China: Jiang Zongxiu

18 June 2023

Jiang Zongxiu, a 34-year-old woman, was arrested for distributing Christian materials in a village marketplace in Tongzi County, Guizhou Province. Despite not posing a threat to anyone, she was beaten to death by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers at their office in the neighbouring province. Jiang and her mother-in-law, Mrs Tan Dewei, had been active in their local house church for a decade and were handing out Bibles and other religious pamphlets when they were arrested by the local PSB. The officers bound their hands with handcuffs on the way to the county detention centre, where they were accused of spreading rumours and disturbing the social order. They were sentenced to fifteen days of administrative detention for distributing Christian literature in the marketplace, which was deemed a serious disturbance of the social order in the police report.

The PSB officers took Jiang and Tan to Tongzi Detention Centre on 18 June, where they were fingerprinted and sent to separate cells. Tan protested against their illegal detention, but the police didn’t listen. She also saw a person’s feet lying on a bed across from her cell and officers taking pictures of them. When she asked about it, the officer told her it was none of her concern. Tan also wanted to see Jiang but was told she was resting. When she asked again, she was told that Jiang was very sick and in serious condition. Eventually, the officers released Tan without any notice or explanation, forcing her to leave quickly. When she arrived home, she learned of Jiang’s death and realised why they were taking pictures at the detention centre and why they wanted her to leave so soon.

The autopsy report stated that Jiang died of natural causes due to heart failure, but her family requested a second autopsy, which was refused by the authorities. When the family went to the local court to report how Jiang was beaten to death, they were turned away. The PSB officials then pressured the family to cremate Jiang’s body, destroying any evidence of her murder. Jiang’s family sought justice for her death, but their efforts were in vain. Despite their courage to speak out against the government’s persecution of Christians, justice was not granted in this life.

 

 

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