Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 20, 2018
In April 2018, Zheng Xin (pseudonym), a 42-year-old member of The Church of Almighty God, a Christian new religious movement, from Pizhou in Jiangsu Province, was unlawfully detained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) police. She was subjected to torture and indoctrination for eight days. She escaped when an officer watching over her nodded off.
Around 6:30 a.m. on April 10, 2018, Zheng Xin was taking a computer to the home of a fellow believer in Nianzhuang Town, the city of Pizhou. She was about to knock on the door when she saw that it had been pried open. She suspected that the CCP police had probably forcibly entered the house and arrested everyone there. She was going to leave immediately, but three officers burst out of the house and detained her, taking her to the Nianzhuang police station and then transferring her to a secret interrogation location, room 101 in the Pizhou Ruixing Hotel. The police took photos of her for their records and questioned her about her faith. She didn’t answer their questions.
At 4 p.m, the police relocated Zheng Xin to room 102 and forced her onto a tiger bench (torture equipment when prisoners are forced to sit on a small iron bench with their knees tied together). One officer questioned her about her family, to which she replied, “The Chinese Constitution allows freedom of belief – my faith is reasonable and legal. On what basis are you detaining me?” The officer yelled back that the freedom of belief in the Constitution is just for foreigners’ eyes, and that in reality, “Believing in God in China means breaking the law!”
Not being able to get any information about the church from her, one policeman grabbed her hair and slapped her hard in the face twice. They forced her arms behind her back and cuffed them to the tiger bench at least one meter high, ordered her to sit down and put bricks under her feet: the higher the stack of bricks, the more weight her arms were bearing. Her two arms, cuffed behind her back, supported the entire weight of her body. The handcuffs were digging hard into her wrists, and she broke out into a full-body sweat from the intense pain. Three or four minutes later, when it became completely unbearable, she stood up, but the police forced her to sit down again. The police continued to torture Zheng Xin well into the night, filming the whole time.
The torture did not yield any results, so one National Security Brigade officer wrapped a towel around his hand and struck Zheng Xin’s head six or seven times. He then lifted both of her feet and put them onto a chair about 30 cm off the floor. Seeing that she was in a lot of pain, the police did not stop but even intensified their efforts. They tied her legs down with a rope so that she could not fold them underneath her, immediately aggravating the pain and swelling in her arms, which quickly became so numb that they nearly lost feeling. The police continued to press down on her legs – she was tormented to the point that she could no longer bear it, and her head fell to the floor. Her entire body was ice-cold and shivering. Afraid that she might die, the police rushed to give her some water, but she threw it up right away and just lay there completely weak. The officers were afraid they would be responsible if anything happened to her, so they temporarily stopped torturing her. Around 10 a.m. the next day, they resumed the interrogation using the information in the notebook they had found on her, again with no result.
On April 13, the police once again questioned Zheng Xin about the members of her church. Not receiving any answers, the police continued to torture her – they handcuffed her to the tiger bench and were forcing her to renounce her beliefs for two days and two nights.
At about 4 p.m. on April 17, three officers transferred Zheng Xin to the police station where they took her fingerprints and photos and asked again about her faith. They still could not get any answers from her, so one officer told her angrily that he wanted “to put her six feet under.” He then sent her back to detention in the hotel where they cuffed her to the tiger bench again and tried to force a confession from her. Seeing that they were not getting anywhere, even though, the interrogation had been going on for multiple days, one officer slapped her in indignation at least six times, all the while cursing and threatening her, “I was going to sentence you to three years, but now I’d sentence you to five!” After that, the police assigned officers to keep watch over her, in a rotation. At about 7 a.m. on April 18, the officer watching her fell asleep, and Zheng Xin seized the opportunity to slip her handcuffs off and escape from the hotel.
As a result of torture, Zheng Xin’s arms were badly injured and, more than ten days later, they were still numb, swollen and lacked feeling. She could not even wash a thick pair of socks; washing her face or brushing her teeth took a great deal of effort. She needed medical attention, but because the police were still looking for her, she did not dare seek it.
During her detention, Zheng Xin saw one more member of her church brought to the same hotel and heard her cries while being tortured next door. This made her fear that a number of her church friends may have been arrested and tortured.