A total of 300 personnel were dispatched to demolish the shrine in Henan on the eve of China’s grandest festival.
Millions celebrated the Chinese New Year on 16th February this year. A day before that, known as Lunar New Year’s Eve, was a holiday. It was a time of celebration and merry-making with family and friends. Except, the Chinese authorities were busy trying to demolish an ancient shrine on that day because they knew nobody would be around to protest against it.
The shrine in Henan’s Xuchang city was built in 1998 using local funds, as per several estimates. It was a favorite place for making holy offerings in Dongcheng, the district where the shrine was located.
The shrine was dedicated to Fuxi and Nüwa, the Chinese god and goddess who are believed to have created the mankind, as per Chinese mythology. Ancient shrines are significant for believers of Chinese folk religions. Some people make offerings for their departed ancestors, some wish for a good harvest, and the rest want to pay their respects to the divine powers.
However, the Chinese Communist Party has always disregarded the country’s heritage, in addition to everything that is foreign. Even during the Cultural Revolution, ancestral shrines were destroyed in large numbers.
The local government had been issuing notices regarding the demolition of Dongcheng shrine since April last year. They even cut off its water and electricity at one point. The believers, however, had been guarding the place for seven months before February.
Over 300 personnel were dispatched for the demolition work. The contingent included armed police, riot control personnel, and officials from the Public Security Department. Multiple squad cars were put on standby as well. Soon, a large excavator was brought in to level the shrine. Believers had gathered nearby and were distressed by the demolition, especially on a day meant for warmth and togetherness.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.