Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 21, 2018
A couple from the city of Linfen in Shanxi Province, members of The Church of Almighty God– a Christian new religious movement, has been listed as wanted persons by the Chinese Communist Party police because of their faith. Attempting their arrest, the police used their former landlord to lure them into a trap.
At around 4 p.m. on May 21, Zheng Hua and her husband Wang Gang (pseudonyms, 54 and 56-years-old) received a call from their former landlord asking to come to his place and collect 200 RMB left from their rent. They asked their son, Wang Ming, to pick up the money. When he arrived at the landlord’s home five officers detained him and forced him to repeatedly call his mother asking her to come, who understood that it was a setup, fled home to escape arrest.
Worried about his son not returning home, Wang Gang went to the landlord’s house to fetch him. The police apprehended him the moment he arrived there and took him back home to conduct a search and take photos. Since Zheng Hua has fled home, they threatened her husband, “If your wife doesn’t come back, we’ll detain your entire family.” Around 10 p.m. that night they took him to the local police station.
At the station, the police continued to interrogate Wang Gang on his wife’s whereabouts threatening him that the chief of police lives in their village and knows all about their family. The interrogation was fruitless, so the police released him early next morning, hoping that he would lead them to Zheng Hua. The police gave Wang Gang one day to find his wife and ordered him to keep his phone on, or he would be arrested.
Around midday, the police ordered Wang Gang to meet them at a local hotel where he was interrogated about his faith and other believers in the church. They threatened that, if he refused to answer questions he would be sentenced to at least one or two years. Wang Gang did not say anything, so the police confiscated his phone and took him back to his house for another search. Under the bed, they found some hand-copied religious materials and took photos of them. On the way back to the police station, the police threatened him again, “You have ten minutes to report on other Christians, and we’ll send you home right away. If you don’t, you won’t have another chance after getting to the station.” Wang Gang did not say a word.
At the station, the police tried once again to get information about other believers and places of their meetings from Wang Gang, to no avail. He wasn’t released until after dinner when his younger brother, brother-in-law, and the village director went to the police station and signed a guarantee on his behalf. He remains under surveillance to this day, without any personal freedoms, while Zheng Hua is still on the run and cannot return home.
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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).