After five letters to China’s president ignored, church leader pleads for his flock
EDITOR’S NOTE: In China today, the only churches permitted are those with government-paid pastors who deliver government-approved sermons. Children under 18 are barred. So, the vast majority of Chinese Christians meet illegally in “house churches.” Their membership numbers are rumored to be approaching those of the Chinese Communist Party. So, leaders are becoming more and more bold. However, the government has launched a crackdown — with many leaders under house arrest, church members fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes. Stories of torture and beatings by police are common. A prominent attorney disappeared last April after representing Christians against the government.
This is a letter from Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, the president of Chinese Christian House Church Alliance. He notes that he has written five times earlier only to be ignored. The letter was translated by the China Aid Association.
It is written to China’s president.
Dear Honorable President Hu Jintao,
In the name of the son of God and as a Christian pastor, I hereby give my greetings to you and wish you good health!
As the highest-ranking leader of China, you have brought progress to a backward Chinese nation. In the past 30 years, thanks to the reform and openness, we the Chinese have made great achievements in our economic, political life, science and religion. These are the fruits of the policy of reform and openness. These are the pride of our Chinese nation and part of the credit should go to you for your hard work. In the name of son of God, I, Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, hereby give my greetings to you.
I have written five open letters to you before this one, but I have not received any replies from you so far. Maybe you have not seen them or your subordinates simply forced them out. Now, the true features of a handful of government bandits, swindlers and corrupted officials working under you have been exposed to the world with no place to hide their shameful deeds. While deceiving their superiors, they suppress the ordinary and honest people.
These corrupt officials seek their own interests with their power.
They violate the laws and disciplines and defy the laws of land use. They also treat the very life of the ordinary people boldly even though the people’s complaints are heard everywhere. The government officials and the bandits collude hand in hand and commit every possible evil crime. They expropriate lands at their will and forcibly demolish houses.
They persecute human rights defenders and petitioners, who are attacked and are even sent to labor camps while religious believers are similarly attacked, suppressed, arrested and chased away.
Starting from April 10 of this year, Beijing Shouwang Church began to suffer persecution so much that people of the world now understand there is no real religious freedom in China. Another example is the case of Chen Guangcheng, the blind man who has been persecuted because he speaks out and tells people the truth. Shi Enhao, a loyal Christian pastor, is persecuted and intimidated by Su Dayong, leader of the DSPS (Domestic Security Protection Squad) of Suqian Municipal Public Security Bureau in Jiangsu province, through bandit-style and thug-style methods.
They were detained for over 50 days this innocent pastor from Chinese Christian House Church Alliance on the charges of illegal assembly and sabotaging the implementation of law by utilizing superstition. They robbed him of property from his house without going through the legal procedure.
They also robbed the church of its donation in the amount of over 130,000 yuan and wrote a receipt of only a little over 50,000 yuan. The rest of the donation in the amount of over 70,000 yuan has not been returned. In the meantime, the musical instruments and choir garments have been confiscated for no known reasons.
The Suqian church pastored by Pastor Shi Enhao abides by the law and observes the disciplines. It also abides by the teachings of the Lord Jesus and has played a positive role in maintaining social harmony and stability. This church also teaches its members to love other people as themselves. They pray for Chinese leaders and donate to the disaster-stricken areas in Sichuan and take care of orphans and widows. After their father was arrested, Shi’s son and daughter found Lawyer Zhang Kai from Yijia Law Firm in Beijing and the lawyer went to Suqian Public Security Bureau.
However, Su Dayong, the leader of the squad didn’t even allow the attorney to see his client, claiming the case involves state secrets. Isn’t this a joke of the century that a peasant Christian knows classified state secrets? When a true Christian pastor was convicted through planted evidence of sabotaging the implementation of the law by utilizing superstition and illegal assembly, isn’t that also the lie of the century and a laughing stock?
