China Aid Association
To: People’s Prosecutor of XiaoShan District (People’s Court)
Petitioner: Wang Weiliang,
Home address: Sanchalu Village, Dongqushan Township; currently confined to Guard House Room 602
Charge: inciting the masses to violently resist law enforcement
1. Both the court and prosecutor are addressed in this petition due to the uncertainty of how this case will develop and based upon the assumption that it will be delivered before my case is presented in court. I requested that it be submitted to the agency handling this case upon delivery.
2. I request that the prosecutor read this petition and use leniency when preparing his case. May the Heavenly Father remember you and the presiding judge in your fairness and hard work.
3. My petition letter includes the other Christians still under detention, who are implicated in the Dangshan incident and I ask that their cases be dealt with leniency.
4. My eyesight is failing, and life in the guard house has impacted me both physically and mentally. I can not see what I am writing therefore it is very difficult to read. However, what I have written comes from my heart. I request that the prosecutor and judge safeguard the justice process, protect a couple of Christian families, and maintain the good reputation of the Xiaoshan District; your efforts will be rewarded and remembered.
5. The majority of the Christians confined to the guard house are advanced in age. It is shocking for the inmates (most of them are young people) to see people more than 50 years of age confined to the guard house. It is difficult for us, the old people, to adjust to life in the guard house. Undoubtedly our friends and relatives outside the guard house are worried about us. So I beg the authorities handling this case to use sympathy, care and patience while examining the evidence in minute detail, to enable the Christians to be released as soon as possible. We will appreciate your kindness!
6. During the initial consecutive nights of interrogation, I found that the policemen know very little about my faith, the Bible, and church life. Even though I explained it repeatedly to them, they could not understand. Consequently they were suspicious, and doubtful of normal Christian activities in their notes. I would like for the authority in this case to take into consideration that the interrogations rendered me physically and mentally exhausted.
To: People’s Prosecutor and/or the People’s Court of Xiaoshan District
Background on my physical and mental condition
In 1994 a collision between a motorcycle and a car took away my health. Life in the guard house and the change of cells on September 5, placed a burden beyond endurance upon my heart (I am like a broken machine now), so I suspect that my life will be short in the guard house of Xiaoshan. For the sake of many Christians in the church, and taking into consideration the peace and prosperity of well-known Xiaoshan and Hangzhou, I, with a heavy heart, submit my petition to the prosecutor and the court, for the purpose of exercising the rights of detainees and making the complete facts of this legal case known to the authority.
I presented a “constructive suggestion,” at the request of a leader from the provincial government; following talks I had with him for four or five days (you might not be able to understand that suggestion without reference and footnotes). This petition is my first formal petition to the prosecutor or the court. Because I can not use reading glasses to help me write, it may be unintelligible. However, what I wrote is from my heart.
I. The Truth Concerning the 2004 Outdoor Evangelism
On the evening of August 26, I mentioned outdoor evangelism events based upon mutual communication in the presence of a leader from the provincial government. In the summer of 2004 I was an onlooker when the choir conducted two rehearsals, and as I passed by the courtyard of Zhu Miaoxing’s home at Wan An village I stopped and watched for a while. I did not arrange nor do I know any details of any specific activities. But the leader from the provincial government and the officers present said that they just wanted to know the inside information, including whether any foreign support was provided, and if there was a deliberate anti-government motive. And they promised not to re-investigate the responsibility of the people concerned, but to get information related to the event which occurred three years ago. (Three years ago, the government promised not to continue the investigation if the church stopped outdoor evangelism). This was a very casual discussion, directed by the leader from the provincial government.
I wrote down the details of the entire event process according to all that I knew and had heard. Later the police told me that legal proceedings required that the notes be kept. August 31, when representatives from the prosecutor’s office interrogated me, they still charged me with the outdoor evangelism. So I think it is necessary to tell the truth to the Public Prosecutor and the court. I choose not to evade my responsibility, but to file a petition, in order to prevent other Christians from involvement in this case and to protect the government’s image.
1. On the evening of August 26, at the request of the governmental leader and for his edification, I agreed to detail in writing the outdoor evangelism event. The government promised not to re-investigate the event, and acting on this promise, I hardly wrote anything favorable about the church. For instance:
1) The number of outdoor events – The first outdoor evangelism event was held in the courtyard of someone’s home. The second was held in a factory yard. The eight times I referred to are about the manners in which the band hymn was used during that whole summer.
2) The size of the outdoor events. During the first three events, the teams were temporarily combined based on the impulse of young Christians in the choir to spread the gospel. Nobody orchestrated these activities, so the choir, the evangelist, even the announcer appeared on stage in no particular order.
