Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song.
(Dali, Yunnan—Dec. 22, 2016) Officials criminally detained Christians, alleging they used cults to oppose the law, in China’s southwestern Yunnan province on Oct. 22 and Nov. 27.
Tu Yan, a woman who began attending churches in Yunnan after she moved there for work, was returning home from a Christian gathering on Oct. 22 when she was apprehended on suspicion of “using a cult organization to undermine the implementation of the law.” A month later, she was arrested for the same charge. Authorities also accused her of being the backbone of two so-called “evil cults” and organizing three meetings on behalf of these institutions. In an interview, her father denied her involvement in any cult activities.
Following his visit to her last night, her lawyer said he believes the defendant has never participated in cults.
According to Tu, four other church members were detained along with her for the same charge. However, local Christians claim as many as 12 people were taken into police custody. The exact number of people detained is still unknown, but three people have since been released, leaving at least two, including Tu, in custody.
A similar occurrence took place in Kunming, the capital of the province, on Nov. 27, when police detained eight Christians, including a Taiwanese citizen, under the same accusation. Government personnel accused them of belonging to the Shouters, a Christian sect originating out in Taiwan that China labels as a cult. However, the members of the Shouters assert that they are Christians, and Xu Yonghai, the pastor of Holy Love Fellowship in Beijing, claims that they are a Christian denomination.
Xu also said many Christians do not know anything about cults, even when they are accused of belonging to them.
One of the Kunming defendants’ lawyers, Li Guisheng, said most of the information surrounding the case cannot be disclosed, since it is still in the investigation stage.
China Aid reports abuses, including those suffered by Christians in Yunnan, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom in China.