CHINA: CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE OWNER ARRESTED
One of his employees also detained, her father beaten, in front of her 3-year-old son.
LOS ANGELES, December 7 (Compass Direct News) – Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials have detained the owner of a Christian bookstore located near the Olympic Village, along with one of his employees, according to a long-time friend of the businessman.
Ray Sharpe said authorities detained 37-year-old Shi Weihan, a member of an unregistered Beijing church, late last week and have confiscated Christian literature from his bookstore as well as personal books from his home. Authorities at the Haidian district substation of the Beijing PSB have refused to tell his family the charges against him or where he is being held.
Shi had never had any problems with authorities in the past, Sharpe said. His bookstore operated legally, and he sold only books for which he had obtained government permission. Authorities also confiscated his computer and financial records.
“It seems the government can’t make up its mind about how free it wants to be,” Sharpe told Compass. “Both his office and his home are not far from the Olympic Village, and my personal opinion is that this has to do with all the other recent arrests and the government not wanting a single dissident voice to appear at the Olympics.”
Shi also works as a travel agent, and authorities may also be investigating his promotion of foreign travel to China, Sharpe said.
Shi’s wife, Zhang Jing, and several employees were detained and released, but one female employee, Tian Hongxia, remains in custody, Sharpe said.
“Her father was seriously beaten when she was arrested at his home,” Sharpe said. “She has a 3-year-old son who was very upset during the whole scene, so children do see how brutally they manhandle people in China.”
Bob Fu, president of the China Aid Association, said in a statement that Shi’s case is not an isolated incident.
“This is another case of religious persecution in the 2008 Summer Olympics host city, Beijing, in the name of so-called illegal publication,” said Fu, a former pastor of both Shi and his wife in Beijing. “We urge the international community to pressure the Chinese government to respect the rule of law and release Mr. Shi immediately.”
Zhang, Shi’s wife, has been detained for interrogation twice about Christian literature found in their home and in Shi’s office and store. PSB officials have threatened to arrest Zhang again, and she and her two daughters have gone into hiding. About 20 officers first raided their home at 5 a.m. on November 28.
One of the couple’s daughters, 7-year-old En Mei, was born in the United States and holds a U.S. passport. As a result, U.S. Embassy personnel have told family members they will try to make contact with Shi. The couple’s other daughter is 11.
Christian sources said the family is concerned that Shi may be facing danger of diabetic shock. Authorities have provided no information to the family about his medical condition. PSB officials have been known to use deprivation and torture to force detainees to reveal information about others.
Sharpe said Shi, an active Christian, has shied away from China’s registered, Three-Self Patriotic Movement church as he had heard horror stories from friends in the legal church.
“He has a number of friends who have suffered and been pressured by the government church,” Sharpe said.