The leader of a Chinese religious movement was detained and later imprisoned.
The Local Church, also known in China as the “Shouters, which the Chinese authorities listed as xie jiao in 1995. This non-denominational movement was started in 1927 by Ni Tuosheng or Watchman Nee, as he is better known. He began preaching the gospel in Fujian’s Fuzhou city and spent 30 years doing the work. Later, he was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party authorities and spent the last 20 years of his life in prison. He died in 1972.
Bitter Winter has received reports of a preacher who was arrested in 2016 and is currently under detention.
On March 6 in 2016, Zheng Wei (pseudonym) was convening a gathering of ten believers when he was arrested for “carrying out illegal missionary activities without local authorities’ approval.” Mr. Zheng, the leader at the Anhui’s Lu’an city Local Church, was preaching in the nearby Huangshan city on an invitation. He was detained by the local police, and his trial was conducted there as well.
His case was first heard in September 2017 at the Huangshan Municipal Court. The judge asked Mr. Zheng if he pleaded guilty, but he replied that it wasn’t a crime to believe in Lord. Unimpressed, the judge sentenced him to three years in prison for “conducting illegal missionary activities and undermining enforcement of the law.”
The judgment was challenged twice but was upheld both times. In February this year, Mr. Zheng was transferred to the Chaohu Prison in Anhui to serve his sentence.
Reported by Jiang Tao
Jiang Tao (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), aged 42, is from Henan Province. He previously served as a magazine editor and has long been concerned about vulnerable groups that are being persecuted in China. He has written a variety of commentaries probing human rights issues in China, and his articles have been published in international journals. After leaving his magazine job in 2015, he started visiting and interviewing persecuted religious groups and other vulnerable groups and gathering information about incidents. He joined Bitter Winter in 2018, and since then is dedicated to reporting the persecution incidents in Henan, Shanghai, Anhui, and other regions.