Catholic priest vanishes during driving test

Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence. Originally published by ChinaAid.

(Baoding, Hebei—May 4, 2016) A Catholic priest from China’s northern Hebei province disappeared on April 15 during a driving test.

Yang Jianwei, a priest from a rural, predominately Catholic village in the city of Baoding, lost contact with his family and friends at 12:00 p.m. on April 15, shortly after he entered an examination room to take a driving test.

His relatives repeatedly called him, but his cell phone had been turned off. Members of his church, who accompanied him to the driving test, searched the facility but could not find him. When they asked to view surveillance footage, the staff refused to produce it, claiming they would only do so if they received the consent of the local public security bureau.

That afternoon, Yang’s family arrived and called the police; however, the local police station said they lacked sufficient manpower to investigate the case and promised to review the security footage with the family members once they had enough men.

The government began persecuting Catholics in the village on May 22, 2015, when authorities dispatched 500 officials to destroy part of a venue used for prayer meetings. During the demolition, two church members were detained, and one woman suffered injuries. Officially, government personnel claimed that the church members “gathered illegally” when they met to perform mass.

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