Believers put their bodies in front of demolition equipment to try to save the cross and the church but end up beaten and broken.
On February 1, police used brutal tactics to erect a national flag at a government-controlled Three-Self church in Wangxinglan village, under the administration of Funingji town, in Yuanyang county, Xinxiang city, Henan Province. According to eyewitnesses, that day, more than 40 people including armed police officers arrived at the church. One town government official shouted an order, “Open the door! Put up the national flag!” The church leader was unwilling to open the door and asked why the national flag needed to be raised.
“The state owns this land, so the national flag must be erected,” the official responded. “To do so is to love the country. If you don’t open the door, we’ll smash it down with an ax.”
The church leader and believers blocked the entrance. The government personnel called for a forklift to be brought to tear down the church’s walls, but the believers tried to stop them. The officials pushed and shoved the believers, shouting, “If anyone steps forward, hit them!”
The church members were outnumbered and could not get close to the forklift.
The officials started to tear apart the church’s walls and an adjacent iron shed. The church leader broke free from the officers holding her, ran in front of the forklift, and sat in the machine’s basket to prevent the demolition. Government personnel then carried her away and dropped her onto the rubble.
The ten-year-old son of the church leader saw his mother being beaten and stepped forward to protect her. But the child, too, was pushed to the ground.
One believer also rushed in front of the forklift to try to stop it, but a government worker grabbed his arm, clutched him by the neck, and threw him to the ground. More than a dozen government workers took turns to punch and kick him. The believer was injured and couldn’t stand up. The church leader called an ambulance to take him to the hospital for treatment.
The government forcibly demolishes the church’s walls in Wangxinglan village to forcibly erect a national flag:
According to witnesses, the scene was chaotic. One elderly Christian was knocked down. Another Christian suffered a scratched and bruised face, and a child was punched several times by government personnel.
This attack sparked anger among believers. They chastised the armed police equipped with shields. “You carry shields to fend off the unarmed and defenseless people,” they said. “You protect those who hit people and say that those who were hit are guilty. Do you deserve to be wearing police uniforms?”
In the process of confrontation with the authorities, one believer is knocked down to the ground:
Another member of the church said, “This is the so-called world of the Communist Party led by President Xi. This is how the Communist Party harms the people.”
As the believers watched and protested, the government officials erected a flagpole and raised the Chinese national flag at the church.
After a medical examination, the believer who was sent to the hospital for treatment was found to have two broken ribs, and paid 3,000 RMB (about $447) in medical expenses. The government did not provide any compensation.
This attack is not the only example from Yuanyang county in which officials have used violence to raise the national flag. In a similar case that occurred on February 20, public security officers dismantle another church’s cross and displayed a Chinese flag inside the church. The video of the incident was widely shared online.
Dozens of believers in Xinxiang city’s Yuanyang county use their bodies to prevent public security officers from forcibly removing the cross:
According to Radio Free Asia, the day before, the church’s pastor and three church workers were detained on criminal charges on suspicion of “obstructing government administration” for opposing the removal of the cross.
Reported by Xin Lu