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House-Church Christian Dies in Custody

Family saw prisoner injured and bound with heavy chains.
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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.


Related Elsewhere:

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 ...
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