Church of Almighty God: Two Stories of Torture in Chinese Jails

“Bitter Winter” publishes exclusive pictures and testimonies about the brutal abuse of female believers of the persecuted Christian new religious movement.

by Jiang Tao

In January 2024, a 38-year-old Christian we would call Xue Qing (not her real name) was arrested as a member of The Church of Almighty God, the most persecuted Christian new religious movement in China. One month after her arrest, the police informed her family to take her home from the hospital. Relatives noticed that Xue Qing, who used to be in good health, had dull eyes, could not recognize people, speak, or stand, and had both knees covered with scars. She had a section of her scalp exposed with no hair and was in extremely weak condition. After examination, it was confirmed that one of her ribs was fractured. Intimidated by the police, her family members did not dare to inquire about where Xue Qing had been detained or any detail of her injuries.

Scars on Xue Qing’s head.

“Her current IQ might be around that of a 10-year-old, and her memory is very poor,” one of Xue Qing’s friends told “Bitter Winter”: “She can’t sleep through the night, and her hands and legs tremble constantly.” When asked about what happened to her after her arrest, Xue Qing could not describe it in words but cried. At present, she is still unable to take care of herself.

Reportedly, before her arrest, Xue Qing discovered that a tracker had been installed on her electric bicycle. Among seventeen members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) arrested with her, fifteen are still in custody, with no way of knowing even whether they are alive or dead.

Ran Li (again, not her real name), who suffers from anemia and rheumatoid arthritis, was managing her condition well with medication. In 2021, she was arrested as a CAG member and later sentenced to two years in prison. Upon her release, she weighed only about 25 kgs (approximately 55 pounds), with her hand and knee joints deformed and swollen. Her fingers were so much in pain that she dared not touch anything, and her legs hurt too much to walk, making her completely unable to take care of herself.

Nineteen days after her release from prison, Ran Li collapsed from rectal bleeding and was rushed to the hospital by her family. Medical examinations revealed bleeding in her lower gastrointestinal tract, severe malnutrition, anemia, and hypoproteinemia. The hospital immediately issued a critical condition notice due to her state.

Swollen joints to Ran Li’s four limbs.

“Ran Li has turned muddle-headed and can’t speak clearly, she is totally different from before she was arrested,” a co-religionist who was arrested and kept in the same detention center with Ran Li for more than a year reported to “Bitter Winter.” During her sentence, Ran Li was subjected to beating and abuse by both guards and inmates. Prolonged standing punishments and harsh living conditions led to her condition deteriorating rapidly. She was often forced to stand from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. without being allowed to drink or eat, and once fainted from exhaustion. Coupled with the cold and dampness of the cell, with thin and often damp bedding, she was forced to mop the floor, scrub the bed boards, and bathe with icy water all year round, which worsened her condition.

Upon learning of his daughter’s arrest, Ran Li’s father became deeply worried and depressed. Over twenty days later, he had a sudden stroke and passed away.

A CAG devotee was tortured, her hands bound with nylon strings, leaving wounds and scars around her wrists from the struggle, still visible after two months.

The Church of Almighty God has been subjected to the most severe persecution in China, and imprisoned CAG members are typically tortured and abused. According to CAG annual reports on the CCP’s persecution of the church, in September 2020, the CCP launched a three-year “general battle” and demanded the “total destruction” of the CAG. Since then, the number of the CAG devotees’ arrests, sentences, heavy penalties, and deaths from persecution have increased year by year. The number of those persecuted to death in 2021, 2022 and 2023 is nine, fourteen, and twenty, respectively.

Number of arrests of CAG members (2019–2023).
Number of CAG devotees sentenced and percentage of those imprisoned for 3 or more years (2020–2023)