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CHINA: Suffered repeated arrests and fled to Italy

HRWF (26.08.2020) – Mr. Zhiwen (pseudonym) was born in 1972 in Jiangxi Province, China. Already as a youngster he followed his mother in her Christian faith. He joined The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in 2000. On many occasions, the CCP tried to arrest him. The following arrest attempts and torture activities caused a fractured ankle and head injuries. In 2015 he felt forced to flee China and seek asylum in Italy. The following is a description of his experiences as shared with Human Rights Without Frontiers.


Church demolished twice


“We attended meetings of a house church and were often harassed by the CCP government. Officials of the township government would periodically burst into our meetings to restrict the topics of our sermons, as well as telling us where we could spread the gospel. They also forced us to become part of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Church. After we refused to do that, our church was demolished. We rebuilt it but the government tore it down again, arrested the preacher of our church, and put him in prison.”


First arrest attempt


“In August 2000, I accepted The Almighty God’s message. Because I often spread the gospel, village committee officials and police officers repeatedly asked me to renounce my faith. They warned me that if I carried on believing in God and spreading the gospel, I would be sentenced to prison. One day, several officers from the local Police Station forced themselves into the home of my family without showing their credentials and searched it without a warrant. Our house was completely turned upside down. Seeing that I was not at home, they took my mother instead. Since then, I dared not go back home. I started a life on the run, moving from place to place.”


Fractured ankle during escape from second arrest


“One day in June 2005, while I was preaching the gospel in an apartment, five to six policemen suddenly arrived and surrounded the building. Desperate as I was, I broke the wooden window frames of the restroom and escaped out of the window, letting myself fall down from the second floor. Several policemen blocked my way and one of them grabbed me by my clothes. I got myself lose and kept running, with the three policemen not far behind me. I ran through a paddy field and rough terrain. I then hid myself for some time in some thatches. I later hitched a ride to the hospital. The whole ordeal took long to recover, and to this day I cannot stand, or walk for a long time, or carry heavy objects.”


Police brutality caused serious injuries


“One day in the winter of 2012, I went to preach the gospel to a brother’s relatives. Soon four policemen showed up. They shouted at us loudly and condemned our gospel-preaching activities as disturbing the social order. Meanwhile, the police called up dozens of others to surround and attack me. When they caught me, they beat me with wooden sticks that were more than three feet long and three inches thick. I was pulled by my hair, struck near my temples, and hit in the chest. I was in shambles and fainted. The police car soon arrived and I was taken, without them showing their credentials. I had been beaten so badly that my head seemed to explode.


At the police station, I was interrogated about church information. But my pain was excruciating and my body shaking all over; I foamed at the mouth. Then I was taken to the county Public Security Bureau. As they were getting me out of the car, I could not even stand, and I fell on the ground. When they realized I was about to die, they left me in front of the gate. Later, a brother took me to hospital to give me the medical attention I needed. The recovery lasted more than a year. However, I still have sequelae of the injuries incurred, as I remain having dreadful headaches.”

Fleeing from a third arrest attempt


“While I was recovering, two brothers with whom I had spread the gospel were arrested by the police. The officers had found a notebook with my name and address in it in their possession. I was warned by other brothers and sisters that the police were out to find me. I fled before I was arrested.”


Fleeing to Italy, but no safety yet


“Between 2013 and May of 2015, I had moved house a total of thirty different times. But wherever I went, there seemed no way to avoid arrest or persecution. In China there was nowhere safe for me any more and the only way to remain free was to flee. In 2015 I managed to get a passport and to reach Italy where I sought refuge.


Unfortunately, in December 2018, my application was rejected by the Italian Territorial Commission. In the meantime I filed for appeal. I am now deeply concerned that I might be sent back to China one day.”

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Inhumane persecution suffered in China before fleeing to Italy

HRWF (26.08.2020) – Chen Xin (pseudonym) was born in Fujian Province, China. He was a Christian from his childhood and joined The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in 2002. His faith, and connecting activities, caused his arrest in 2003 and his sentence of one-year detention in a labor camp. During that time he was subjected to severe punishments, and forced to do 14 hours a day hard labor. In October 2015 he fled to Italy and filed an application for asylum. He shared his experiences with Human Rights Without Frontiers.


