Over a hundred Christians from a charismatic house church in Inner Mongolia were beaten by the local armed police while they were in a gathering in July 2017. One elderly believer approaching eighty fainted after being tased, four others were forcibly arrested. Two of them were held in custody.
Witnesses at the scene said that around 3 p.m. on July 12, 2017, over a hundred members of this charismatic house church in the Jining District of the city of Ulanqab, were in a gathering, when more than twenty people with the local Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Public Security Bureau, and the community district burst inside and violently abrupted the gathering. Zhang, a co-worker in the church, started filming with his mobile phone, and a few policemen rushed over, grabbed the phone and began beating him, tasing him with their batons until he fell to the floor. One believer’s eighteen-year-old son saw the officers beating Zhang and tried to stop them, but they immediately twisted his hands behind his back. Two other Christians came forward to try to reason with the police but were also beaten and tased. It was a scene of pure chaos.
After that, over thirty fully-armed SWAT officers in steel helmets arrived at the gathering site in vehicles. Co-worker Zhang asked what department they were from and who had ordered the halting of the gathering. Before he could even finish posing the questions, five or six officers hit him with their batons until he fell to the ground; they surrounded him, and viciously kicked him in the head. They then picked him up and put him in a police car.
Sun, a nearly 80-year-old believer came forward to reason with them, “We’re just gathering for our faith. Why are you beating us?” The police wouldn’t say a word to him but just knocked him down with their batons, and he lost consciousness immediately. Two other female believers saw what was going on and tried to reason with the police, but they were roughly taken into a police car.
Two church co-workers and two other female believers were forcibly taken by the police that day. One of the co-workers and one of the female believers were unlawfully held by the police for seven days. The other two were released the same day after their acquaintances pulled some strings for their release.
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).