Legal Scholar and Religious Freedom Advocate Fan Yafeng Harassed, Kept Under Surveillance

December 9, 2010

On November 24, 2010, public security officers in Beijing took legal scholar and religious freedom advocate Fan Yafeng, along with his wife and three-year-old son, into custody from his home for questioning for approximately four-and-a-half hours, according to a November 26 South China Morning Post report (subscription required). A document from the Haidian District Public Security Bureau, Beijing municipality (reprinted in a November 24 ChinaAid (CAA) report) states that authorities took Fan into custody for "engaging in activities in the name of a social organization." Fan is the leader of a house church, and according to reports from ChinaAid (2 November 10, 8 November 10), this incident was the sixth time that public security authorities had him in custody since early October, in some cases interrupting house church gatherings led by Fan in his home. In at least some of these instances, public security officers cited "making noise" as the reason for interrupting the gatherings, according to reports from Radio Free Asia (31 October 10, 18 November 10) and the November 2 CAA report. However, despite citing "noise" disturbances, authorities took other measures that targeted more than just "noise." According to the November 2 CAA report, they confiscated copies of a magazine published by the Holy Mountain Institute, a non-governmental organization of which Fan is the director.

A November 10 South China Morning Post (SCMP) report (subscription required) notes that pressure on Fan―who is a signatory of Charter 08―may have increased as a result of a broader crackdown on supporters of Liu Xiaobo after he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, an October 20 RFA report quotes Fan's wife as saying that the recent harassment of Fan may be linked to the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne Congress), an international conference on Protestant evangelization held in Cape Town, South Africa from October 16-25, 2010. The recent harassment of Fan began on October 12―four days after the Nobel Peace Prize announcement and four days before the start of the Lausanne Congress―when a public security officer from the Shuangyushu police station, Haidian district, Beijing municipality and a member of that station's Communist Party political committee visited Fan at his home, according to an October 12 RFA report. They pressured Fan to cancel an interview that he had scheduled with National Public Radio, but he refused. Later that day, a public security officer used force to take Fan into custody. Public security officers now stand continuous watch outside of Fan's home, according to the SCMP report. For more information about freedom of religion in China and conditions for Protestants in China, see Section II―Freedom of Religion in the CECC 2010 Annual Report (p. 99-100, 108-111).

For more information about the Chinese government's recent efforts to prevent members of unregistered Protestant communities from attending the Lausanne Congress, see a related CECC analysis.