A church’s administration in Xinjiang was systematically harassed by the authorities over the years.
In July 2016, a family church in Xinjiang’s Urumqi city organized an overseas mission for five church personnel. However, the applications of Pastor Wen Jing and Wang Zhongdao (pseudonyms) were rejected as their names were on police blacklist. Instead, their passports were seized.
In the end, church staff member Ms. Zhou Tongxin (pseudonym) and two others, including Pastor Chen and a co-worker surnamed Li, got the visas and were allowed to travel.
When Ms. Zhou returned in August, she realized that her fellow Christians were nowhere to be found. They had traveled back to China two days before her, but to date, no one knows about their whereabouts.
Months later in November that year, Ms. Zhou too was summoned by the police for interrogation. She was asked about her overseas trip and warned, “China is an atheist country. You are not allowed to go to Middle Eastern countries. You are forbidden from going abroad again!” Her passport has been in police custody ever since.
The church was attacked again this year in March. Several co-workers were having a meeting when eight officials from the local district public security bureau stormed inside and announced that the church was being shut down.
A few days later, the police raided the home of Pastor Wen. They did not present a warrant and forcibly confiscated her Bible, spiritual books and sermon literature. She was prohibited from attending gatherings in the future.
Further, she was told to report to three locations daily: the local public security bureau, the police station, and the community office. She was forbidden from switching her mobile phones or numbers. This continued until May and Pastor Wen was almost on the brink of a mental breakdown.
Pastor Wang was too told to report to the three locations mentioned above. He was prohibited from leaving the town, and he is still under surveillance.
Ms. Zhou is being monitored as well. She has no place left to congregate or preach gospel now.
Reported by Li Zaili
Li Zaili (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), born in Xinjiang in 1982, went to the United States to study at the age of 16. After graduating from university, Li returned to Xinjiang and worked in journalism. In 2014, Xinjiang authorities started detaining large numbers of Muslims in “transformation through education camps.” Learning of that, he left his original position and began independently collecting and organizing information related to “transformation through education camps,” and submitted articles for publication in overseas media outlets. After Bitter Winter was founded in May 2018, Li Zaili became a special correspondent of Bitter Winter covering Xinjiang, Xizang and some other regions in China.