The police arrested a member of the Church of Almighty God after they followed her for days, which led them to other Church members.
On May 9, 2018, Huang Yue, a member of The Church of Almighty God, a Chinese Christian new religious movement, was arrested by the police of Jiujiang city, Jiangxi Province. Before her arrest, the police had been surveilling and following her for a few days and collected information on some congregants who were in contact with her. After her arrest, nine others she had had contact with were also implicated. The whereabouts of five Church members, including Huang Yue, are unknown since their arrests. Two had their homes searched, and one has fled the area and is unable to return home.
Seven People Implicated After Close Surveillance
At about 2 p.m. on May 9, Huang Yue and Gu Li, both members of The Church of Almighty God, met with an elder fellow congregant at the entrance to a supermarket in Jiujiang. Several minutes later, Gu Li realized that there were several suspicious-looking people around her. They were on their phones while occasionally staring at the women. Feeling that something was off, the three women parted ways quickly. Gu Li was followed by a man around 40-years -old for quite a long way and managed to lose him after a while.
That same day around 4 p.m., four officers pulled Huang Yue from her scooter and bundled her into a black sedan. Since then her whereabouts have been unknown.
Before her arrest, Huang Yue had been to the home of another Church member, Tao Rou, who was also implicated later. At about 11 p.m. on May 9, the police called Tao Rou to have her go to the police station. They questioned her on how many homes her family owned and if they rented them to believers. The police later searched an apartment that her family was renting out and arrested four members of the Church who lived there. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
Police Conduct Raids, Huang Yue’s Mother Forced to Flee
Three days after Huang Yue’s arrest, at a little past 8 p.m. on May 11, five officers from a township police station in Shangrao City went to her parents’ home. They barged in and began ransacking their home without showing any documentation and confiscated a laptop and three cellphones after searching the house. Huang Yue’s mother Wang Jing, also a member of The Church of Almighty God, asked to use the restroom and took the opportunity to flee. The police later told Wang Jing’s husband, “You have to get your wife to come back and turn herself in. Get any other believers in your village to turn themselves in too.” After keeping him locked up for 24 hours, they released him.
In the several days that followed, the police returned to Wang Jing’s home and conducted two more searches. After learning about this, she did not dare get in touch with her family or go back home. She had no choice but to flee.
The surveillance of people is a customary practice by the Chinese Communist Party authorities to seek out believers. The phones of identified members of churches are monitored, and their moves followed, which helps the authorities to find their fellow congregants. They sometimes intentionally release regular church members after their arrest, later tracking and monitoring them to get to higher-ranking church leaders. The police refer to this tactic as “letting the line out to catch a big fish.” Believers in China live in a very harsh environment and constant danger, forcing them to be very cautious. Living under constant pressure, many believers suffer from depression as well as both mental and physical pain.
(All names are pseudonyms)
Report by Lin Yijiang
Lin Yijiang (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), whose ancestral hometown is Hangzhou, Zhejiang, lived in Spain with his family at a young age. His father is a human rights activist. Under his father’s influence, Lin Yijiang also began actively following human rights conditions in countries around the world, especially China’s harsh persecution of human rights. In 2016, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the persecuted groups in China, Lin returned to his hometown and became a freelance journalist, giving a voice to persecuted groups. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018 and became a special correspondent covering Zhejiang Province, Jiangxi Province, and some other regions.