(Guiyang, Guizhou Province—July 23, 2021) On July 21, Guiyang Ren Ai Reformed Church and Yang Aiqing, Elder Zhang Chunleil’s wife, disclosed that Guiyang City No. 2 Detention Center officials again rejected a request by Elder Zhang’s lawyer to meet with Elder Zhang. This most recent, routine rebuff follows the rejection of the lawyer’s four previous requests made from June 29 to July 2 to communicate with Elder Zhang.
Guiyang Ren Ai Reformed Church, a small house church, with a few dozen congregants, holds the authentic Christian faith, refuses to join three self-churches, and disobeys New Religious Affairs’ Regulations. Elder Zhang, who serves as the church’s leader, became a target of the CCP when he signed the “Joint Statement: A Declaration for the Sake of Christian Faith,” that Pastor Wang Yi launched in 2018.
During many of the past years, Guiyang Ren Ai Church members hospitably hosting Christians from various parts of the country has critically contributed to furthering the kingdom mission. Therefore, Guiyang authorities have intensely targeted and regularly persecuted these Christians. CCP authorities also forcibly shut the church down on September 30, 2018. Consequently, the Church currently gathers and worships at restaurants and hotels on Sundays.
On May 12, 2019, police raided the Church’s Sunday service held at one hotel. More than 80 people, including Religious Bureau personnel and police officers, broke into the gathering place. Although only a few dozen congregants attended that day, officials forcibly removed the Church’s cross. They also confiscated Church elders’ laptops and other items. In July 2019, authorities again threatened the Church’s landlord regarding the place members had recently rented. As a result, the church moved from that location.
In the following year, CCP authorities raided the Church three times and sealed the gathering’s door twice.
Zhang Chunlei couple with Pastor Wang Yi couple in Guiyang (August 2018).
(Photo: ChinaAid resource)
On March 16, 2021, police raided the Bible study being held in a commercial and residential building where congregants of Guiyang Ren Ai Reformed Church met with a few Christians from other regions. Police officers insisted that these Christians held an illegal rally. They checked each person’s ID and cell phone, transcribed details of the query, and transported most of the Christians to Yan’an Middle Road police station.
Elder Zhang did not attend that morning’s study but after he learned those police officers had arrested group members that afternoon, he rushed to the police station to negotiate with officers. Elder Zhang stated that he would not leave until officials released the last Brother and Sister. As a result, police officers issued a summon to him and ordered that he serve an 11-day detention. The next day, CCP authorities searched Elder Zhang’s home and confiscated a number of his personal possessions. Elder Zhang has lost more than four months of freedom since CCP authorities initially detained him on March 16:
- Initially, police officers administratively detained him for 11 days first.
- Next, authorities criminally detained him for 37 days, and
- Officers officially arrested him on the suspected [fabricated] charge of “fraud” on May 1.
After authorities filed the case, Elder Zhang’s lawyer met with him twice at the detention center. On July 3, however, Ms. Yang, revealed via independent media that detention officials rejected each of Elder Zhang’s lawyer’s four requests to meet with him in accordance with laws made at the detention center on June 29, June 30, July 1, and July 2.
During the morning of July 8, Guiyang City Yunyan District Yanzhong police officers summoned three female Christians of Guiyang Ren Ai Reformed Church to their station. Officials did not free them to return home until 9 hours later. Some Christians reason that officials kept them for the extended time, threatening and intimidating them, trying to gather “information” they might use to substantiate the fabricated charges authorities issued to detain Elder Zhang.
The information Elder Zhang’s lawyer collected, however, credibly confirms that the CCP Security Department and Procuratorate present two dramatically, different accounts regarding Elder Zhang’s case.
~ Yu Bing, ChinaAid Special Reporter