China Aid November 2014 Newsletter

Saturday, November 1, 2014

As we continue to monitor the increase in religious persecution in China over the past few months, we should also be midful of the cost paid by the family members of religious freedom rule of law defenders.

It was expected to be a peaceful night for sister Li Chuntao on June 23rd of this year as she prayed with her 8- and 4-year-old boys before they went to bed and began chatting with her mother, who was staying at her house, then suddenly everything changed. At approximately 9:20 p.m., a group of men started violently knocking on her front door shouting that they needed to conduct a “water leaking inspection.” Needless to say, Li was alarmed and refused to open the door as she questioned the validity of their claim. Still frightened, Li sent a message to a few Christian friends via social media detailing the disturbance at her home. Unfortunately, this was not the end of her ordeal. A few minutes later, she heard a loud “bang” as she witnessed a group of angry men rushing into her apartment after forcefully breaking her metal lock and door. They immediately pushed Li to the ground and handcuffed her, claiming they were security agents, but never producing any ID or an arrest or detention warrant. Li was dragged away in front of her scared, screaming young sons and her crying mother.

Approximately 60 hours later, Li’s husband, Jiawen, discovered that the public security agents had taken his wife to a prison in Liuzhou, Guangxi province, located more than 1,000 miles from their home. As of today, Li has been formally charged and indicted for conducting an “illegal business operation.” The business in question is a kindergarten run by members of her house church, of which she is a non-paid volunteer.

Li Chuntao is pictured in
handcuffs, meeting with her
lawyer Sui Muqing in her
prison in Liuzhou, Guangxi.
The following month, on July 30th, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Yufeng District, Liuzhou, where the Christian kindergarten is located, issued an official notice accusing the kindergarten of “engaging in illegal religious activities by utilizing illegal Christian materials for its textbooks.” Thus, it appears Li’s arrest and the subsequent charges made against the kindergarten are clear violations of religious freedom under the pretext of an “illegal business operation.”

However, Li was not the only church member arrested; the director of the kindergarten, Mrs. Cheng Jie, has also been arrested, leaving Cheng’s husband, Pastor Du Hongbo, to take care of their 3- and 1-year-old children.

In Henan, the persecution continues as the Chinese government threatens to auction the home of detained Pastor Zhang Shaojie, leaving his family homeless.

After Pastor Zhang Shaojie, of Nanle County, was sentenced for the crimes of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” and fraud, he was ordered to pay a fine of 700,000 yuan (U.S. $114,000) in addition to serving 12 years in prison. On the night of October 24th, the Nanle County government issued a public notice stating that, as a result of Pastor Zhang’s failure to pay the fine, his home would immediately be confiscated and sold at auction.

Zhang’s family, including his 80-year-old father, Zhang Wenqiang, 78-year-old mother, disabled wife, youngest daughter, and son-in-law, was not informed of their impending homelessness until the next morning when they left their home to attend a worship service. On their way to worship, they noticed eviction notices plastered on buildings throughout their village, which stated that the Zhang family must move out of their house within two days.

The unfortunate reality is that a majority of the China18 have family members who have also been persecuted. In most cases, the children of the China 18 find it very difficult to find employers who will hire them, and they certainly will never be allowed to join the Chinese military or apply for civil servant positions.

Despite the high cost, China Aid continues to not only support the China 18, all of who remain in prison, but also their  family members. In addition to the support we offer by raising awareness through advocacy campaigns and providing legal aid, we stand in solidarity with those family members such as Li, Cheng Jie and Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s family members.

As China Aid continues its work, we know that we can count on your support, and as a result of that support, Pastor Zhang’s eldest daughter and her family are now safe in the U.S., and numerous Christian human rights lawyers have come to Li’s legal defense.

China 18 member Alimujiang Yimiti denied access to lawyer since 2012, visited by family

Alimujiang Yimiti
After a mid-August visit with her husband, jailed Uyghur house church leader Alimujiang Yimiti, Gulinuer reported to China Aid that Alimujiang, who is serving a 15-year sentence, is still being kept from meeting with his lawyers after more than two years.

From the time he was criminally detained in January 2008, authorities hampered Alimujiang’s access to a lawyer. The first time he was allowed to meet with a lawyer after his detention was on April 28, 2008, more than three months after the initial 48 hours of confinement during which authorities are required to allow access to legal counsel.

Gulinuer told China Aid that the last time her husband Alimujiang was allowed to see his lawyer was in 2012. In addition, Gulinuer’s visits to her husband in prison were cutback to once every three months at the beginning of 2013. This policy is a direct violation of Chinese law, which mandates that families are allowed to visit incarcerated individuals once a month. Gulinuer said that while Alimujiang appeared to be in good health, she is still concerned for his overall wellbeing.

When she spoke to her husband about the support they have received worldwide, he asked her to share his thanks and gratitude with all those who have expressed concern for their family. The couple’s sons and Alimujiang’s mother accompanied Gulinuer on her August visit and plan to do so again for the next planned visit in November.

