January 19, 2010
CHINAAID–The year 2009 showed Chinese Christian churches thriving in the midst of persecution. In a society where economic booming and innovation are in great demand, the Chinese government and the house churches continue wrestling with each other and drawing attention from all over the world. Nevertheless, the faithful persecuted in China believe God’s love and grace will always strengthen their churches.
China Aid Association, headquartered in Texas, reported a large quantity of cases concerning the persecution of Chinese house churches in 2009. After holistic review and analysis of these cases, we selected ten cases representative of the nature of persecution in the country, and hereby introduce them to the public. Among these globally recognized persecution cases, five are specifically church-related; four involve the persecution of individual faith practitioners; and one involves the persecution of Christians who rescued refugees out of their commitment to Biblical principles.
Click here for the Full PDF version of the “Top 10 Persecution Cases of 2009” report, complete with photos and references.
2009 Annual Report: Top Ten Cases of Christian Persecution in China
China Aid Association
January 19, 2010
Case #1: Persecution of the Shanxi Linfen Fushan Church: At about 3:00 AM the morning of September 13, 2009, a mixed crowd of 400 local government officials and villagers in police suits burst onto the Fushan Church construction site and beat the church members who were sleeping in the dorm rooms at the site. More than 100 church members were injured; 30 people were beaten so severely they were sent to the emergency room. The police smashed the windows and doors of the factory, and looted the church property, including TVs, refrigerators, money, and cars. They damaged 17 buildings, and destroyed the foundations of the new church building.
The leaders of Linfen Church held a prayer rally the day after the attack, which was attended by more than 1,000 believers, despite threats from local officials. In the weeks that followed, more than 30 Linfen Church leaders were arrested. The Linfen House Church Network was forbidden to meet and placed under 24-hour state military surveillance. Fushan County officials offered the church 1.4 million Yuan to not file a complaint with the Central government, but the offer was rejected when the officials refused to lift the ban and remove the guards.
After a second series of arrests in mid-October, the Fushan PSB released all but ten Linfen leaders. On the 17th, five were sentenced to criminal detention. On November 2nd, the Linfen court abruptly notified the families of Yang Rongli, Wang Xiaoguang, Yang Xuan, Cui Jiaxing, and Zhang Huamei that their case would go to trial on November 25, 2009. The Linfen Raodu People’s Court held a rapid trial, and announced the verdicts for the five Linfen Church pastors immediately following the hearing. Numerous legal procedures were not followed, with evidence pointing to a predetermined verdict, which further violated Chinese law.
Two criminal charges were used—the crimes of “illegally occupying farming land” and “disturbing transportation order by gathering masses.” Sister Yang Rongli was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and fined 30,000 Yuan; Pastor Wang Xiaoguang, three years and 10,000 Yuan; Yang Xuan, three and a half years and 20,000 Yuan; Cui Jiaxing, five and a half years and 50,000 Yuan; and Zhang Huamei, four years.
On November 30th, the five other church leaders were charged with “gathering masses to disturb the transportation order,” and were arbitrarily sentenced to two years’ Re-education through Labor (starting from October 11th). Those leaders included husband and wife Li Shuangping and Yang Hongzhen, Yang Caizhen (wife of Yang Xuan), Gao Qin, and Zhao Guoai.
The Linfen Church was founded in 1978 and has over 50,000 church members. It is deeply influenced by the teachings of Pastor Hsi (1835-1896), a famous local church leader in the 19th century. Pastor Hsi also wrote numerous Chinese Christian hymns. For more information on the Linfen Case (English), go to http://www.helplinfen.com/stories.html. For information in Chinese, https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10302.
Case #2: Persecution of Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, from Xinjiang: Alimujiang Yimiti was born in June, 1973, in Hami, Xinjiang. In 1995, he converted from Islam to Christianity and became a house church leader. He and his wife have two boys. Alimujiang was a regional manager of a British food company (founded in 2000) in Kashi.
