A recently released pastor struggles to live a normal life after a brutal prison sentence.
In March 2014, Zhou Xi (pseudonym) was arrested for preaching the gospel. Mr. Zhou was a pastor at a house church in Inner Mongolia. 34 other believers were detained along with him as well, including four co-workers.
Mr. Zhou was charged with “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement”. It refers to heterodox teachings in China and being active in a xie jiao is punishable by Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code with a jail penalty of three to seven years. Mr. Zhou received a prison sentence of three years and three months.
He served his time at Hangjin Banner and Hohhot Second prisons in Inner Mongolia. While he came back home in June 2017, Mr. Zhou is a pale shadow of who he used to be before his incarceration.
His family members say that ever since his release, he has been ill-tempered and does not interact with people. Mr. Zhou has also made multiple suicide attempts in the past year but was saved by his family members every time. He has been diagnosed with an undisclosed mental illness. He also suffers from cardiac and stomach problems. He struggles with trembling in his limbs because of which it is difficult for him to sleep at night.
According to sources, Mr. Zhou’s abnormal behavior is indicative of brutal torture while in prison. He must have suffered extreme physical and mental intimidation at the hands of CCP backed police. In fact, the authorities continue to harass him even now.
In June, two police officers paid a visit at Mr. Zhou’s home to warn him from leaving the city. He was told that if he wished to travel outside the city, he would have to visit the local police station and apply for a permit. This month, he was once again summoned by the National Security Brigade to attend classes at a ‘transformation through education’ camp. When Mr. Zhou tried to avoid the summons and relocate his family to a different part of town, authorities tracked him down once again.
Mr. Zhou is forbidden from preaching the gospel or believing in God. He cannot leave his city and continues to be under CCP surveillance. The smallest violation can land him in prison again.
Reported by Gu Qi
Gu Qi (uses pseudonyms for security reasons), was born into an ordinary family in Inner Mongolia in 1972 and has aspired to be a journalist since childhood. After graduation, he achieved his wish to become a political news reporter, but discovered that freedom of the press is non-existent in China and he could not accurately communicate the truth about certain incidents to the reader, so he resigned from his job as a reporter and became a freelance journalist. He often visits the scene of incidents in person to collect news data and interview family members of the people involved in the incidents and publishes the resulting articles in various overseas media outlets. He is now a special correspondent of Bitter Winter covering Inner Mongolia.