To extract testimonies proving that the leader of Early Rain Covenant Church was subverting state power, believers were reported to have been tortured and drugged.
by Yao Zhangjin
On December 9 last year, the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, was forcibly shut down, nearly 100 members of the congregation were arrested. The church leader, pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong were accused of “inciting subversion of state power,” a charge that may put them behind bars for 15 years.
The Church announced last week that Jiang Rong was released on bail on June 11 and was sent to her brother’s home where she is being monitored. Apart from close relatives, no one is allowed to see her for the time being. At present, four members of the church are still being detained, Wang Yi himself is being held in secret detention.
As local sources told Bitter Winter, the arrested members of the Early Rain Covenant Church were tortured to extract information from them and make them falsely testify against pastor Wang Yi, providing “evidence” that he “colluded with foreigners to incite subversion of state power.” Some were reportedly drugged with unknown substances. While they were in a state of mental confusion, the police extracted false testimony from them and recorded videos to use as evidence.
According to those familiar with the matter, among the tortured was a student from the theological seminary of Early Rain Covenant. He was later forced to acknowledge the baseless charges that the police have brought against Wang Yi. His testimony was also videotaped to be used as evidence.
Apparently, Wang Yi’s influence in China’s house churches has scared the CCP. He was among the initiators of the joint statement by pastors denouncing the persecution of house churches in China. No matter what, the authorities will not let him go easily.
Bitter Winter has also received information that this March, personnel from Chengdu’s National Security department took in a believer from the northern province of Shanxi for investigation. The police played a video of a speech that Wang Yi made last September, in which Xi Jinping’s name was mentioned. Based on the video, the believer was told to testify that Wang Yi “incited subversion of state power.”
At the same time, books written by Wang Yi have been banned. On March 15, personnel from the National Security department of Chengdu traveled outside the province to the home of an elder in a Christian house church. After searching the home and finding a few of Wang Yi’s books, the police confiscated them under the pretext that they were illegal.
Before Wang Yi was arrested, he publicly stated that he would not plead guilty even under coercion and torture. He said, “Whether during questioning, interrogation, or trial and sentencing, I won’t acknowledge any charges brought against me due to my faith or the church, no matter whether it’s any of the common charges used to persecute and frame the church – such as ‘inciting subversion of state power,’ ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble,’ ‘illegal business operations,’ ‘disturbing public order,’ and ‘using a xie jiao to undermine law enforcement’ – or any other charge, unless the police has destroyed my health and my will with brutal violence.”