1996-01-09 00:00:00

Clergy and nuns from Catholic communities in northeast China not recognized by the government have reportedly suffered from bitter cold and were battered in detention, according to a local Catholic source.

Catholic sources from Yanji, Jilin province, told UCA News in early January that clandestinely ordained Bishop Andrew Han Jingtao of Siping (Szepingkai) in Jilin and Father Chen Yunpeng of Baoding diocese were arrested in November.

Yanji, 1,160 kilometers east of Beijing, is the capital of Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province, bordering North Korea. The majority of its inhabitants are ethnic Korean Chinese.

Bishop Han, born in 1919, was ordained in 1986 as bishop of Siping diocese, unaffiliated with the government-recognized open Church. He was released in mid-December.

However, there was no news by Jan. 2 of the situation of Father Chen, who is from Baoding, Hebei province, 160 kilometers south of Beijing. Also detained were dozens of seminarians and nuns from various convents and seminaries.

Despite frostbite, those who escaped the arrests continued their formation courses in safer places without heating facilities, the source said. The average January temperature in Jilin is minus 20 to minus 14 degrees celsius.

Upon his release, Bishop Han told the source that Father Chen and others arrested suffered from serious frostbite in the detention camp. Not only did they receive no medical treatment, they were beaten and interrogated, he said.

A Catholic source from the government-recognized Church in Changchun, capital of Jilin province, confirmed the arrest of Bishop Han but denied knowing of the arrest of other Catholics.

Bishop Han told the source he conducted a course for young priests, some from outside Yanji. Soon thereafter he was arrested by the Public Security Bureau. The reason why was unknown, the source told UCA News Jan. 5.

A Catholic leader of the government-recognized Church at Yanji told UCA News he did not know of any arrest of unofficial Church members.

However, a Hong Kong Catholic source quoted Catholics from the non-government recognized Church in Jilin as saying local government officials have tightened their control.


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