Father Yang Jianwei is the fifth priest from the underground Catholic Church in China to mysteriously go missing in the last month, in what appears to be a concentrated round-up of so-called dissidents by China’s communist party.
The priest, who had previously been arrested in 2005, disappeared around noon on April 15 and his current location and legal status are both unknown.
At the time of Yang’s previous arrest, Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said that such arbitrary detentions were intended to “force the underground Church religious and faithful to register with the official Patriotic Church and to institute more control over the underground priests.”
Father Yang is the pastor of Anzhuang church, and apparently was abducted at the site of a vehicle driver’s test, where he had gone together with his driving instructor and others who would be taking the exam. According to other local priests, Yang’s phone was disconnected sometime between 12:00 and 12:30pm on the day of his disappearance.
Yang’s driving instructor asked the staff at the site to be able to see the video surveillance installed in the area, in order to understand what had happened to the priest, but his request was denied.
Like the other priests who have disappeared, Father Yang belongs to the underground Catholic community faithful to Rome and not recognized by China’s communist government.
Local Catholics have sent out several messages via social media and also alerted the faithful from neighboring areas, in the hopes of obtaining news about the priest.
This most recent disappearance has provoked concern in the Christian community, in part because of the recent death of Father Peter Wei, who also belonged to the underground Church.
Though classified as a “suicide” by local authorities, few gave any credence to the official story, which seemed unlikely in the extreme. Those who knew the priest rejected the suicide hypothesis, stating that he “would never be able to even think of such a thing.”
A recent report from the U.S. State Department found that instead of getting better, China’s record of human rights violations continues to worsen.
“Repression and coercion markedly increased” in Communist China during the year 2015, the report stated, and organizations and individuals suffered frequent attacks on their religious, civil, and political rights.
“The crackdown on the legal community was particularly severe,” said the report, titled: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Lawyers and law firms were targeted for harassment and detention if they dared to defend clients against China’s barbarian practices, said the report. Hundreds of lawyers were “interrogated, investigated, and in many cases detained in secret locations for months,” the report revealed.
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