Government Approved Church Leaders Withhold Donated Quake Funds; Whistleblower Christian Sentenced to Re-education Through Labor
July 31, 2009
HENAN, China, (christiansunite.com) -- On July 22, Zhang Xiuzhi filed an administrative lawsuit against Zhengzhou Municipal Management Committee for Re-education Through Labor requesting that her sentence of re- education through labor be repealed. Zhang Xiuzhi was sentenced to re-education through labor on April 30, 2009, for "disturbing social order." However, Zhutun Church members say that the real reason Zhang Xiuzhi was sentenced was because government authorities were angered at her inquiries regarding church donations for earthquake relief that authorities never sent to earthquake victims. On May 18th 2008, the Zhengzhou Municipal China Christian Council / Three Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM) designated the day as the Disaster Relief Day and collected donations from six churches to aid the disaster areas. Zhutun Church raised more than 57,670 yuan ($8,440 US) for disaster relief. However, Zhutun Church was not included along with other donors who were publicly announced by the city council on November 3rd 2008.
On November 3, 2008, Zhutun Church discovered that their relief donations were never sent to the disaster areas in Sichuan, but were still being held by the Zhengzhou CCC/TSPM. Zhutun Church reported this to relevant authorities, yet church members say that many months passed without a response.
Zhang Xiuzhi, who is the Deputy Director of Zhutun Church, along with others sent a prayer letter to various churches, asking believers to pray for the whereabouts of the relief funds. Zhongyuan District Bureau of Religion and the Zhengzhou CCC/TSPM then expelled Zhang Xiuzhi along with Yu Enzhen, the head of the church's sacrament group, from the Church Administration Committee. On February 15, 2009, church members claim that Yan Shugang, President of Zhengzhou CCC/TSPM, incited members of other churches to cause disturbances in Zhutun Church and tried to prevent the Sunday service from being held.
Zhutun Church says that Zhongyuan District Bureau of Religion and Zhengzhou CCC/TSPM colluded with the judicial departments to arrest Zhang Xiuzhi. The authorities stated that sending the prayer letter to the churches was "distributing flyers" and "concocting facts to vilify Zhengzhou Municipal CCC/TSPM." They further stated that Zhang Xiuzhi "seriously disrupted the normal working order of Zhengzhou Municipal CCC/TSPM and Zhutun Church."
On April 18, 2009, Zhang Xiuzhi was arrested, and on April 30, she was sentenced to one year of re- education through labor. On July 22, Zhang Xiuzhi submitted an administrative lawsuit to the relevant authorities in accordance with legal procedures, requesting that her sentence of re-education through labor be repealed, the committee to pay compensation, apologize in public and pay the expenses of the lawsuit.
Contact Chinese government authorities and ask for Zhang Xuizhi's immediate release and that the funds donated by Zhutun Church be sent to earthquake victims.
Zhengzhou Municipal Committee for Ethnic Affairs (Bureau of Religion): +86-371-67181741; FAX: +86- 371-67181748
Zhengzhou Jinshui District People's Court of Henan Province: +86-514-87878975
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 495-2000
Fax: (202) 588-9760
NOTE: If you are a citizen of another country, please go here to find the contact information of the Chinese embassy in your own nation www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/2490/.