Submission to UN on Three House Churches & Kwok Yu Him – December 17, 2015

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Submission to:

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders


Communiqué on Behalf of three House Churches and Human Rights Defender Kwok Yu Him

Allegations of Persecution of Religious Freedom, Arbitrary Detention, Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Reprisals



1. Does the incident involve an individual or a group? Two church groups and two other individuals (pastor from a house church and a staff member of an international Christian organization).

2. If it involves a religious or belief group please state the number of people involved and the denomination of the group:

    • One pastor from a house church in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province;
    • Four church members from Daguan (大关) House Church, Qianxi County, Guizhou Province;
    • Two pastors and one accountant from Huoshi (活石) House Church in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province;
    • And one staff from international Christian non-profit organization China Aid (Taiwan office).

3. Country(ies) in which the incident took place: People’s Republic of China

4. Nationality(ies) of the victim(s): Citizens of China, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.

5. Does domestic law require (re-)registration of religious associations and if yes, what is the current status of the group in question? Yes, the Chinese government does require religious groups to register with the State Administration for Religious Affairs. All three house churches are currently unregistered.


Pastor from House Church in Hangzhou City:

(1) Family Name: Dai (戴)                  First Name: Xiaoqiang (小强)

Age: 50+         Sex: Male

Place of residence: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province           Nationality: Chinese


Daguan House Church Members:

(2) Family Name: Xu (徐)                  First Name: Guoqing (国清)

Age: N/A        Sex: Male

Place of residence: Qianxi County, Guizhou Province            Nationality: Chinese


(3) Family Name: Kang (康)               First Name: Chengju (成举)

Age: N/A        Sex: Male

Place of residence: Qianxi County, Guizhou Province            Nationality: Chinese


(4) Family Name: Huang (黄)             First Name: Huaxing (华兴)

Age: N/A        Sex: Male

Place of residence: Qianxi County, Guizhou Province            Nationality: Chinese


(5) Family Name: Tang (唐)               First Name: Huanggui (黄贵)

Age: N/A        Sex: Male

Place of residence: Qianxi County, Guizhou Province            Nationality: Chinese


Huoshi House Church Members:

(6) Family Name: Zhang (张)             First Name: Xiuhong (秀红)

Age: 50           Sex: Female

Place of residence: Guiyang City, Guizhou Province              Nationality: Chinese


(7) Family Name: Li (李)                    First Name: Guozhi (国志)

Age: 38           Sex: Male

Place of residence: Guiyang City, Guizhou Province              Nationality: Chinese


(8) Family Name: Su (苏)                   First Name: Tianfu (天富)

Age: 40           Sex: Male

Place of residence: Guiyang City, Guizhou Province           Nationality: Chinese


Christian non-profit organization China Aid:

(9) Family Name: Kwok (郭)             First Name: Yu Him (豫謙)

Age: 26           Sex: Male

Place of residence: New Taipei City, Taiwan                       Nationality: Hong Kong, SAR



Beginning late May 2015, Chinese authorities in Guizhou Province have interfered in church activities and arbitrarily detained members of three house churches and one staff at a Christian organization during a crackdown against religious freedom. Not only have authorities detained individuals associated with the Daguan and Huoshi house churches but they also have shut down all church activities. One person has been subjected to torture and other mistreatment while many of those who remain in detention have been denied access to legal counsel, in violation of Article 37 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law (a defendant should be able to visit with a lawyer within 48 hours of a request). Authorities have cited “state secrets” concerns in denying visits with lawyers, a pretext commonly used where the police take advantage of an overly broad and arbitrary CPL provision to hold a detainee in secret if a case is deemed to involve “endangering” the social or political order.


