China Aid Association
Photo: Decision statement for re-education through labor of Ye Xi Lou.
(ZHEJIANG — December 3, 2008) ChinaAid learned recently that on November 2, 2008 at around 9 a.m., police simultaneously raided nine house churches associated with the Local Church network in Xiasha district, Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province. Police arrested more than 30 church members, and while most were released, four are currently serving sentences of re-education through labor, accused of “preaching to students” and “association with a cult.”
During normal Sunday church services, 10-15 plainclothes and uniformed police burst into each of the nine house church meetings around Hangzhou. Witnesses say police never showed IDs or formal documents demonstrating they had legal authority for the raid. The police ordered the people present at the scene not to talk on the phone, send text messages, talk to each other or leave.
Each of the nine house church meetings had approximately 25 to 30 people present, consisting of one couple, approximately three working young adults and college students. Police already had the name of the leader of each house church, so the nine leaders were handcuffed and immediately taken to the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) office.
During the raid, the police searched every house, inside the bags of the students, turned over everything and took photos. The police were looking for specific books such as “Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee, other books by Witness Lee and Bibles which were the Local Church’s own version of the Bible called the Recovery Version. Police also confiscated hymnals, ministry books, ministry CD/DVDs, telephone books, phone lists and computers.
During the police interrogation, house church members were asked questions including:
Where did you get your Bibles? Where did you get your books and newspapers? Who told you to come to the gathering? How did you come here? Who is the leader here? Who is the head here? Are there any foreigners among you? Do you have any connections with Taiwan? Do you have any overseas connections?
House church members were released one by one. At some of the house church locations, it was after 2 p.m. when the police left. All the 14 universities’ school officials were called in to take their own students back to their respective university for further disciplinary actions. The universities included: Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou Dianzi University, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications, Zhejiang Jiliang University, Zhejiang Financial Professional College, Zhejiang Economic and Trade College, Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou Vocational and Technical College.
All the students were required to write a confession paper, report, a statement of repentance and a statement of guarantees that they would not to go to gatherings. According to the students, school authorities questioned the students many times about the spiritual training they had received at the house church meetings. In addition to this, PSB officials went to Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics and Zhejiang Sci-Tech University to question several students there without students’ instructors or mentors present. Their questions, mixed with threats, were similar to the ones asked during police interrogations. One graduate student was given a warning by the university, which is the formal first degree of administrative discipline measure before dismissal from university. This written notice will follow the student throughout his or her working career.
In addition to the nine leaders arrested, police also arrested three or four more individuals from each meeting, mostly the wives of the leaders and the working adults present at the meeting. The total number of those arrested and taken to the PSB station was more than 40. The wives of the leaders and the working adults were interrogated at the police station and then released between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. the same day.
A day after the incident, the family members were notified that the nine leaders would be detained for two weeks. During the detention, officials tried to pressure the leaders to sign the “Statement of Admittance to Engaging in Cult Activities,” but they all refused. Of the nine leaders, five were released after being detained eight to 15 days under administrative detention. Four of the leaders were sentenced to one to one and a half years of re-education through labor, accused of “preaching to students.”
The four leaders, all men, who are currently serving sentences of re-education through labor are:
Ye, Xi Lou, age 40s, sentenced to 1 year
Wu, Fang Liang, age 40s, sentenced to 1.5 years
Zhang, Ye Gen, age 40s, sentenced to 1.5 years
Chen, Fang Tu, age 30s, sentenced to 1.5 years
According to individuals who visited the detained leaders, these men are suffering inhumane treatment in the prison. They do not have enough clothes and are allowed to use the restroom only twice a day. They are required to do hard labor and are given poor food. In addition, they are beaten by other inmates. ChinaAid has learned that the four men sentenced to re-education through labor are preparing to apply for administrative reconsideration and litigation to defend their freedom of belief.
To request permission to reproduce ChinaAid photos and/or information, please contact [email protected].
View the Re-education Through Labor Sentence for Yi Xi Lou and read the English translation. The other three men received similar documents.
Read a related article about a police raid of Local Church college students in Beijing.
Find out more about the Local Church network associated with this house church meeting.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]