Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 25, 2018
Chinese authorities arrested a 34-year-old house church member from Benxi city, Liaoning Province, for his faith and sentenced him to two years of imprisonment for the crime of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.”
In late October 2015, Wang Zhibin (pseudonym) and other members of his church were having a meeting when police officers from Benxi city and Huanren Manchu Autonomous County Public Security Bureaus burst in. They promptly restrained the Christians, shouting, “We’ve been following you and monitoring your calls for a long time. We’ve come to arrest you.” The Christians were arrested and taken to the Huanren Manchu Autonomous County Public Security Bureau.
The next day, the police force-entered Wang Zhibin’s home and arrested his wife. They detained her for a day, after interrogating and threatening her to stop believing in God. The other Christians were released after several days.
Wang Zhibin was sentenced to two years in prison for being “the head of a xie jiao organization” – a religious movement, the teachings of which are listed by the government as “heterodox” in a periodically updated list. House churches are normally not listed as such, though with the increasing crackdown on religious liberties in China, authorities often use the laws against xie jiao to persecute Christians who, in fact, do not belong to outlawed religious movements.
During his imprisonment, Wang Zhibin was given very little food, only allowed to wash in cold water and forced to work for more than ten hours per day; his family was prohibited from visiting him.
Wang Zhibin was released after serving his sentence in full. When he came home, the police ordered him to report to a local police station every few days. To date, Wang Zhibin remains under strict police supervision, deprived of personal freedom.
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).