China Aid Association
Applicant: Gao Wendong, a male born on December 15, 1968.
Address: Daguanzhuang Village, Zhengwang Township, Hedong District, Linyi, Shandong Province.
Respondent: Linyi Municipal Public Security Bureau, Shandong Province.
Address: 13, Tongda Road, Linyi, Shandong Province.
Requests in the Reconsideration
1. Confirm according to law that the seizure conducted by the respondent is a violation of the law.
2. Request that the respondent be ordered to return all the seized items to the applicant.
Facts and Reasons
At about 7 a.m. on the morning of May 31, 2007, employees from the Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Public Security Bureau, the local police station and other state organs, holding police batons, broke into the courtyard of the applicant. They claimed that the applicant and other Christians there had violated the law and said that ours was an illegal gathering. The respondent deployed guards around the courtyard and ordered all the people not to move. They wanted us to gather at one place and then escorted us in groups. In addition to this, the respondent took away all the objects in the room where the gathering occurred (including the air-conditioner, hanging fan and the Bibles, etc.) After that, they searched the room of the applicant and turned over everything. In spite of this, they didn’t show their search warrant. After that, the local police station hauled away the applicant’s computer, burner, copier and other personal objects. They didn’t even leave behind the personal check book and the Ping Pong table. The respondent used such a large police force that it has greatly damaged the reputation of the applicant. When the respondent hauled away all these items, they only let the applicant sign on the list, but did not give the applicant a list of items seized until the applicant went to ask for it at the local police station. Moreover, it is said that some valuables were also taken to the security bureau.
After repeated requests from the applicant, the respondent finally gave the applicant a list of these seized valuables.
The applicant believes that the illegal decision on the seizure conducted by the respondent resulted from an erroneous interpretation of the law of the state and its seizure does not have the legal basis, that its procedure violates the law and should therefore be an invalid specific administrative conduct and should be repealed for the following reasons:
(1) The conduct of the applicant was legal and the seizure made by the respondent to the applicant does not have a legal basis.
(a) The religious activity of the applicant was legal and was not an “illegal gathering.” It is stipulated in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the freedom of religious belief. No state organs, social organizations or individuals may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.” Article 3 in the white paper of “Current Status of Freedom of Religious Belief in China” promulgated on October 16, 1997 by Information Office of the State Council of China stipulates that: “All the normal religious activities held by believers in their own private homes according to religious customs, such as Sunday services, prayers, Bible lectures, sermons, Mass and baptism, etc. shall be handled by the religious organizations and their believers themselves. These activities are protected by the law and nobody may interfere with … the religious activities held in their own private homes and mainly attended by their relatives such as praying and Bible reading (habitually referred to by Christians in China as ‘house meetings,’) are not required to register.”
We can see from the above stipulation that the applicant and other Christians can conduct their Sunday services in their own homes without registration. This is a normal religious activity and is protected by the Chinese Constitution and laws. Therefore, the respondent made a mistake in claiming that the applicant was in an “illegal assembly” just because the applicant did not have a registration.
(b) The pre-conditions for the seizure conducted by the respondent do not exist. The seizure of the applicant’s belongings by the respondent does not have a legal basis. Seizure is a type of compulsory administrative measures which refers to an emergent and instant action by an administrative organ to prevent or stop an illegal action on people or properties that are endangering or will endanger the society. However, the act of gathering by the applicant and other Christians is a legal conduct protected by the law. It is not illegal nor did endanger the society. Obviously, there were no preconditions applicable for the compulsory administrative measure.
From the above, we can see that the conduct of the applicant is legal and the seizure of the applicant’s belongings by the respondent does not have a legal basis or the support of evidence. The specific administrative conduct of the respondent is not only illegal, it is also suspected of being a tort defined by Article 251 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China which stipulates: Workers of state organs who illegally deprive citizens’ right to religious beliefs …, if the case is serious, are to be sentenced to two years or fewer in prison or put under criminal detention.
(2) The specific administrative conduct of the respondent violated the legal procedures.
(a) The respondent did not show the applicant any law enforcement certificates or search warrants. It is stipulated in Article 37 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administrative Penalty that: When administrative organs conduct investigations or inspections, there shall be not less than two law-enforcing officers, who shall show their identification papers to the party or other persons concerned. At the same time, the law also stipulates that when sealing or seizing properties, the administrative organ shall notify the party concerned and interested parties to be present at the scene. They should also show the seal and seizure orders issued by the head of this administrative organ. Law enforcement officers should meet witnesses at the scene, check and get a clear idea of the items seized. As for the sealed and seized properties, the administrative organs must present a list with clear names, descriptions, attributes, quality, quantity of the seized objects, the names, serial number, etc. of the documents, the location where these objects and documents and the time of seizure. The completed document should be signed and stamped by the party concerned or interested parties and people who assist in the sealing and seizure. Moreover, the law requires that when police conduct a search, they must present a search warrant to the people to be searched. The search operation should be written down and then signed or stamped by the investigators, the people who are searched or their family members, neighbors or other witnesses.
However, on May 31, without presenting a law-enforcement certificate or seizure order to the applicant, the respondent seized the properties of the applicant.
They also searched the applicant’s room and personal objects without presenting a search warrant. The conduct of the respondent obviously violated the law.
(b) After repeated requests by the applicant, the respondent finally gave the applicant the list of seized goods several days after the seizure occurred.
To sum up, the seizure of the respondent on the applicant does not have a legal basis and its conduct violated the legal procedure. Therefore, it is a specific administrative conduct. Pursuant to Articles 6 and 12 of Administrative Reconsideration Law of The People’s Republic of China, the applicant hereby applies to Linyi Municipal People’s Government, requesting that Linyi People’s Government confirm that the seizure conducted by the respondent on the applicant on May 31, 2007 is illegal. I also request that the respondent be ordered to return all the seized objects to the applicant.
Linyi Municipal People’ Government
Applicant: Gao Wendong
Date of application: June 2007
1. One copy of this application.
2. One photocopy of the list of objects and documents seized by Linyi Municipal Public Security Bureau.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]