, Hong Kong citizens have every reason to worry about the future erosion of human rights in Hong Kong. A national security bill implementing the Article 23 of its Basic Law is expected to pass in the Hong Kong Legislative Council on July 9, 2003. Under Article 23, "the Hong Kong government may bar or close down organizations that are banned by the Chinese government on national security grounds. This would have serious negative implications for religious organizations like the Catholic Church, other Christian communities, and others such as the Falun Gong, which the government has labeled 'evil cults' " (US Commission on International Religious Freedom 7/1/2003). Only a year ago, an underground Roman Catholic priest in China was sentenced to a labor camp for three years under its "anti-cult" law. I, therefore, urge governments of the world to use its influence to ask Beijing to stop the persecution of its own citizens and to withdraw the proposed implementation of Article 23 in Hong Kong."