Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: July 2, 2018
A house church leader from the Wanfu Office in the city of Heze, Shandong Province, was forcibly taken away from his home by the police in the summer of 2013 and was subjected to brutal torture and long-term imprisonment. As a result, he became seriously ill and still has not recovered.
Tian Liang (pseudonym) was forty-four-years-old at the time of his arrest. A believer and church member since 1991, he was arrested by seven or eight vice squad and Heze Public Security Bureau plainclothes police officers who burst into his home. He was tied up with cords and escorted to a local police station and later transferred to the Heze Public Security Bureau.
To interrogate Tian Liang the police used a tiger bench – a torture device when a seated victim’s legs are tightly tied to the bench with belts, while bricks or other hard objects are gradually placed under the feet until the belts break. He was tortured to the point that he screamed in pain, his whole body covered in sweat. The police would not let go: they tied his hands with ropes and hung him so that the tips of his toes could barely touch the floor, putting the weight of the entire body on his wrists. He was tortured like this for two hours to get information on his church, but without any results.
During his second interrogation, the police jabbed his whole body with an electric baton (scars from the electric shocks still remain on the back of his hand). Tian Liang did not disclose any information, so the police used a steel rod to viciously strike his buttocks; he was lying face down on the floor, crying out in pain. The second interrogation did not make him speak, and Tian Liang was locked up in the detention center.
Four months later, the court sentenced Tian Liang to three years for the crime of “believing in xie jiao and unlawful preaching” and was sent to prison. House churches are normally not listed as xie jiao (heterodox), though with the increasing crackdown on religious liberties in China, authorities often use the laws against xie jiao to persecute Christians who, in fact, do not belong to outlawed religious movements.
While in detention, the guards forced him to hard labor every day and incited other prisoners to mistreat him. The lasting effects of the terror Tian Liang had experienced during his torture led to frequent headaches that became more and more severe. When it was particularly bad, he would hit his head against a wall; he was completely unable to work. Prison guards transferred him to the sick ward but still forced him to write a confession, a repentance, and a statement of guarantee every day. Otherwise, he would have been forced to hard labor. A combination of psychological and physical torture has worsened his condition. His family became very concerned for his safety and spent nearly 30,000 RMB to get him out of prison for one year of probation.
While Tian Liang was at home on probation, he had to be available for the police at any time. One day in 2015, without his family’s knowledge, the police once again detained him when he reported to the police station. In May 2017 Tian Liang was finally released after serving his full sentence, but the police have continued to surveil his phone and required him to report to the police station once a month for the following five years (now amended to once every three months).
Tian Liang continues to suffer from intense physical pain; when his headaches are at their worst, he yells in pain. His family has taken him to a mental hospital twice for examination and committal. Tian Liang still suffers mental health issues, and his condition has not stabilized.