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Henan Mengzhou House Church Raided, Files Suit Against Public Security Bureau

Thursday, February 28, 2013

China Aid Association
(Mengzhou city, Henan -- February 28, 2013) On December 31, 2013, approximately a dozen Christians met to pray in Zhang Keding’s rented home in Mengzhou City, Henan Province. About four o’clock in the afternoon, the house was raided by police and officials from the local public security bureau, religious department, and other government agencies. The officials questioned the Christians for more than an hour, although they did not write down or record the answers to their questions. The officials then took Zhang and two others to the local police station for further questioning and warned the rest not to meet again.

The next day, January 1, 2013, the officials returned to Zhang’s home. Using several migrant workers and ten vehicles, they hauled away an electronic organ, accordion, printer, TV, audio equipment, cell phones, beds and bedding, passports and other legal papers, clothing, etc. The officials recorded only a few of the items they seized, and refused to give Zhang a list of the seized items; they also failed to show a search warrant or inform Zhang why they were seizing these items. Instead of providing a legal rationale for their seizure of the Zhang’s property, the official simply informed the believers that their meeting was illegal.

A week later, on January 8, Zhang’s property still had not been returned. Zhang and other members of the church therefore initiated legal proceedings against the local public security forces, accusing them of robbery because they had taken his property by force in violation of the Chinese Constitution and applicable laws. Citing the Chinese Constitution and laws, and quoting Chinese leader Xi Jinping himself, Zhang and the other church members asked that all of the property taken in the raid be returned and the public security bureau forced to pay all the costs of their lawsuit.

As of the date of this writing, Zhang’s lawsuit remains pending. China Aid will update this story when a decision is reached in the case.





A letter of accusation---against Yan Guanghua, director of Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Accusers:

Zhang Keding.  ID No.: 410825195304032555.  Current residential address:  Xinanma Village, Pantian Town, Wen County, Henan Province.
Qin Fangli.  ID No.: 41082696712185022.  Current address: 1, Yijing Village, Xiguo Town, Mengzhou City, Henan Province.
Zhang Sanzhong. ID No.: 410825194906232517.  Current residential address: Row 4, Xiliushi Village, Pantian Town, Wen County, Henan Province.
Zhang Tongshe ID No.: 410826195410101012.  Current address: Gaozhuang Village, Huagong Town, Mengzhou City, Henan Province.
Dai Yuangui.  ID No.: 410825195509222520.  Current address: Row 3, Xinanma Village, Pantian Town, Wen County, Henan Province.
The accused (criminal suspect):
Yan Guanghua.  Director of Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, Henan Province.

Police officers who participated in the illegal robbery at one of the accusers’ home on January 1, 2013.

Requests in the accusation:  Investigate the criminal liability of the accused in abusing his power.

Facts in the case:
On January 1, 2013, police officers from Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, along with 10 vehicles and over 10 other people, came to the home of the accuser and without telling them the facts, reasons and legal basis, directly hauled away through force from the home of the accuser an electronic organ, accordion, printer, TV set, audio equipment, cell phones, beds, comforters, passport, Hong Kong and Macau pass, clothing, etc.  Basically, the home of the accuser was robbed of everything.  The police didn’t give the plaintiff a list of seized items.  As of today, the accused has neither issued any decision statement of penalty or returned any items to the accuser.  Yan Guanghua, the director of Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, is the person responsible for this.

The conduct of the accused violates the Constitution, Administrative Coercion Law, the Criminal Law, the Police Law, the Law on Public Servants and other Chinese laws.  It also acts against the policies of the Party Central Committee.

1: Violation of the Constitution
It is stipulated in Article 13 of China’s Constitution: “The legal private property of citizens is inviolable.”  It is stipulated in Article 39: “The home of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable.”

2: Violation of the Administrative Coercion Law.
It is stipulated in Article 18 of the Administrative Coercion Law of the People’s Republic of China that when an administrative organ carries out an administrative coercion measure, it should inform on the spot the party concerned the reasons, basis for taking such an administrative measure and the rights and remedies the party concerned enjoy under the law.