3) The planning of the outdoor events. On June 1, 2004, upon impulse some young people took two vehicles to Wenzhou. Honestly there were no advanced plans made or a definite purpose for the trip. In Zheshan, you could hardly find Christians; therefore, no equipment was bought prior to purchasing a generator, as I know. The stage consisted of a temporary wooden surface supported by cement blocks, and the acoustic equipment and electric lights were brought from the church. If there had been a prior plan, there must have been some equipment purchased in advance or some documentation. When the power was cut off it was too hot for many people so we decided to buy more equipment.
4) Security at the events. During the first two events we used the courtyard of someone’s home, so there was no security. The third event, in Zheshan, was not big enough for security. The fourth event was held in an open space at a Yueqing construction site in Shaoxing, Christians from Shaoxing kept a watchful eye on the event for the town was filled with people. We did this for two reasons 1) interference of the police and 2) the greater concern of maintaining public order. In subsequent sessions when the crowds increased there were no incidents because of our security efforts and governmental management.
5) Stage-management. During the first couple of outdoor events the small crowd did not call for stage-management. In the later workshops, it was the local churches that managed the stage by themselves (see the time and the corresponding management of the church). There was no unified stage-management, so when the crackdown came, the stage became chaotic as exemplified by the Dangshan incident. I think it very fortunate that the government did not orchestrate an all-pervasive crackdown; otherwise, the disorderly flight would have been unmanageable.
6) The equipment. The makeshift equipment was one of the factors contributing to the absence of a comprehensive and sophisticated plan (see the report on the process).
2. The cause of the New Liang Ting conflict
There were a total of eight outdoor events (for convenience sake the first several workshops were conducted in the courtyard of someone’s home). Only when the outdoor events were held in Binjiang and Xinwan did the government dispatch a team of police to intervene (protect). The ninth workshop originally planned in Linpu was aborted due to the increased police presence on the part of the government. Had the government not beaten the Christians so seriously that they could not flee (I was absent, ignorant of the details), or arrested nine of the Christians, or released the detained Christians before the crowds grew larger at New Liangting, the New Liangtiang conflict could not have happened.
3. Resisting law enforcement and the nature of outdoor evangelism
The outdoor events targeted tens of thousands of peasant workers (prior to 2000, Xiaoshan church began to preach the gospel to the peasant workers). Initially, young Christian band members held a meeting with the elders in the church and made decisions which did not include the strategy of publicity and secret notification; the increase of the participants coming to the workshop had everything to do with the spontaneous assembly of the people. And there was no discussion of a motive to oppose the government during any of the workshops, including the New Liangting conflict. Connecting the outdoor evangelism events with the Dangshan incident and accusing Christians of stirring up the masses to resist law enforcement greatly grieved the Christians.
4 The credibility of the government and future difficulties facing the work
Christians Xian Shaohuo and Xi Qinqing participated in the negotiation on August 22 with respect to the New Liangting conflict. Later the government released the detainees; and Christians felt very pleased with the peaceful dissolution of the Christian workshop for outdoor evangelism. I remembered that at the communication meeting held on the evening of the August 23 among the co-workers of the church, Mr. Xian and Mr. Xi told us the process and the outcome of the negotiation, and they highlighted the conclusion given by the leaders of the government and the representatives of the church which was “the church promises not to preach the gospel outdoors. The church may preach the gospel indoors. The government will not care how many people will join the indoor evangelism. The government promises to stop the investigation, release the detainees, and return the vehicles and the certificate.” So the co-workers in the church decided to immediately stop outdoor evangelism and they asked the local congregations to stop arranging them. It has been three years since we stopped outdoor evangelism. During those three years we preached the gospel inside some of the churches and in the congregations where the peasant workers were centrally located and at the courtyards of individual homes. We never publicly preached the gospel. We have honored our promise for the last three years and obeyed the authority. But nobody suspected that our day of reckoning would come. “We will settle both the old and the new accounts.” (The statement of the policemen during an interrogation) I think that the leaders of the government by breaking their promise have lost credibility and respect. Deep and thorough communication, mutual discussion, and reconciliation are ways to solve the problems facing the perpetual relationship between the church and the government. Based on the precondition that the government never interferes with normal religious activities and refrains from deliberate repression of the church, both the church and the government are not happy to see the violent interception of the masses, detention, and interrogation of Christians. Such tension is detrimental to both the church and the government. The government needs a good environment to fulfill its duty and make achievements; and the Christians have families and relatives whom they must regard very seriously. Based on the principle of mutual respect, we can definitely get along with each other in harmony. Even though the government failed to find any trace of a deliberate anti-government motive in 2004 when many Christians participated in outdoor evangelism, now they begin to re-investigate the event and charge the Christians for past acts. By doing this, the government destroys its credibility in the presence of tens of thousands of Christians. What a sad and unreasonable thing! If the government can break its promise in this big issue, how can it keep its promises about other smaller issues? Dear leaders please do not be angry and forgive my blunt words. I beg you to discern my honest words from the bottom of my heart.