Su Dayong, Cong Yong, Hu Chunsheng, Sun Fei and other corrupt officials from the Public Security Bureau were like bandits when they robbed Pastor Shi of his property from his home without going through the legally required procedure. So far, we still don’t know what has happened to the church’s properties, musical instruments and donated funds that they robbed us of. In arresting, beating and robbing people, they have violated the law and undermined the dignity of the state law.
Indeed, they are the scum in the Public Security system who violate the law while they are supposed to enforce it.
They accuse the Christian pastor of sabotaging the implementation of the law by utilizing superstition. Isn’t that calling black white and white black? Isn’t that a defiance of the state law?
The lawyer and the family of Pastor Shi appealed to Suqian Municipal Procuratorate, the National People’s Congress, the government, the Discipline Inspection Office, Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, Jiangsu Provincial Government, Jiangsu Provincial Procuratorate and the Department of Public Security. Yet, instead of getting any replies from these agencies, they saw Pastor Shi Enhao was sentenced to two years in labor camp. The authorities asked his son Shi Yongyang to sign on the document, but they did not give his family any documents on the labor camp. Suqian Public Security Bureau defies the legal procedure and the dignity of the law and handles religion in the administrative mode derived from the 1950s. They persecute law-abiding Christians and undermine the social harmony and stability as advocated by you.
You advocate rule of law in China, and try to make China develop in harmony and promote ongoing improvement of the rule of law and regulations of the Central Government. However, these corrupt officials and the law enforcement officers working under you use the power endowed by the Party and the country to persecute the ordinary citizens. They violate the law while they are supposed to enforce it. They harm the relationship between cadres and the people and bring great harm to the people throughout China. The result is that rule of law is only for punishing kind-hearted people.
Another case I would like to discuss here with you is the beating and detention of the innocent Pastor Zhang Tieling by the Fan County Public Security Bureau of Henan Province. In addition to this, they also sealed his house for six months. The Public Security Bureau connived at the Party secretary of the brigade and let him seal the door of Zhang Tieling’s house with bricks. Later, Pastor Zhang Tieling went to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square where he cried grievances. Then, Beijing Public Security agency ordered Fan County Public Security to remove the bricks sealing the door to the house of Family Zhang. However, a little over a month later, they once again sealed the door with bricks and cement.
Zhang’s wife was struck onto the floor by the Party secretary and was hospitalized for half a month due to brain injury. Yet, the Public Security wouldn’t deal with this case. In June, when Pastor Zhang Tieling went back home to harvest the wheat, the Public Security Bureau took him away and detained him for five days for no reasons, wrongfully accusing Zhang of beating the Party secretary. When the Party secretary beat Zhang’s wife, Pastor Zhang was not at the scene.
Yet, they told people a lie that Pastor Zhang beat people and detained him for five days and seized over 800 yuan of cash from him and his cell phone. Now, they still haven’t returned these items to Zhang Tieling. Pastor Zhang refused to sign on the statement of detention.
Now, Pastor Zhang cannot go back to his house and have to wander around outside. This is the so-called harmony of today! That handful of government bandits and thugs at the grassroots level defy the dignity of the law and they are free to persecute the ordinary people in any way they like and call black white and white black.
This is the so-called religious freedom and harmony of China. Your position is too high up there for you to know these details. In fact, they have turned you into a figurehead by overriding your power.
As a Christian pastor, I have dedicated myself to the Lord for the past 26 years. With the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have been again and again rescued from the harm of corrupt officials. In the past 26 years, I have been arrested, beaten and placed under house arrest for 42 times just because I speak the truth and spread the Gospel as a good citizen who believes in Jesus should do. I’m grateful to God and also to the government.
This state of ours badly needs justice and fairness. However, what I cannot make sense of is that as a Christian pastor, I have always followed the words of the Lord Jesus and support governments of China at all levels and teach my Christians to abide by the law and observe disciplines. Yet, what I have got in return for all these is my rights as a citizen of China are often deprived.
I have applied for a passport on many occasions, and each time they refused to process the passport for me and restricted my freedom of entering and exiting China as a citizen. In my life, I have never violated the law or disrupted the discipline.
