Arrested for her belief, a house church leader spent three years in prison undergoing brutal atheist “training.”
In July 2014, more than a dozen police officers from the Public Security Bureau and local police station in Dezhou city, Pingyuan county, Shandong Province, raided a house church and arrested five people, including 49-year-old church leader Zhang Shoumei.
The police held Zhang and the other four Christians in a detention center for almost eight months, subjecting them to multiple interrogations. Ultimately, the local court sentenced Zhang to three years in prison for “using a xie jiao (heterodox) organization to undermine the law enforcement” and transferred her to Jinan Number One Women’s Prison.
In prison, Zhang was confined to a small dark cell and forced to eat, drink, and relieve herself all in the same place; she was not allowed to shower or wash her clothes. She was forced to undergo intense indoctrination. Reportedly, the prison rules enable guards to use various means to instill an atheist mindset into prisoners, forcing them to deny God and renounce their faith. If a prisoner continues to believe after one week of indoctrination, the guard is replaced with a new one, and the process continues. Believers are only allowed to leave the cell when they sign their name on the statement “I do not believe.” Detainees must memorize a 150-line indoctrination text; if not, they are not allowed to sleep. Zhang called the prison she was detained in “a living hell.”
After Zhang was released in 2017, the police came to her home each month to inquire about her faith and threaten to arrest her again if she continues to believe in God. Unable to endure the constant harassment and threats, Zhang fled home at the beginning of 2018.
Reported by Wan Zixin