Two Jailed After Raid on Early Rain Church Meeting in China's Sichuan

Police raid a gathering at the home of a church member, taking several minors and adults to a nearby police station for questioning.
By Qiao Long and Lau Siu Fung
Two Jailed After Raid on Early Rain Church Meeting in China's Sichuan Chengdu police detain members of the Early Rain Covenant Church after breaking into the home of church member Dai Zhichao, Aug. 22, 2021.
Video Screenshot

Police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan detained several minors and jailed two members of the Early Rain Covenant Church following a police raid on a gathering in the provincial capital, Chengdu, RFA has learned.

Meeting host Dai Zhichao and church member He Shan were sentenced to 14 days' administrative detention, a sentence that can be handed down by a police-run committee without the need for a trial, following a Sunday raid by state security police and officials from the municipal religious affairs bureau, a local Protestant church member surnamed Li said.

"At around 11 a.m. on Aug. 22, during the Sunday meeting of the Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church, the [group] was illegally assaulted by the police from the Mengchaiwan police station in Chenghua district," Li said.

"More than a dozen children were taken away."

Video clips of the raid seen by RFA showed police breaking into Dai's home without showing a search warrant.

"Dai Zhichao's arm has been injured and his phone taken from him," one church member says while filming the incident. "They dragged us out of the door and took us away."

In the clip, a police officer is heard to say: "Someone reported an illegal gathering taking place here."

An Early Rain member who declined to be named said around a dozen police officers broke up the meeting,

"A group of brothers and sisters had gathered at a brother's house, and the police came, saying that they had received reports from the public that there was an illegal assembly taking place," the church member said.

"The brothers and sisters opened the door and asked the police to show a search warrant, or they wouldn't let them enter," they said. "But the police were very rude, and forced their way in through the door, and took everyone's details, including the children's."

Kicked by police

One member, Shu Qiong, was kicked in the leg by a police officer, after protesting when her eight-year-old son was hit over the head with a water bottle.

"They were all taken to the police station, then gradually released later that evening, between 10.00 and 11.00 p.m.," a church member said.

"But some of them have been incommunicado after being released."

The Early Rain church issued a statement about the raid, naming church members San Ensui, Lan Fali, Tan Peng, Huang Yizhen, Niu Chuang, He Ye, Dai Zhichao, Lu Lingzhi, and his wife as being among the detainees.

On Dec. 30, 2019, the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court jailed Early Rain pastor Wang Yi for nine years, after finding him guilty of "incitement to subvert state power" and of "running an illegal business" in a secret trial.

Wang, who founded the church, was detained by police in Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu on Dec. 14, 2018, alongside dozens of church members in a raid that prompted an international outcry.

Some Early Rain Covenant Church members who were detained in raids on Dec. 9 and 10, 2018, and later released said the police had beaten them, and one detainee described being tied to a chair and deprived of water and food for 24 hours, rights groups reported at the time.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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