On September 13, 2007, the Kashi Bureau of Religious and Ethnic Affairs charged Alimujiang with being “illegally involved in religious activities in the Kashi area; spreading Christianity among the Uyghur population; and delivering religious materials.”
On January 12, 2008, the Kashi Public Safety Department placed Alimujiang in criminal detention and accused him of “jeopardizing national security and providing national secrets to foreign countries.” On February 20, 2008, the Procuratorate ratified the arrest, and Alimujiang was detained in Kashi Prison. (On September 12th 2008, the UN OHCHR Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion affirming Alimujiang had been illegally detained by the Chinese government.)
On May 27, 2008, the Kashi Intermediate People’s Court opened the trial on Alimujiang’s case. The same night, the court announced a “lack of evidence” and asked the local police to do further investigation. On July 28th, the court opened for a second trial; however, the court did not announce the decision. Over a year later, on August 6, 2009, Alimujiang was charged with “providing state secrets to foreigners” and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. His defense lawyer Li Dunyong and his family did not learn about his sentence until December, 2009, which is in violation of Chinese law.
Alimujiang could not admit to being guilty, and he subsequently agreed to appeal from prison. Mr. Li Baiguang, an experienced lawyer from Beijing Gongxin Law Office, agreed to take his appeal case. On January 7, 2010, Attorney Li sent Alimujiang’s letters of appeal to the regional and national Courts. See the CAA Reports on Alimujiang’s Case from 08/05/09 and 12/23/09; Chinese Reports: https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10422; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10631
Case #3: Persecution of Beijing Shouwang Church: Since August, 2009, the Beijing Bureau of Religious Affairs and Public Safety continuously put pressure on the landlord who rented several office rooms in the Huajie Plaza to Shouwang Church, forcing him to eventually terminate the rental contract with the house church. Due to the government’s interference, Shouwang Church was banned from its original site and was forced to worship outdoors for several weeks.
On November 1st, hundreds of church members met at the Haidian Park and held Sunday worship in the snow. The following weekend, at 9:00 AM, the church pastor, Jin Tianming, left home and soon was detained by the police for three hours. The police stopped several church leaders from going to the park, though nearly 300 church members waited at the Haidian Park’s East gate. Church elder Sun Yi preached as a substitute for Pastor Jin. To disrupt the gathering, the police set up loudspeakers in Haidian Park and monitored everybody at the site. The worship lasted for one hour.
On November 15th, the government compromised and allowed the church use the China Meide Dongman Theater to gather; church members were informed that this action was taken in order to prevent them from potentially create a scene during U.S. President Obama’s visit to Beijing. On November 22nd, the church moved to Sunshine Hall in Qinghua Technology Square and hosted three normal services. There have been no further reports of persecution against Shouwang Church since November, 2009. See the CAA Reports on Shouwang Church from 6/17/09, 11/12/09, and 11/16/09; Chinese reports: https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=9920; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10010; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10090
Case #4: Persecution of Beijing House Church Leader and Businessman, Shi Weihan: Shi Weihan was born in March, 1970, in Beijing. As an adult, he became a house church leader and legal representative of the Beijing “Holy Spirit” Trading Co., Ltd. On November 28, 2007, He was detained by the Haidian Police for printing Bibles and Christian books. On January 4, 2008, he was arrested and held at the Haidian Detention Center. On June 10, 2009, the Beijing Haidian People’s Court charged him of illegally operating business and sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment. He and six coworkers were each fined between 60,000 and 150,000 Yuan. The six coworkers’ sentences varied in length: between one and three years’ imprisonment. See the CAA Reports on Shi Weihan from 6/11/09 and 6/24/09; (Chinese):
Case #5: Persecution of Shanghai Wanbang Church: Since February, 2009, the Shanghai Bureau of Religious Affairs and Public Safety has interfered with Wanbang Church activities and oppressed the church’s head pastor, Cui Quan. The Bureau officials attempted to force the landlord of the building where Wanbang Church met each Sunday to stop renting to the church. The church has about 1,200 members in total.