Arrested for carrying a Bible and religious books


“On the night of June 30, 2003, when Brother Wu and I went to his relative’s home to spread the gospel, we were stopped by the police at a fork in the road. They forcibly took away my laptop bag to search it. As soon as they found the Bible and some CAG books, they called the local Religious Affairs Bureau and took us to a border police station.”


Interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to one-year imprisonment


“In order to get information from me about church leaders and church assets, the Religious Affairs Bureau officials and the police interrogated and tortured me. They violently slapped me in the face, beat, and kicked me. They pulled my hands from my back and tied my thumbs together tightly with a hemp cord. It hurt so bad that I could not sleep a wink that whole night. On the second day, the cord had already cut deep wounds in my flesh, and my thumbs were black and felt numb. Then the police ordered me to do the horse-riding stance. In less than two minutes it caused me to sweat and I was unable to control the trembling in my hands and feet. The policeman first slapped me various times, and then hit on my head with a book. My face was burning with pain and I heard a ringing in my ears. They then put a motorcycle helmet on my head and banged my head on the wall continuously for seven to eight times. The strikes caused me to feel dizzy and made me vomit, until I collapsed on the floor. The policeman then forcibly took me back again into the interrogation room. Seeing that I still refused to confess, a policeman made me kneel down, with my knees on the edge of a metal pan of only ten centimeters in diameter. Its edge penetrated deeply into my knees, making me suffer unbearably into the bones. After kneeling for about one minute, my whole body trembled. I felt dizzy, and soon fell on the ground.


Without any proof and with no officially recognized legal process, the CCP government charged me of belonging to a xie jiao organization, and sentenced me to one year of detention in a labor camp.”


Stripped naked and forced to do slave labor


“In China’s prisons believers in God are deemed to be the leading political criminals, meaning that both jailers and convicts can abuse and insult them at will. As soon as I entered the cell, the guards started to incite the other convicts to torturing me. They forced me to get completely naked, do a half squat, and open my mouth wide in front of everybody. Then by throwing a continuous jet of water into my face they almost suffocated me.


Life in the labor camp was inhuman. The cells are less than fifty square meters, and house more than seventy people, with horrible sanitary conditions. Every day we had plain rice which contained insects, and a bowl of vegetable soup with seven or eight worms, and no oil. As a result of the lack of nutrition, my body was swollen everywhere. Often I had allergic reactions. In the camp, I had to perform hard labor for fourteen hours each day, without any remuneration. The needles caused blisters in my hands, causing great pain. I was given no bandages. Doing hard labor for such a long time, combined with hunger, gradually made me sick. I was given no medical attention. During the night I often heard the cries and screams of fellow convicts who were beaten by other inmates or the guards. It was so horrible. The prisoner in the bed opposite to mine had tried to commit suicide. All of those scenes occupied my mind from time to time, and I often woke up from nightmares. These ten months went by in pain, fear, and great suffering.


After I was released, the village officials repeatedly showed up at my house to be checked. The police threatened me with another arrest in case I believed in God.


To avoid being arrested again by the Chinese Communist Government, and for my family’s safety, I had no choice but to leave my home, and run away. I continued practicing my faith in other places while doing odd jobs.”


Fleeing China


“In July 2008, I was reported to the police by a couple when I had shared the gospel with them. I had to leave from there quickly.


During a decade on the run, the CCP police often searched for believers in God under pretense of checking for a so called Temporary Resident Permit. This caused me to live in constant fear, and to suffer miserably.


In July 2015, a brother in our church was arrested by the police; I, myself, was also seen in the security video they had. The police called my home phone to ask my whereabouts. They monitored the phone so they could find me and arrest me. Realizing that I lived in greater danger and that I had no place to hide in China, I decided to flee the country, and seek for asylum abroad.


Sometime later, using connections and money, I obtained a passport. In October 2015, I successfully fled to Italy. Once there I filed for asylum. Unfortunately, the Italian Immigration Department denied my application twice because of fabricated misinformation by the CCP. I appealed to the Supreme Court and am currently awaiting for a final decision. I sincerely hope the international community can truly stand behind those who are persecuted, rather than intentionally ignoring the CCP’s persecution of Christians.”

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