5 The significance and effect of evangelism on the peasant workers
The leaders of the Public Security Bureau and the Provincial Government, when conversing with me, frequently affirmed the value and the goodness of the place of interests in Xiaoshan district. The deepening of this topic made me begin to reflect on the value of evangelizing the peasant workers. We have witnessed the local government resort to any means to maintain public order and deal with problems arising from the issues of peasant workers. However, the number of peasant workers who migrate from other parts of the country ranks first among the cities of the country; consequently, the moral depravity and public insecurity in the centralized zone of the peasant workers are more serious than that in other parts of the city. The church spreads the gospel to lead people to know almighty God and be saved from sin. Christians abstain from wickedness, do good, and become good citizens obeying the laws of the country. Crime plummets; many peasant workers have testified how they renounced theft and gambling and restored their relationship with their wives. I am sure that the leaders in the government and the policemen, who were present at the evangelism events and other church worship services, never heard anything which encouraged the listeners to disobey the government and their employers; neither did they hear anything that encouraged the people to continue to live in sin. Outdoor evangelism lead people to believe in God and encouraged them to do good. So I beg the government to understand it.
6. Petition to keep your promise to me with respect to the issue of outdoor evangelism.
On the evening of August 26, a couple of policemen, without telling me that the leader from the provincial government was present, interrogated me about the outdoor evangelism. And I answered four questions. ① Due to Dangshan incident, I am charged with a grave crime that gives deeply grieves me. This charge is big enough to kill me, so please stop charging me with other crimes. ② I was not present, did not plan or direct any activities therefore I know no details. ③ On August 22, 2004, Mr. Xian and Mr. Shi told us the outcome of the negotiation that “the church shall not preach outdoors, and the government will not investigate this event.” So why does the government resume investigating this event? ④ The police interrogated me in the early mornings of August 10 through 14. They promised to show me mercy by educating me if I freely confessed. However I met with criminal detention later. So I was not confident about the promise of the Public Security Bureau. A couple of hours later, Mr. Wu, a leader from the provincial government, (undisclosed title), stated explicitly on behalf of a higher authority and several policemen (including Mr. Zhu and Xian) that the provincial leaders just wanted to get some information not re-investigate the event. And they repeatedly said that fettering me was the rule of the guard house. (During the following conversations, I was not fettered; they removed the fetter when I went out of the guard house once) Based on the repeated promises of the provincial government leader and the police officers not to further investigate the issue, I began to write detailed information including names of relevant people I knew involved in the outdoor evangelism. If I knew that the government would investigate the event that occurred in 2004, I would not have written the details related to an event in which I did not participate. Having not been directly involved the possibility of my reporting hearsay information about the event could place people in jeopardy. When I discovered that the authority would charge us with the outdoor evangelism, I felt deceived and greatly grieved. So I appeal to the prosecutor and the court to restore my dignity. I also expect the governmental leader keep his promise. The government has broken its promise which was made on August 22, 2004; now if it wants to break its promise made on August 26, how can I face this grim and mournful matter?
7. The final supplication regarding the determination of the outdoor evangelism
Since the authority decided to charge me, I began to meticulously recall the various mistreatments of me by the government after August 26. Feeling horrified, I began to mourn the treatment of Christians and the church by the government. Right now I only know the prosecution against me based on the outdoor evangelism, but I have no idea about other things due to my isolation from the outside world. If the government re-investigates the event that occurred in 2004 in which the government promised not to further investigate the event, and if the government extends its crackdown on the Christians involved in that event, I will suffer mentally and physically, it may even kill me. I am convinced that there are many Christians like me who are being subjected to this type of affliction. I earnestly request the PSB, the prosecutor, the court, as well as the government of Xiaoshan district and the superior leaders to overlook the event that occurred three years ago by deeming the conflict arising from the outdoor evangelism as the internal disputes of the people, not investigating the criminal responsibility of persons involved and not convicting them of the crimes. Consequently, the Christians in Xiaoshan district can trust the government, this region may enjoy the true harmony and stability and the leaders of the government have a bright and splendid image.