3: Violation of the Law on Administrative Penalty.
It is stipulated in Article 30 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Administrative Penalty: “Where citizens, legal persons or other organizations violate administration order and should be given administrative penalty according to law, administrative organs must ascertain facts; if the facts about the violations are not clear, no administrative penalty shall be imposed.”  Article 31 of the law stipulates: “Before deciding to impose administrative penalties, administrative organs shall notify the parties of the facts, grounds and basis according to which the administrative penalties are to be decided on and shall notify the parties of the rights that they enjoy in accordance with law.”

4.  Violation of the Law on Police and the Law on Public Servants.
Article 4 of the Law on Police states: “People’s policemen must take the Constitution and laws as the guiding principles for their activities, be devoted to their duties, be honest and upright and highly disciplined, obey orders, and enforce laws strictly.”  Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau hauled away one of the accusers’ property at home without issuing any decision statement of penalty.  This is a serious violation of the law.  In the meantime, it also violates the stipulations in the Law on Police.  The accused may argue for himself: “I was only taking an order from my superior and I was doing things according to instructions.  I had no other alternatives and you can’t investigate my liabilities.”  However, there is a special stipulation in Article 54 of China’s Law on Public Servants: “When a public servant carries out a decision or execute an order that obviously violates the law, the public servant shall be held responsible for his or her actions accordingly.”

5: Violation of the Criminal Law
Article 397 of the Criminal Law states: “State personnel who abuse their power or neglect their duties, causing great losses to public property and the state's and people's interests, shall be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention; and when the circumstances are exceptionally serious, not less than three years and not more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment. Where there are separate stipulations under this law, these stipulations shall be followed.”  The barbarian conduct of Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau is obviously an abuse of power and violates the people’s interests.  Therefore, we should investigate the criminal liabilities of the bureau.

General Secretary Xi pointed out on December 24: “Some public servants abuse their power, neglect their duties, fail to do their duties, violate the law while they are supposed to enforce it.  They even break the law to seek favoritism which seriously harms the authority of the state’s legal system.  The awareness of the Constitution among the citizens, including some leading cadres, is to be raised.  We must pay great attention to these problems and solve them in the real sense of the word.”  I hereby request that this court implement its duties in accordance with law and keep in step with the Central Party Committee and thoroughly investigate any acts that go against the Central Party Committee.  I hope you can seriously carry out the implementation of the Constitution and the laws.

Pursuant to Article 41 that states: “Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints and charges against, or exposures of, violation of the law or dereliction of duty by any state organ or functionary,” I hereby submit my letter of accusation. 

To:
Mengzhou Municipal Procuratorate 

Accuser:
Date:
cc:
--------------------------------------
Administrative Indictment
Plaintiffs:
Zhang Keding.  ID No.: 410825195304032555.  Current address: Xinanma Village, Pantian Town, Wen County, Henan Province.
Qin Fangli.  ID No.: 410826196712185022.  Current address: Yijing Village, Xiguo Town, Mengzhou City, Henan Province.
Zhangsanzhuang Village
Dai Yuangui.  ID No.: 410825195509222520.  Current address: Row 3, Xinanma Village, Pantian Town, Wen County, Henan Province.
Defendant: Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau of Henan Province.
Legal representative:  Yan Guanghua.  Occupation: Director
Address: 299, W. Heyang Boulevard, Mengzhou City, Jiaozuo City, Henan Province.  Zip: 454750

Requests in the lawsuit:
1.  Request to confirm according to law the following acts of the defendant are a violation of the law:
1)Failure to notify the plaintiff at the time of penalty the facts, reasons, basis and remedies for the administrative penalty.
2)Failure to show during the law enforcement any procedures or legal documents.  After the incident, they have also failed to deliver any documents of handling this case.
3)Hauling away by force from the home of the plaintiff books, piano, accordion, TV set, computer, audio equipment, printer, beds, comforters, pots, bowls, passport, Hong Kong and Macau pass and other items.  They have failed to give a list of seized items.
2.  Return all the items they hauled away from the home of the plaintiff and compensate for all the losses resulting from this.
3.  The defendant shall pay for all the expenses of this lawsuit.

Facts and reasons:
On December 31, 2012, people from Mengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, County Police Station, Bureau of Religion, United Front Work Department and other departments suddenly entered the home of the plaintiff.  They interrogated the plaintiff and others for over an hour, but they didn’t make a written record.  On January 1, 2013, ten vehicles and over 10 people arrived at the same scene.  They directly hauled away from the home of the plaintiff an electronic organ, accordion, printer, TV set, audio equipment, cell phones, beds, comforters, passport, Hong Kong and Macau pass, clothing and other items.  At the time, the defendant only recorded two or three items and didn’t give the plaintiff a list of seized items.  They didn’t show a search warrant or tell the plaintiff the reasons why they seized the items.

