China Aid Association
(Hubei – March 14, 2011) When police raided the Christians’ legal study in Yangdang Town, Zaoyang City, Hubei Province on February 23, 2011, they destroyed video cameras, audio recording devices, cell phones, and any other equipment that might have captured evidence of the violent raid. But the victims are not staying silent. Following is a written account of the raid by those who witnessed and suffered from it. (See the end of this press release for previous ChinaAid reports on the raid.)
We are a group of kind-hearted Christians from Yangdang Town (hometown of the aerospace hero Nie Haisheng), Zaoyang City, Hubei Province, and we are legal and law-abiding citizens of the People’s Republic of China. In our ordinary life, we sincerely abide by the laws and regulations of the state. We conduct ourselves with the teachings from the Bible and live by observing the rules. So we did not expect that at about 6 p.m. on February 23, 2011, we would personally see and experience the law enforcement officers of the state — the so-called “people’s police” — arrest, beat and severely punish ordinary people. Even now, fear still lingers in us.
As over 20 of us friends and relatives were studying the relevant laws and rules of the “Regulations on Religions Affairs” promulgated by the State Council, suddenly in burst Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, leading over 100 riot police officers and over 80 plainclothes “hired roughnecks” with towels on their wrists as an identification mark headed by Chai Pujun, director of Zaoyang Municipal Public Security Bureau. They smashed the door open and broke into the house of our brother without presenting any legal documents or going through any legally required procedures. They shot tear gas at our group of 20 — some of us completely unarmed, all law-abiding religious citizens. Wielding their batons, they beat, kicked and prodded the people. Many police officers and plainclothes agents beat two sisters to the floor (one of the sisters is relatively advanced in age). They passed out on the spot with foam coming from their mouths and convulsions in their hands and legs. We demanded that they be sent to the hospital immediately. The officials wouldn’t listen to us and continued to hit the people with their batons.
Everything was turned upside down and it was a scene of chaos! Many items were damaged, destroyed, or smashed, and our camcorders and cell phone were seized by force. The officials handcuffed many people by force, and beat anybody who talked. Right on the spot, they destroyed any evidence of their illegal law enforcement (video and audio recording). Many camcorders, cameras, and cell phones were confiscated by force and destroyed. People at the scene were all shocked and frightened without exception at how viciously these officers enforced the law. Are we supposed to believe that these law enforcement officers of our Party and our state are called people’s police? How can people’s police beat the people like this?
Are the Constitution, criminal law, police law, regulations on police enforcement, law on public servants, law on usage of police equipment and other laws and regulations promulgated by our state merely official papers to cheat and hoodwink the ordinary people? Can the rule of law, law enforcement according to law and civilized law enforcement and the legal provision of freedom of religious belief endowed to the citizens by the Constitution be trampled upon at will in Xiangfan and Zaoyang of Hubei? Can the police of Zaoyang crack down on their people with the power endowed by the people?
Things did not end there. They also threatened the host of the house, saying, “We’ll make it impossible for you to do business!” What is more outrageous is that on the next day after the house was “sealed,” Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, again brought with him over 100 “police officers” and hauled away by force items in the host’s house. We would like to ask them, “Suppose we really had violated the law, does that have anything to do with the tables and chairs in the house? Who is really violating the law? Who is bullying the ordinary people? Who is undermining the hard-won harmony?” (Please see the video of the scene of law enforcement by the Bureau of Religion).
After we were beaten, we were taken by force to the local police station where our personal freedom was restricted for several hours.
Despite all this, we still believe that the state is the state of the people and the government is the government of the people. Those few black sheep who engage in illegal administration, enforce the law at their whims, defy the law and human rights, defy the social stability and harmony advocated by the state leaders, damage the image of the state with the big power in their hands and trample on the law of the state should be severely punished in accordance with the discipline of the Party and the law of the state, so that the injustice committed on us, the ordinary people, can be redressed, and so that we can live in a harmonious environment.
Note: All the records of the brutal law enforcement have been destroyed by the police and we can only describe what happened in words.
Description of the incident:
I. At the time, we were studying the relevant laws and regulations in the “Regulations on Religious Affairs.” The reason for this is that Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, had said that ours was an illegal gathering. At about 5 p.m. on February 21, we submitted an application form for a site for religious activities in accordance with law to Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion. Li Guiming’s answer was, “We will give you an answer in two days.”
II. On the afternoon of February 23, Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion brought with him Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs, and other people and arrived at our place in a vicious manner to “enforce the law.” We again and again demanded that they show their identification papers and relevant legal documents and we again and again declared that we were at a private house and there were only about 20 of us in number and that we had not violated the law. We have some question for them: Can law enforcement officers enforce the law without showing their identification papers? Can they do so without referring to law? (Please see the video of the scene). Are we wrong in demanding that they conduct their administration in accordance with the law? Is this the reason why there was such a violent crackdown operation later?