They violate my citizen’s rights to travel just because I am a pastor of a Christian church.
Is this the harmony and justice you hope to see?
I know I am offending your dignity, but I am doing so without thinking of my personal safety. Even if you misunderstand me or even kill me or imprison me, I still have to tell you the truth in this letter. As long as our country can stay stable on a long-term basis, and the corrupt officials and the thugs can be removed, the ordinary people can once again see the clear sky.
And as long as Christians can freely worship God, I wouldn’t mind dying for this cause. This is because the history of the past two thousand years has proven that Jesus Christ is a true and living God! So many Christians have been imprisoned, detained and fined for the sake of their belief in the Lord. The result of this?
The authorities have not only failed to extinguish fire of the Gospel, but the churches have prospered in persecution. As far as China is concerned, in the past 60-some years, the more the authorities arrested, beat and persecuted the people, the more the churches have prospered. Nowadays, tens of thousands house church believers from 56 nationalities are praying for you and for China for the blessings on the Chinese people.
Your term will soon be due. However, in the last year of your administration, you can still make contributions to the Chinese people so that the harmonious society, democracy and freedom, human rights and religious freedom as advocated by you can come true.
In the 21st century, I hope China can become a Christian nation and a civilized powerful country.
I implore the Lord Jesus to give His blessings to China.
Pastor Zhang Mingxuan,
president of Chinese Christian House Church Alliance
Missing Christian told of 50 days of torture by Chinese police
Editors note: This account by prominent Chinese attorney Gao Zhisheng is provided by the New York-based China Aid Association. Gao is currently missing after being taken into police custody in April 2010. Gao is a Chinese human rights attorney and dissident known for defending activists and religious minorities and documenting human rights abuses in China. Because of his work, Zhisheng has been disbarred and detained by the Chinese government several times and released. His commitment to defending his clients is influenced by his Christian beliefs and their tenets on morality and compassion. His memoir, A China More Just, documents his “fight as a rights lawyer in the world’s largest communist state.”
By GAO ZHISHENG
These words from me today will be finally revealed one day. It will expose its true face in today’s China. It will disclose the unimaginable heart and characteristics of the “ruling party” in China. Of course, these words will inevitably bring unpleasant and even upset embarrassed feelings to those global “good friends” and “nice partners” of today’s Chinese Communist Party – if these global “good friends” and “nice partners” still have some fear to the value of human conscience and morality in their hearts.
Today, the suddenly well-off CCP has not only gained more and more global “good friends” and “nice partners” but also has made those perverted slogan such as “China is a country rule of law” lauder and lauder. Both will be disastrous to the progress and development of the human rights of the Chinese people.
Around 8 p.m. on September 21, 2007 the authorities notified me orally that I should go for a mind re-education (reform) talk. I found there were some unusual things happening at this time. The secret police, who used to follow me very closely, kept a further distance. I was walking down the street one day and when I turned a corner, about six or seven strangers started walking towards me. I suddenly felt a strong blow to the back of my neck and fell face down on the ground. Someone yanked my hair and a black hood was pulled over my head immediately.
I was brought to a vehicle and was put in it. Although I couldn’t see, it seemed to me that it had two benches with a space in the middle. I was put in the space in the middle on the floor. My right cheek was on the ground. All of a sudden a boot was put on my face holding me down. Many hands started searching all over me. My belt was pulled off and then used to tie my hands behind my back. At least four people put their feet on me holding me down.
About 40 minutes later I was dragged out of the car. My pants were falling down around my knees and I was dragged into a room. No one had said anything at all to me until that time. The hood was pulled off of my head at this time. Immediately men began cursing and hitting me. “Your date of death has come today. Brothers, let’s give him a brutal lesson today. Beat him to death.”
Then, four men with electric shock prods began beating my head and all over my body.
