New report details harrowing personal stories of victims of China's crackdown on religious freedom

A damning report by The Church of Almighty God (CAG),a new religious movement with ties to Protestantism created in 1991 and banned in 1995, cites the cases of 20 of their believers who died after being arrested and tortured by the Chinese authorities.

The cases are widely documented in the CAG's annual report and include the name, gender, age, date of arrest, date and circumstances of the death.

In a recent article, Bitter Winter, a daily magazine on religious liberty in China, exposed the disturbing case of a 19-year-old female member of the CAG who was arrested and brutally abused because of her faith. She spoke frankly about her painful ordeal at the hands of the Chinese government.

Lu Chunyan, a pseudonym used out of concerns for her safety, is from Taizhou city in Jiangsu, a coastal  province north of Shanghai who is a member of the Church.

At the time of her arrest, on November 22, 2017, she and her three sisters were about to go to bed when they heard the sound of someone kicking the door downstairs. Moments later, six police officers rushed in and looted everything, taking their computers, hard disk drives, and other items.

The police then took them to a hotel for a secret interrogation, which they said was a study class. That night, she was forced to remain in a standing position as punishment and wasn’t allowed to sleep.

She recalls, “When I still refused to say anything, he slapped me repeatedly in the face – again. He hit me so hard that I got dizzy and started bleeding at the corners of my mouth”.

On another occasion she made to raise her hands high, adding, “When I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to put my hands down, one officer warned: “If you dare to put [your hands] down, I’ll slap you. If you dare to put [your hands] down, I’ll find a few people to come and gang-rape you. Do you believe me?”

Looking back on the terrible experience, she says, “Even today, as soon as my body is cold or exposed to the wind, my calves ache. My gums always feel swollen and painful; my lower jaw is sore and uncomfortable.”

She adds, “My experience is only a microcosm of the CCP’s persecution of Christians. More prisoners of conscience who have been incarcerated for their beliefs and are still being tormented and tortured. In this country, where the CCP is in power, Christians’ road of faith in God is extraordinarily difficult.”

In 2018, the Chinese authorities stepped up their persecution of the CAG. 

According to incomplete statistics published by the CAG’s report, at least 20 of their members died as a result of persecution by the Chinese government in 2018 alone, with their right to life having been denied in various ways. 

Some died from being tortured by CCP police, some died after becoming seriously ill following the intentional withholding of treatment for medical conditions during prison sentences, and some committed suicide out of desperation after years of surveillance, harassment and pursuit by the CCP police.

Another worrying case cited by the report is that of Miao Zenghua, who joined the CAG in 2007. Before her death she was a mid-level leader of the Church; once the CCP officials learned of this, they designated her as a key target for arrest. On September 13, 2018, Miao was arrested by officers at her home. She had a heart attack on the spot and was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment.

After regaining consciousness, she was taken by the police to the local PSB to be tortured for a confession, even though the doctors had not yet determined if the danger of her death had passed. She died the following day, with her family saying this was a direct result of her torture.

Yet another case is Xie Xin, another pseudonym, who joined CAG in 2005. 

In March 2018 she was arrested by police because of her faith. The evening of April 1, the police informed Xie’s family that she had died. The next day her family sought an explanation from the police. They were told she had hanged herself in the shower, but her family were very sceptical. While detained, how was it possible the police had allowed her to shower alone? The police didn’t respond directly to her family’s questions, but instead threatened and intimidated them saying that if they continued to pursue the issue, her family members would be implicated and those who were employed would lose their jobs. Afraid of retaliation and persecution by the police, all they could do was swallow their anger—they didn’t dare pursue it any further. What made them particularly indignant was that the police wouldn’t allow them to see Xie Xin’s remains; they only returned the ashes to her family after her cremation. 

The CAG’s report, seen by this website, says that all religions and all Churches are now dramatically persecuted in China, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Taoists.

“In the last few years, an increasing number of members of the Church of Almighty God who are persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party have been knocking on the doors of several EU member states and requesting their protection,” Willy Fautre, director of the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), told EUToday, "More than 2,000 believers have been desperately applying for political asylum in a dozen EU countries in the last few years because they are heavily persecuted in their country," he said, “but unfortunately, they have massively been denied political asylum. As of 1 January, France Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany recorded the highest percentages of rejections.” 

“The main reason is that the state institutions in charge of the requests for asylum are unaware of the magnitude and intensity of the religious persecution in China and are ignorant about The Church of Almighty God, or are misled by the anti-religious propaganda and the fake news spread around the world by the CCP,” he commented.

And he concluded with a stark warning: “Sending these believers back to China would mean handing them over to their persecutors.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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