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Believers in Shandong detained, accused of being cult members

Thursday, July 17, 2014

China Aid Association

(Cao County, Shandong—July 16, 2014) “On June 25, 22 people gathered in a factory [belonging to] a church member in Cao County. They sang hymns and learned musical instruments. Then, they were taken away by police…Among them, four were with their children, and there was a pregnant woman,” lawyer Fu Yonggang said.

Fu represents one of the seven Christians who remain under criminal detention after being taken into custody when more than 30 Heze Municipal Police officers entered the factory in the coastal Chinese province of Shandong.

Of the 22 believers, most of whom comprise the house church’s choir, the four Christians with their children and the pregnant woman were immediately released. However, nine were placed under administrative detention and nine were criminally detained. Two of the latter group have since been released. (Editor's note added July 22, 2014: At this time, the numbers are unclear. There are conflicting reports about the number of believers still in detention and the number of believers in the various groups mentioned above.)

“When they took us away, we asked them why there were arresting us. They didn’t say anything,” said Wei Xiangmei, a church member who, along with her husband Su Quangang, was taken into custody. “They issued detention notices. Some [notices] say its feudal superstition while others say it’s a cult. Still others say it’s Falun Gong.” Wei was released to care for the couple’s 1-year-old but was told to be available “whenever she is summoned.” Su is still in jail under criminal detention.

“Yesterday, we met our client at the detention center,” Fu said of himself and Chen Jiangang, who both represent Zhao Weiling. Fu said police also accused the group of being part of the Total Scope Church, better known as the Born Again Movement, which the Chinese government has labeled as a cult.

“None of these people know what the Total Scope Church is,” Chen Jiangang, lawyer for Zhao Weiling, said.

Fu also told China Aid that after police apprehended the group, they didn’t immediately take the believers to the detention center, but instead confined them at a hotel where, according to worshippers, police coerced confessions from them.

“During the interrogation, the police tried to lure him and asked him whether there was crying and shouting while they were praying or singing hymns,” Fu said. “He said there was no crying or shouting and that they were very pious.”

A group of lawyers, including Fu and Chen, formed the “Transmigration after a Hundred Years: Delegation of Lawyers for the Concern of the Concern of the Caozhou Religious Case.” The name is in reference to the Caozhou Religious Case, more commonly known as the Boxer Rebellion, which took place more than 100 years ago and was an anti-Christian movement. Cao County was previously known as Caozhou.

Below is a list of the detainees still under criminal detention and the lawyers representing them.

· Zhao Weiling and his wife, Liu Cuiping, reside in Dongming County, Heze. Zhao is represented by Fu Yonggang and Chen Jiangang.

· Tang Ru and her husband, Zhang Liang, also reside in Dongming County, Heze. The lawyers representing Tang are Liu Shuqing and Li Guisheng.

· Zhang Huiyu is a native of Puyang, Henan. She is represented by Yue Jingu and Zhao Yonglin.

· Yan Ximing and his wife, Pan Xiuqin, live in Dingtao County, Heze. His lawyers are Wang Xueming and Hu Guiyun.

· Su Quangang and his wife, Wei Xiangmei, are residents of Cao County, Heze. He is represented by Liu Jinbin and Liu Lianhe.

· Cheng Hongpeng lives in Dingtao County, Heze and is defended by Xu Guijuan and Wang Chaoyi.

· Li Zhongqi resides in Cao County, Heze and is defended by Zhang Hai and Jing Gaochuan.

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