10/22/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Story of ordinary religious repression in China

Threats, physical and psychological violence and, finally, the simple restriction of freedom: this is how the regime in Beijing treats Chinese Christians, the story of a delegate who wanted to attend the Protestant conference on evangelisation in South Africa.

Beijing (AsiaNews / CAA) - Wang Shuangyan, a Protestant Christian, was one of the 200 delegates who wanted to attend the 3rd World Congress on Evangelization in Lausanne, which began in Cape Town on 17 October. Chinese police have banned their participation. Wang was stopped, beaten, tricked into a "domestic prison”. She succeeded in returning home a few days ago, and decided to speak out against the religious repression in China. Here is her story.

"By now, I should be now in Cape Town, South Africa attending the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Instead, I am at home in Beijing, writing about what I have experienced over the past few days. I feel that this is somewhat a luxury, considering my freedom was taken from me for two days.

On September 29 and October 12, 2010, government agents invited me to "have a talk with them." They basically told me that the government thinks our participation in this congress would endanger the security of the state, and then they advised me to decline the invitation. I told them since the government has failed to provide any evidence or documentation that indicated our attendance would endanger the security of the state, I would still attempt to leave, and if customs officials stopped me, I would have to stay in China.

I was originally scheduled to leave for the congress on October 15. When we gathered that the delegates in Beijing were under surveillance, we decided to meet up on October 13 -- the date when the first delegate from Beijing was to begin his trip. Therefore, I left home at 9 o'clock in the morning on October 13, and planned to meet other delegates at Terminal 3 in Beijing Capital Airport. As I exited the front door, I saw two people sitting outside.

Despite their efforts to stop me, I escaped them and got on the elevator. As I left the building, more people tried to stop me as they gave each other instructions on how to stop me. Without talking to them, I fought my way forward. When I was depleted of energy in the tussle, I began to shout for help, and then made my way to the subway station.

Once I arrived at the subway station, several security guards approached me and again I shouted for help. I took the opportunity to get to the boarding place. Probably because they knew it was their last chance to stop me, they began to use brutal force. The three young men stood in my way so I could not enter the subway train. Simultaneously, my parents arrived to help me with my luggage (as we had discussed earlier) and I told them what just happened. after the tension subsided, together with my parents we boarded a subway train.

Immediately after we got on someone yelled, 'Pull her out!' The three young men got into the subway train and tried to forcibly remove me from the car. I resisted with all my energy and refused to be taken off. My parents could not endure seeing them attack me and my father yelled to them. Because my parents intervened, I was not dragged out of the train When the door of the train finally closed, I thought they would continue in their attempts to stop me from going. Thankfully, they only followed me until the train arrived at the airport's fast rail station before turning back. Because my parents still worried about my safety, they went with me until I arrived at Terminal 3 at the airport, and they did not leave until I met up with the other invitees who were still in China.

Before any of these things happened, I considered the possibility of being stopped at the door of my house and made up in my mind that I would not resist. Little did I know that when the time came and people tried to prevent me leaving, I would be resisting with all my strength. I felt extremely miserable because my parents saw their child being harmed by other people and I wondered how many parents could endure such a thing.

During the four previous days, we had started out in six groups and all of us were stopped by customs. The customs officials stopped us because we would 'endanger the security of the state.' Not one of us exited the country. After that, we the Beijing delegates, along with delegates from other places of China who tried to depart from the airport in Beijing, stayed in a hotel in a nearby suburb. We planned to study the Bible passages from and some special topics as arranged by the Lausanne Congress over a few days.

The morning of October 17 agents from the Domestic Security Protection Squad and the Bureau of Religion came in and announced that we were engaging in "an illegal gathering at a venue for non-religious activities. They removed the four pastors in charge of our meeting and spoke with them. While they were speaking, the rest of us prayed and sang hymns together, After the four pastors came back, we had some difficult discussions. We unanimously agreed to leave on our own volition. The officers, however, did not give us the option of returning home in taxis. Instead, government agents arrived from our respective districts to take us home, and I was forced to get into the vehicle from my district

The atmosphere in the vehicle was relatively friendly. One of the officers in charge took the initiative and began to speak about the incident on October 13. He said the security guards did what they did without authorization and asked for our understanding Although I knew he was one of the officers at the scene that day, but I didn't want to go into details with him. I just told him that I knew that their job was hard on them, too. After a while, I noticed that the vehicle was not headed in the right direction to take the delegates home.

That evening, we arrived at a guest house located in the mountains. Two other Lausanne invitees from my district who arrived in separate vehicle. Upon arrival, our cell phones and computers were confiscated, and we were told not to leave the compound. Several people followed us everywhere and did not allow us to see or talk to each other. In each guest room, someone was there to spy on us.

On the morning of October 18, I protested that the officers were acting beyond their authority because they restricted our freedom without reason. I locked myself in the guest room and did not let them in. I did not eat, leave the room, or speak with anybody until they released me on the morning of the 19th. I arrived home at noon. I thought they would release me after the Lausanne Congress ended, but surprisingly, I am already in my own home.

"Except for failing to exit the country successfully, things happened just as I expected. What astonished me was my response to the events. Many responses are not preplanned, but are forced spontaneous responses. I am currently struggling, and feel totally Awestruck. What if this incident has not yet ended? What if something like this happens to me again? How should I respond?".

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