Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 25, 2018
A house church Christian in her early 80s died after persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Forced to attend an overnight indoctrination class without food or sleep, the woman collapsed and died two days later. At 6 p.m. on September 19, 2014, 82-year-old Zhang Peibi, a Christian from a house church in Tai’an town, Wanzhou District, Chongqing, was cooking dinner at home. Suddenly, three village officials burst through the door and told her that she was summoned to attend classes of ideological and political education for people who believe in God – a new government initiative that they are enforcing.
They forcibly took Zhang to a classroom in the primary school of the town to take part in compulsory “faith conversion” classes. In the classroom, containing 40 believers, Party officials forced the attendees to watch indoctrination films; if anyone tried to look away, the guards would smack a thick wooden stick on a table in front of them. The class lasted through the night, and the believers were not allowed to sleep or were given any food. Zhang was only given a steamed bun to eat on the morning of the second day and was released at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
As a result of sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and intense psychological pressure, Zhang collapsed after returning home. Her eldest son rushed her to the Tai’an hospital for treatment, spending more than 20,000 yuan on medical expenses in less than two days. At around 2 p.m. on September 22, despite efforts to save her, Zhang passed away.
Zhang’s sudden death left her sons and relatives overcome with pain and anger. Her youngest son, distraught and in despair, wanted to take her body to the local government offices to demand an explanation for their behavior. Other members of the family, concerned that this would lead to oppression, punishment, and persecution, stopped him.
People in the village were shocked and angered after they had heard the news, blaming the government for Zhang’s death. One of the villagers remarked, “She hasn’t done anything wrong, she only believed in God. Why couldn’t the government leave an elderly woman in her eighties alone? Why is the Communist Party so afraid of people who believe in God?”
Even after three years since Zhang’s death, the family is still grief-stricken and can hardly come to terms with the fact that government’s persecution because of Zhang’s belief in God caused her death.