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China Aid March 2014 Newsletter

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In 2013, China Aid documented 143 cases of persecution; 7,424 people were persecuted, representing a 50.9 percent increase since 2012.

These are only part of the records shown in ChinaAid’s recently released annual persecution report regarding Protestant Christians in China in 2013. Of course, we are sure these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg, given the size of China and the constant information censorship.

To some people, these numbers might just be another bunch of data in their file for analysis while to others it may be dismissed as "not-too -much-persecution-because-China-is -so-big" kind of argument. But to those of us serving in China Aid, they are not merely numbers, statistics or projects to work on. They are brother Ren Lacheng and brother Li Wenxi in Shaanxi, who were sentenced to three and five years for managing a Christian bookstore. They are Pastor Zhang Baolin and Pastor Jiang “Mao” He, who are imprisoned and tortured in Shanxi for simply holding church service in their homes. They are Pastor Cao Nan and Pastor Zhang Baosheng from Guangdong and Hebei, who were tortured in a cage with pepper spray and beaten so badly they had to be hospitalized for simply trying to visit the family members of the arrested Pastor Zhang Shaojie in Henan.

There are many people who have to remain anonymous because they are either rights defenders or our coworkers inside China. We are thankful to these invisible heroes through whom we are able to share, walk and partner with the persecuted and suffering saints in China. The nearly 7,500 names and their stories can be listed on and on. We treat each one of them as OUR brother or sister, who belongs to the same body of Christ. We want to rejoice and mourn with them when they rejoice and mourn.

Last month while attending the National Prayer Breakfast in D.C., during one of 12 meetings with members of Congress in a two-day time span, I was privileged to accompany Christian lawyer Xia Jun to a meeting with Congressman Chris Smith at Capitol Hill. After Xia shared his deep concern about the escalated persecution and those cases of persecution that he has been representing in the Chinese courts in 2013, he was asked by Mr. Smith whether he was concerned about his own safety, after his visible fact-sharing trip in the U.S., if he returns to China.

"I don't care!" Xia said emphatically and resolutely with a not-so-standard English accent.

"But we CARE!" Mr. Smith instinctively responded.

Yes, like Congressman Smith, we do care because Christ Jesus cares. And we, at China Aid, trust that you care, too.

Because of your caring support, in 2013 ChinaAid issued 572 pieces of exclusive religious persecution news reports and 614 other reports of human rights violations. We provided financial support for 82 family members of persecuted prisoners and detainees. We took 41 different cases and filed criminal, civil and administrative law suits on behalf of 95 prisoners—95 persecuted faithful.

China Aid participated in, testified at or facilitated eight parliamentary hearings held by the U.S. Congress, the European Union and Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on issues about religious freedom, human rights and prisoners of conscience.

Our support covered 18 provinces in over 90 different cities and towns in China. Over 3,000 leaders were trained in 23 rule of law training sessions inside China. We fully supported five house church training centers on cross-cultural and mission trainings, which graduated about 150 young house church leaders. We also supported the public

ation of the most circulated house church magazine—80,000 copies were distributed to all of our 30 providers in China.

Let's show our CARE more in 2014.

Nanle: Black jail exposed, detainees released

Nanle County Christian Church members and China Aid founder and president Bob Fu reported the existence of a black jail in the county in central Henan province, effectively causing the jail to close on Feb. 16.

The entrance of the black jail in an undated photo.
The black jail, an illegal, extrajudicial detention center, was used for the sole purpose of holding Christians who had been detained during the series of persecution against the church in Nanle County, which began in November 2013. The persecution started with the detention of the church’s pastor on Nov. 16 when he was forcibly taken into custody.

Nanle County Christian Church members took to the Internet on Feb. 15 to express their belief that the detention center was an illegal holding facility after seeing a CCTV report confirming the existence of black jails in Henan. Meanwhile, Fu called the Henan Bureau of Letters and Calls to report the black jail and inquire about the location of the three believers who were held there.

The Christians reported that conditions in the jail, which they entered after officials had left, were squalid with torn clothes and spoiled food left behind.

On Jan. 24, Ms. Zhao Xiping, Ms. Yang Miling and Ms. Sheyin Duanmu were released from prison. Conditions of their release are unknown.

Nine believers remain in custody, six of whom have been placed under criminal detention. Those include Nanle County Christian Church Pastor Zhang Shaojie, Fan Ruiling, who is disabled, and Zhang Cuijuan, who are all being held at the Puyang Municipal Detention Center. The other three under criminal detention are being held at the Nanle County Detention center and include Zhao Junling, Zhao Zhijun and Yan Beibei.

The remaining three Christians are those who were held in the black jail: Li Cairen, Wu Guishan and Zhao Guoli. Since the black jail shut down, the three were moved during the night to an unknown location.

Zhao Guoli’s wife, Li Bianling, had no luck trying to find Zhao at the police station, where she was told to visit yet another government agency and that the case was not a disappearance. Family members of the other detainees as well as lawyers involved in the case have experienced a similar lack of cooperation from the government.

However, some of the lawyers have finally been able to meet with their clients after as long as three months of detention in some cases.

Lawyers Li Jinglin and Liu Weiguo met with Yan Beibei and Zhang Shaojie on Jan. 14 and 15, respectively. The next week, on Jan. 25, Zhao Junling, an associate pastor at the Nanle County Christian Church, was allowed to meet with his lawyer, Zhang Weiyu.

Finally, on Feb. 19, Zhao Guoli, who had been disappeared into police custody since Nov. 15, met with his lawyer for the first time in three months. It is unclear whether he was moved back to a black jail after the meeting.

In other news, Pastor Zhang Shaojie’s trial has been indefinitely postponed.

