After burying woman alive, authorities in China return land to her church

Ding Cuimei died on 14 April defending the Beitou church from demolition. The authorities acknowledge they have no legal claim to the land, which belongs to dead woman’s husband, Rev Li Jiangong. Local Christians demand justice.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Less than two weeks after a Christian woman died after she was buried alive at a forced church demolition, local authorities ruled that the disputed land where the incident took place belongs to the Beitou Church and its pastor.

Parishioners welcomed the news with both "joy and sorrow" since “we had to mourn one of our sisters to have justice.”

Ding Cuimei, wife of Rev Li Jiangong (pictured), suffocated to death after she was pushed into a pit and covered with soil. The murder took place on 14 April.

The incident began when the couple tried to stop bulldozers sent by local authorities to demolish the Beitou church in Zhumadian, Henan Province.

A local developer had made an offer to the authorities for the land, but he wanted the site cleared.

When the pastor and his wife stood in front of heavy machinery to prevent them from carrying out their task, a member of the demolition team said, “Bury them alive for me. I will be responsible for their lives.” Subsequently, a bulldozer shoved Li and Ding into a pit and covered them with soil.

Crying for help, Li was able to dig his way out, but Ding suffocated before she could be rescued.

On 25 April, the authorities issued a report that designates the site for religious use. Although pleased, Rev Li is still upset that the investigation into his wife’s murder is slow.

Two demolition team members were arrested after the incident, but they have not been charged yet.