On November 1st, the government officials disturbed the church; the next day, about thirty government officials burst into the church and accused the church of being illegal. They banned Wanbang church members from gathering and worshipping. On November 8th, staff members from the Shanghai Office of Population Management disturbed the church. After Pastor Cui’s solemnly negotiated with them, the service continued. On the evenings of November 11th and 12th, the local officials banned the church site at 2708 Wuzhong Rd, Minxing District.
On November 15, 2009, Wanbang church was having Sunday worship as usual. Hundreds of government officials came; they took photos and recorded the service. In the morning of November 22nd, four pastors: Cui Quan Cui Longguo, Liu Quanqin, Huang Yun were summoned to Shanghai Tuanqiao Police Station. They were charged of illegally holding social activities. Police again tried to break up the gathering, but 500 church members refused to stop singing and finished the two services without the pastors. See the CAA reports on Wanbang Church from 2/13/09, 11/23/09, and 12/02/09; Reports on Wanbang Church in Chinese: https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=7547; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10098; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10124; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=10188
Case #6: Persecution of Two Chinese Christians for Rescuing Refugees from North Korea: Chaoxian Christian Li Mingshun was born in February, 1957. She currently lives in Yanshou, Heilongjiang province. Zhang Yonghu, a Han, was born in June, 1957, and lives in Jimo, Shandong. From April 2008 to March 3rd 2009, Li and Zhang helped Korean Pastor Cui Quantai to rescue and transfer Korean refugees into and across northern China. The Neimenggu Erlianhaote People’s Procuratorate described the facts of crime in the indictment: “Li Mingshun organized 61 North Korean citizens and transferred them to Erlianhaote, and then secretly ferried them to Mongolia. Zhang Yonghu transferred 44 North Korean citizens on eight different trips to Mongolia.”
On August 17, 2009, the Neimenggu Erlianhaote People’s Court opened their trial and charged Li Mingshun with “illegally crossing the border,” sentencing him to 10 years’ imprisonment and a 30,000 Yuan fine. Zhang Yonghu was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment and received a 20,000 Yuan fine. See the CAA Report from 9/01/09 in English and Chinese.
Case #7: Persecution of Sichuan Chengdu Autumn Rain Church: The Autumn Rain Church is located in Chengdu, Sichuan. It was founded by Mr. Wang Yi in April, 2005 and has about 100 members.
On May 2, 2008, the Chengdu Bureau of Religious Affairs and Public Safety sent 40 people to infiltrate Autumn Rain Church and disturb the gathering. All church members were forced to register their name and have their photo taken by the officials, who proceeded to isolate and interrogate the church leader.
Using the charge of “suspicion of illegal evangelism” as an excuse, the officials seized private property from the church members, and forced the worship service to stop. The event was one of many crackdowns on house churches prior to the Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Following the Games, the raids on Autumn Rain Church abated.
On June 4, 2009, the Chengdu government found new ways to persecute Autumn Rain Church. On June 21st, at noon, the government officials barred and locked the doors to the church, to prevent members from entering the gathering site. The church was holding a retreat at a hotel the same day, when ten officials burst into the conference room and stopped the meeting. Chengdu Qingyang Bureau of Civil Affair officer Mr. Huang Wei read the “statement of administrative punishment” to Autumn Rain Church. In accordance with Article 35 of Regulation of Social Organization Registration, Autumn Rain Church was identified as “unregistered social organization” and was thereby banned. The church members attempted to move the conference outdoors, but were blocked by nearly 100 riot police and plain-clothes officers. The church properties were immediately confiscated.