Given the above facts, the plaintiff thinks:
1.  The defendant committed an administrative violation of the law.
Article 84 of the Law on Administrative Penalty of the People’s Republic of China states: “Records from an interrogation should be verified with the person interrogated.  To those who are unable to read, the records should be read to the person interrogated.  Where there are omissions or errors, the person interrogated may add supplements and make corrections.  When the person interrogated confirms that there are no errors in the records, he or she should sign the document or stamp on the document.   The person who does the interrogation (People’s Police) should also sign on the written records.”

Article 24 of the Administrative Coercion Law of the People’s Republic of China states: “When an administrative organ conducts sealing and seizure of items, it should do so according to the procedure set forth in Article 18 of this law.  It should make and deliver on the spot the decision statement for the sealing and seizure of items and a list of items seized.

The defendant entered the home of the believer and conducted an interrogation.  He didn’t make a written record of the interrogation and failed to show a search warrant during the search.  When he seized the TV set and other items, he didn’t deliver a decision statement or give a list of items.  After the defendant made the decision of an administrative penalty, he didn’t issue a penalty decision statement in time and he didn’t tell the plaintiff the facts, reasons, basis or remedy of the administrative penalty.  The act of the defendant violates the stipulations set forth in “Administrative Coercion Law of the People’s Republic of China” and the “Administrative Penalty Law of the People’s Republic of China.”

2.  The defendant violates the freedom of religious belief of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff is a Christian with a pure and orthodox faith and he conducted his religious activities according to the customs of Christian house churches.  This is an act clearly protected by the Constitution and the law and no state organ may interfere in it at will.  The employees of the defendant broke into the home of a citizen without the approval of the owner of the house and interfere in an otherwise normal gathering of the believers.  They illegally seized and hauled away all the property from the home of a citizen and interfere in the normal religious activities of the believers and violated the right to religious freedom of the plaintiff. 

Article 12 of the “Regulation on Religious Affairs” has the relevant stipulations on the site of religious activities: “Collective religious activities of religious citizens shall, in general, be held at registered sites for religious activities (i.e., Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples, mosques, churches and other fixed premises for religious activities), organized by the sites for religious activities or religious bodies, and presided over by religious personnel or other persons who are qualified under the prescriptions of the religion concerned, and the process of such activities shall be in compliance with religious doctrines and canons.”  This stipulation emphasizes that the state’s requirement that collective religious activities shall be held in registered religious sites is not compulsory.  Instead, it delivers a guiding and constructive opinion.  That’s why it is said to be “in general” instead of “all.”  However, many administrative organs always ignore the word “in general” when they interpret this stipulation.  That’s why they arbitrarily regard the otherwise normal religious activities held in a non-registered site for religious activities as “illegal.”

Besides, as for the legitimacy of household gathering, the laws and policies both in China and in the international arena all have a definition thereon:

International covenants
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Article 29 (2): In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
Article 18 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

1.  Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2.  No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
3.  Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

Legal stipulations in China.
(1)Article 2 of “Explanations from the State Administration on Religious Affairs of the State Council on Several Clauses in the Regulations on Sites for Religious Activities:” For religious life conducted at one’s own home according to traditional Christian customs and attended mainly by family members and occasionally by a few relatives and neighbors and whose activity and form are relatively simple and in general people only read scriptures and pray during such activities, such traditional household gatherings do not belong to the “other fixed sites” referred to in the “Regulations on Religious Affairs.”

(2)Zhong Fa (82) Document No. 19 “On the Basic Points of View and Basic Policy on Religious Problems During the Socialist Period in China.”   It is stated in Chapter 6 of the document: All the normal religious activities conducted within sites for religious activities and in the believers’ own homes according to religious customs such as Buddha worshipping, scripture reading, incense burning, praying, scripture study, sermon, Mass, baptism, monkhood ordination, fasting, celebrating religious holidays, unction, memorial service, etc. shall be handled by the religious organization and religious believers themselves and shall be protected by the law.  No one may interfere in these activities.  As for holding religious activities at home by Christians, they are not allowed to do so in principle, but we must not stop them by brute force.   Instead, we should let patriotic religious personnel to talk with them and convince the believers so that some other arrangements can be made for them.

