In Guiyang, the capital of southwestern China’s Guizhou province, there have been new reports of crack downs on underground churches by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after pastor Zhang Chunlei was placed under criminal detention in March.
In mid-March, Yang Kaichun and Hou Zeyan—house church members and residents of Anshun city, which is 90 kilometers from Guiyang—were each given 15-days illegal administrative detention, while Huang Chen and Cai Sumei had their homes searched by the authorities, who confiscated some of their possessions.
Other house church members—Chen Jianguo, Li Lin, and Li Jinzhi from Guiyang—were subjected to three-days detention as well as repeated summons and harassment by local police.
Yang Aiqing, wife to imprisoned pastor Zhang Chunlei, was also illegally subpoenaed and held in handcuffs and shackles for 24 hours before being released.
Handcuffs and shackles can only be applied to dangerous criminals, Chinese rights lawyer Sui Muqing recently told the Chinese-language Epoch Times.
Several lawyers, including Sui, Zhu Shujin, Huang Deqi, Zhao Qingshan, have gone to Guiyang and Anshun cities to sue local police for abuse of power on behalf of affected house church members.
On April 27, Sui, on behalf of Christian Chen Jianguo, filed an administrative lawsuit against the authorities responsible for ethnic and religious affairs and public security in the Yunyan district, Guiyang city, in the court of Guiyang’s Nanming district. However, Chen’s case has been dismissed by the court.
In fact, the CCP regime has intensified efforts in persecuting underground Christians since Chinese leader Xi Jinping became leader in 2012. The CCP took down more than 900 crosses from state-run churches in the first half of 2020 in Anhui province alone, according to Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China.
On Jan. 19, Niu Guobao, a Christian and resident of Lushan county in central China’s Henan province, was fined 160,000 yuan (about $24,712) by the local CCP’s religion authority for holding a Christmas party on Dec. 19, 2020, according to a Chinese-language rights site known as Wei Quan Wang. All religious books and calendars were confiscated from the more than 60 participants attending the party, including 20 children. They reported feeling intimidated by the intruding officials, who had earlier warned them against such a celebration.
On Feb. 20, 2019, Li Juncai, Christian house church pastor and resident of Yuanyang county, Henan province, was detained on an alleged charge of “obstruction of performance of official duties” after he refused to follow the orders of local authorities to remove the cross at top of his church and replace his religious banners with CCP-approved ones.
Days later, the cross was forcibly demolished and the banners removed. Instead, a five-star red flag was set up within the church to meet the requirements of the CCP, which has been enforcing its order nationwide over the last few years.
After 22 months of detention, the pastor was sentenced to five and half years in prison on charges like so-called embezzlement and obstruction of performance of officials duties.