Lawyer Liu Weiguo told ChinaAid that he received a notice for a pre-trial consultation, to be held on Jan. 23, and a court appearance notice, scheduled for Jan. 28, on Jan. 21. The arrival of the consultation notice violates the required time frame of advance notice for such meetings, which is three days.

On Jan. 26, Liu received another notice, stating that the pastor’s trial date has been changed from Jan. 28 to Feb. 12. According to the court notice, the delay was because Zhang Shaojie decided to hire a new defense lawyer. Weiguo interpreted this change to be caused by Zhang Shaojie’s other attorney, Zhao Yonglin, late submission of credentials.

The trial date was then changed from Feb. 12 to Feb. 25 and then moved up to Feb. 21, all for unknown reasons. Finally, on Feb. 18, Liu received at text message, which said that Zhang Shaojie’s trial had been postponed indefinitely. The text gave no reason for the delay.

Nanle County Christian Church members told China Aid that they believe the delay in their pastor’s trial may have something to do with National Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress, which began March 3. Believers suggested that authorities don’t want the case to shift citizens’ attention away from the conferences.

Zhang Shaojie faces charges of “gathering a mob to disrupt public order” and “fraud.” The fraud charge against Zhang Shaojie was said to have been brought to authorities’ attention by church member Li Cairen. However, when Li’s son was killed in a work-related accident three years ago, she asked Zhang Shaojie for help. In response, Zhang Shaojie negotiated a settlement package between Li Cairen and her’s son’s employer.

Zhang Shaojie’s indictment paper claims that Li Cairen was misled by Zhang and was required to pay the pastor a portion of the compensation package his help.

More than a dozen Beijing believers detained

Of 16 Beijing believers detained on or around Jan. 24, three remain in custody and are charged with “holding an illegal assembly.”

Members of Holy Love Fellowship, a Beijing-based Christian church, arrived at the home of church member Zhang Wenhe on Jan. 24 to attend a Bible study and to bring the man medicine for heart trouble he was experiencing. Within 20 minutes of the group’s arrival, police arrived and took 15 individuals into custody.

At the detention center, police denied the believers food until very late in the evening, when they finally gave into the detainees’ protests. The Christians were given two steamed rolls each.

Sometime within the next 24 hours, another church member, Kang Suping visited Beijing’s Tongzhou District Police Station, where the believers were held, to gather more information about the situation. At that time, Kang was taken into custody as well.

Of the 16 detainees, Wang Biao and his son, visiting Beijing from the nearby Tianjin Municipality, were sent home within days of their detention.

On Feb. 11, a lawyer was able meet with one detainee, in what was the first outside contact with the believers after 2-1/2 weeks of detention. The meeting took place at the Beijing No. 1 Municipal Detention Center, where the believers were transferred to at some point.

Liang Xiaojun met with Xu Yonghai, a church elder who had led the group to the Bible study, and reported that Xu had been praying and fasting since he was detained. Liang said Xu remained in good spirits and that he denied the charges against him.

Lawyers meet with detained Shaanxi believers

Lawyers representing three detained Christians in inland Shaanxi are demanding that the men be released after learning more details during meetings with their clients on Jan. 8 and 16.

Zhang Baolin
Lawyers Lin Qilei, Xia Jun and Liang Jiangzhou, representing Feng Tiandong, Zhang Baolin and Jiang “Mao” He, respectively, were able to get the full details of the case when they met in January.

It all began on Dec. 24, 2011, when Feng and his wife Xue Yuxia were holding a Christmas service in their home. During the service, more than 20 police officers forced their way into Feng’s home where they confiscated Feng’s property and took 16 people into custody.

Of those in custody, 14 were placed under administrative detention, and Xue and another believer were sentenced to 1-1/2 years in a re-education through labor camp for being members of a “cult.”

Feng fled to another province, where he hid for almost two years to avoid being detained. It was after his return that a group of believers from Zhenzizhou Church, including Feng, a pastor at the church, Jiang and Zhang, visited the Zizhou County Public Security Bureau on Nov. 15, 2013, to retrieve the property that had been seized and to determine the Public Security Bureau’s reasoning for wanting to arrest Feng at the time of the raid.

When the group arrived at the Public Security Bureau, the director tried to escape by climbing a wall. Group members caught the director and forced him back to the building. “The Public Security Bureau said that was assaulting a state employee, so they placed the three of them on criminal detention,” Xia said. So far, no assault charges have been filed; however, the men were charged with “organizing and using an evil cult to obstruct the law.”The believers, along with an elderly church member, were taken into custody in early December.

Little is known about the elderly man, including whether or not he remains in police custody and, if he has been released, the circumstances surrounding his release. The only information known about the fourth man is that he is 70 years old and has very few, if any, relatives in the area.

When Feng was taken into custody, police officers intentionally used excessive force when handcuffing his wrists, his lawyer said. This incident left Feng with five scars.

Also, throughout that night, Feng was tortured and made to sit on a tiger bench, a chair designed to maximize pain, from which he still bears marks.

ChinaAid also learned that the Zizhou County Party Committee appropriated funds specifically for this case and founded the “1115 Special Team,” in reference to Nov. 15, for the purpose of detaining individuals suspected of organizing and using an evil cult organization to obstruct the law.

However, lawyers believe there is no basis for this special team to be in place as charges against all three Christians changed from “organizing and using an evil cult organization to obstruct the law” to “gathering a crowd to assault a state official,” according to arrest notices issued on Jan. 3.

“[Jiang’s] family’s opinion is that if they release the people now, they will no longer pursue the case,” Xia said. He said that he and the other lawyers feel the same. All three lawyers have proposed posting bail pending trial, at the very least.

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

"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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