Alimujiang’s experiences maneuvering through the legal system have been an arduous journey. His initial detention and formal arrest in early 2008 were based on accusations of “engaging in illegal religious infiltration activities in Kashgar, spreading Christianity among the Uyghurs, and distributing religious propaganda materials to increase the number of Christians” by the Kashgar Municipal Commission of Ethics and Religious Affairs in late 2007.

Alimujiang was secretly tried in court in May 2008, and Gulinuer, the couple’s two sons and Alimujiang’s lawyer were barred from attending the proceedings. After the first trial, the case was turned back over to the Kashgar police due to insufficient evidence.

His second secret trial on July 28, 2009, was prompted by the renewal of the charge of “unlawfully providing state secrets to overseas organizations” on July 11, 2009. Alimujiang was finally sentenced on Aug. 6, 2009; however, his family and lawyer did not learn of the trial until October 2009 and then only learned of the sentence that December.

China 18 member Zhu Yufu’s son visits US

China Aid founder and President, Bob Fu, accompanied Zhu
Ang, center, during an interview with Radio Free Asia
reporter Ms. Zhang Min.
In late October, China Aid helped Zhu Ang, the son of the imprisoned pro-democracy advocate Zhu Yufu, travel to the United States to attend leadership training and visit family members living in the U.S. Zhu Ang’s father, Zhu Yufu, is a member of the China 18 campaign and is serving a seven-year sentence for writing a poem on democracy.

In October 2013, China Aid helped facilitate Dr. Devra Marcus and Vice President of China Aid Kody Kness’ travel to China in an attempt to visit Zhu Yufu in prison and request that he be able to receive a medical examination as Zhu’s health was deteriorating, including exacerbating heart complications. Unfortunately, Marcus and Kness’ requests to visit Zhu Yufu and arrange for a medical examination were denied.

However, while in China, Marcus and Kness were able to spend time with Zhu Yufu’s family and better understand the difficulties they experience as family members of an imprisoned pro-democracy advocate. It appeared that the family’s ability to find employment or create community were significantly strained due to the stigma of being associated with human rights and democracy advocates, especially those in prison.

Zhu Ang, like most family members of human rights defenders and pro-democracy advocates in China, faces extreme difficulties securing employment and creating a life in China. These family members face persecution from the Chinese government and are often ostracized from society simply because of their family members’ attempts to peacefully advocate for human rights and democracy in China.

Zhu Ang, and China Aid founder and President Bob Fu pose for
a photo together after Zhu’s arrival in the U.S.
Zhu Ang’s sister, facing similar difficulties, has recently secured employment in Japan, where she currently lives with family members. However, Zhu Yufu’s wife remains in China and refuses to leave her husband, though supports her children’s travels to the U.S. and Japan in order to have the opportunities that they could never have in China.

China Aid continues to support the family member’s of those working at their peril to advocate for religious freedom and basic human rights in China, and we invite you to be a part of these stories.

To learn more about the China 18, their stories, and how their work to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China impacts their families, visit

Henan authorities threaten to sell imprisoned pastor’s home, family faces homelessness

When Nanle County Christian Church pastor, Zhang Shaojie, was sentenced for the crimes of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” and fraud, he was ordered to pay a fine of 700,000 Yuan (US $114,000) in addition to serving 12 years in prison. The Nanle County government subsequently issued a public notice stating that, because of Zhang’s failure to pay the fine, his home would be sold at auction by the government, leaving his family effectively homeless.

Zhang Wengiang, Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s father, stands at the
door of the family’s home, to which a public notice is posted.
Zhang’s family, including his 80-year-old father, Zhang Wenqiang, 78-year-old mother, disabled wife, youngest daughter, and son-in-law, was not informed of their impending homelessness until the morning of October 24 when they left their home to attend a worship service. The buildings surrounding their home were plastered with the public notice, which stated that the family must vacate their home by October 26.

Family members have explained to China Aid that Zhang Shaojie has been repeatedly pressured by prison officials to admit his guilt and call off any petitioning his family may engage in on his part. Thus, the family believes that officials may be using the threat of selling the family home to persuade Pastor Zhang to confess his guilt.

As of Oct. 28, the government continues to monitor the family home. Zhang “Shanshan” Linxin, the pastor’s youngest daughter, informed China Aid that two cars from the Nanle County People’s Court showed up in front of their house on Oct. 28, but immediately dispersed. If and when the government adheres to their promise to evacuate the family from their home, they will not be able to afford to secure new living arrangements.

Zhang Wenqiang told China Aid that government officials have been pressuring his family, as well as other local believers, to “give up Jesus” in exchange for physical freedom, presumably the freedom of Zhang Shaojie and other detained Christians, including Pastor Zhang’s sister Zhang Cuijuan. Zhang Weiqiang also said that the government has hired “thugs” to stand on street corners everyday to ensure believers can’t meet in the church.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985