Daguan House Church

Daguan House Church has a significant history before local authorities targeted it. The church had been in operation for 13 years and had around 300 members. On May 24, 2015, local authorities sent in armed officers from the Qianxi National Security Team and Anti-Riot Squad, and officials from Bureau of Religious Affairs to break up their congregation. Authorities demanded the church become a branch of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Church. The Daguan Church congregation refused and officers took into custody almost all the members, putting several of them under administrative detention for 10 days. Since then, all church activities have been prohibited and police have detained church members at various times in order to stop all efforts by the congregation to meet together.

In the evening of June 7, 2015, police officers from Qianxi County, Guizhou province raided a private meeting between Daguan House Church members and lawyers at a hotel and took into custody all the attendees. To date, four church members remain in detention and they are: Xu Guoqing, Kang Chengju, Huang Huaxing, and Tang Huanggui. Authorities have arrested them on the charges of “using a cult to undermine implementation of law” and are currently holding them at the Qianxi County Detention Center. Since their detention in June, authorities have not granted any of them access to lawyers. Authorities repeatedly denied requests for lawyer’s visits by claiming that the cases involved “state secrets.”

Pastor from House Church in Hanzhou, Zhejiang

Police also detained Dai Xiaoqiang, a pastor from a house church in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, who had intended to meet Daguan church members one day after the raid. Qianxi Public Security Bureau (PSB) seized Dai at the Guiyang International Airport at 3:00 p.m. on June 8. Authorities criminally detained him on charges of “using a cult to undermine implementation of law” and are currently holding him at Dafang (大方) County Detention Center in Guizhou Province. Authorities had first held the pastor at the Qianxi County Drug Rehabilitation Center but then transferred him to Qianxi County Detention Center after he was formally arrested. Authorities have denied Dai access to his lawyer. Authorities justified denying him access to counsel by claiming that his case involved “state secrets.” In addition, after Dai was transferred to the Dafang Detention Center, his lawyers would have to first get approval from Qianxi officials prior to visiting him at the Dafang County Detention Center.

On September 1, 2015, along with the four Daguan church members, Dai Xiaoqiang’s case was sent to the local procuratorate for official indictment. However, the procuratorate returned their cases back to the Qianxi PSB once due to lack of evidence.


Huoshi House Church

Pastors and members from Huoshi House Church, also in Guizhou Province, wanted to provide the Daguan church members with some assistance by taking lawyers to meet with them. However, Qianxi police intercepted their mission and threatened them not to get involved. On July 28, 2015, an accountant at the church, Zhang Xiuhong, was detained on charges of “illegal business activity” in relation to her role with the church. As Zhang was leaving the church building (Building 3, Block B, 24th Floor, Guiyang City Huaguoyuan International Center), police seized her along with the church’s financial records, which were in her possession at the time. Two bank accounts, reportedly containing approximately 640,000 RMB, belonging to the church were frozen on August 10, 2015.

Few months later, the Huoshi House Church received an administrative penalty notice on October 21, stating that only business operations were permitted at the premise. In the notice, authorities accused the church of holding “illegal gatherings” in the church building and gave Su Tianfu, a pastor at the church, until November 21 to ensure that the rooms were not used for religious gatherings. The notice further stated that a fine of 13,000RMB per day would be imposed thereafter if he did not comply with the order. Police frequently summoned the pastor for questioning. On November 29th and 30th, authorities from Guiyang City Planning Bureau, the Naming District Urban Management Unit, and Huaguoyuan Police Station visited the church and demanded entry. In the end, police raided the church and confiscated equipment without a warrant.

Authorities forced the Huoshi House Church to shut down on December 9, 2015, when over several hundred officers raided the church. Li Guozhi, another pastor of Huoshi House Church, was seized by police and taken away. Li was put under administrative detention the next day, on December 10, for 5 days. However, on December 15, Li was given another 5-day detention at Naming District Administrative Detention Center. On December 13, authorities also took Pastor Su Tianfu into custody and released him two days later. Su was threatened not to post anything online and not to speak to international media.

