An exclusive report from Radio Free Asia: Children in Anhui Province attending general supplementary classes were intimidated and dispersed; believers providing classes were beaten and injured. Christian college student-volunteers subjected to political investigation (photo, video)

Translated by China Aid Association,  Aug 26, 2012

—Mandarin Chinese program, Radio Free Asia, August 22, 2012

The general supplementary class held for the local elementary school and middle school students by a house church in Jiangzhai Town, Linquan County, Anhui Province was interrupted and the students were dispersed by the authorities.  A co-worker told this radio station on Wednesday that he was verbally abused and physically injured by government employees. The police also ordered the Christian college student-volunteers providing the supplementary class to leave the town within a set period of time.  A college student who has returned to Beijing said many of them have undergone surveillance and political investigation by the school authorities.

Video: Christian parents from a house church in Linquan, Anhui who are displeased with the authorities that do not allow the students to attend general supplementary classes are negotiating with the officials (provided by the church/reporter: Qiao Long)

Photo: A house church in Jiangzhai Town, Linquan, Anhui that was dispersed by the authorities (provided by the church/reporter: Qiao Long)

Lu Gensheng, a co-worker of the house church in Jiangzhai Town, Linquan County, Anhui Province, told this radio station on Wednesday that the education provided by the local schools is very inadequate, and the church prayerfully agreed to supplement the education to raise the academic competence of the children in elementary and middle schools.  To accomplish this they invited a group of college student-volunteers via a church in Beijing, including those from Beijing Institute of Technology, Beihang University, Beijing Jiaotong University, and other universities and colleges, to come to Linquan to tutor the children during the summer.  The first group of seven college student-volunteers arrived on July 16, but were met with violence by the repressive authorities.

”We have enrolled 82 students ranging from 6th graders (elementary school) to 9th graders (high school).  On July 19, staff from Linquan County Public Security Bureau, our Jiangzhai Town Police Station, and the township government entered our church and took our teachers and college students from Beijing to the township government seat where they questioned them.  They forced our teachers and college students to sign a document and demanded they leave Linquan immediately.  We contended that we had not violated any law.”

According to Lu Gensheng, four church members, including himself, were interrogated by the police.  The police warned them that it was an “illegal” gathering and it must be abolished. They refused to permit the college students to tutor the children.

“We had agreed to go and we had signed the document.  However, on the morning of July 20, while we were still having breakfast (before the parents of the children arrived), elementary school principles and class teachers approximately 50 people, led by the principle of our Central School, broke into the church and tried to drag the children away.  They frightened the children, saying this was “an illegal activity.”  The children would not leave and they were so frightened that they cried out.  At this time, our church co-workers and some parents arrived and they tried to reason with those who were attempting to drag the children away.  When the students took out their cell phones to take photos to document what was taking place, the principles and teachers grabbed away the students’ cell phones.”

Then the pastor of the church and three co-workers went to the township government to negotiate.  Lu Gensheng said government employees invited the pastor upstairs while he and another co-worker named Li stayed downstairs.  At this time, the government employees began to beat them.

They called us bad names, then a person came out and beat me while saying: “Yes, I just want to beat you Christians. What can you do about it?”  In the courtyard of the township government, there were 50 government employees. I yelled that people from the township government are beating people. I ran to the gate where they caught me and beat me again. Two police officers from the local police station were at the gate and I reported this emergency to them, yet they wouldn’t intervene to help me.  When I was about 50 meters south of the gate the government employees beat me down to the ground.  At this time, the police from the local police station carried me to a police vehicle and drove me to the township hospital.”

Due to an injury to his waist area, Lu Gensheng was transferred to the county hospital.  This reporter called the township police station and asked the police why they wouldn’t intervene to protect the injured person from being beaten.  The police said: “How can you say we didn’t take care of him?  We did take care of him and are handling it as a police case.”

Reporter:   Have you conducted an investigation of the case?
Police: Yes, we did.  Specifically…specifically….  Who are you, and where are you from?

Reporter: A reporter from Radio Free Asia.
Police: We have reported this to the County Public Security Bureau.

Reporter: Oh, did they give you any instructions as how to handle the case?
Police: We don’t know.

A Christian college student who has gone back to Beijing told this reporter that they were sent by Beijing Zhongguancun TSPM church to Anhui.  After the student-volunteers registered to tutor the children, they travelled at their own expense to Anhui and tutored the children there in Chinese, math, English, music, entertainment and other subjects.

“While we were having a piano class, with the door closed, some people suddenly broke into the classroom.  They did not knock on the door.  They questioned what we were doing, we said we were having a piano class.  Then they took videos and photos of our teaching materials, and demanded our IDs.  That day they told us that we must go back home the next day.”

The college student-volunteer, who wants to remain anonymous, said that by that time, the second group of volunteers had arrived.  Because of this, they twice petitioned the township government and submitted their application to continue the classes, but nobody would listen to them.

“We wanted to tell them that if they felt uneasy about the content of our classes, they could have their staff monitor our classes or suggest an alternate location where we could tutor the children.  We printed out the petition letter and sent it to them via a person from the church, but the township government never responded.”

Another Christian college student-volunteer, who also wants to remain anonymous, said that the township government has already notified the related universities in Beijing about this incident; as a result  the studies of some of the college student-tutors may be detrimentally impacted.

”Leaders of the schools called us to investigate the incident.  Since a few of us are ‘recommended graduate students’ (enrolled in graduate schools through recommendations only as excellent students), they said they would conduct a new political review and background checking of us. The school authorities said someone had informed them that we were preaching Christianity in some locations outside the town.  I contended that we did not preach Christianity there.  We went to help a church provide supplemental educational tutoring for school children.  The school authorities said they would conduct a new political review of us. So far, I don’t know whether this incident will have any effect on me.  Among the college student-volunteers who went to Anhui, four have already been investigated.”

The article above is an interview report by Qiao Long, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.

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