A Christian pro-democracy activist and politician has claimed he was kidnapped last week and tortured by Chinese government agents who pierced his skin with 21 staples in the shape of crosses.
As The Christian Post reports, the man – Howard Lam – is a member of the Democracy Party in Hong Kong.
Addressing reporters in a press conference on Friday, Lam showed his wounds and claimed – as Premier Christian Radio reports – officials from China’s mainland (which is governed by communists) were responsible for his kidnapping.
“The politician believes he was targeted over a signed picture of the footballer Lionel Messi he had planned to send to the widow of a dissident who died in custody,” Premier Christian Radio reports, further quoting Lam as claiming he was “bundled into a car and forced to smell something that made him unconscious.”
The Christian Post quotes CSW East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers as stating that the “symbolic use of Mr. Lam’s religion in his alleged torture” is an “alarming threat to freedom of religion or belief.”
“We urge the Hong Kong authorities to launch a full and impartial investigation into the incident, and to guarantee the rights of all citizens, including the right to freedom from torture and freedom of religion or belief,” Rogers is further quoted as adding.
While Lam’s alleged abduction is still under investigation, if his claims turn out to be true, this would not be the first time a Christian in China and nearby regions has been targeted on the basis of religion.
Open Doors USA ranks China’s level of persecution against Christians as “high,” stating that the “source of persecution” is “communist oppression.”
“As Christians are the largest social force in China not controlled by the Communist Party, there are increasing efforts to bring them under state control,” Open Doors states.
“Historical Christian communities (including government-controlled churches) and non-traditional Protestant Christian communities are monitored and limited in their freedom of religion, the communities of converts to Christianity – very small groups of Christian converts from Muslim or Tibetan background – are particularly targeted,” the organization continues.
In another Open Doors release, the organization reports on the death of Pastor Han, who was “brutally murdered by North Korean secret agents.”
“Sources say his murder was to provide a ‘warning’ to Christians in China who are actively assisting North Korean refugees,” the organization adds.
According to a Christian Broadcasting Network report from the time of Han’s murder, the pastor not only helped refugees from North Korea but encouraged them “to go back and share the love of God with others.”