Date: April 4, 2019
Updated at 5:15 p.m. on April 4, 2019, to include a translation of the prayer letter.
(Beijing—April 1, 2019) A Christian swept up by Chinese authorities as she and her husband discussed opportunities to be baptized with Christian leaders in Beijing released a prayer letter on her husband’s behalf recently, detailing their ordeal.
In the letter, Ma Yuzhen describes a Feb. 26 incident in which she and her husband, Jiang Zhanchun, we meeting with elders of Beijing Holy Love Fellowship Church and Ye Guoqiang, an elderly Christian, at a local restaurant when authorities from the couple’s home province of Jiangsu burst into the room.
When asked to present their identification, the Jiangsu authorities refused, so they called 110, China’s emergency police line, and officers from Beijing arrived at the scene and conferred with the officials in hushed tones. Then, the officials shackled Jiang and Ma, who were then whisked to the Beijing South Railway Station and placed on a high-speed train. The next day, Ma was forced to return to her hometown, Zhenjiang. Jiang is currently under criminal detention on a “provoking troubles charge.”
Ma then goes on to detail how officials have repeatedly targeted her for her advocacy against Wu Lingan, a local authority who she says uses his power to the detriment of the people. For her advocacy, she has been repeatedly imprisoned, and, when she lost her freedom as she was breastfeeding her four-month-old baby, the child was taken from her and placed in an orphanage.
The couple, who could not continue their alcohol-brewing business due to imprisonment, is struggling to find local jobs and had to move to Beijing in order to provide for their family.
A full translation of Ma’s statement is included below.
A Prayer Letter on Behalf of Citizens' Rights Defender Brother Jiang Zhanchun from Jiangsu
My name is Ma Yuzhen. I am the wife of Jiang Zhanchun who lives in Runzhou District, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. I converted to Christianity in 2014 and started attending a church. Jiang Zhanchun, my husband, has been worshiping at Beijing Holy Love Fellowship Church since October 2018. In order to survive, my husband and I went to Beijing to work after the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the first lunar month.
On Feb. 26, 2019, my husband, Jiang Zhanchun, and I had an appointment for lunch with a few elders of Beijing Holy Love Fellowship Church and elderly Brother Ye Guoqiang at Yang Xie Fu Restaurant located at No. 14 Xueyan S Road, Haidian District, Beijing, in order to express our gratitude toward the church elders and [Christian] brothers and sisters for always compassionately pastoring us and praying for us, and we simultaneously wanted to ask the elders to arrange a time for my husband and I to be “baptized” and become genuine Jesus followers.
While we were eating, around 12:30 p.m., around 10 unidentified goons broke into the room where we were eating and controlled my husband and me. We requested to check their identity [cards] and the claimed that they were “Jiangsu interception and investigation personnel.” However, they rejected our request of checking their official ID. We called 110 [Editor’s note: 110 is China’s emergency police line], and two police officers came. After talking with the Jiangsu personnel in hushed whispers, the Beijing police officers assisted the Jiangsu personnel to handcuff my husband and me, get us out of the restaurant, and kidnap us, taking us to a vehicle, which had been prepared in advance. They drove us to Beijing South Railway Station and dragged us to a high-speed train. On the way to the railway station, we shouted, “Down with the corruption and bribery of Jiangsu officials. Our family has fallen apart because of persecution. Support President Xi Jinping. Help us” [Editor’s note: The author and her husband likely said “Support President Xi Jinping” to demonstrate that they should not be treated as state enemies].
On Feb. 27, 2019, I was sent back to my hometown, Zhenjiang, and taken into custody illegally by local police. My husband, Jiang Zhanchun, has again been under criminal detention on a charge of “provoking troubles” since then.
Review of the facts:
Starting in 2008, I went to Beijing multiple times to report Wu Lingang, the secretary of Maling Village, Danyang, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, for exploiting the power in his hands by forcibly occupying nearly 1,000 acres of the people’s land and constructing a large number of illegal buildings for the purpose of committing crimes. Therefore, I suffered retaliation from Danyang Municipality’s maintaining social stability department and have been repeatedly threatened, intimidated, and intercepted and investigated, placed in a black jail and under residential surveillance, detained, etc., multiple times.
In 2015, my youngest son was just over four months old, and I breastfed him, but I was detained in a dark room in a hotel and a venue for playing majiang and poker by the local government, and it lasted for seven months. Later, they sent me directly to the detention center and grabbed my youngest son and forcibly sent him to an orphanage.
On Jan. 28, 2016, I was sentenced to two years in prison on a false charge of “provoking troubles,” and my husband was wrongly accused of “blackmailing the government.” He swore to plead not guilty, so he was eventually released and acquitted on the account after the 472-day detention. Officials of the local police department, procuratorate, and court involved in the case remain at large to this day, and we are not compensated by the government despite the law. Additionally, these officials continue persecuting us using their power and creating injustice.
Because the local government jailed us as a couple, the alcohol-brewing business we previously relied on to survive also completely ceased to exist. After my husband and I were released, we had to find work as quickly as possible in order to bring up our three underage children. However, the local government’s incessant harassment and damage to our reputations has made us unable to properly function. As a result, we had no other choice but to come to try to find work, but yet we have been kidnapped and returned to [our hometown] many times and suffered persecution. Our child, who is only four years old, has been forcibly sent to the orphanage twice.
We earnestly request that our friends from every part of the world who take pleasure in peaceful righteousness and our brothers and sisters in Christ pray for our three underage children and my husband, Jiang Zhanchun, and pay to attention to our situation, calling the telephone number of the relevant [government] departments and keeping an eye on my husband’s condition at the detention center. Thank you!
Zhenjiang Municipality’s Runzhou District People’s Government/ telephone 0511-85623193
Ma Yuzhen’s telephone: 13052909989
[Editor’s note: Please note that if you are calling from outside of China, you will need to dial +86 before the number]
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