China Aid Association
(Pingdingshan, Henan—May 30, 2012) More 200 police officers and government officials in Henan province raided a house church, taking more than 50 Christians into custody and criminally detaining eight of them, ChinaAid has learned.
The April 14 raid on the house church in Dianying village, Ye county, city of Pingdingshan, began at about 12:30 p.m. as 54 young people were attending a Bible study class. Suddenly, more than 200 police and government officials surrounded the meeting place and took all the students away, including a mother and her one-year-old infant.
The entire police force of Ye county, officials from the township government, armed police and the fire brigade, and anti-terrorism police were all out in force to execute the police action. Police were also equipped with two water cannons. In addition, the Pingdingshan Public Security Bureau and officers from the police stations of two neighboring townships also assisted in the raid. On the same day, the Ye county China Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, the two government organs that oversee China’s official Protestant church, ended a joint session.
The detained Christians were first held for a half-day in the yard of the Rendian township government office complex, then moved to the townships animal quarantine station where they were held for a week. Among those held was a 16-year-old who was visiting his uncle and was inadvertently detained along with the other Christians. After an investigation, 46 of the detainees were released. Among those still in detention, four are elderly while the four others are younger.
The home in which the Daying village house church was meeting in belonged to Zhang Fangshun, also a Christian. He was away on the day of the raid, seeking medical treatment in a hospital in south China’s Guangzhou province, and returned home three days after the raid. When he returned, the director of the Pingdingshan Office of Politics and Law and three police officers went to Zhang’s home and told him to report the same day to the Ye county Domestic Security Protection Department for a talk. Zhang went there that afternoon and found department head Gao Fuzhong. During their talk, the two got into an altercation because Gao refused to return Zhang’s government ID card after asking to see it and Zhang reached to grab his ID card back.
Of the eight believers who remain in custody, two were transferred first to the Ye county detention center, and the six others followed later. Among them is a woman who has hepatitis. Currently, five believers are in custody in the Ye county detention center and the three others are in the Pingdingshan municipal detention center.
The Ye county Public Security Bureau has repeatedly refused to produce the legally required paperwork to the family of the detainees. The relatives have been able to learn through private connections that the Public Security Bureau has already formally arrested the eight Christians and is criminally detaining them on the charge of “suspicion of organizing a cult to undermine national law enforcement.” The arrest and detention notices for the believers held in the Pingdingshan detention center—Wang En, Zhang Mian, Hu Linpo and Cao Xia—have already been processed, but the paperwork for the four others have not yet been provided to their family members.
ChinaAid is shocked by this persecution case and will continue to closely monitor development. It calls on the development of the facts of the case. At the same time calling Pingdingshan authorities to immediately release the eight detained Christians, and to protect the fundamental rights of these citizens to freedom of religious belief according to the law.