Members of religious groups designated as “evil cults” by China’s regime are being “transformed” through indoctrination while they serve their sentences.
by Yang Guang’an
Just because of her faith, a member of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) from the eastern province of Jiangsu was sentenced to three years in prison, charged with “using a xie jiao to undermine law enforcement.” Recently released, the woman recounted her time in captivity to Bitter Winter.
“During my imprisonment, I was forced to recite the prison regulations and texts of national laws. I was often forced to write ideological reports until midnight,” the woman started her story. The prison director also pressured her repeatedly to sign the “three statements” – Statement of Confession, Statement of Criticism, and Statement of Break-up – and renounce her faith. Because she refused every time, prison guards were ordered to beat and torture her. They shocked the woman with electric batons, threatening to electrocute her if she continued refusing to sign the statements.
“I was given to eat only a mouthful of porridge and half of a steamed bun once a day, in the mornings, for 17 successive days,” the woman continued. She believes that by starving her, the guards hoped to make her yield. They also sprayed her face and eyes with pepper water, saying that “nobody leaves this place before being transformed.”
The harassment intensified in the second half of 2018. “As a punishment, I was forced to stand still for hours during the day, and later copy by hand the texts of indoctrinating materials until midnight, then stand still again. Sometimes I was only allowed two hours of sleep at most. I often felt dizzy, lost over 15 kilos of weight. I was tortured like this for four months,” the woman recalled these horrible days.
According to the documents obtained by Bitter Winter that were issued by institutions on all levels of government, prisons that detain inmates sentenced for “using a xie jiao to undermine law enforcement,” are issued “transformation” quotas. As an example, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Shanxi Province instructed the prisons in the jurisdiction to ensure that 85% of all sentenced xie jiao members are transformed before their release. Meaning, that they have to confess their “crimes” by signing the “three statements,” disclose all the details about their religious practices, places of worship, and fellow believers, as well as pledge to never again participate in any religious activities.
A document issued in 2019 by the government of a county in Zhejiang Province orders to “transform through indoctrination” at least 80% of CAG members who have been previously arrested or registered by the state, and ensure that fewer than 20% of “transformed” believers resume their faith.