The Church of Almighty God has released its 2020 Annual Report on the Chinese Communist Government’s Persecution of The Church of Almighty God, exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s continued assault on religious beliefs under the shadow of COVID-19. In 2020, at least 7,055 Christians from The Church of Almighty God were arrested, 1,098 were sentenced, and 21 were persecuted to death.
The report details the CCP’s ongoing wanton destruction of religious venues and crosses throughout the pandemic as well as its release of confidential documents demanding a redoubling of its “stabilisation” efforts. Citing a need to ensure ideological integrity and regime security in the midst of the epidemic, it deemed The Church of Almighty God a critical strike target as “a covert threat to national political security,” even taking the opportunity of its pandemic control home visits and inspection posts to track down and arrest CAG Christians.
The CCP’s arrest operations against Christians remained frequent in spite of the havoc wreaked by COVID-19 continuing to unfold.
In February, although many cities and towns were under lockdown orders, a unified arrest operation was carried out in Sichuan Province in which at least 142 CAG Christians were apprehended.
Between May 16 and 17, over just two days’ time, over 100 CAG Christians were arrested in Linfen City, Shanxi Province.
Within a single day on November 11, at least 120 CAG Christians were arrested in Zibo City, Shandong Province.
A minimum of 200 Christians were arrested in Zhejiang Province on the day of December 3, some of which had already been under police surveillance for nearly a year.
The Christians in custody were subjected to various forms of torture such as sleep deprivation, electric shocks, being suspended from handcuffs, having their fingers stabbed with toothpicks, and having their nipples put in iron clamps. At least 21 Christians died in 2020 as a result of horrendous persecution, brutally tortured and otherwise abused while in custody.
Qin Shiqin, a CAG Christian from Shandong Province, passed away after being held in a police station for 10 days. Her corpse revealed a swollen face and blood at the corners of her mouth.
Incomplete statistics show that at least 1,098 CAG Christians were sentenced in 2020. Jiang Yanghua, a Christian from Xinjiang, was given a 15-year sentence for “convening” gatherings, and of three Christians who were minors at the time of their arrests, two were given sentences of three years and the third a sentence of three and a half years.
Beyond all of this, the CCP’s suppression of The Church of Almighty God continued to intensify. In September, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission issued a confidential document calling for a three-year “all-out war” on The Church of Almighty God, identifying the Church as “the most prominent potential threat” to its rule, demanding its “utter annihilation” and efforts to thwart its growth abroad. The number of arrests climbed steadily after the document’s release; in November alone, 1,525 CAG Christians were arrested nationwide.
The CCP also interfered in the right to freedom of belief of Christians outside of its own borders. A Christian living abroad who appeared in CAG films became an object of pursuit, while his relatives in China were subjected to harassment and one was even persecuted to death by police.
The CCP also established a big data platform for individual surveillance and conversion of members of The Church of Almighty God, using a variety of illegal tactics such as inciting anti-CAG public fervor, establishing guilt by association, exploiting the social credit system, and employing surveillance for sweeping persecution of Christians. It made attempts to pressure Christians into signing a guarantee to renounce their faith by revoking their and their relatives’ right to employment, their children’s right to an education, eliminating their basic living allowance, restricting their ability to travel, and more. In 2020, at least 35,752 Christians suffered police harassment.
The Church of Almighty God is a new Christian church in China which has been deemed a threat by the CCP due to its rapid growth and its refusal to accept government control; since its establishment in 1991, it has suffered frantic suppression and persecution at the hands of the CCP. It is currently among the religious groups facing severe Communist Party persecution, and at least 420,000 Christians from The Church of Almighty God have suffered arrest from 2011 until now. The report has been compiled based on over 40,000 cases of CCP persecution of CAG Christians that have been collected as well as confidential documents released by CCP officials. It provides a valuable resource made up of firm data and evidence for all individuals and organisations concerned with religious persecution and human rights in China.