Christian woman gives details of her 15-day detention for evangelizing in Sichuan; her pastor learns he's been blacklisted by government

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cao Xuemei
China Aid Association

(Langzhong, Sichuan—Aug. 12, 2014) A member of the Yilin Christian House Church who was twice picked up by police in July for handing out Gospel tracts has been released from 15 days of administrative detention for “engaging in illegal activities in the name of a mass organization.”

Cao Xuemei, who has been a Christian for more than two decades, said that when she was interrogated by Domestic Security Protection agents, they described the tracts as “reactionary” material, a description she vehemently protested. Only after they changed it to “Christian Gospel tracts” did she agree to sign the written record of the interrogation. She was released on Aug. 6.

Cao, a villager residing at Group 8, Jigongling village, in the town of Funong in Langzhong city, first ran into trouble on July 9for handing out tracts but police let her off with only a warning. “On July 22, I was at the Langzhong Vegetable Market with 500 Gospel tracts with the most wonderful explanations. I was there for about two hours and had a little more 50 tracts left when people from the local police station came and told me not to distribute them. Then they brought me to the local police station.”

At the police station, she was repeatedly asked where she had gotten the tracts from. Cao said she refused to answer them.

“They (the police) said, do you know this is illegal? I said, I didn’t know it was illegal, that I’m a Christian and have believed in Jesus for 21 years. In all that time, I’ve never heard that believing in Jesus was illegal. He said that handing out Gospel tracts should be done in designated areas, such as in a [church] hall,” Cao said. “They said I had done this once before (on July 9) and they had not punished me, [but] now I’d gone wild. I said I didn’t think this was illegal. I said people in the church are all believers of Christ (so there’s no need to evangelize to them) and I want to evangelize to those who do not yet believe in Christ.”

Cao said that when she was interrogated by Domestic Security Protection agents from the Langzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau, the five-page transcript “said I was illegally distributing reactionary tracts in the name of a mass organization. They told me to sign, but I didn’t sign. I said that actually I didn’t do this in anybody’s name. I said that at home we are a house church. Both my mother and I believe in Christianity and we didn’t do anything in anybody’s name. They also said those were reactionary tracts, which I didn’t admit. The quotes in the tracts were all from the Bible. We were deadlocked for about half an hour, I simply refused to sign. Finally, they changed ‘reactionary tracts to ‘Christian Gospel tracts and then I signed.”

She said that during her 15-day detention, Domestic Security Protection agents interrogated her twice, the second time on July 31.

“The DSPS agents came to question me, and people from the local police station also came to see me, asking me why I believe in the Lord, how many years I have been a believer, and why I was handing out the tracts. I gave the same answer as I had given in the local police station, but they didn’t believe me. I didn’t say much more, and then I didn’t talk to them. The officer asked why I didn’t talk. I answered that I have the freedom of speech and I also have the right to remain silent. Since you don’t believe what I say, it’s a waste of your time and also a waste of my energy. So I didn’t talk.”

Her pastor, Li Mingbo, said he would contact a lawyer for her and see if she wanted to try to get the police to rescind the penalty and apologize. Li, the pastor of the Yilin church, which is part of the Langzhong House Church, had himself filed for an administrative review of his 15-day administrative detention stemming from his refusal last Christmas to pay a police fine for organizing a Christmas celebration.

Li said he has received no response to his request, and has further learned that his pastoral activities have resulted in the police putting him on a government blacklist. He believes that being blacklisted is the reason for the failure of local authorities to process his two applications for a travel pass to Hong Kong.

Li said: “I applied for a travel pass to Hong Kong twice and twice they didn’t process the paperwork for me. I asked why they didn’t process the paperwork for me, he (the police) said: ‘Isn’t it clear to you?’ I said I was not clear about it and that he must explain it to me clearly. He said I should know what I have done. I asked him, what I have done. He said I could sue him if he had done anything wrong. The local police station has put my name on its blacklist and so he couldn’t find my name in the computer. Finally, the police found my name on the blacklist.”

Li also believes that the blacklisting is the reason he has not been allowed to lease low-rent housing, even though he meets all the requirements.

“I qualify in every way for low-rent housing. But the local police station said because I believe in Christ so it will not issue a certificate for me.” Li added that attempts by another Christian to work her connections and get the certificate issued had also failed.

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