A Chinese Christian woman has been accused of belonging to a cult she has no association with and detained for nearly four months despite the pleas of her family.
Persecution watchdog China Aid reports that in January, authorities detained Tu Yan and four other church goers. At the time, 2,400 pages of "evidence" were submitted by the prosecutors attempting to link her to a cult called the Three Grades of Servants despite her insistence that she had never participated in a cult.
While the evidence was ruled insufficient, new evidence has just been filed against her.
When her sister or father attempt to talk to local police about Tu Yan, they are simply told that the investigation is ongoing and they refuse to answer their questions. Her family told China Aid they feel "powerless", as they have not been allowed to visit her since her detainment in January.
International Christian Concern notes that the danger for Tu is that many Christians have reported being tortured or otherwise coerced into confessing crimes they did not commit to protect themselves or their families.
As earlier reported, Hu Shigen, a leader of an underground church movement, was in August found guilty of subversion, sentenced to seven years and six months' imprisonment and deprived of political rights for five years.
Hu, who previously spent 16 years in prison for "political offenses" such as sharing leaflets about China's 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, reportedly confessed to being linked to "foreign anti-China forces" and conspiring with members of the Fengrui firm about "how to get lawyers involved with sensitive incidents".
Also in August, state media reported that rights activist Zhai Yamin confessed to subversion and was given a suspended three-year prison sentence. A day earlier, a prominent lawyer in the Fengrui firm, Wang Yu, was released from detention after appearing in a videotaped interview in which she blamed "foreign forces" for influencing the firm's activities."
Experts have argued that such confessions not only go against basic human dignity, but are also a violation of China's law stating that people cannot be forced to confess.
The Communist party has expressed discomfort with the growing influence of Christianity in the country, and hundreds of Christians, including pastors, lawyers, and activists, have been arrested for speaking out against the ongoing persecution. Today, many of them are still detained. Human rights attorneys who provide legal support to churches in China have also been subjected to police brutality and coerced into confessing on television that they have disturbed the peace, and jeopardized national security.
The ongoing targeting of Christians prompted Open Doors USA top place the country at 39th on its World Watch List of countries where believers face the most persecution.