Beijing Christian Harassed, Two Henan Believers Sent to Labor Camps

June 17, 2010

Report from Radio Free Asia

Chen Tianshi, head of a house church in Beijing, was visited at his residence by PSB (Public Security Bureau) officers on Tuesday who came to check on his temporary residence certificate. He told Radio Free Asia (RFA) on that very day that this visit has something to do with his remarks he published on the Internet on the June 4 Incident. Meanwhile, two believers in Henan have been formally sentenced by the authorities last month to re-education through labor. According to an analysis by scholars, there is a change in authorities’ strategy against group efforts in human rights defense.
Following is an interview report by Qiao Long, special reporter from Radio Free Asia.
On the morning of Tuesday, Chen Tianshi, leader of the former 1989 Institute and the current Christian house church leader in Beijing who lives in Houshayu in Shunyu, Beijing, was visited by PSB officers. The officers asked his wife about Chen Tianshi.

Analysts think this has something to do with the article he recently published on the Internet on the June 4 Incident [i.e. the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989]. Chen Tianshi told this station that he had received a call from his wife that morning. His wife said, “Two police officers came. They are not our locality police, as we know all of them. These officers said they wanted to check on our temporary residence certificate. In fact, as we all know, police don’t check on people’s temporary residence certificate. Nor does the regulation say we must have a temporary residence certificate. This Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the holidays for the Dragon Boat Festival. When they come to check the certificate during holidays, it is obviously arranged by their superiors.”

During the student movement in 1989, Chen Tianshi was the head of Propaganda Department of Students Autonomous Society of Beijing Normal University. After the June 4 Incident, he was imprisoned in Qincheng Prison for a year. In 1995, he was sent to his native town in Guangxi. After that, he went back to Beijing to make a living. Currently, he is working in a foreign language school in Beijing.

According to Chen Tianshi’s speculation, this [visit from the PSB] may have something to do with his party with friends on June 4, or it may have something to do with his article commemorating the June 4 Incident, titled “Where are the Black Hands of the Students?” that he published in Democratic China, an overseas magazine. These activities and the article may have attracted the attention of the police.
He said, “During the June 4 period, there are interview articles on the Internet. Besides, June 4 happens to be my son’s birthday. That’s why we got together with some friends to have dinner together. After that, we went to a lake and lit up dozens of candle boats to remind people playing near the lake that the day was June 4.

In recent years, Chen Tianshi has been on many occasions summoned by the police and ordered by the landlords to move out because he leads believers in worshipping the Lord. At this time, the police haven’t taken further actions against Chen Tianshi.
However, in the meantime, in Chimei Town, Neixiang County, Nanyang, Henan, two members of a house church, Chen Fengming and Qin Gaiying, were sentenced to one year of re-education through labor last month for engaging in “cult activities.” A local Christian told this station, “Some believers were sentenced to re-education through labor in the past two days. I told you last time (mid May) about the two people. One is Chen Fengming. Of the two people, one is a brother of ours and the other is a sister of ours. It is said in the decision statement for the re-education through labor dated May 6 that one is Chen Fengming and the other is Qin Gaiying.”
Reporter: What is the charge in the re-education through labor?

Believer: The authorities say they belong to a cult. Last year, a brother and a sister of ours were sentenced to re-education through labor and they still have not come back.
The decision statement by Nanyang Municipal Committee for the Administration of Re-education through Labor states, “For a long period of time, Chen Fengming has actively engaged in the activities of the organization called Total Scope Church and has served as its scripture instructor. In such a capacity, he preaches on a grand scale the heresies and fallacies. At about 10 o’clock on April 25, Chen Fengming was in a gathering at the residence of a Sun in Yangying Group, Jiadao Village, Chimei Town, Neixiang County and was engaging in cult activities with over 60 other people when he was caught on the spot.” The charge against Qin Gaiying is exactly the same. According to a believer, Chen Fengming and Qin Gaiying are not members of Total Scope Church. The authorities fabricated the charges.

Decision Statement for Qin Gaiying
Meanwhile in Xinjiang, though the authorities have no longer arrested believers, the local believers say they make threats from time to time. Kong Lingrong, a Christian from Regiment 31 of 2nd Agricultural Division of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in Talimu, told the reporter, “When they (the police) see us read the Bible, they don’t say much.”

Reporter: When you have a gathering nowadays, are there any people who come to the scene to watch you?

Kong Lingrong: They come from time to time. Sometimes, after they talk with some believers, the believers get scared. They threaten us by saying they will cancel our minimum social benefits or deduct a certain amount from our wages. They have scared some elderly people.

In looking back on the first six months of this year, Dr. Fan Yafeng, head of a house church in Beijing, thinks that the frequency of occurrence of religious cases has greatly decreased. Take for example the case of Pastor Wang Dao in Liangren Church of Guangzhou. Under the pressure of public opinions from both China and abroad, the authorities were forced to release him on bail pending trial. We can see that in the fight for human rights in China, house churches have the strongest bargaining power.  Dr. Fan said, “Meanwhile, we can see that the non-government organizations Beijing Yirenping Center and Beijing Aizhihang Institute are under sustained pressure and their living space for existence is worsening. From these we can conclude that as the Chinese society transforms by itself, the Chinese government will react differently according to the different degrees of confrontation and the impact of the particular social groups.”

Fan Yafeng explains by examples the government’s concessions to the workers’ movements and the house churches. “We can see that the logic in the social transformations taking place in China follows a module of changes by pressures and transformations of crises.”
Read press release on Chen Fengming and Qin Gaiying‘s arrest HERE.

ChinaAid is encouraged by Dr. Fan Yefeng’s view that the frequency of religious persecution cases are decreasing. We also exhort the Chinese Government to hold local authorities to a higher standard of justice and truth, so they will cease harassing citizens like Chen Tianshi and fabricating charges against house church leaders like Chen Fengming and Qin Gaiying.  We encourage Christians worldwide to pray for Chen Fengming and Qin Gaiying’s safety and swift release.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]

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