(China Aid Association Hong Kong-based special correspondent Qiao Nong)
Several dozens of believers from the house church of Yanji Town, Ezhou, Hubei organized a gathering on August 22nd. The local government dispatched more than 20 unemployed hooligans to beat up the believers. According to the pastor of the church, the invaders hit more than 20 believers. One of the church members, Yu Hongxing, fell into a coma.
Pastor Hao Zhiwei from the house church of Yanji, Echeng District, Ezhou told the reporter on August 23rd that the government employees beat up the church members during a gathering and injured many. “We gathered yesterday (22nd). The police colluded with the gangsters. They grabbed our group leader by the hair and beat him ferociously. The gangsters held shovels against the brothers and sisters who just got off the car, slapping their backs with the shovels. Some believers’ arms were slid open. The gangsters even tried to strangle some of the believers. Our group leader was seriously injured. We all rushed to help him.”
According to Hao Zhiwei, the intruders, all male, were hired by the government. They held wooden clubs and shovels and hit any believer who tried to argue. “They hit the believers who tried to defend our group leader. The young man slaps (a female church member) with all his strength. They hit about 20 of us. Our group leader (Yu Hongxing) was also injured. She was detained twice before. The intruders poured a basket of mud on her. She had high blood pressure and heart disease. She fainted and fell on the ground. They (the gangsters) said that she was pretending and kicked her. She did not response, and they had to call an ambulance. Her blood pressure raised to 200. "
Afterwards, other church members accompanied the fainted Yu Hongxing to a believer’s house to rest. According to Hao Zhiwei, another group leader was also wounded. The police was videotaping the whole event when the believers were beaten. “Another group leader was also severely injured. A sister’s face swelled up after being hit. The government vehicles were traveling back and forth on the street, still recording. The government planned the violence and sided with the gangsters.”
The Yanji Church is a house church with more than 200 believers separated from the Three-self Church. The leader of the church, Pastor Zhang, told the reporter that the offenders were extremely cruel. “They poured a basket of mud unto a sister who fell into a coma. They kicked her, accused her of acting. They beat us up with shovels. We always compromised. They had the government behind them, so they were not afraid of anything.”
Last December, the local government banned the Yanji Church with the excuse of “organizing religious activities without permission”. From this January to August, government employees interrupted every single church gathering and damaged the church properties. On January 10th, the united force of the police and the urban management brigade broke into the church, forcibly removed the signboard of the church and confiscated the chairs and the desks. On July 11th, four members of the church, including Yu Hongxing and Xu Chang, were administratively detained for 5-7 days.
On August 23rd, VOM Korea’s partner, China Aid lodged a formal protest regarding the Yanji Town Church and urged the relevant Chinese government departments to establish an investigation team, figuring out the motives behind the beating. VOM Korea urges the international society to pay more attention to the event.