Christians Pressured to Renounce Beliefs via Mistreatment in Jail

Two released Christians of The Church of Almighty God from Anhui Province use their personal stories to expose the CCP’s methods to force them to renounce their belief: using various violent mistreatments against them and transforming them through mandatory indoctrination.

The transformation base run especially by the prison for religious believers
The transformation base run especially by the prison for religious believers

“In the detention house, the guard repeatedly lobbied me to give up my belief, and the judge said before the trial that I would be released immediately instead of being given a sentence if I wrote a statement of repentance, promising to renounce my belief, or else, not only would I be given a sentence, but the future of my children would also be affected,” said Su Ping, a Christian of The Church of Almighty God (CAG). She added that she was arrested and had her house raided by the police for her belief in 2016. She and several other CAG Christians arrested alongside her were all subjected to strip search.

After Su Ping had been held in the detention house for over two years, the CCP court sentenced her to three years and six months in prison on the charge of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.”

In the name of cracking down on the xie jiao, the CCP brutally suppresses some religious groups that grow rapidly and fall out of its control.  Among them, the CAG is a new Christian group that has been persecuted most severely. The CCP has always taken violent indoctrination methods against members of the religious groups regarded by the CCP as xie jiao. The CCP holds that the success of transformation is only marked by the fact that religious believers write and sign a statement of repentance admitting their belief as a “crime” and make a clean break with it, and also tell all the internal information on their religious group.

After putting into prison, Su Ping was arranged into the transformation base run especially by the prison for religious believers, where she had to undergo transformation through mandatory indoctrination. She was forced to listen to many materials that infame and slander the CAG, during which three inmates, under the instruction of the guard, always instigated her to write the statements of breakup and guarantee promising to renounce her belief. “I felt very depressed and wanted very much to escape it every day when I thought of going to the transformation base,” Su Ping said.

Su Ping was also subjected to physical punishment eight to nine hours per day for five days in a row. The guard ordered her to put one leg forward and half squat, put the other backward and squat down, straighten her waist, raise her hands straight above her head in a long stretch, and keep her body unmoved. Once, when Su failed to do this well, the guard kicked Su’s knee with her leather shoe toe cap. Then she took photos of Su with her cellphone to amuse herself and spoke to insult Su.

To impose pressure on Su, the guard punished other inmates  with Su in the same team, ordering them to labor 12 hours in the daytime and rise at midnight for night sentry duty, so as to stir up their anger to coerce Su into giving in. The prison’s regulations on penalty reduction state that religious believers cannot have their penalty reduced unless they admit their “crime” [meaning renouncing their belief].

Wang Lei, another CAG Christian, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.” While he was held in the detention house waiting for the trial, the police often interrogated him, forcing him to give up information on the church, and forcing him to renounce his belief by threatening to arrest his family members. He was also forced to labor eight hours every day, and was not allowed to go to sleep if he failed to complete the task.

After entering the prison, Wang Lei was forced to learn to sing red songs, study the thoughts of loving the Party and the country, and memorize prison regulations. He would be forbidden from using the toilet as punishment if he failed to recite the regulations.

“They tormented me every day to force me to write the statements of breakup and repentance, forcing me to renounce my belief,” Wang recalled.

He added that the guard told him that his study time and prison term would both be prolonged if he always refused to be transformed [meaning refusing to give up his belief]. The guard instructed several inmates to transform him as teaching assistants by indoctrinating him with the CCP-fabricated fake news about the CAG. During the transformation, Wang was often beaten, and his fingers were painfully twisted [even now this has aftereffects on his fingers]. The guard even placed an iron stool on his feet and sat on the bench to press his feet.

Once, Wang Lei was so badly beaten by other inmates that he broke out in a cold sweat, turned pale, and gasped for breath. When he was a little refreshed, they continued to force him to study, and beat him and twist his fingers when he did not cooperate. He was tormented until 2 to 3 a.m. next morning every day. He nearly collapsed mentally.

Bitter Winter, an online magazine that has been concerned about religious liberty and human rights in China, reported that local government departments issued some documents imposing quotas for transforming those who had been sentenced to prison in the localities on the charge of “using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement.” For example, the Political and Legal Affairs Committee of the northern province of Shanxi demanded prison administrations to make a work plan to concentrate on transforming xie jiao members in custody, to ensure a yearly transforming rate of no-less-than 85% before releasing them. This was the case. Any Christians who kept their beliefs in prison would be persecuted through mandatory indoctrination, and could not escape it even after released from prison.

To eliminate the CAG completely, the CCP still launched operations to wantonly arrest CAG Christians even during the coronavirus outbreak. A government insider revealed that the CCP government planned to “completely eradicate” the CAG by the end of 2020.

(Both names in the article are pseudonyms.)