In August, authorities in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces launched unified arrest operations, utilizing the data collected through long-term tracking of believers.
by Wan Zixin
On August 25, the Ningbo city policy in the eastern province of Zhejiang arrested 32 members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) who had been monitored for quite some time. The detained were fingerprinted, they had their blood and hair samples taken, and their iris scanned.
Police officers interrogated the believers, forcing them to renounce their faith; in some cases, their family members were implicated to pressure them. The daughter and husband of one of the arrested, and even workers in the factory run by the husband, were taken to the police station that day to be questioned about their religious status.
According to a police insider, all of the arrested had been surveilled for more than half a year. Within the group is a church leader, who may be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.
In early August, Wuyi county police in Zhejiang’s Jinhua city arrested at least 15 CAG members after monitoring their cellphones. Three of them were sent for forced indoctrination at Beiling Mountain Villa. Throughout China, some hotels, leisure and entertainment centers are often used as “education centers,” where the CCP secretly detains and “transforms” religious believers and dissidents. These sites are kept in secret; some of them are used temporarily, while others are long-term.
Nine CAG members were arrested in Zhejiang’s Wenzhou city. The police tried to turn one of them to become their undercover agent to collect information from within the Church, but the person refused.
In Zhejiang’s Hangzhou, Jinhua, and Taizhou cities, CAG members had found tracking devices in their scooters.
On August 10 and 11, at least 58 CAG members were arrested in Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong. Some of their families were also summoned for questioning or were otherwise implicated.
On August 10, ten plainclothes officers from the Ruichang Road police station in Qingdao’s Shibei district searched a CAG believer’s home. They then took him and his nearly-80-year-old mother to the police station for interrogation. The elderly woman was released the same day, but the CAG member remains in custody to date.
Another CAG believer was arrested the same day in Qingdao. During interrogation, she was shown screenshots of surveillance footage of her from the past half-year. Another two CAG believers, under 18, were also arrested that day. According to inside sources, the detained believers had been monitored for three to six months.
In August, three CAG members were arrested in Shandong’s Jining city after months of tracking. The police confiscated 16,600 RMB (about $ 2,450) of donation money.
A government insider from Jining revealed that the local government had obtained a list of some CAG members who are now being targeted for arrest. They will all be arrested after their whereabouts are ascertained.