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Sichuan Langzhong Church leader persecuted; files administrative lawsuit

Monday, August 13, 2012

China Aid Association

Image(Langzhong city, Sichuan — August 13, 2012) A house church in Zhanggonggiao Village, Qili-Banshichu, Langzhong City, Sichuan Province, was raided in May 2012, and “outlawed.” Church property was confiscated, and sister Xie Deyue, a church leader, was subjected to persecution. In June believers of the church hired a rights defense lawyer according to law to file an administrative review and administrative lawsuit. 

(Click on small pictures to see enlarged versions: Notice on the acceptance of administrative review)

Sister Xie Deyue, who is 43 years of age became a Christian in 2000. During September, 2011, she and local pastor Li Ming each personally spent 2,000 yuan to purchase 50 chairs and a pair of second-hand speakers for holding church services; since then they have held worship gatherings at their homes, which were mainly attended by family members and friends.

On May 29, 2012, at approximately 9:00am, three policemen, who did not identify themselves, broke into Xie Deyue’s home. Without showing any identification demonstrating they were law enforcement agents, they began taking photos and making audio recordings. Without producing any legal papers the agents took Xie to the Qili Town police station where she was interrogated for three hours. The police demanded that Xie remove the stools and chairs from her home within three days and never hold house meetings again. They threatened to arrest her if she disobeyed their orders. At approximately 3:00pm the same day, five policemen, with village official Ma Xinglin showing them the way, appeared at Xie’s house and, without identifying themselves, required her husband Chen Dawei to permit them to enter and inspect the premises. They then demanded Chen remove the seating from his home within three days. At 9:00am, on May 30, about 20 people who claimed to be agents of the Domestic Security Protection Department of Lanzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau and Qili Town police station showed up with police vehicles, minivans, and rented tricycles. Without showing any identification papers, nor a search warrant, they forced their way into Xie’s home and took everything; they even ripped the Spring Festival scrolls and cross-stitch embroidery from the walls. They then took seven-month pregnant Xie to the police station. At her insistent request, the police reluctantly produced a list of confiscated items.

Infuriated by the unlawful actions of the local police, which violently interfered with citizens’ freedom of religious belief and practice, believers of the church decided to hire rights defense lawyers to protect their rights and interests through legal proceedings.

On June 14, rights defense lawyer arrived at Langzhong and drafted an “application for administrative review” and an “administrative indictment” on behalf of Xie Deyue. On June 18, the “application for administrative review” was delivered to Langzhong Municipal People’s Government. The government agent provided a receipt and said that they would determine if the application would be accepted in five days. On June 21, the Legal System Office of Langzhong Municipal People’s Government decided to accept the case and issued a notice of acceptance of the case.

On June 28, the Langzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau issued an “administrative punishment decision”(2012), No. 00270, giving Xie Deyue the administrative punishment of a 200-yuan fine and the confiscation of books and chairs. Since the administrative review about administrative enforcement had not been delivered, filing another administrative review on the administrative punishment would likely cause the government to cancel the previous review. Therefore, Xie Deyue and other church staff decided to directly sue the Public Security Bureau instead of filing an administrative review. Rights defense lawyer immediately drafted a new “administrative indictment,” with Xie Deyue as the plaintiff and administrative punishment as the reason for an administrative lawsuit, and filed an administrative lawsuit to Langzhong Municipal People’s Court on July 19, due to disagreement with the “administrative punishment decision.” Liu Caiyin, a judge of the case-filing court of Langzhong Municipal People’s Court received the case-filing material, saying that the administrative court would discuss the case and make a decision. He asked the lawyer to go back home to await a reply. On August 1, the Chief of the administrative court responded in person that his boss decided that the case would not be accepted. When asked which boss he referred to, he would not state clearly. He first made mention of the Bureau of Politics and Law, and later said it was the official of the court.

Below is the full text of the Administrative Indictment. 

                                                    Administrative Indictment

Plaintiff: Xie Deyue, female, 42 years of age, Han ethnicity, farmer, elementary school education.
ID number:  512930196909200909
Home address: No. 22, Team 2, Zhanggongqiao Village, Qili-banshichu, Langzhong City, Sichuan Province
Phone: 15182934707

Defendant: Sichuan Langzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau
Legal representatives: Tong Wenxing
Title: Director
Address: No. 9, Hebijing Alley, langzhong City, Sichuan Province
Zip code: 637400

Requests:

1. rule according to law that the Administrative Punishment Decision” (2012), No. 00270 made by the defendant on June 28, 2012 is illegal;
2. revoke according to law the administrative penalty decision made by the defendant on June 28, 2012 and request the defendant to return illegally confiscated items;
3. request the defendant to cover the lawsuit expenses  

Facts and reasons:

On May 29, 2012, at about 9 A.M., three policemen who did not identify themselves broke into the plaintiff’s home. Without showing any information to identify themselves as law enforcement agents, they started taking pictures and audio recordings of the plaintiff’s home, and without producing any legal papers on summoning, they took the plaintiff to the Qili Town police station for interrogation which lasted three hours. The police demanded that the plaintiff remove the stools and chairs from her home within three days and never hold house meetings again mainly attended by family and friends, and threatened arrest if she disobeys. At about 3 P.M. that day, another five policemen asked the plaintiff’s husband Chen Dawei to open their home door for inspection without identifying themselves first and demanded Chen to remove the furniture from his home within three days. At 9 A.M., May 30, about 20 people who claimed to be agents of the Domestic Security Protection Department of Langzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau and Qili Town police station showed up with police vehicles, minivans and rented tricycles. Without showing any identification papers and search warrant, they broke into the plaintiff’s home and took everything; they even ripped off the Spring Festival scrolls and cross-stitch embroidery from walls. The also took the 7-month pregnant plaintiff to the police station. At her strong request, the police reluctantly produced a list of confiscate items. On June 28, the defendant gave the plaintiff the administrative punishment of a 200-yuan fine and the confiscation of books and chairs.

The plaintiff contends that the defendant’s administrative punishment decision has violated both legal procedures and corresponding substantive laws and ought to be revoked. Reasons are listed as follows:

I.   The defendant violated legal procedures.  

1. The defendant’s law enforcement agents did not show their identification papers according to law. Article 37 of the Law on Administrative Penalty says, “When administrative organs conduct investigations or inspections, there shall be not less than two law-enforcing officers, who shall show their identification papers to the party or other persons concerned.” But on May 29 and 30 of 2012, the defendant’s law-enforcing officers confiscated and took the plaintiff’s furniture by force and took the 7-month pregnant plaintiff to the police station by force without showing their identification papers and summon warrant.  

2. The defendant did not fulfill the duty of informing before giving the punishment. Article 94 of Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments says, “The public security organ shall, before making a public security punishment decision, inform the violator of public security administration of the facts, reasons, and grounds, and shall inform him of the rights that he may enjoy according to law.” But the defendant did not fulfill the duty of informing at all before making the punishment decision.

3. The defendant’s law-enforcing agents did not listen to the plaintiff’s statements and defense. Clause 2 of Article 94 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments says, “The violator of public security administration shall have the right to make statements and defend himself. The public security organ shall fully listen to the thoughts of the violator of public security administration, and shall check the facts, reasons and evidences as presented by the violator; where any of the facts, reasons and evidences as presented by the violator is found to hold water, it shall be accepted by the public security organ.” But the defendant did not listen to the plaintiff’s statements and defense when giving the punishment.  

4.  Article 24 of the Law on Administrative Compulsory Enforcement says, “The administrative organs shall follow the procedures prescribed in Article 18 of this law when implementing close-down and confiscation, and make and deliver on the spot the Close-down/Confiscation Decision and the list of confiscated items.” But the defendant by far still has not made and delivered the Confiscation Decision to the plaintiff.

The above does not cover all the legal procedure violations committed by the defendant, but the violations listed here are sufficient in constituting as severe violations of law and in rendering the administrative punishment unlawful. Our country is ruled by law. Administration by law is a key component of constructing rule of law in China. Law-violating administration must be severely prohibited.

II. The defendant’s administrative punishment is not grounded in facts. 

The defendant claims in the Administrative Punishment Decision that the punishment is based on Clause 1, Article 11 and clause 1, Article 54 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments. Article 54 says, “Violating the relevant provisions of the state by carrying out activities in the name of an unregistered social organization, and continuing to carry out activities after the social organization is canceled”. The defendant of this case apparently fabricated and distorted facts. The plaintiff is never involved in a social organization, not to mention apply to found an organization. How could she possibly have carried out activities in the name of a social organization? Not a single piece of evidence can be found in the registration files of the Civil Affairs Bureau or the Religious Affairs Bureau to prove that the plaintiff is involved in an existing social organization. How could the defendant fabricate such an accusation? One precondition of this punishment is “continuing to carry out activities after the social organization is canceled”. Nevertheless, the plaintiff has never received a punishment of “being cancelled” in activities, not to mention continue to carry out activities after the social organization is canceled for that matter. The defendant is respectfully requested to show proof of “having cancelled” the activities of the plaintiff because “cancel” is a strict punishment measure implemented by state organs according to legal procedures which demand review for approval and legal papers. If the defendant cannot produce such legal papers, then the punishment imposed on the plaintiff in this case is neither based on facts nor grounded in the law, which obviously makes it a law-breaking administrative behavior.

