China Aid Association
|Nanle County Public Security Bureau (Photo: ChinaAid)|
(Nanle, Henan—Nov. 22, 2013) A delegation of more than twenty lawyers banded together to defend Zhang Shaojie, pastor of Nanle County Christian church, and 25 church members after the group’s defense team encountered little cooperation from authorities.
The delegation of lawyers was brought together by rights defenders in Beijing after a series of events on Wednesday involving Xia Jun, a Christian lawyer who recently participated in the Enyu Bookstore religious case (https://chinaaid.org/2013/09/lawyer-sues-court-over-illegally-sold.html). The delegation is comprised of approximately 20 lawyers from many Chinese provinces and has convened in Nanle to help obtain the freedom of the detained Christians.
Xia and an associate arrived in Nanle on Tuesday to defend Zhang, who was detained last Saturday when officials met with him at his church (https://chinaaid.org/2013/11/three-self-sanctioned-church-pastor-and.html, https://chinaaid.org/2013/11/update-three-self-sanctioned-church.html).
Xia met with the family members of the detainees to learn what he could about the case. Wednesday, Xia and his assistant attempted to learn more at the Nanle County Public Security Bureau, but they were blocked at the gate.
Xia was asked by the guard to produce identification and told that he must contact someone within the bureau to come to the gate and escort him in. The guard informed Xia that the requirement came from the head of the Nanle County Public Security Bureau and that no one could enter without an escort.
The assistant was able to get in contact with the director via phone. After the assistant informed the director that the duo sought information on the church group’s case, the director said he was in a meeting and the timing was inconvenient. He failed to arrange for another employee to receive the lawyers.
Xia’s partner then contacted Jiao Wenxiang, the director of the Nanle County Domestic Security Protection Squad, hoping he would let the duo into the building. After learning the lawyers’ intentions, the man began denying that he was Jaio and told Xia’s assistant that he had dialed the wrong number.
“When the bureau limits the access of people in this way, and even dares to refuse to let the lawyer on the case enter,” Xia told ChinaAid, “it shows their fear of the common people. When the director of the [Domestic Security Protection Squad] tells bold-faced lies, how can people trust the cases handled by the Nanle County Public Security Bureau?”
All other options exhausted, Xia contacted the Domestic Security Protection Squad chief, who ranks right under the director. The chief told Xia that she would return his call after she consulted her superior about the case.
|This photo shows family members of the detainees.
In the meantime, Xia’s assistant browsed a telephone directory at the guard station, looking for more officials to contact. For an unknown reason, the guard began arguing with Xia’s associate. The associate, who could understand the guard’s native Nanle dialect, tried to reason with the guard, but the guard insisted that Xia’s partner was cursing at him.
Xia approached the guard to attempt to reason with him. At that time, approximately five uniformed officers and six other people entered the guard station. These people surrounded Xia and his associate. Emboldened by the presence of others, according to Xia, the guard began to “rave” that the regulation was determined by the head of the bureau and “one must do things according to regulation.” Xia said the guard began to curse him and his associate.
The argument lasted approximately 10 minutes, after which Xia called the Domestic Security Protection Squad chief again. The chief rejected Xia’s request to enter, saying that she was not in charge of the case and didn’t know the case. When Xia asked who was in charge of the case, the chief hung up on him.
Xia, who said he felt helpless, returned to his hotel. That evening, he and his associate met with the family members of the detainees again. It was decided that the team would attempt to meet with their clients on Thursday morning.
The whereabouts of most of the Christians are still unknown and most families have not received legal documents concerning their detainment.
Qin Mijuan, wife of Zhao Zhijuan, a Sunday school leader at the church, received a notice of detention from the Nanle County Public Security Bureau on Thursday. The notice says: “At 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2013, the Public Security Bureau placed Zhao Zhijuan in criminal detention on suspicion of ‘obstructing official business.’”
The families of two other church members also received detention notices. They were part of a group, along with Zhao, that reportedly traveled to Beijing to petition the government over land dispute between the Nanle County Christian Church and the local government. Last Friday, they were brought back from Beijing and taken directly into custody with the four other members of the group. At this time, little is known about the land dispute, the detainment or the four other group members.
ChinaAid will continue to monitor this case. We call on the local government, especially the law enforcement departments to conduct themselves according to the law, immediately stop any unlawful administration, and immediately release Zhang and the other church members, who have been illegally detained for six days.