Christian martyr buried alive becomes symbol of intensifying persecution in China

A Christian woman killed by a bulldozer after protesting a Church demolition has become the symbol of the growing persecution of religious minorities in China.

(Reuters/Frank Jack Daniel)A bulldozer clears a landslide from India's Tezpur-Tawang highway, which runs to the Chinese border, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. May 31, 2012.

On April 14, Christian pastor Li Jiangong's wife Ding Cuimei stood in front of a bulldozer in an attempt to stop a demolition team from destroying the Beitou Church in the Henan province. However, one member of the demolition team gave the command to bury the couple alive as he would be the one responsible for the incident, according to China Aid.

The bulldozer then pushed Jiangong and Cumei into a ditch and covered them with soil. Pastor Jiangong was able to escape, but his wife unfortunately died of suffocation before help arrived.

In a phone interview with China Aid on Sunday, a local police officer said the two members of the demolition team have already been detained for undisclosed charges. He also said a criminal investigation is being conducted.

The latest incident underscores the persecution being experienced by Christians in China from the government itself, Fox News reports. China Aid president Bob Fu released a statement calling for punishment for those responsible for Cumei's death and the act of bulldozing the Christian couple.

"Bulldozing and burying alive Ding Cuimei, a peaceful and devout Christian woman, was a cruel, murderous act. This case is a serious violation of the rights to life, religious freedom and rule of law," said Fu. "The Chinese authorities should immediately hold those murderers accountable and take concrete measures to protect the religious freedom of this house church's members," he added.

Last year, the Chinese government had demolished thousands of Churches and arrested dozens of pastors on fabricated corruption charges, nonprofit groups monitoring the situation have disclosed.

Open Doors USA president and CEO David Curry told Fox News that China is now bent on "nationalizing" the Christians in the country. He said some of the government's efforts to clamp down on religious freedom include Church demolitions and forcing pastors to explain their sermons to local officials.