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Thailand’s Immigration Police Detain 63 Chinese, Including 35 Children

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Thailand's Immigration Police Detain 63 Chinese, Including 35 Children

Thailand’s Immigration police detained 63 Chinese nationals in Pattaya for overstaying their visas. The detainees are members of a self-exiled Christian congregation seeking United Nations protection from religious persecution.

The Chinese exiles are members of the Mayflower Church, also known as the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church.

Two American citizens who were attempting to assist the group in relocating to the United States were also detained.

According to an Immigration police source, the group of 63 Christians, including 35 children, arrested Thursday afternoon will most likely not be deported back to China. The group of 63 Chinese fled their homeland in 2019, first to South Korea’s Jeju Island before arriving in Thailand last year.

The chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Nury Turkel, expressed concern about the Chinese exiles in Thailand.

“Members of the Mayflower Church are facing deportation to China, where they will face severe consequences, including imprisonment and torture,” he tweeted on Thursday.

Chinese Christians hunted

According to the American NGO Freedom House, Christianity has grown rapidly in China since 1980, but it is strictly regulated by the government.

According to a 2017 Freedom House report, “the Chinese authorities seek to monitor and control Christians by encouraging – sometimes coercively – them to join state-sanctioned churches affiliated with ‘patriotic’ associations and led by politically vetted clergy.”

“Religious leaders and congregants who refuse to register for theological or practical reasons face the closure of their place of worship, as well as detention, beatings, dismissal from employment, or imprisonment.”

According to Freedom House’s 2023 Freedom in the World report, certain religions and religious groups, including Christian “house churches” that operate independently of state-sanctioned ones, face harsh persecution.

Pan Yongguang, a pastor affiliated with the Mayflower Church who is also in Thailand, told RFA in October that he was afraid of being detained in an immigration prison and eventually deported to China.

“I can’t let myself fall into their hands.” “If they find me and put me in an immigration detention center, they will deport me to China,” he had stated.

“I will not return to mainland China voluntarily, and I will not commit suicide.”

China’s threats never stop

Meanwhile, Deana Brown, an American who was briefly detained with the group, told the Associated Press on Friday that renewing visas for Chinese nationals was difficult.

She told AP that when the Chinese exiles tried to renew their Thai visas, they were told they needed to go to their home country’s embassy first.

“We knew [then] that nobody could get their visas,” Brown told the Associated Press.

“There was no way, because they’d be gone as soon as they walked into the Chinese Embassy, and we’d never see them again.” Since then, they’ve been hiding.”

Brown is the founder of Freedom Seekers International, a Texas-based organization that “exists to rescue ‘last resort’ and the most severely persecuted Christians in hostile and restrictive countries,” according to its website.

According to the organization, it “is taking the lead in establishing a new life for them in Tyler, Texas.”

On Thursday, Fu Xiqiu, chairman of the China Aid Association, a Christian NGO based in the United States, said that one of the church members had been coerced into telling Thai authorities where they were staying. According to Fu, this is what prompted the immigration raid and arrest.

“Based on the treatment of other missing people in the past, this must be the CCP’s mafia behind the scenes,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

“We urge the international community to intervene immediately to put an end to the atrocities.” We can expect these adults and children to be imprisoned and persecuted if they return to China.”

Fu also claimed that despite the church members’ exile, Chinese authorities have continued to threaten them. “China’s threats have never stopped, including kidnapping, threatening, and interrogating family members,” Fu claimed.

“Even on Jeju Island, they were threatened by text messages and phone calls from the CCP Consulate, saying they were traitorous, treasonous, and endangering national security.”

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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