Nothing but the noise of the beating and my anxious breathing could be heard. I was beaten so severely that my whole body began uncontrollably shaking. “Don’t pretend to do that!” I was shouted at by a guy whom I later learned was named Wang. Then a very strong and tall (1.9 meters) man grabbed my hair and pulled me up off the ground. Then
Wang began beating me on the face terribly. “You are not worthy to wear black clothes. Are you a Mafia leader? Pull off all of his clothes.”
All my clothes were pulled off and I was totally naked. Wang yelled again, and someone kicked me in the back of my legs, and I collapsed to the floor. The big guy continued to pull my hair and forced me to lift my head to see Wang. At this time, I could see that there were five people in the room. Four of the men were holding electric prods, and one was holding my belt. “You listen, Gao, today your uncles want nothing but to make your life worse than death. I tell you the truth, your matter is not only between you and the government. Look at the floor! There is not a single drop of water. After a while the water will be above your ankles. After a while you will learn where the water will come from.”
While Wang was saying this, the electric shock prods were put on my face and upper body shocking me. Wang then said, “Come on guys, deliver the second course!” Then, the electric shock baton was put all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang then shocked me in my genitals. My begging them to stop only returned laughing and more unbelievable torture. Wang then used the electric shock baton three more times on my genitals while shouting loudly. After a few hours of this I had no energy to even beg, let alone, try to escape. But my mind was still clear.
I felt my body was jerking very strongly when the baton touched me. I clearly felt some water sprinkled on my arms and legs as I was jerking. It was then I realized that this was sweat from me. I realized what Wang meant about the water.
It seems that the torturers themselves were also tired. Before the dawn came, three of them left the room. “We will come back later to give him the next course,” Wang said.
The two left in the room, put a chair in the middle of the room and pulled me up and set me in the chair. One of them had five pieces of cigarettes in his mouth. One man stood behind me and the man with the cigarettes was in front. The man behind grabbed my hair and pulled my head forward and down. The other man used the cigarettes to fill my nose and eyes with smoke over and over. They did this with the utmost patience. After a while I didn’t have any feeling except for some tears dropping on my legs. This continued for about two hours.
Then some other guys came in replacing the previous two. My eyes could not see because they were now swollen shut. The new guys started talking, “Gao, are you still able to hear with your ears? I tell you the truth, these guys are experts in cracking down on Mafia guys. They are heavies. This time they are chosen specifically and carefully by the authority above for this purpose. Can you hear who I am? My last name is Jiang. I followed you to Xiajiang after you were released last year.”
“Are you the one from Penglai City, Shandong?” I asked.
“Yes, your memory is still good. I told you, you would come back sooner or later. When I saw you the way you behaved in Xiajiang, I knew you would be back. You even looked down upon our police. Shouldn’t we help you have a better lesson? You wrote that letter to American congressmen. Look at you, you traitor. What could you be given by your American lord? The American Congress counts for nothing. This is China. It is the Communist Party’s territory. To capture your life is as easy as stepping on an ant. If you dare to continue to write your stupid articles, the government has to make its attitude clear. Now, did you see that attitude tonight?” Jiang spoke slowly.
I asked, “How can you face the beating of Chinese and use Mafia tactics on Chinese taxpayers?”
“You are an object to be beaten. You know that in your heart better than most. Taxpayers count for nothing in China. Don’t talk about this term taxpayers.”
While he was saying this, someone else entered the room. I recognized the voice to be Wang’s. “Don’t talk to him with your mouth. Give him the real thing. Your uncles have prepared 12 courses. We only finished 3 last night. Your chief uncle doesn’t like to talk and so following you will see that you will have to eat your own S*** and drink your own piss. A toothpick will touch your light (sexual organs). Don’t you talk about torture by the Communist Party yet, because we will give you a comprehensive lesson now! You are correct, we torture Falun Gong. Everything is right. The 12 courses we’re going to give to you were practiced on the Falun Gong, to tell you the truth. I am not afraid of you if you continue to write. We can torture you to death without your body being found. You stinky outsider (meaning, not from Beijing)! What are you thinking even being here?”