(3)“Reading Book on Religious Regulations and Policies of China” enhances according to law Chapter 10 of administration on religious affairs (on the question whether sites for Christian gatherings and house church gatherings should be registered): The Christian household meetings in the traditional sense of the word refers mainly to the religious life lived at the believers’ own homes, which are mainly attended by family members and sometimes attended by a few relatives and neighbors.  The gatherings are mainly for Bible study and prayers.  Such a gathering is not presided over by clergymen and there are no religious rituals such as baptism.  A house accommodating such a gathering is not a site for religious activities and cannot be included in the category where it is required to register.  However, when believers hold household meetings, they should also abide by the law and regulations and they must not affect or disrupt the otherwise normal production, life, work or study of their neighbors.

(4)Article 3 (Judicial and administrative protection and supervision of freedom of religious belief) of the White Paper of "Status of Freedom of Religious Belief in China" promulgated on October 16, 1997 by Information Office of the State Council of China stipulates that: "All the normal religious activities held by believers in their own private homes according to religious customs, such as, prayers, Bible lectures, etc. (habitually referred to by Christians in China as ‘house meetings,’) are not required to register.”

(5)Question 51 of Reading Book of the General Law in Religious Work (What sites for religious activities are required to register?) When believers live their religious life in their private homes according to Christian traditions and customs and the activity is mainly attended by one’s own family members and occasionally by a few relatives and neighbors and when the content and form are relatively simple and usually people only read the Bible and pray.  Such residences of believers are not required to register.

Policy perspective
(1)In February 1996, Ye Xiaowen, director of State Administration for Religious Affairs, accepted the interview from Ms. Andrea Coppel, a chief correspondent at CNN’s Beijing Bureau.

Coppel:  China claims it has freedom of religion.  Why are there reports that some people are arrested for holding religious rituals at their own homes?
Ye: In China, no one can be arrested for holding religious rituals at home.  If there are religious believers in China’s prisons, I can tell you in all sense of responsibility that it is because he or she has violated the law and absolutely not because he believes in a religion.

(2)On August 25, 1998, the State Administration for Religious Affairs invited Pat Robertson, chairman of Christian Broadcasting Network.
Robertson:  Once a site for religious activities is registered, can people there freely pray, read the Bible and deliver sermons?
Ye: Whether it is registered or not, they can pray and read the Bible.  Currently in China, there are over 110,000 sites for religious activities.  Among these, 80,000 are registered and over 30,000 are not.  As for these sites for religious activities that are not yet registered, we will try to convince them through education to register at the government agencies.  This does not affect their religious activities held within the confines of the law.
Robertson:  If a religious site is not registered at the government, will the person in charge of the site for religious activities be imprisoned?
Ye:  In China, there is absolute no such a case where a believer in imprisoned for not registering at the government or for engaging in normal religious activities.

(3)On February 6, 1998, director Ye Xiaowen, Han Wenzao, director of China Christian Council, Deng Fucun, deputy director and general secretary of China Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, jointly held a press conference in Washington and they answered the questions of the reporters on religious issues.  The reporters came from Washington Post, Voice of America, Agence France Presse, Xinhua News Agency, China News Service, People’s Daily and many other media outlets.

Reporter:  Director Ye Xiaowen:  Just now, you mentioned the part on religion in China from the Human Rights Report by the US State Department.  Could you give us your point of view on it?

Ye:  The criticism on the status of religion in China in the Human Rights Report by the US State Department is wrong.  Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religion and it is clearly stipulated in China’s Constitution that Chinese citizens enjoy this basic right.  The Constitution and the law give real protection to the citizens in this respect.  In fact, since China adopted reform and opening-up in 1978, China has been committed to building a democratic country under the rule of law while developing social productivity and improving and promoting on a continuous basis the people’s right of life and right of growth.  Various rights of the Chinese citizens are developing and being protected on a continuous basis.  Same thing is true of the citizens’ freedom and right of religion.
Given this, I hereby request that the People’s Court investigate and bring out into the open the facts and support the requests in the lawsuit of the plaintiff.

To: People’s Court
Plaintiff:
January 8, 2013




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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