III. The jurisdiction on religious affairs is supposed to fall on departments in charge of religious affairs. What connections did Fu Dewu and Li Guiming use in mobilizing such a large number of riot police and plain-clothed agents with clear identification to crack down on the people and protect their illegal administration? No wonder the ordinary people say, “The police can arrest whoever they want to arrest.”
IV. They said again and again that we have violated the law, but they couldn’t come up with the relevant provision in the law that applies to our case. Are they the law themselves? They quoted Article 43 of the Regulation on Religious Affairs, which says, “Where a site for religious activities is established without approval, or a site originally for religious activities continues to carry out religious activities after its registration as such has been cancelled … If any act in violation of public security administration is committed, an administrative penalty for public security shall be imposed according to law.” Following is our analysis based on the above:
A. The claim that “a site for religious activities is established without approval” is not a tenable statement in our case. We were at a private residence. Do people have to register at a department in charge of religious affairs when they set up a Buddha statue and incense for their religious life? Is it illegal just because they do so without the approval of the authorities?
Article 36 of the Constitution stipulates: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the freedom of religious belief. No state organs, social organizations or individuals may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.”
B. As for the claim “a site originally for religious activities continues to carry out religious activities after its registration as such has been cancelled,” this all the more fails to apply to our case. We have never been qualified to register and we have not registered, so the claim “continues to carry out religious activities after its registration as such has been cancelled” does not apply to our case.
In the “Regulation on Registration and Administration of Social Organizations,” there are quite a few pre-conditions and qualifications for the establishment of a social organization. We don’t possess these qualifications for a social organization, let alone a site for activities. We were at a private residence.
C. They said: “Without an approval, you must not have a gathering.” This is a law enforcement that has no legal basis and is against the common sense of human beings. As long as there are people, there will be various types of gatherings. There is no such phrase or legal provision on “illegal gathering” in any law. The normal religious activities Christians hold in their private homes, such as reading the Bible, praying and singing hymns that are attended mainly by their friends and relatives are protected by the law. Leaders of the central government have also said such a gathering “does not need registration.”
Article 251 of the “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China” states: “Employees of state agencies who illegally deprive citizens’ right of religious beliefs or who violate a minority group’s customs or habits are to be, if the case is serious, sentenced to two years in prison or less or to be placed under criminal detention.” This crackdown is a serious incident in which citizens’ freedom of religious beliefs was deprived.
D. We denounce the religious cadres and police of Xiangyang and Zaoyang for defying the law:
1. Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairss and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, brought with them “police officers” to search the house without a search warrant. This is illegal administration (See the video).
2. Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, brought with them “police officers” to arrest people and to search the house without any legal procedures, which should be regarded as illegal administration.
3. Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, brought with them “police officers” who used police batons and tear gas against ordinary Christians. The officers punched and kicked people with inhuman violence. The police seriously violated the people’s human rights and the law in beating these people. The police identification numbers of the officers are respectively: 068157, 068158, 063299, 068159, and 063364.
4. Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, brought with them “police officers” and forcefully confiscated household property without a legal basis or evidence of crime, which should be regarded as illegal administration.
5. Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, issued a statement of abolishment on the household. We have here a question for them: What do you want to abolish? What have we established? This is a serious interference with and sabotage of our normal life and religious belief.
6. Even if your claims were tenable and that “we have really violated the law,” the religious cadres and the police should still conduct their business in accordance with law. They shouldn’t use police batons or tear gas and shouldn’t punch and kick people in such an inhuman manner. They also shouldn’t destroy the videos of the scene. If your law enforcement were legal, why would you be so afraid of the videos? When you became so violent and wicked, this itself proves your conduct was illegal.
7. The main reason why Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, led the “police” in using violence against us is because they wanted to forcefully take away the videos of the “law enforcement” by Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion. However, they didn’t succeed in that.
8. The video of the illegal administration by Fu Dewu, head of Xiangyang Municipal Bureau for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and Li Guiming, director of Zaoyang Municipal Bureau of Religion, and others should be watched by all the people of China. The incident calls for serious attention from the leaders of the Party and the government in Zaoyang Municipality. It is high time that their law enforcement agents learned some law. Only when one learns the law can he understand the law and therefore enforce the law according to the law. If this does not happen, it will bring loss to the state and disasters to the people.
February 24, 2011
Related ChinaAid Press Releases:
- February 23, 2011 – Authorities in Zaoyang Municipality of Hubei Province Raid Christians’ Legal Study Session
- February 28, 2011 – Government Document Concerning Recent Raid on Christians’ Legal Study Session
- March 3, 2011 – Christians Beaten in Zaoyang Raid, Alimujiang’s 15-Year Sentence Uphel
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