The church has been in operation since 2009 and became the largest unregistered church in Guizhou Province, with over 700 members. According to church members, local authorities have harassed church members and interfered in church activities since the church’s creation. Over the years, authorities told the church to halt many of its activities, including baptisms. Beginning late 2014, the authorities’ crackdown against Huoshi House Church intensified and the pastors were repeatedly told to join the Three-Self Patriotic Church. Police have often interrupted routine services and intimidated church members into not attending.


Taiwan office of China Aid

From November 3 to 6, 2015, Kwok Yu Him, an employee who works for the Taiwan office of China Aid, an international Christian non-profit organization based in the United States, was subjected to cruel and degrading treatment as a result of his role as a religious rights advocate. Kwok went to China to meet with various church leaders and members to provide assistance, as well as to learn about the newest developments in the crackdown against religious freedom. On the evening of November 3, after meeting with pastors Su Tianfu and Li Guozhi, Kwok Yu Him was abducted at Guiyang International Airport around 8 p.m. Kwok was surrounded by 10 people and one of them showed an identification from the Ministry of National Security. The officers first confiscated his phone and later other belongings. Kwok was taken to a building near Guiyang Train Station and next to a place called Huaxiang Nancheng in Naming District, Guiyang City, Guizhou.

During this period of enforced disappearance, Kwok Yu Him was beaten and deprived of sleep. According to Kwok, to prevent Kwok from sleeping, the officers used a flashlight to shine in his face, poured water on him, kicked and shook him, and made noises with electroshock guns. Kwok was repeatedly interrogated about his role and meetings with church leaders and members. In the evening on November 4, he was forced to write a statement saying he voluntarily wanted to stay for another 24 hours, as the officers threatened him with residential surveillance for 6 months if he did not comply. Kwok was subjected to more interrogation afterwards and released on November 6, after he was forced to write a statement stating that he “will not engage in activities that will endanger national security anymore.”

Kwok Yu Him sustained a wound on his face, but did not receive any treatment. No examination was provided during or after the ordeal.


Background on Crackdown

The crackdown against the Daguan and Huoshi House Churches, along with any individuals who sought to provide them with assistance, may be linked to official directives that have eliminated space for Christians and believers of other faiths to practice their religion. Since a directive on urban planning was passed in 2013 in Zhejiang Province, authorities have targeted both state sanctioned and non-sanctioned, and underground churches in a crackdown that included demolishing crosses and churches, and criminalizing practitioners. Authorities have held in criminal detention and charged with crimes such as “illegal assembly” and “illegal business activity” pastors and church members who tried to defend their churches. Beginning late 2014, authorities introduced new directives requiring churches within the state sanctioned network to establish a Communist Party Office and Party officials would give lectures on laws and regulations, traditional values, health education, science, and localizing religion, among other topics. These lectures would take place before masses could commence. Around the same time, underground churches have been pressured to become state-sanctioned churches or branches of existing state-sanctioned churches, as in the cases of Daguan and Huoshi.



1. Please indicate if complaints have been filed, when, by whom, and before which State authorities or competent bodies (i.e. police, prosecutor, court): No complaints have been filed with any State authorities, due to immense pressure faced by families of the victims.

2. Were any other steps taken? Those targeted by authorities have tried in vain to see their lawyers.

3. Steps taken by the authorities: In addition to denying visits by lawyers, local authorities have been pressuring family members not to engage a lawyer on behalf of detained church members. The police also threatened the recently released pastor, Su Tianfu, not to engage in any organized activity or speak to the media.

Authorities have not taken any steps to investigate instances of mistreatment or to provide redress for mistreatment or confiscated property, or in relation to any other issue.

4. Indicate whether or not, to your knowledge, there have been investigations by the State authorities; if so, what kind of investigations? Please indicate progress and status of these investigations as well as which other measures have been taken? None

5. In case of complaints by the victim or its family, how have those authorities or other competent bodies dealt with them? What has been the outcome of those proceedings? NA


Date of Submission: December 17, 2015

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