Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 27, 2018
A 36-year-old member of The Church of Almighty God, a Christian new religious movement, Zheng Heng (pseudonym), from Shangluo city, Shaanxi Province, fled his home in 2014 after the police tried to arrest him for his belief. Having escaped the police three times, he decided to move to Anhui Province to escape persecution and arrest where he found new work and continued practicing his belief in Almighty God.
Three years later, on May 15, 2018, the Shangluo police, after discovering his whereabouts, drove almost 1,000 kilometers to the new home of Zheng Heng. At 2 a.m., when no one was around, they arrested Zheng and drove the whole night back to the local police station in Shaanxi Province.
Zheng Heng’s elder sister was distraught when she heard the news of her brother’s arrest. She tried to use her contacts to inquire about his situation, but the Public Security Bureau did not release any information or allow her to see him. The officers made Zheng’s mother come to the station and give the names of other church members, claiming that it would “help Zheng Heng’s situation.”
At around 4 p.m. on May 17, three officers from the local police station forced their way into Zheng Heng’s home and instantly started taking photographs. They asked Zheng’s mother whether she believed in God and brazenly searched the house—even the corners—leaving the whole place in complete disarray. After finding no proof of religious belief, they took Zheng’s mother to the station where they once again asked whether she believed in Almighty God and if she knew who else was a believer. Afterward, officers took the fingerprints of Zheng’s mother on pre-written papers. She was released at 7 p.m. that evening.
On May 21, four officers from the local station once again barged into Zheng Heng’s home. At the time, Zheng’s mother was eating at a relative’s house nearby; hearing what was happening and afraid that she would be arrested again, she dropped her bowl of food and ran out the back door to hide on the hillside.
Zheng Heng remains in custody for the crime of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.” The Chinese government calls xie jiao religious movements, the teachings of which are listed by the government as “heterodox” in a periodically updated list. The precise details of his incarceration remain unknown.