On June 26th 2009, the church refused to accept the “decision on banning” and filed an administrative appeal to Chengdu Qingyang Bureau of Civil Affairs. On July 21st, Elder Wang Yi was informed that the Chengdu City government had been ordered to remove the ban on Autumn Rain Church on July 17th; however the church was forced to meet outdoors on Sunday, July 19th for the sixth time, as the ban was not lifted. Throughout the fall, 2009, Chengdu Autumn Rain Church continued to meet outdoors. To date, there have been no changes to the ban on Autumn Rain Church. See the CAA Reports on Autumn Rain Church from 6/26/09, 7/02/09, and 7/23/09; and Reports in Chinese: https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=8475; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=9080; https://chinaaid.org/chinese_site/press_release_detail.php?id=8549
Case #8: Persecution of Christian Human Rights Scholar, Dr. Fan Yafeng: On November 2, 2009, Dr. Fan Yafeng, Associate Researcher for the Law department of the China Social Science Academy was discharged for “political reasons.” The leaders of the Law department and HR department decided they would not hire him in the future. Dr. Fan serves in a house church in Beijing. He is one of the founders of the Christian human rights lawyer team. See the CAA report from 11/03/09, and in Chinese, 11/03/09.
Case #9: Persecution of Christian Human Rights Lawyer Jiang Tianyong and Family: At 7:40 AM, November 19th, Christian human rights attorney Jiang Tianyong was taken away by four policemen, near his house in Haidian District, and was detained, locked in the basement of the Yangfang Police Station until 9:26 PM. Jiang was on the way to take his daughter to school when the police stopped his car and began arguing with him. Jiang’s wife found out and tried to stop the conflict. But the police pushed her down and took away her cell phone, driving off with Jiang in the car. Jiang’s child was scared and cried. Jiang’s wife called police in Haidian, but the four police told lies about how “Jiang had beaten the police,” instigating the conflict. The police proceeded to spread lies about Jiang Tianyong at his daughter’s school, saying that he had beaten the police. Jiang’s daughter suffered mentally and emotionally from the ordeal. See the CAA Reports from 11/19/09 and 11/23/09; and the report on Jiang Tianyong in Chinese.
Case #10: Henan Zhengzhou Zhutun Three-Self Church Staff Persecuted by the Government: On November 3, 2008, the Zhutun Three-Self Church in Henan learned that 50,000 Yuan in church donations for disaster relief in Sichuan were “kept” by the TSPM and CCC. The church reported the incident of corruption to the relevant governing authorities. After several months, they had not received any response. Church co-director Zhang Xiuzhi and several other church members then sent out prayer requests to local churches and asked them to pray for an explanation. The Zhengzhou Bureau of Religious Affairs and TSPM & CCC parties took revenge; they fired Zhang Xiuzhi and Yu Enzhen from the church.
On February 15, 2009, the Chairman of the TSPM & CCC, Yan Shugang, instigated members of other churches to protest at Zhutun Church and stop Sunday worship. Meanwhile, the Zhengzhou Bureau of Religious Affairs and TSPM & CCC colluded with the judicial organs and accused Zhutun Church of “fabricating facts and sending out prayer letters to slander the TSPM & CCC.” They accused Zhang Xiuzhi of “severely disturbing the order of TSPM & CCC and Zhutun Church.” On April 18, 2009, Zhang was arrested, and on April 30th, Zhang was charged with “disturbing the social order” and sentenced to two years’ Re-education through Labor.
On July 22, 2009, Zhang Xiuzhi wrote to the Zhengzhou Re-education through Labor Committee and requested a rescission of the sentence, state compensation, and a public apology. She also requested the other party to underwrite the litigation costs. See the CAA report from 7/30/09 in English and Chinese.
Reflections on Persecution in 2009: These 10 Persecution Cases reveal the Chinese political trend and attitude towards religion. The government’s anti-religion policy indicates its growing hostility towards Christianity, as it increases its “religion grey area”. In addition, the government’s furious persecution of both registered and non-registered churches indicates its confusion, fear, and sense of being threatened. Christians and churches should endeavor to avoid conflict with the government by operating under the law and holding on to their basic faith creed. However, they should not yield before persecution, but instead be willing to stand for truth and share that truth with the world. With 2009 now over, many hope that the year 2010 will break the trend of persecution and increase religious freedom in China.