The CCP harasses again the relatives of CAG refugees in Korea who live in China, luring them to travel abroad to South Korea on July 22-24 next to “search for relatives” and bring them back… to jail.
by Zhou Hua
The Church of Almighty God: Persecuted At Home and Abroad
The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is the largest Chinese Christian new religious movement. Due to its rapid growth, the Church was included in the xie jiao list by the CCP in 1995 and has been heavily persecuted since. CAG members have been subjected to persecution, with frequent cases of arrests and torture. According to the recently released 2019 report of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “in 2018, the Chinese government harassed and arrested thousands of followers of […] The Church of Almighty God. Many of those detained during the year—whom The Church of Almighty God estimates to be in the thousands—suffered torture and other abuses, in some cases resulting in deaths or unexplained disappearances while in custody.” According to the yearly Report on International Religious Freedom of the U.S. State Department for 2019, covering the year 2018, “The Church of Almighty God reported authorities arrested 11,111 of its members during the year,” against 9,000 from Falun Gong, the second most targeted group. “The Church of Almighty God, the document adds, reported authorities subjected hundreds of their members to ‘torture or forced indoctrination.’” Overall, the document said, “The Church of Almighty God reported authorities subjected 525 of its members to ‘torture or forced indoctrination’ during the year. The Church also reported members suffered miscarriages after police subjected them to ‘torture and abuse’ in detention facilities.”
As documented in the conference The Long Arm of the Dragon, co-organized by Bitter Winter in Seoul on June 20, 2019, the persecution of The Church of Almighty God is also at work abroad, where refugees are harassed by CCP agents and their fellow travelers, such as the notorious South Korean anti-cult and pro-CCP activist, Ms. O Myung-ok (오명옥).
Relatives Harassed Again
In March 2019, an elderly married couple in Jiangsu Province, an eastern-central coastal province in China, was repeatedly harassed by officials from the local Office of Stability Maintenance. Personnel from the Office of Stability Maintenance used financial incentives to lure the couple to South Korea to “search for their son,” but the elderly couple refused. The elderly couple’s son is a member of The Church of Almighty God who fled overseas to escape arrests by the CCP.
A month later, officials from the Office of Stability Maintenance came to the couple’s door again and demanded that they apply for visas and go together with them to South Korea. The officials also warned the couple, saying, “This is the decision of the state and the Party. You have to cooperate.” Faced with these pressures, the elderly mother pleaded, “I’m old and not in good health. I beg you not to come anymore.”
Frequent harassment has caused the elderly couple to live in fear. They are afraid that as soon as their son is sent back to China, it will be difficult for him to avoid incarceration and brutal torture.
This elderly couple’s ordeal is by no means an isolated case. Bitter Winter has learned that in April, a retired worker from central China’s Henan Province was also “summoned for a discussion” by officials from the local police unit dealing with xie jiao. His son is also a CAG member, who fled to South Korea to seek asylum due to the persecution in China.
A False “Family Search Group”
According to the retired worker, CCP police officers stated that the government was forming a “family search group” to travel to South Korea and wanted him to join them. The officials also revealed that participants in the “family search group” come from all over China, and that each person’s full expenses for going abroad would be paid. However, the condition is that participants must entirely follow the arrangements and directions of the organizers of the “family search group.” As for the identity of the organizers, the officials refused to reveal any further information.
The retired worker also told Bitter Winter that personnel from the local anti-xie-jiao unit said that it is not proper for the Chinese government to come forward to directly negotiate with the South Korean government to have the CAG Christians deported, and therefore, they would first put pressure on the South Korean government and elicit their attention by forming a “family search group” and making the family members “do something,” after which the Chinese government can step in.
Harassment Time and Again
The CCP has been investigating and searching for family members of CAG members who have fled abroad, and has tried to induce or coerce some of them to travel overseas to “search for their relatives.” On August 30, 2018, 11 family members of CAG Christians from the provinces of Hebei, Hunan, Henan, and Jilin arrived in South Korea under the CCP’s arrangements. Under the manipulation of Ms O Myung-ok the relatives held a five-day demonstration at the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae, the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state, the President of the Republic of Korea), the CAG church in Onsu, and some other places, under the pretext of “searching for relatives.”
In fact, the reason that these Christians from the CAG fled to South Korea to seek asylum is that they were persecuted for their faith by the CCP; the decision to flee was entirely of their own choice. In an interview with Bitter Winter, a CAG member said that she had got in touch with her mother and told her mother that she could fly directly to Seoul when she came to South Korea so that she could pick her up at the airport. However, her mother refused, saying that someone had already arranged an itinerary for her. Unsurprisingly, afterward, the mother also appeared among the demonstrators, crying and screaming that her child had been kidnapped by the CAG. Clearly, the CCP hoped to exploit these family members to create fake news in South Korea, in an effort to influence public opinion and thwart these Christians’ application for asylum. However, the CCP’s wishful thinking never materialized, no CAG member returned to China because of the false demonstrations, and this farce finally ended in disgrace. The full story was told in the successful Bitter Winter movie, The Hoax.
However, despite the disgraceful failure, the CCP not only did not give up harassing the refugees fleeing religious persecution, but is intensifying its efforts, trying the same trick again, on a larger scale. New false spontaneous demonstration led by Ms. O are scheduled for July 22-24, 2019. According to several CCP confidential documents, which have been published by Bitter Winter, to suppress and restrict the development of The Church of Almighty God overseas has become a priority for the CCP. A classified document issued last year which reveals the organized crackdown on The Church of Almighty God in Henan, indicates that President Xi Jinping personally “pays high attention” to the campaigns against the CAG at home and abroad, and requests a 1-year-long suppression campaign to ensure the achievement of the goal to “destroy its domestic foundation and cripple its influence abroad.”
Since 2014, when the CCP falsely blamed the McDonald’s murder case in Zhaoyuan on the CAG, the CCP has constantly intensified its suppression of the Church. Since then, more than 5,000 Chinese CAG members escaped abroad. At the same time, the CAG has gradually established churches in South Korea, the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Canada, and other countries, with a growing success and capability to denounce the persecution in China, which similarly has caused the CCP to panic. Meanwhile, the long arm of the Dragon of the CCP’s persecution is continuously being extended overseas.
13 NGOs have signed a document calling the attention of the Korean authorities and the international human rights community on the harassment of CAG refugees, demanding appropriate action to bring them to a halt and protect the asylum seekers. “It is a scandal, the NGOs wrote, that CCP agents are allowed to bring their nefarious activities to South Korea, a democratic country.
We urge Korean authorities to grant asylum to the believers of The Church of Almighty God who, should they return to China, would face arrest, detention, and torture, and to prevent Chinese intelligence and their Korean accomplices to continue harassing refugees in South Korea.”