A woman belonging to a house church died in police custody on October 30 last year. Police in the village of Dongmiaodong, in Shandong province, arrested Zhang Hongmei, 33, on October 29 for "illegally carrying out religious activities."
That afternoon, police summoned Zhang's family members and asked them to pay a bribe equal to $400, according to Philadelphia-based China Aid. Unable to raise the money, Zhang's family returned to the police station at 7 p.m. to beg for mercy. As members pleaded with police officers, they saw that Zhang was injured and bound with heavy chains. She was not able to speak with them.
Officials summoned the family back to the police station the next day. Police said Zhang had died at noon. A subsequent autopsy revealed several wounds to her face, hands and leg, along with serious internal bleeding.
On November 31, Zhang's family approached city officials and asked for an inquiry. Approximately 1,000 people joined a march in front of the Pingdu city offices that day, a rare display of protest.
A senior house-church leader says repression continues in many areas. Unregistered house churches are harassed, their members fined, and their leaders jailed and sent without trial to "re-education through labor" camps. The house-church leader sees little hope of improvement in the near future.
Copyright © 2004 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Bearing the Cross featured China yesterday.
More information is available on our persecution page.
Christianity Today coverage of China includes:
About-Face on Charities | Communist leaders invite even Christians to help the poor. (Oct. 21, 2003)
'Dangerous' Chinese Bill Is Thwarted | Article 23 would have automatically banned Hong Kong groups now outlawed on the mainland. (Aug. 21, 2003)
Breakthrough Dancing | A look at the one of the most creative youth ministries in Hong Kong—if not the world. (July 23, 2003)
Hit by the SARS Tornado | Breakthrough reacted quickly when the disease hit Hong Kong. (July 23, 2003)
Inside CT: Chinese Puzzle | Things are changing for China's church. (March 07, 2003)
Under Suspicion | Hong Kong's Christians fear antisedition measures will curb religious liberty. (Feb. 21, 2003)
Did Apostles Go to China? | Evidence suggests Christianity reached China in the first century. (Oct. 21, 2002)
Working with the Communists | Some evangelicals minister happily within China's state-supervised Three Self church. (Oct. 18, 2002)
Bush: 'I'm One of Them' | Religious persecution allegations set the stage for George Bush's visit to China. (Feb. 27, 2002)
'New' China: Same Old Tricks | Top communists, despite their denials, endorse arrest and torture of Chinese Christians by the thousands. (Feb. 15, 2002)\
The Unlikely Activist | How a bitter atheist helped besieged Christians—and became a believer. (Feb. 15, 2002)
What China's Secret Documents Reveal | The New York archive of religious persecution in China contains numerous government documents that show how the government controls religion. (Feb. 15, 2002)
China Persecution Dossier: Zhang Wu-Ji | Tortured to the point of death. (Feb. 15, 2002)
China Persecution Dossier: Shi Yun-Chao | Beaten for Hosting Bible Studies. (Feb. 15, 2002)
China Persecution Dossier: Gu Xiangmei | Surviving on "tiger's diarrhea." (Feb. 15, 2002)
In Perspective: What is the Falun Gong? | And why does the Chinese government want to destroy it? (Feb. 06, 2002)
Gong's 'Accusers' Claim Torture Induced False Confessions | Letters from imprisoned Christian women in China describe assaults with electric clubs (Feb. 01, 2002)
Gospel View from China | He Qi first saw Jesus' face in an old magazine. Now he paints his own images of the biblical story. (Jan. 25, 2002)
Church Leader Gets Reprieve | China's case against Gong Shengliang now on hold. (Jan. 24, 2002)
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.