The CCP has never halted its persecution against members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Rather, it wantonly continued to arrest Christians before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Over the past year, the CCP continuously intensified its persecution against Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and other religious groups, and the suppression remained unabated, even amid the epidemic. During the course, The Church of Almighty God was subjected to especially severe persecution.
Police torments and interrogates Christians to accomplish work quota
According to a government insider from the central province of Henan, in November, not long before the outbreak of the epidemic, the government of Tanghe county administered by Henan’s Nanyang city assigned arrest quotas to local police stations, some of which are ordered to arrest 100 Christians, especially members of xie jiao organizations. (Any religions or groups regarded by the CCP as a threat to its regime, such as the Shouters, The Church of Almighty God, Born Again Movement and other religious groups, have been listed as xie jiao and subjected to persecution). A police officer from the eastern province of Jiangsu claimed that he was also assigned an arrest quota on the number of The Church of Almighty God Christians.
Ms. Fang Xiaoru, a CAG member from Jiangsu Province, said that four police officers raided her home and took her to the local police station last December.
“The police claimed that they must accomplish the arrest quotas. They pressured me repeatedly for the information of my church fellows. When I refused to answer, they forced me to sit in a car tire, violently lifting my arms backward, and handcuffing my wrists from my back to the chair behind me. My body was fixed and after an hour, I felt numb and painful,” Fang said. “Afterward, they used an electric baton to shock my lips, toes, and the backs of my hands. Later, they pressed my legs and used the baton to shock the of my feet so much that I felt bursts of pain.”
“The officers also claimed that they would not be held accountable even believers like us were beaten to death disability here,” she said, adding that in order to force her to give up information, the officers made her sit on the ground, spreading her legs as wide apart as possible, two officers standing, respectively, on her legs. Afterward, they handcuffed her to a chair behind her for over three hours. Consequently, she felt the great pain in her shoulder joints and chest, as if they were torn apart.
After that, she was detained for 15 days on the charge of “using a xie jiao organization and reactionary secret societies, as well as superstition activities to undermine the law enforcement.” In the meantime, two CAG members in their 50s in the locality were also arrested and detained on the same charge.
Police task force set up to arrest Christians
Reportedly, police stations of multiple towns of Henan’s Yanshi city united to set up a task forces to launch a unified arrest operation targeting the local Church of Almighty God.
“One day last December, before the dawn broke, several police officers stormed into my house and pried open all the room doors and cabinet doors, acting like thieves rampaging in the house and turning everything upside-down. Meanwhile, they photographed and videotaped the process,” said Ms. Zhang Wenli while recalling the arrest operation. “They twisted and handcuffed my wrists from my back before taking me to the police station.”
Zhang Wenli was among the 16 CAG members arrested at that time. “They restrained me to a tiger bench, handcuffed and shackled me for over eight hours,” Zhang continued her recalling, “Several church fellows were arrested that day. The officers told me that they had kept me under surveillance for half a month before the arrest.” After the interrogation, she was detained for ten days together with the other Christians.
“While in the detention house, the police forced us to watch fake news fabricated to blaspheme against Almighty God, forcing us to denounce our faith and give up information about the Church. They even threatened me that my family members would be impacted on their employment and education should I continued my belief.” Zhang added.
Meanwhile, CAG members in Henan’s Shangqiu city were arrested in succession.
In mid-December, six police officers stormed into a CAG member’s house to conduct confiscation, looting 2,200 RMB (about $310) of cash and took away the three of the family, together with an octogenarian. On the night of January 4, 2020, four police officers raided another CAG member’s house and confiscated 3,000 RMB (about $420) of cash, as well as many religious books stored in the house. The CAG member was later taken away for interrogation.
The Church of Almighty God is the single most persecuted new Christian movement by the CCP in China. According to the Church’s 2019 Annual Report on the Chinese Communist Government’s Persecution of The Church of Almighty God, at least 6,000 CAG members were arrested, and 19 persecuted to death last year alone. The CCP has never stopped its persecution against CAG members, even amid the outbreak of the epidemic.
(For the sake of safety, all names used in this article are pseudonyms.)