The police repeatedly interrogated an elderly couple from The Church of Almighty God and arrested eleven members from the same church, in the city of Chongqing.
On April 16, 2018, a married couple of believers in Almighty God, Zhang Jianjie and Xia Wennian (pseudonyms), from Banan district in Chongqing, had just seen off several members of their church from a gathering at their home, when they heard someone trying to open the door with a key. After Zhang Jianjie opened the door, eight plainclothes officers rushed in and yelled at them, demanding to know where the other believers were. The couple did not say anything, so the police reproached them, “You think we don’t know? There were three people here for a gathering, and these last few days your windows have been covered with mats. You have been holding religious gatherings!”
Eight officers then turned their house upside down, even uncapping medicine bottles and jars of pickles. They found and confiscated books on faith in God, a computer, a hard drive, and a cellphone. Both Zhang Jianjie and Xia Wennian are of advanced age; the latter is 70-years-old and in ill health. Afraid of being responsible for possible health problems, the officers did not take the couple to a police station; instead, they questioned them at home until midnight. The interrogation did not yield any results.
The next day, Zhang Jianjie accompanied her husband to the hospital for dialysis. Concerned that the couple would report the events of the previous day to their co-religionists, the police had an officer trail slightly behind them the entire way to keep an eye on them. Three officers were stationed in their home for four days, hoping to arrest more members of the Church.
On April 23, 26, and 30, the police came to the couple’s home and showed photos of believers to Zhang Jianjie, forcing her to identify them. The constant police harassment caused the already weak couple to lose their appetite and suffer from insomnia. They were living in fear.
On May 19, as a result of many investigations, monitoring, and tracking of people, the police arrested eleven other members of Zhang Jianjie and Xia Wennian’s church.
According to the information, at least 51 members of The Church of Almighty God have been arrested in Chongqing in the past two months; no information is available about the whereabouts and condition of 35 of them.
Report by Yao Zhangjin
Yao Zhangjin (uses pseudonyms for security reasons) is from Chengdu, Sichuan. He was baptized into the Christian faith during his university studies. It was also at that time when he learned about the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Christians in China. Several times, he has witnessed believers being arrested. Yao writes about these incidents and submits his articles for publication in various overseas media outlets. Now he joins Bitter Winter and is a special correspondent covering Sichuan, Chongqing, and some other regions.