III. The administrative punishment decision made by the defendant does not have legal grounds.

1. The defendant has no right to interfere with the plaintiff’s religious activities and even more so, cannot interfere with the plaintiff’s freedom of religious belief. In our country, different government agencies have different areas of responsibility and take charge of different domains. Religious affairs ought to be managed by the Religious Affairs Bureau. Article 5 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs says, “The religious affairs agency of the People’s Government above the county level conducts administrative management according to law on religious affairs that involve national and social public interests.” If the Public Security Bureau manages everything and takes over affairs other agencies ought to be in charge of, what is the use of Religious Affairs Bureau? The Public Security Bureau has no right to handle religious affairs. Therefore, the plaintiff’s affairs regarding religious belief should be handled by the Religious Affairs Bureau and only on issues that concern public security does the Public Security Bureau have right to intervene. Since so far the Religious Affairs Bureau has not produced any written statement of opinions on this case, the Public Security Bureau has no right to interfere with the plaintiff’s religious affairs and even more so, cannot interfere with the plaintiff’s freedom of religious belief. Furthermore, regarding religious freedom, even the Religious Affairs Bureau has no right to interfere with. Article 36 of China’s Constitution says, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual 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.” The freedom of religious belief provided for in the Constitution of China implies that every citizen enjoys the right of freely believing in or not believing in any religion or ghosts and spirits, even including the right to believe in the devil or worship any idols. As longs as citizens’ external behavior does not violate the prohibitive regulations in law, which, of course, have their legality and validity rooted in their congruency with the principle and spirit of relevant Constitutional clauses, (otherwise, they shall be rendered unconstitutional and invalid), law enforcement organs cannot apply any excuse to take actions to restrict or interfere with the religious freedom of the citizens holding religious beliefs mentioned above. Otherwise, the behavior of the law enforcement organs is considered illegal. Even for citizens that have committed law-breaking criminal offenses, the target of legal punishment ought to be their external behavior, not the content of their internal belief.  

2. The plaintiff’s behavior is legal and shall not be interfere with by the Religious Affairs Bureau, not to mention the Public Security Bureau. Article 3 of the White Paper "The Status of Freedom of Religious Belief in China" (issued by the Information Office of the State Council on October 16, 1997) says, “all the normal religious activities conducted at the homes of religious believers according to religious customs, such as Sunday worshiping, praying, explaining the scriptures, preaching the Gospel, Mass, baptism… shall be administered by religious organizations and believers themselves and be protected by law without interference from anybody else… Religious activities conducted by Christians according to customs of Christianity at their homes such as Bible reading and praying attended primarily by family members and friends (customarily referred to by Chinese Christianity as "house gatherings") are not required to register.” Therefore, the plaintiff has the right to hold house gatherings at home attended primarily by family members and friends and is not required to register. Any interference from any government agency is against the law. 

3. This case does not fall into the category of public security cases and the defendant has no right to handle it. Article 2 of Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments says, “With regard to an act of disrupting public order, jeopardizing public security, encroaching upon the right of the person, the right of property or impairing social administration, if it is of social harmfulness and constitutes any crime as provided for in the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, it shall be subject to criminal liabilities. If it is not serious enough to be subject to a criminal punishment, it shall, in accordance with this law, be subject to public security punishment by the public security organ.” The house gatherings the plaintiff held at home attended primarily by family and friends according to relevant regulations of the State Council do not have social harmfulness and do not fit with the category of social security cases. The plaintiff did not carry out activities in the name of a social organization and her activities have never been cancelled; therefore, it does not fit with the case of “continuing to carry out activities after being cancelled”. So the plaintiff’s behavior does not fit into the scope of Article 54 of Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments. As a result, the defendant does not have the right to punish the plaintiff according to Law of the People’s Republic of China on Public Security Administration Punishments.

To sum up, the administrative punishment on the plaintiff from the defendant is illegal because it violated the legal procedures provide for in the Law on Public Security Administrative Punishments, the Law on Administrative punishment and the Law on Administrative Compulsory Enforcement, and violated Article 36 of China’s Constitution which has the supreme legal effectiveness. According to the regulations provided for in Article 2, Article 11, Clause 1, and Article 25, Clause 1, of the Administrative Procedure Law of People’s Republic of China, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant according to law, requesting the People’s Court to rule according to law that the administrative punishment decision made by the defendant is illegal, that the plaintiff revoke according to law the administrative punishment decision made on June 28, 2012, and return illegally confiscated items to the plaintiff.

Respectfully,

To Sichuan Langzhong Municipal People’s Court
Plaintiff: Xie Deyue

Date of filing: July 19, 2012

Attached:
1.    A duplicate of this indictment
2.    A copy of the list of confiscated items delivered by the defendant on May 30, 2012
3.    A copy of the list of confiscated items delivered by the defendant on June 28, 2012
4.    A copy of the Administrative Punishment Decision (2012) No. 00270 delivered by the defendant on June 28, 2012
5.    A copy of the plaintiff’s identification card


China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org


"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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