Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 18, 2018
Bitter Winter has reported repeatedly about the persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang. However, religious persecution in Xinjiang also targets Christians, according to reports and documents we keep receiving.
Officers of the National Security Brigade in Barköl Kazakh Autonomous County in the city of Hami, Xinjiang, invited the leader of a house church for a talk on October 19, 2017. Instead, they arrested him and still keep him in custody.
The church that Wang Zhiping (pseudonym), a 37-years-old from the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, belonged to had purchased a 120-square-meter home for religious gatherings. Authorities closed the church for the first time in 2015. After many rounds of negotiations, it was opened again, and about 70 believers would often meet to worship. But not for long – in 2016, government officials shut the church down again. This time, the police detained the church’s leader, Wang Zhiping. To restrict his freedom and maintain control over his movements, the police ordered him to report to the local police station every month. They also began monitoring him through his phone – the moment Wang Zhiping went outside Xinjiang Province, a computer monitoring system would automatically notify the police. He had to report to the police every time he went home to Wenzhou or returned to Xinjiang. Being so closely monitored, Wang Zhiping could rarely openly attend church meetings. The church, having lost its leader, split apart, and only a few members of the congregation continued to meet secretly in small groups.
In October 2017, Wang Zhiping attended a wedding of two fellow Christians where he prayed for the union of the newlyweds. After a few days, on October 19, officers from the local National Security Brigade went to his home and took him to the police station claiming that they just wanted to talk to him. Wang Zhiping has never returned home.
Only later it was discovered that Wang Zhiping is being detained in a Hami forced conversion facility. The building was originally built as a hospital during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003 but was later converted into a base for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) forced conversion facility where over 1,000 people are held, including Christians, Muslims, and petitioners for justice. Wang Zhiping’s wife went to visit him; she discovered that he had lost a lot of weight but could not find out the reason for this because the guards were closely monitoring their meeting.
After his arrest, Wang Zhiping’s wife has been subjected to intense monitoring by the CCP, equaling to the control over convicted criminals. Starting from May 19, 2018, the local community manager visited daily Wang Zhiping’s home, took a photo of his wife, and sent it to the CCP police to prove that she was home, and there was no suspicious activity. Even when she went to Wenzhou to visit her hometown, the Xinjiang police continued to call her and demand that she provided photographs. As the police monitoring of Wang Zhiping’s wife intensified, the family became increasingly afraid for his safety.