II. Repairing the damage in the wake of Dangshan Incident
It is seems that the authorities and Christians feel the same in that the July 29, Dangshan Incident was a storm sweeping across the whole region of Xiaoshan district (here I do not talk about who was right or wrong). After this storm, the psychological trauma will be more difficult and take longer to cure than the physical wounds. We, the detained Christians, are the most seriously wounded like houses destroyed by the storm.
These final detainees are mostly fifty years old or older. The older we are, the more relatives we may endanger. I believe that there are many people who are worried about us. The longer we have been Christians, the more intimate friends we have in the church. And Christians are in a family, purchased by the blood of Christ, so it grieves the whole church when its members are arrested and detained. I do not mean that the church is not able to be healed if some of its members are jailed, however I do mean that the church is like a body. How can the body heal if the bleeding is not stopped?
On the evening of July 29, I knelt down to pray as usual, however, for about thirty minutes I was filled with grief, and for the first time in my life I could not pray. During the following days, I summarized a couple of tasks to do:
1. To pacify the Christians, so as not to aggravate the tension or spread its impact.
2. To look for solutions so the detainees may be released.
3. To ask the church to examine itself and look for the underlining reason for the problem.
4. To correct the people who violated the biblical principle after we examine ourselves and have fellowship with each other.
However, the United Front Work Department of CPC, the Religious Affairs Bureau, and the Public Security Bureau later changed the scheduled location for interrogation; Shen Jian and Shen Zhuke were arrested. I began to know that the problem was more serious than I first thought. Therefore, I could not carry out the tasks which I mentioned above. Since August 10, when I was arrested, I am burden with remedying the wounds of the Dangshan Incident, even though I know that the remedy is impracticable. The intertwining anxieties and worries, in addition to my frail heart have deteriorated my health beyond endurance.
I beg the leaders in the government to hear the petition of a physically and mentally frail person. Please release the Christians, so that healing in the wake of Dangshan incident can be completed as soon as possible. If the people know that the government is willing to learn from this event, they will forget the trauma soon. It is medically easier to cure an acute disease than a chronic one. In construction work, when the cement is wet, it is the perfect time to make any corrections or changes. In accordance, since the Christians are experiencing pain in the wake of the Dangshan Incident, accurate and appropriate action will lead to effective results. However, if the government continues to put Christians under detention or imprison them remedying the situation will be delayed indefinitely. Probably my generation will not see the coming of the remedy. So I plead with the governmental leaders to seriously consider this matter.
III. My defense against the charge of inciting the masses
I am not shirking my responsibility, but I do feel that this charge is like a mountain on my back. I feel grieved and have to appeal to the authority. During these interrogations for nights by the police and the talks with the leader from the provincial government, they all admitted that the government should take some of the blame. They confessed that they had failed to pre-solve some of the issues. Their self-criticisms comforted me during the nights of interrogations. But the heavy charges given by the PSB overshadows their repeated promises not to subject Christians to primary education and not to regard Christians as the enemy of the government. In the guard house, I am not able to present my defense against the charge one by one according to the legal letters. But I believe that the prosecutor and the court will give me justice based on the facts and can understand my current circumstances. What I submit as the facts are:
1. During the discussions about the construction of Dangshan church building, I was not privileged to any discussions, preparations, the location, or the size of the building.
2. I had no idea about communication between the government and the Dangshan church concerning temporarily halting construction for seven days. Only at the end of the seven days, when I talked with Xian Kezhu on the phone was I given general information about it.
3. During the talk with Xian Kezhu over the phone on July 23, I suggested explicitly to obey the government and re-construct the building in other spot.
4. On July 24 and 25, Dangshan church resumed the construction. I was not consulted on this matter.
5. On the evening of July 25, I found that it was in vain to oppose their decision; however the seed of discord was sown. The evening of July 25 was the routine monthly prayer meeting. I attended as a listener. Dangshan church is an independent church, so we do not have the right to stop them. I was upset and displeased with their action.
6. The policemen on the third day of the interrogation repeatedly mentioned that I once gave my own opinions on the construction of the Dangshan church building at the prayer meeting on July 26. During the following days, I recollected the details of that night and singled out specifically the event for each period of time (in the morning and afternoon, Shen Shaocheng, Feng Changhua, Tu Shijun and Qian Sisi talked with me. Later Tu and Qian asked me to discuss verses of the Bible. Then I went and discussed three verses of John. There was no time or chance for me to give my own opinions about the construction of Dangshan church building.)