In the following hours of torture I passed out several times, because of lack of water and food and heavy sweating. I was lying down on the cold floor naked. I felt several times someone come and open my eyes and shine a flashlight in them to see if I was still alive. When I would come to, I smelled the strong odor of stinky urine. My face, nose, and hair were filled with the smell. Obviously, but I don’t know when, someone urinated in my face and on my head.
This torture continued until around noon on the third day. I don’t know where I got the strength to endure, but somehow I struggled to get away from their grasp and began to beat my head on the table. I was shouting the names of my two children (Tiangyu and GeGe) and trying to kill myself. But my attempt did not succeed. I thank Almighty God for this. It is Him who rescued me. I truly felt God drag me back from that state and give me my life. My eyes were full of bleeding, though because of my head banging. I fell on the ground. Immediately, three people sat on my body. One was on my face. They were laughing. They said I used my death to try to scare them. They said they have just seen this too many times. They then continued the torture again until that night. I could not see anything with my eyes anymore. I could still hear my torturers though, and again they gathered after they had dinner.
One of them came and pulled my hair dragging me up. “Gao, are you hungry? Tell us the truth?”
I said, “I am very hungry.”
“Do you want to eat? Tell us the truth?”
I said, “I want to eat.”
My face instead was slapped repeatedly, a dozen times or more,and I again collapsed to the ground. A boot stomped on my chest and I was shocked with the baton on my chin. I screamed. Then the baton was put into my mouth.
“Let’s see how different your mouth is from others. Don’t you want to eat? You said you are hungry. Are you worthy?” The baton was in my mouth but was not turned on. I didn’t know what they wanted to do.
Wang said, “Gao, do you know why we didn’t destroy your mouth? Tonight your uncles want you to talk the whole night. We want you to talk about nothing, but about how you are a womanizer. You are not allowed to say you are not one. You are not allowed to say there are just a few women, either. Don’t forget any details. You can’t leave any details out. Your uncles like this. We have slept and eaten enough, it’s your time to talk.”
“Why didn’t he talk? Beat him up brothers?” Wang shouted. Three batons began shocking me. I was crawling all over trying to get away still naked. After more than 10 minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably again.
I begged them. “I didn’t have an affair. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.” I heard my voice was quivering.
“Are you becoming a fool? Let’s use the baton to light you and see if you start talking.”
Then two people stretched out my arms and pinned them to the ground. They used toothpicks to pierce my genitals. I can’t use any language to describe the helplessness, pain, and despair that I felt then. At a point like that, language and emotion do not have the power to explain. Finally I made up stories, telling them about affairs that I had with four women. After more repeated torture, I had to describe how I had sex with each of these women. This continued until dawn the next day.
At that time, I was dragged to where I had to sign the transcript of my confession about my affairs. “If we send this out, you will become stinky dog’ s *** in half a year.”
Wang said loudly. (After I was released, I learned that the day after the torture the interrogator named Sun Huo informed my wife about “the truth” they learned about my affairs. My wife told them it was none of their business; she said, “I still trust Gao.”)
After this torture for days, I often lost consciousness and was unable to determine the passage of time. I don’t know how long had passed. A group of them were preparing to torture me again. Another guy came in though and rebuked them. I could hear it was a deputy director from the Beijing PSB. I had seen him many times before. I thought him to be a good person. I could not see him though, because my eyes were still swollen. My whole body was beaten and unrecognizable. He sounded angry because of my condition. He found a doctor to attend to me. He said he was appalled and surprised. He said, “This torture doesn’t represent the Communist Party!”
I asked him, “Who directed this?”
He didn’t reply. I asked to be sent back home or even just back to prison. He didn’t reply. He brought my torturers back into the room and rebuked them. He ordered them to buy clothes for me and give me a blanket and food. He told me he would try his best to either get me back to prison or back home.
