Mother recounts "horrible" threats to three-year-old, husband's arrest

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Christians, such as the pastor pictured
above, are often seized by officials in
China. (Photo: ChinaAid)

Updated at 3:05 p.m. on Aug. 26, 2019 to correct the name of the letter and add the letter itself. 

(Shenzhen—July 31, 2019) A woman named Shi Minglei penned a letter last week describing the abuse her family suffered at the hands of the authorities.

In the letter, titled “Horrific July 22, 2019,” she said she went to work “joyfully,” but then she saw a group of officials hide themselves in the fire escape as she left her home. They hurried into her house, and she fell to the floor. As they pulled her up, she yelled, “You’re scaring me to death!”

Members of the group, including police officers, invaded the other areas of her home, looking for her husband, Cheng Yuan, who has been a target of government persecution. At the time, Shi said her daughter and husband were both in bed.

Some of the officials accompanied Shi to her child’s kindergarten. When she dropped her child off, she asked how she would be able to pick her child up after school, and one of the officers replied that she would retrieve the child. When the teacher opposed her, the officer requested that the teacher provide her phone number and said, “We’ll talk about it later!”

Terror-stricken, the teacher trembled.

On her way home, Shi was shackled, and after she arrived, Cheng was taken away, and officials refused to tell her where he was going, but they allowed him to pack clothes, indicating that his time away from home might be somewhat lengthy. Shi fears he might have been taken to other areas of China.

They then blindfolded her and took her to a government office, where she was questioned on matters she knew nothing about. Believing she was being dishonest, a security officer threatened to bring her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter to the office and interrogate them together. Shi rebuked them for using the child as leverage and insisted she had already said everything.

Due to the family’s experiences, the daughter is now terrified, according to Shi.

Authorities arrested Cheng on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” and booked him at the Changsha National Security Bureau Detention Center at around 2:00 a.m. on July 23.

That same day, a representative of the Bureau arrived at Shi’s home and announced that she was being put under “residential surveillance” on the same charge.

Shi wrote, “I have my own job and am not even interested in politics. I spend time with my child after work. When they interrogated me, they didn’t ask any questions about how I subverted state power; rather, they only asked me about Cheng Yuan. I have no idea what Cheng Yuan does for work. Now, I am being held under residential surveillance on an ‘inciting subversion of state power’ charge.”

On July 22, officials forced her to sign a pledge that she would not write about her experience on social media.

Shi concluded her letter by saying, “I am a Christian, and God is with me, which enables me to calm down even in the midst of this horrible event. I am not subject to anyone. I believe that Cheng Yuan, my husband, loves mercy and justice and pursues social justice and righteousness, and he doesn’t deserve the treatment [authorities are giving him]. In regards to me, the charge is absolutely made up.”

Horrific July 22, 2019

Shi Minglei

I am Cheng Yuan’s wife. We live in Shenzhen. As usual, on Monday, July 22, at 8:30 a.m., I joyfully went to work.

I never would have expected seeing several people hiding in the fire escape as I opened the door shocked me. As the thought of being robbed popped into my mind, I screamed.

They rushed in, forcing me to step back, and I fell to the floor. When the intruders pulled me up, I felt frightened and dazed and said, “I am so scared!!!”

Some of the intruders, including police officers in uniform and in plainclothes, rushed into other rooms to search for Cheng Yuan. He and our three-and-a-half-year-old daughter were lying in bed.

Six or seven people escorted me to the kindergarten area, while three women closely tailed me. Three or four other people followed us to take photos.

Kindergarten teachers and children were exercising on the rooftop. After handing my daughter to teachers, I asked one female officer if I could pick my child up in the afternoon. The attractive female State security officer, carrying an LV purse, told me that she would pick my child up.

My daughter’s teacher immediately responded, “No.”

The female official aggressively countered with, “We’ll talk about it later!” She then asked for the teacher’s phone number. The frightened teacher started to shake.

When escorting us home, officers shackled my hands, and those of Cheng Yuan as well. At home, we were forced to sit on our couch while many officials inspected our place. Afterward, they took Cheng Yuan away. When I pressed about where they would take him, officers said that they would let me know later. Before Cheng Yuan was escorted out, the officials let him gather some clothes.

My stomach twisted. I felt that officers might take Cheng Yuan to another region. The officials then placed a black mask on my head and took me to the sub-district office. While in a room there, they started interrogating me. I protested that I was not a criminal and asked them why they shackled my hands and put the black mask on my head. I wondered what my neighbors would think.

The interrogation lasted from July 22 at around 9:43 a.m.-July 23 at around 3:00 a.m. I was released at 4:00 a.m. Officials reserved a hotel room for me, where I slept till 9:00 a.m.

During the interrogation, officials told me that Cheng Yuan was arrested on a charge of inciting subversion of state power. They stated that he arrived at the Changsha National State Security Bureau Detention Center at past 2:00 a.m.

On July 23 at 3:00 p.m., personnel in charge of the case from the Changsha National State Security Bureau again arrived at my place, and at 5:30 p.m., reported to me that I was under residential surveillance on a charge of inciting subversion of state power. They ordered me not to put that it was past 2:00 a.m. on the document as I signed it.

Reportedly, I committed the crime of inciting subversion of state power. I have my own job and am not even interested in politics. I spend time with my child after work. When interrogating me, officials didn’t ask any questions regarding how I subverted State power. Instead, they only asked me about Cheng Yuan. I have no idea what Cheng Yuan does for work. Now, I am held under residential surveillance on the “inciting subversion of state power” charge.

My cell phone, computer for work, ID, passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, CPF card, and debit card were confiscated. Thus, I could neither travel nor work normally.

During the interrogation that transpired at midnight on July 22, officials asked me to write a pledge, swearing that I would not speak out on social media.

On July 24, at 11 am, personnel entrusted by the Shenzhen National State Security Bureau arrived at my home to pick up the signed pledge and my personal statement.

During the July 22 afternoon interrogation, my daughter felt frightened. I couldn’t pick her up nor drop her off at home. I couldn’t ask any relatives for help, so I had to ask the wife of the pastor of my church to pick her up. That evening, after my pastor’s wife picked my daughter up, she stayed at the pastor’s place.

The next day, my pastor’s wife told me that my daughter talked and twitched in her sleep the entire night. When I picked her up after school that day, she had difficulty talking. Her voice sounded strained and weak. During the past few days, when we left and returned home, my daughter repeatedly asked me, “Why were you scared when you got up and headed out that morning? Who are those people who rushed into our home?”

My daughter is now fussy; each day, she eagerly hopes to Skype with her dad. Every day, she prays with me for him.

My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter is sensible and vividly remembers what happened. This horrific experience still hurts her young heart. When they dealt with this case, the National Security Bureau surprised me when they tried to use my daughter as leverage.

On the night of July 22, the interrogation lasted until approximately 12:00 a.m. Officers thought that I was not honest and the attractive state security officer threatened, “If you do not cooperate with us, your daughter will be brought here and we will interrogate you and her together!”

My stomach twisted. I was worried that the police would bring my daughter there. Meanwhile, I did not know anything about the questions they asked. I said that I had already told them that I did not know anything and asked, “What am I supposed to say? You should not use my child to threaten me.”

I am a Christian, and God is with me. This enables me to calm down about being involved in this terrible event. I am not subject to anyone. I believe that my husband loves mercy and justice, and pursues social justice and righteousness. Cheng Yuan does not deserve the treatment he has received. Regarding me, the charge is absolutely fabricated!

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