|Cheng Jie, in detention for “illegal
business practices.” (Photo: China Aid)
Reported and written in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.
(Liuzhou, Guangxi—Feb. 24, 2016) The husband of a recently-released kindergarten teacher said on Sunday that their family will be leaving the city of Liuzhou in China’s southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region due to pressure and threats from authorities.
Du Hongbo told reporters that he and his wife, Cheng Jie, who was released on Feb. 17 after serving a two-year prison sentence for “illegal business operations,” will be leaving Liuzhou with their children in search of work and in an effort to escape harassment from public security officers.
“After a few days, we plan to leave Liuzhou,” Du said. “We will pack in two days and take [Cheng] for a thorough examination. The public security bureau keeps calling me every couple of days, harassing and threatening.”
According to Du, Cheng has been unable to find work after her release and stated that it is difficult to live in Liuzhou now. At the time she was detained, Cheng was working at the Liangren Church-run Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten. However, the kindergarten was closed in July 2015, following a ruling by the Yufeng District Court that stated the school had published teaching materials for profit without a permit. The kindergarten testified that they made no profit from the character-building textbooks.
In addition to the closure, the court fined the kindergarten 800,000 Yuan (U.S. $122,000) and sent a SWAT team of nearly 80 people to raid the building and seize all property, supplies, and assets, valued at approximately 1.8 million Yuan (U.S. $274,500).
“[The authorities] said that as long as we paid the fine, all of those things would be returned to us. In reality, they are still in police custody,” Du said of the teaching materials.
Liangren Church, based in the neighboring Guangdong province, changed its name in December in an effort to avoid pressure from authorities. To those outside the church, the decision was meant to seem as though the church had disbanded.
China Aid reports on cases of targeted persecution against religious-affiliated organizations, such as the situations experienced by Cheng Jie and Liangren Church, in order to expose abuses of religious freedom and rule of law.