Local authorities in Anhui’s Dangshan county stop the protests against the demolition of a 100-year -old church by promising the congregation to build a new place of worship and compensate them financially. The promise has never been kept.
Dongguan Gospel Hall in Dangshan county, Anhui, is a Protestant church that belongs to the government-approved patriotic Three-Self Movement. It was funded and built in 1910 when German missionaries came to the county to preach the gospel and has become famous in the area, accommodating over a thousand believers.
According to sources, the local government announced earlier this year that the Dongguan Gospel Hall would be demolished because “the streets need to be rebuilt and the city needs to be planned.” When the congregation started protesting the demolition, the county mayor, Mr. Wang, and the director of the county’s Religious Affairs Bureau, Ms. Guo, came to negotiate. Carrying blueprints for a new church, they promised that a better church would be built within one year. According to their plans, the new church would not only have two additional front rooms, but the congregation would also receive 90,000 RMB (over 13,000 USD) in compensation. Trusting the authorities, the church leaders agreed to its demolition.
The demolition of the church started on April 18, and subsequently, a building was erected in its place. However, the local authorities did not keep their promise to give it to the believers. The church’s pastor and director went to relevant government departments to seek an explanation and were told that special permits were required before the construction of the new church; only after they obtained planning permits and approvals from the county, city, and province authorities would they be allowed to build it.
The church pastor said that “The government is deliberately using planning permits to make things difficult for us. Had we known about the permits, we would not have trusted the government. In the end, their promise to rebuild the church was just a scam!”
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.