After five years of persecution, a member of The Church of Almighty God fell seriously ill but was unable to seek treatment while on the run.
In China, believing in God is almost worse than being a major national criminal. At least that’s how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) treats believers. Just look at the life of Zhang Suzhen (pseudonym).
Zhang Suzhen was a member of The Church of Almighty God from eastern Zhejiang Province. Her troubles began in 2012 when she was detained by local police, on two separate occasions in December, merely for her Christian beliefs. She was charged with “participating in an illegal organization and disrupting public order,” and held, the first time, for eight days, and for the second time, 15 days.
But after she was released, the police kept up their harassment, repeatedly phoning her with warnings to dispense with her belief and to stop spreading the gospel to others. Zhang Suzhen got wind that her name had been added to a government wanted list, which had already been passed down from the county Political and Legal Affairs Commission to the local jurisdiction. If found, the police would arrest her again.
So, on March 28, 2013, to evade capture, Zhang Suzhen went on the run. Police officers went to her husband, threatening him: “If your wife doesn’t turn herself in and we find her, the charges will be worse, and there will be sentencing.”
CCP officials pursued Zhang Suzhen for five years. “I don’t know how I’ve gotten through these past five years,” Zhang Suzhen reportedly said before her death. “The government has pursued me relentlessly just for my belief in Almighty God. They’ve been ruthless, forcing me into a situation in which I can’t even go home, and I’m forced to drift around outside, alone. Just like that, my happy family has been destroyed. Due to the CCP’s harassment and coercion, my husband has divorced me. I can’t fulfill my filial duties to my elderly mother. When my father passed away, I was unable to pay my respects and return home for his funeral. I’m unable to fulfill my duties to my son as a mother.”
The authorities had no compassion for her.
In China, the annual Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for families to get together, and the police like to take advantage of these special occasions to try to capture those on the run who might return home to be with family. According to a witness, at around 6 p.m. on September 8, 2014, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, four or five police officers went to the residential community where Zhang Suzhen’s family lived and asked a nearby supermarket owner about her. Then they went to the building where her family resided and staked out the area until 8:30 p.m.
According to Zhang Suzhen’s family, unable to bear repeated instances of harassment, threats, and intimidation, Zhang Suzhen’s husband unilaterally divorced her after she had been on the run for a year. In May of 2017, Zhang Suzhen’s father passed away, and police once again prepared to arrest her, taking advantage of this special occasion, but she didn’t dare return for the funeral. After three months, the local government had a surveillance camera installed near the entrance of Zhang Suzhen’s mother’s house. In September, the county government convened officials from various villages for a meeting, in which they announced that Zhang Suzhen was one of the upper-level leaders in The Church of Almighty God, and required inciting the masses to report her whereabouts as soon as they get any clue.
At the beginning of September 2018, unified secret mass seizures against The Church of Almighty God were implemented throughout Zhejiang Province, and the police once again targeted Zhang Suzhen. But this time, her predicament was even more perilous – she was severely ill, due to diabetes complications, but was unable to seek medical attention lest she rouse the attention of the authorities.
Zhang Suzhen died on October 19, 2018, a result of being deprived of access to prompt critical care.
Reported by Sun Kairui