It’s almost the end of 2015.
My friend, the now-imprisoned Christian lawyer Zhang Kai, told me one thing he doesn’t regret is protesting the forced removal of thousands of church crosses in Zhejiang. On August 8, he told me and other friends on WeChat: “I’ve made up my mind; the most they can do is jail me. But if I stay silent, I’ll regret it my whole life.”
On August 25, Zhang Kai was kidnapped and detained along with his two assistants, Liu Peng and Fang Xiangui.
The Chinese government charged Zhang Kai with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and “stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to entities outside China.” Zhang Kai has been incommunicado since his arrest. Neither his family nor his lawyers have been informed of his condition or the location of his secret “black jail” cell.
I once asked him whether he sensed imprisonment coming. He replied, “I’m always wondering why [the public security bureau] hasn’t come, but I’m ready!”
Then he shared a story about when he was taken to a police station for questioning on July 10, 2015. A domestic security agent remonstrated him: “Zhou Shifeng [a famous lawyer who hired former high-ranking Party officials to work at his law firm and was later arrested for defending for human rights cases] had some connections, but you have none. If you take on sensitive religious cases in Wenzhou, you’re just looking for trouble.”
Zhang Kai replied, “You’re wrong; I have God as my backer.”
I wish I had the courage to state my faith and confidence in God to my interrogators that clearly!
This Christmas, let us remember who our backer is in everything we do, so that we have fewer regrets in the coming year. Thank you for being my faithful partner for the persecuted in 2015.
Dissident’s teeth threaten ‘national security’
In a letter to China Aid President Bob Fu on Nov. 3, Gao Zhisheng noted that the Chinese government seems to view attempts by Gao to treat his teeth, which were damaged through torture and malnutrition, as a threat to national security.
Because of poor treatment by the Chinese government during his seven-year, off-and-on time in both official and unofficial custody, Gao has lost several teeth and the remaining teeth pain him daily. He has tried repeatedly to visit a dentist since his release on Aug. 7, 2014, but has been prevented, as is explained in a condensed version of the letter, below.
Dear Brother Fu,
Thank you for continually showing concern for me, especially regarding my few famously damaged teeth!
My wish to go to Xi’an to look after my teeth was like [the Chinese idiom], “Mirror flower, Water moon”—I could see my goal, but I couldn’t reach it. This is the second time since the end of August that the train ticket has been canceled and refunded. I still hope you as a [Christian] brother will not be sad or dispirited about this matter or about the outcome of my damaged teeth. This attempt to look after my teeth unexpectedly raised the issue of “national security,” which is not easy to stand up against. Local authorities presumed I would act afraid this time. …
Being barbarous and violent is the bones of the totalitarian system; shameless lying is their skin and bones. When there comes a day with no more lying, people will only be able to see the pile of ugly bones. …
Brother Fu, the outside world can speculate that because I cannot treat my teeth, I must always be in a mood of personal, bitter hardship and torture. This is not entirely true. The world I find inside books occupies me to the point that I forget to eat. I do not even have the leisure to negotiate [with the police] regarding my suffering. (To me, it is incredibly precious that I now have books to read. Generally speaking, I know I will disappear immediately again after my book is published. So I am determined to try my best to read more books.) …
Authorities crack down on Christmas plans
While house churches across China prepare for the upcoming holiday season, authorities have already begun to interfere with churches’ planning of Christmas parties.
Ma Chao, the leader of Guangfu House Church in China’s southern Guangdong, told China Aid’s reporter Qiao Nong that local religious affairs bureau officers called him, asking whether Guangfu House Church would be organizing a large-scale Christmas gathering.
“I said, ‘Yes, we won’t have foreigners participating, only Chinese. We will rent a place that can accommodate 1,000 people for a Christmas party,’” Ma said he told the officer.
Ma said police also harassed him about renting spaces after a previous landlord terminated the church’s lease.
“[The sub-district office] called to ask me to go meet with them, but I didn’t. I’m very busy right now. During this call from the sub-district office, the officer said, ‘You haven’t paid your management fees.’ I said, ‘I never skip the management fee.’ He asked, ‘Which building and room are you in?’ I responded, ‘Are you mentally ill? How could you know I haven’t paid the management fee if you don’t even know where I live?’” Ma said.
Ma said he believed he would be harassed no matter what.
Other churches are also facing increased scrutiny as the holidays approach. A house church in Langzhong, Sichuan, also reported that local police investigated their Christmas schedule.
“They recently asked a member of our church where he would spend Christmas,” Li Mingbo, the pastor of the Langzhong House Church, said. The church member informed police that a gathering would be held at the church, Li said.
New Zealand couple detained for using ‘cult’
|Authorities released this notice, banning the
church from holding future gatherings.
A 69-year-old Taiwanese pastor and his wife, both of whom have New Zealand citizenship, were detained in China’s central Henan province with three leaders of the house church training they were visiting in mid-October.
Shen Zhenguo and his wife, Li Jianghua, were visiting the 71st Street Christian Church in Luoyang on Oct. 13, when more than 30 officials from various government security organizations raided the church.
The raid occurred during a five-day Bible training session. Shen, Li and three others were detained by the Xigong County Police for 15 days for “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement.”
When the other detained leaders asked if Shen, who is 69 years old, was required to serve the full sentence, police said that only those older than 70 may be exempted. Other members the group asked for their sentences to be doubled in exchange for Shen’s release, but authorities refused.
Shen and his wife, in poor health following their detention, returned to Taiwan for recovery soon after their release.