The crackdown prepared the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary.
by Li Mingxuan
On June 15, the government in the northern province of Shanxi carried out a unified arrest operation targeting members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Up to June 26, 403 CAG members had been arrested, including 124 in Changzhi city, 83 in Lüliang city, 67 in Jinzhong city, 96 in Linfen city, and 33 in Datong city. According to a government insider, this arrest operation might last until the end of July.
One Office of State Security in Shanxi Province issued a document about the maintenance of social order during the celebration of the CCP’s 100th anniversary. The document ordered to “put real efforts to strengthen surveillance over key personnel, and carry out severe crackdown on The Church of Almighty God” during the celebration days. The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is a Christian new religious movement. It is the most severely persecuted religious movement in China. Since April this year, the CCP has wantonly arrested CAG members throughout the country in the name of the maintenance of social order during the anniversary celebration.
From middle April to middle June, at least 265 CAG members were arrested by police in the central province of Henan. In Zhengzhou, the capital of the province, the authorities demanded all levels of governments in the province to ascertain the number of CAG members, cooperate with public security organs and related departments, use measures of household investigation, indoor “help and instruction,” mass report, and others, find out the actual situation and movements of local CAG members, and carry out crackdown, maintenance, control, and political work with targets.
According to a government employee in Henan Province who spoke to Bitter Winter asking for anonymity, to prepare the celebration of CCP’s 100th anniversary, the central government ordered to arrest CAG members as key targets. Henan’s public security organs have planted informants in every village in the province, and any gathering of two or three people would be regarded as suspicious and might lead to arrests.
From May 19 to 25, the police in the southern province of Guangdong carried out a unified arrest operation targeting the CAG. Nearly 160 CAG members were arrested in Foshan, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, and other cities. Because of lockdowns in many areas due to severe pandemic in Guangdong Province, no detailed information about most of the arrested CAG members could be obtained. However, Bitter Winter was told that some CAG members had been traced and surveilled by the police for a long time before their arrests.
In April this year, the government in the eastern province of Anhui carried out a unified arrest operation after a long-term surveillance and tracing. In that month, at least 116 CAG members were arrested, and at least 750,000 RMB (about $ 116,000) of church and personal assets were looted.
In late April, a CAG member was arrested by plainclothes police on her way back home in Anhui Province. Following that, the police went to her home, found out and confiscated a computer, religious books, and nearly 100,000 RMB in cash.
A released CAG member told Bitter Winter that during interrogation she found out that some police officers had disguised themselves as cleaning workers to surveil her for three months before her arrest. The police showed her surveillance screenshots of her and two other CAG members, and forced her to disclose the whereabouts of the two co-religionists.
The Bureau of Public Security of Yantai city in the eastern province of Shandong also carried out a major arrest operation targeting CAG members by use of surveillance and tracing. On April 20 alone, more than 30 CAG members were arrested.
According to a government insider from Shandong Province, since October 2020, over 200 CAG members have been surveilled in Shandong’s Longkou city, and among them at least 30 have been arrested. Many CAG members who are well known for their belief and have police records had no choice but to flee to evade arrest.
On April 12, the police carried out a unified arrest operation targeting the CAG in Baotou city, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Within two days alone, more than 70 CAG members were arrested as a result.
Government and police officers who talked to Bitter Winter confirmed that, as this year is the 100th anniversary of the CCP’s founding, the government ordered to strengthen the persecution against all dissident groups, insisting on the CAG in particular. The central supervision team carried out inspection work in Inner Mongolia, and government employees from Baotou city went deep into all communities to investigate and surveil CAG members. Many CAG members were arrested as a result. During this arrest operation, the city’s Bureau of Public Security assigned arrest quotas to its subordinate organs, and ordered them to keep arrest lists confidential.
On April 12, over ten police officers broke into a CAG member’s house in Baotou city, and arrested him. His family bribed the police and used their connections to have him released on bail, but the police officers told them that he might still be given a prison sentence.
According to a source, 34 CAG members arrested in Baotou city were held in Guchengwan Detention Center, where they were subjected to “transformation” through mandatary indoctrination, and those who refused to be “transformed” would be given sentences.