The text of the testimony of Sister Guimei Jiang at the July 23, 2018 side event on China during the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom organized by the State Department in Washington DC.
Member of The Church of Almighty God
My name is Guimei Jiang (pseudonym: Zhenqing), and I turned 38 this year. I became a member of The Church of Almighty God in 1997. I was arrested by the police of the Chinese Communist regime because of my faith, then subjected to torture for a month and a half and sent to a labor camp for two years. After I was released from prison in 2010, the Chinese Communist regime continued to investigate me and hunt me down; I was on the run for years. What follows is my story.
Arrested and tortured because of my faith
On July 31, 2008, I was arrested by the police officers from the Jixi City Public Security Bureau of Heilongjiang Province in China while doing the church work with two other sisters. I learned from the officers that I had been monitored and followed by the police for half a year. They told me that believing in Almighty God was against the law; I was a target for the national government crackdown and a wanted person.
When I arrived at the Public Security Bureau, two male officers tried to force me to divulge the whereabouts of the Church funds and other brothers and sisters from my mouth. When I kept my mouth shut, they went into a frenzy of slapping me on the face. They hammered me on the head and in the face with their fists, spun me around on the floor by grabbing onto my hair, forced me onto my stomach by kicking me, and mercilessly pressed on the acupressure point between my forefinger and middle finger. They even forced me to “fly the plane,” that is, forced me to keep my knees bent halfway with my arms stretched straight out. They gave me a really good beating whenever I was unable able to hold that position. They tortured me that way from noon all the way until 8 at night. The cruel beatings made my head numb, caused my lips to swell and split, and left my entire body swollen. I was in excruciating pain. The police continued to interrogate me, but I refused to talk which seemed to drive one of the officers crazy. He swiftly picked up a mop and beat me with the wooden handle; my whole body was under attack. He hit me on the head with the wooden handle so brutally that the handle broke into three pieces. I eventually passed out from the beating, after which the police poured freezing cold water over me, and I regained consciousness. Next, they hit my swollen arms with a broom handle over and over. They did not stop until 2 o’clock in the morning when they had tired themselves from beating me up. I lay on my stomach on the floor, unable to move a muscle. I felt so vulnerable. I had no idea what kind of inhumane torture I was going to face the next day. Waves of terror set in, and the only thing I could do was to pray to Almighty God over and over again in my heart.
The next morning, I wanted to go to the toilet, but I couldn’t feel my legs or move them at all. I could only inch myself along by placing both palms on the wall to support myself. When I finally arrived at the toilet, I touched the top of my head and felt something very soft with my hand. There was some accumulated fluid in my skull that moved toward my forehead and face. I could see that almost every inch of my body was dark purple. My left hamstrings were tightly knotted up and my arms and thigh muscles had become as hard as stone and so painful that I was afraid to touch them. It crossed my mind that I had been seriously injured. That afternoon, a police officer used a high voltage electric baton to shock me and repeatedly punched and kicked me. I was lying on my stomach on the floor, and the pain was so intense I could hardly move. The air was filled with smell of burnt hair. As the officer kicked me forcefully, he yelled: “We have orders from the state! Beating someone to death who believes in Almighty God is nothing! Now we, the Communists, are in power and you have no way out but death!” They tortured me until the wee hours of the morning. At that time, I only had one conviction in my heart: If it was the will of Almighty God that I should not die, I would manage to hold on to my very last breath.
On August 2, two officers pulled a black hood over my head and dragged me into a police car. They took me to a small two-story building deep in the mountains where I saw the other sisters who had been arrested same day as I was. We were locked up in separate rooms. The police officers were on duty in three shifts and we were under 24-hour surveillance.
The evening of August 3, the police officers began to interrogate me; they shocked me with their electric batons, and punched me and kicked me in turn. They tortured me for half the night, during which time the screams of my sisters who were also being tortured could be heard from next door. Their screams lasted the whole night.
“My heart was literally broken”
On August 4, I heard that one of the sisters had almost died—she had tried to take her own life by cutting one of her wrists because she could no longer endure the torture. My heart was literally broken when I heard what had happened to her. I prayed to Almighty God and implored Him to give her support and strength. That night two police officers took turns beating me for many hours. They even tied my handcuffs to a high-up heating pipe with coarse cloth strips so that my entire body was nearly suspended in the air. The teeth of the handcuffs cut deeply into my flesh and the blood vessels in my hands were so swollen they felt like they were about to burst. I broke out into a full-body sweat from the excruciating pain. The police officers would occasionally loosen the cloth strips for a bit, then tighten them up again. By doing so the teeth of the handcuffs would cut into my flesh over and over again. I was kept in that hanging position for many hours. As a result, two bloody cuts were made on my wrists—it was brutal and inhumane. They later took me down. One of the police officers forced my mouth open and poured a bottle of mustard oil into my mouth. I was choking and nearly suffocated to death. This kind of inhumane torture lasted until 2 o’clock in the morning.
I was taken to a detention center on August 5. It was difficult for me to walk due to all the physical injuries. I was subjected to interrogation at the hands of the police every day or every other day; they continued to beat me up, they would pinch my fingers with a belt buckle, place a thumb below and other fingers above my collar bones and try to squeeze my collar bones as tightly as possible. They tried everything to force me to divulge the information of the church and its members, and give up my faith. Every day I lived in an atmosphere of incredible stress and awful terror. Every time I heard the noise of the iron door to my cell, my entire body started trembling unconsciously. One month and 22 days in the detention center was much harder than the five days of torture.
Sentenced to two years in a labor camp
One day in mid-September, the Jixi City Public Security Bureau handed down a sentence without any court proceedings—two years in a labor camp on the basis that I had committed the crime of “disturbing social order.” My family was notified by word of mouth. It was only then that they learned that I had been arrested by the Chinese Communist regime.
In September 2008, I was taken under escort to the Heilongjiang Provincial Female Labor Camp. The police officers there told prisoners that I was a follower of Almighty God and regularly incited other prisoners to beat me and curse me. I was forced to do hard labor for more than ten hours a day, and I even had to take a three-hour night shift. Every single day, it was a real struggle to get to the end of the day alive and well. All I could do was tearfully pray to God from under my blanket. I yearned for Almighty God’s love, and it was the power and strength I gained from Him that allowed me to survive that ordeal.
I was released from prison in May 2010, but the police demanded that I still present myself to the local police station on a regular basis. If it was found out that I was still a follower of Almighty God and was arrested a second time, I would be given a very harsh sentence. I fled my home and was hiding in different places in China so that I could continue practicing my faith.
Fled to United States to keep my faith
In 2016, I was able to flee to the United States thanks to Almighty God’s miraculous arrangements. Living in the United States of America has freed me from worries that I may be arrested by the Chinese police because of my faith in Almighty God. I can tell anyone that I am a follower of Almighty God. The freedom here in the US gives me confidence to bear witness to Almighty God’s miraculous works. I am so happy, so thankful! It is also my earnest wish that more people with righteous minds and brave hearts may pay close attention to the reality that Christians from The Church of Almighty God have been persecuted in the past and are still being persecuted today. I sincerely hope that those who are able can help them, protect them, and provide them with the freedom of belief and religious faith. Thank you!