As soon as the deputy left, Wang began cursing me. “Gao, you even dream to go to prison? No, that is too easy. You won’t have any chance to do that as long as the CCP is still in power. Don’t even think about that.”
That same night, I was transported to another location but I didn’t know where, since I had a black hood over my head again. I was continuously tortured there again for another 10 days. Then one day, they put the hood on me again, and I was put into a vehicle. My head was forced in between my legs and I had to remain that way for more than an hour.
The suffering was more than I could stand, and I wanted to die.
After another hour at a new location, the hood was removed. Four of the previous five torturers were not there. But, I saw the same group of secret police who used to follow me.
From then on the physical torture stopped, but emotional torture continued. I was told the 17th Communist Party Congress was starting and that I had to wait for the higher authorities’ opinions about my case.
During that time some officials came to visit my cell. Their attitude was softer, and I was also allowed to wash my face and brush my teeth. Some officials proposed to me to use my writing skills to cure Falun Gong instead, and that I could charge whatever I wanted for doing that.
I said it is not a technical problem but an ethical problem. “So,” they proposed, “if that is too hard, then write articles praising the government, and again charge whatever you want.” Finally they proposed, “If you write what we direct and that you were treated well after prison and that you were fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia, things will go well. Otherwise, how can you find an end to your suffering? Think of your wife and children.”
In exchange, I did write an article that said the government treated my family well. I wrote the open letter to the U.S. Congress and gave the reason that I was fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia.
Before I was released to go home, though, I was brought to Xian city. I was brought to call Geng He (my wife). On the date of the mid-autumn festival, the authorities asked me to call my wife and comfort her since she was holding a protest and trying to commit suicide over the government’s treatment of our family. The content of the call was all designed by the authorities. (Later I learned that my wife’s response was also choreographed.) I could still not open one of my eyes at that time and since the call was being taped, I was told to explain that it was from myself-inflicted wound.
In the middle of November 2007, after I got home, I learned that my house was thoroughly searched again without a single document or search warrant. During those more than 50 days of torture, I had many strange feelings. For example, sometimes I could hear “death” and sometimes could hear “life.”
After the 12th and 13th day of my kidnapping, and when I could again partially open my eyes, I saw my body was in a horrifying condition. Not a single square centimeter of my kin was normal. It was bruised and damaged over every part.
Every day while I was being held, the experience of “eating” was unusual. Whenever I was at the point of starving, they would bring up “mantle” (steamed bread) and offer it to me. If I would sing one of the three famous revolutionary Communist party songs I could have some bread. My deepest desire was that I wanted to live until that was no longer possible. My death would be torturous for my wife and children, but at the same time I didn’t want to dirty my soul. But, in that environment human dignity has no strength. If you don’t sing these songs you will continue to be starved, and they will continue to torture you, so I sang.
When they used the same tactic though, pressuring me to write articles attacking FalunGong, I didn’t do it. But, I did compromise by writing my statement saying the government didn’t kidnap and torture me and that they treated my family well. I did sign that document.
During these more than 50 days, more horrible evils were committed than I told here.
Those evils were not even worthy of any historical records by any human governments.
But those records will further enable us to see clearly that how much further the leaders f CCP are willing go in its evil crime against humanity in order to protect its illegal monopoly power! Those evils are so dirty and disgusting, that I don’t want to mention it at this time and perhaps will never mention it in the future. Every time when I was tortured, I was always repeatedly threatened that, if I spelled out later what had happened to me, I would be tortured again, but I was told, “This time it will happen in front of your wife and children.” The tall strong man that pulled my hair repeated this over and over during the days I was tortured. “Your death is sure if you share this with the outside world.”
This was repeated many times. These brutal, violent acts are not right. Those that did it, themselves, knew this clearly in their hearts.
Finally, I want to say a few words which won’t be liked by some folks. I want to remind those so-called global “good friends”, “good partners” called by the CCP that the increasing degree of brutality and coldness against the Chinese people by the CCP is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us (our own Chinese people.)