Chinese authorities recently arrested more than 50 Christians — including 11 children — for "inciting subversion of state power," a persecution watchdog has reported.
According to an update from Chengdu's Early Rain Covenant Church, which was closed down by the communist government in December, multiple homes hosting prayer gatherings on Feb. 24 were surrounded by police officers who interrupted the services. At two of the home church services, every person in attendance was detained.
"Everyone, including Christian children, elderly people, and pregnant women, was taken away by police, and their phones were seized," notes the update.
According to a statement released by the church, two Christians who were arrested were "violently beaten."
"Tang Chunliang and his wife were hit in the face by a plainclothes police officer at the police station," the update reads. "Some, including children, did not eat anything. Some were not released until 2:00 a.m. Tired children slept on ice-cold tables and floors. Others were not released until 6:00 a.m."
A short time later, two more churchgoers were arrested when they went to the Chengdu Police Station to visit their detained friends.
"They were then taken to the Taisheng Road Police Station, where they were locked up and interrogated," a March 2 statement from the church reads. "At 2:00 p.m., while being interrogated, they were personally humiliated, abused, and violently beaten by seven to eight police officers from the Chengdu Taisheng Road Police Station. They were detained for nearly eight hours."
China Aid founder Bob Fu, a well-respected human rights activist, tweeted that at least 11 of those who were arrested in Chengdu received a punishment of 10 to 14 days "administrative detention."
"Arbitrary arrest continues," Fu wrote, urging Christians worldwide to "walk with…these persecuted."
In December, church Pastor Wang Yi was arrested along with over 160 church members. Three months later, Wang and his wife remain in custody, and the pastor's parents and son have been under close surveillance since the arrest.
Since shuttering the church late last year, authorities have continued to harass Early Rain church members, according to updates from the church. Police have reportedly put pressure on landlords and employers, resulting in some churchgoers losing their homes and jobs. Some have had to move back to their hometowns.
At least one family of a church elder has been forced to move on multiple occasions as they have been deemed "illegal residents."
"Each time they are evicted, they find a new place to live," a church statement from Feb. 22 reads. "Then, after they've spent a few days adapting to their new home, police and national security come to their door and, through various methods, drive the family out of their home again."
China ranks as the 27th worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA's 2019 World Watch List.