On July 15, 2014, Ms. Gao Cuiqin (alias Zhang Ping), a Christian from The Church of Almighty God (CAG), was arrested by the Chinese Communist government due to her belief in Almighty God. She was then killed during custody at the age of 53. Prior to that, she had lived in the town of Suo, located in Huantai County, Zibo City in Shandong Province, China. She joined The Church of Almighty God in 2003.
Gao Cuiqin’s Arrest and Subsequent Murder
Early morning on July 15, 2014, around 6:30 a.m., Gao Cuiqin was at home making breakfast when six plainclothes police officers (four male and two female) burst into the Gao’s house, led by Gong Yuebing, deputy captain of the Shandong Huantai County Public Security Bureau’s (PSB) National Security Brigade. Gao’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law were standing in the doorway at the time. According to the family, the police forced Gao to accompany them to the Suo Town, Huantai County Police Station due to her belief in Almighty God, without producing any documentation. After registering her, she was transferred to the Huantai County Detention Center. Two other Christians from her village were arrested along with Gao that day: Ms. Wang (alias Li Min, 67 years old) and Mr. Liu (alias Wu Tao, 50 years old). Around noon that same day, the police returned to Gao’s home and demanded that her mother-in-law pay for Gao’s living expenses while detained. She did not comply.
The day after Gao’s arrest, she was beaten to death by the police.
Emergency personnel with Huantai County Shengjie Hospital disclosed that around 11 a.m. on July 17, the police called Shengjie Hospital requesting an ambulance for a medical emergency. Doctors rushed to the scene, but seeing that the patient had already been dead for some time, did not bring her body to the hospital. The police made another phone call to the Huantai County Branch of the Shandong Qilu Hospital, and emergency personnel took the victim to the hospital.
At 1 p.m. on July 17, Zhao Xuepeng, the director of Huantai County Police Station in Suo Town, called Gao Cuiqin’s husband, Mr. Liu (not the same Mr. Liu mentioned above). He said that Gao Cuiqin was in the hospital and urged him to go, but did not tell him over the phone that she was already dead.
About an hour later, Gao’s sister, brother and sister-in-law went to the hospital, but the hospital didn’t have a record of Gao’s hospitalization. They were unable to find her.
At 6 p.m. that evening, after Gao’s husband Liu met with the police, he inquired into his wife’s condition, but received no response from the police. He was taken to the hospital where he saw two tubes in his wife’s nose and a flat line on the ECG. Her head was twisted at an angle and her neck was tilted up; her body was stiff. It was clear that she had been dead for a while, but the doctor was still using an external pacemaker, pretending to try to save her. According to Liu, he overheard a doctor present state that when his wife had arrived at the hospital, she showed no signs of life. Liu then took photos of his wife’s body.
An emergency department staff member said that Gao had been dead for some time when she was sent to the hospital, that she showed clear signs of having been beaten; her entire face was purple and extremely swollen.
According to Li Min (alias), another Christian who was held in the same detention center along with Gao Cuiqin, around 5 a.m. on July 16, she heard the sound of the impact of iron shackles from the adjacent room where Gao was being interrogated, followed by a terrifying scream. After that, everything was silent.
Another Christian who was arrested due to her belief in Almighty God, Liu Yun (alias) said that on the 16th when she was arrested and brought to the Suo Town Police Station, she heard an officer answer a phone call and say that someone in the detention center had died: “It was done by [name]. He had no idea and hit her with an electric baton randomly….” Only later did she realize that the officer was reporting on who had beaten Gao Cuiqin to death.
In the afternoon of July 18, when Gao’s family were at the funeral home taking care of her remains, they saw that there were many red marks on her back, her armpits were black, her face was blue, and that her head was twisted to one side. They simply could not straighten it out. According to a longtime PSB employee, he analyzed the conditions of her death and concluded that Gao Cuiqin’s injuries were consistent with being tied to a chair and attacked by a high voltage electric baton.
After Gao Cuiqin’s death, the police of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had the village secretary negotiate terms with her widower, Mr. Liu. On July 18, Liu reported to the mayor that Gao had been an innocent victim, and local municipal leaders dispatched three employees from the PSB and the Discipline Inspection Committee to negotiate with Liu. They said that Gao was rightfully arrested for her belief in Almighty God, and they demanded that Liu handle the matter privately. He did not agree to this.
The case of Gao Cuiqin’s murder was not investigated; the two male officers suspected of beating her to death disappeared without a trace.
Gao’s family demanded to see video recordings of her interrogation, but the police refused.
The police did everything they could to conceal her true cause of death, saying: “Gao had a pre-existing heart condition, which led her to death from sudden cardiac arrest.” But her family said she had no such medical history.
Many of her fellow village residents were outraged when they learned that Gao had been beaten to death by the police because of her belief in Almighty God, and many said: “How could the police beat such a good honest person to death? Wasn’t it just her faith?”
The police continued to pressure Mr. Liu and his family, threatening them with the family’s jobs and their children’s future prospects. Under such pressure from the Chinese Communist Government, Liu had no choice but to agree to settle it unofficially.