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November 2000

A Chinese Christian teen-ager died in police custody after being beaten, then denied medical care, a human rights group says. Liu Haitong, 19, was arrested Sept. 4 in a police raid on an underground house-church in Xiayi county, Henan province, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. After days of beatings and malnourishment, Liu began vomiting and developed a high fever, but jail officials refused to provide medical care. The Henan Christians who informed the center of Liu’s death blamed the police and demanded a stop to two years of repression, the Associated Press reported. Henan is at the center of house-church crackdowns, the AP reported. The province is home to many thriving congregations that are illegal because they do not have state approval. Many are led by evangelical pastors, some of them foreigners. Chinese police have renewed orders to target “religious extremists,” a phrase that means people who worship outside China’s official churches, the center told the AP. After a meeting of the Communist Party elite, Public Security Minister Jia Chunwang ordered tighter scrutiny of and control over house-church worshipers, cultists and separatists, the AP reported. (Crosswalk)

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A Sunday morning attack on Indonesian pastor Dr. Benjamin Munthe left his assistant dead and family members shaken. The September 17 attack came from two men on a motorcycle as Munthe and his assistant, Kaleb Situmorang, and family members were traveling by car to the G.K.I.I. (Victorious Faith) Church in Medan, in northern Sumatra, where Munthe is the pastor. A gunman on the back of the motorcycle fired into the car, reportedly mistaking Situmorang -- who was driving at the time of the attack -- for Munthe. Situmorang, 37, was taken immediately to a nearby hospital but died the next evening. The 10,000-member G.K.I.I. Church has become the hub of a recently revived prayer movement seeking to unite pastors from various denominations in Medan. In April, Open Doors held a four-day training seminar in the church, which was attended by more than 3,000 Christian pastors and leaders. The September 17 attack was apparently the third attempt on the pastor’s life. (Compass Direct)

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