7. During the whole process of construction of the Dangshan church building, I did not ask anybody to work on the construction. I only had communication with the Christians of my congregation who were present at the construction spot. What concerned me was the issue of safety (for I had been engaged in construction work during my life). In my mind, a life is more valuable and important than a couple of buildings (thank God that nobody died in the construction of the Dangshan church building).
8. I never went to the construction site. I never phoned anyone except Xian Kezhu.
9. The afternoon of July 29, when I learned that the demolishment of the building began (I was at Hezhuang Santan chuch at the time), I called the Christians present at the construction spot by mobile phone to withdraw from the spot and allow the policemen to advance and not to resist the policemen. Before that, I first called Mr. Xuan, the chief of the PSB, requesting him to order the policemen to stop the advancement until the Christians withdrew from the spot soon. I had never asked the Christians in any way to resist the policemen.
IV. The honor of the economic zone vs. the detention of Christians
Since China began to open itself up to the outside world, the detention of Christians nationwide in particular in the coastal developed cities began to decrease year by year. Even though the charge with respect to the Dangshan Incident had nothing to do with religion, the outdoor evangelism, and Dangshan Incident are indeed a matter of religion. The economic development in Xiaoshan District is ahead of that of any other coastal cities and inland cities around China. I used to work in a government department, so I have an in-depth knowledge of the economic situation of Xiaoshan District.
The prosperity of this district demonstrates the achievement of the leaders’ work; and the honor of Xiaoshan should be ascribed to the leaders of the government. Today, the arrest of Christians nationwide gradually decreases, so once Christians in a region are arrested, the event draws more attention. Since 2001, four Christians from Tudusha church in Nanyang have served sentences in Guizhou Province. The first question many Christians ask upon meeting us is, “How are the Christians in Tudusha church now?” Every congregation, small or big, prays for them frequently during worship. The Bible says, “If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it.” So it could impact badly upon the reputation of Xiaoshan if the Christians are convicted of a crime and given sentences in the current social environment. I request the leaders to think over this matter.
V. What I desire most
Even though I am not too old, I have gone through the starvation of the late Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution. So I know deeply what ordinary people were like during the years of social disturbance. Therefore, what I desire most for the country is that society is stable and the country is prosperous, and the people live a happy life. I am a Christian, and I have the duty to pray for the prosperity and peace of the country, pray that our country will not see any disturbances in the future. I expect Christians to love the country and respect the government; meanwhile I expect the government to respect the Bible, care about Christians and give the church an appropriate and legitimate living environment.
What I desire most for this legal case is that the prosecutor will not present the case before the court. Whenever I recollect the trial of Christian Chang Mao by the People’s Court (I attended the court trial as a listener when I worked in the government department), I burst into tears. I do not want this unfortunate thing to happen to Xiaoshan and our country in the beginning of 21st century, in which China will become a prosperous worldwide leader.
VI. Look forward to maintaining the purity of the 140-year history
During the time in the guard house, I begin to recollect that in the 140 year period since Hudson Taylor came to Xiaoshan to preach the gospel, no Christians have been subjected to a court trial. Christians in Xiaoshan have been arrested and detained for spreading the gospel and circulating hymns and books; and Christians in Tudusha church served time in the labor rehabilitation camp for spreading the gospel in Guizhou Province (that year was the most painful and repressive year for the Xiaoshan church). But in the Xiaoshan District, no Christians have been subjected to labor rehabilitation or labor re-education for the past 140 years because of their faith. The government declared that Dangshan church building is an illegal building, however, the Dangshan Incident does have anything to do with Christian faith.
So I request the government of Xiaoshan District to take into consideration the above mentioned when making any decisions or submitting the case to the higher authority for resolution. What I expect is that this district will become peaceful and harmonious again after this incident and the good reputation of Xiaoshan will spread around the globe.
The life in the guard house becomes increasingly difficult. The officers in the guard house prevent me from prayer, reading the Bible and worship. I saw the recidivists and criminals talk cheerfully and walk leisurely. Not only did I feel surprised to see that they are used to the life in the guard house, but also I feel a huge contrast between the criminals and a person like me who is used to a peaceful life. I am not used to the environment and can not get along well with the inmates, just like a bird among the chickens. So I begin to understand why once Christians have been sentenced based on their faith, the sentence is like a bomb exploding amongst the Christian community, and causes other Christians to spread the news to everyone they could reach and encourage them to pray earnest ly. The detention or imprisonment of Christians may be of little importance to the leaders in the government, however, it causes Christians pain, which passes from generation to generation. I pray that this pain will vanish from Xiaoshan and China as soon as possible.
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