Captured during an operation against China’s largest Christian new religious movement on September 9-10, 98 believers remain in detention and are indoctrinated.
by Zhang Feng
On September 9 and 10, the police carried out a unified arrest operation against The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in the counties of Wenxi, Jishan, and Wanrong, as well as other localities, administered by Yuncheng, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi. During the operation, at least 135 CAG members were arrested, and 330,000 RMB (about $ 47,000) of Church and personal money looted.
Up to now, 98 of the arrested CAG members continue to be held in Linfen city’s legal study base for “transformation through mandatory indoctrination.” The so-called “legal study base” is actually a detention center, and prisoners of conscience held there are subjected to surveillance 24/7 and are completely deprived of freedom.
A public security insider told Bitter Winter that the base used to be a regular detention house but was recently turned into a center for transforming CAG believers from across China. The government has invested one million RMB (about $ 140,000) in hiring staff for the conversion work through intense indoctrination.
The Shanxi Provincial Party Committee had been preparing for the operation months ahead of its launch. Bitter Winter has received a confidential document issued by the political and legal affairs commission of a city in Shanxi. In it, municipal authorities are required to carry out comprehensive investigations of CAG believers within the city’s jurisdiction, including those who had gone abroad. They are also instructed to keep abreast of the developments within the CAG, arrest its principal leaders, and investigate its funds.
The document emphasizes the importance of making comprehensive and thorough arrangements for the operation, including the assignment of personnel to form an investigation and research team and intensify efforts to transform CAG members through mandatory indoctrination.
Religious groups that are not subject to government control or that the CCP believes are rapidly growing and pose a threat to the regime, such as Falun Gong, The Church of Almighty God, and the Shouters, are placed on a list of the xie jiao and are severely persecuted. To justify its actions and make the problem international, the CCP misleadingly translates the Chinese term “xie jiao” as “cults.”
The Church of Almighty God is the most persecuted single religious movement in China. In 2018 alone, the CCP launched several special arrest operations against the Church, resulting in more than 11,000 arrests and at least 20 deaths from persecution.
As the suppression continues in 2019, the Chinese regime is carrying out nationwide secret investigations of CAG members, tracking them down and surveilling before arrest operations. Since the beginning of the year, organized crackdowns on CAG members have been implemented in the provinces of Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, Jiangxi, and elsewhere, the number of arrested believers increasing sharply. In the first nine months, 994 CAG members have been detained in Shandong Province alone.