BEIJING The United States has voiced grave concern over the brutal beating Oct. 16 of "Pastor Bike" Zhang Mingxuan's two sons by public security officials in China.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood released a statement Oct. 23 that specifically highlighted the "continuing official harassment of Pastor Zhang, ... including his arbitrary detention and the forced relocation of his family." The State Department called on the Chinese government to release Zhang immediately, permit his family members to return home, condemn the violent acts committed against his sons and bring the individuals responsible for the persecution to justice.
The statement came the day after two congressmen, Frank R. Wolf, R.-Va., and Christopher Smith, R.-N.J., issued a joint letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking her to call for Zhang's release and demand that the damages inflicted upon his family be rectified. Both congressmen met with Zhang and his wife in Beijing this past July and heard firsthand about the abuses Christians in China suffer at the hands of Public Security Bureau officials.
Chinese pastor's son survives attack by government agents
Zhang Jian, the son of "Pastor Bike" Zhang Mingxuan, chairman of the Federation House Church movement, was beaten by officers of China's Public Security Bureau Oct. 16. The next day, he was able to speak with staff from China Aid Association, a human rights organization based in the United States.
China Aid reported that Zhang Jian's right eye is severely wounded and doctors are unsure whether he will regain sight. His nose bone and eye bone are broken, and doctors have recommended further CAT scans and surgery. Despite his serious condition, the pastor's son left the hospital because PSB officials were watching him there and he feared for his safety, China Aid said.
"I could not believe human beings could be so evil," Zhang Jian told China Aid by phone. "Where is law, where is justice? I was crying out to the Lord. I felt I was dying and told the Lord, 'Lord, please take my life as a martyr.
"'Maybe this is the only way to awaken the conscience of the world and for the Chinese to open their eyes to see clearly that this is the religious freedom in China,'" Zhang Jian added. "'I would like to die if my life could be used as a wakeup call and could help Chinese brothers and sisters further more freedom to worship the Lord freely to demonstrate the darkness here in China.'"
Zhang Jian explained that his mother called him around noon the day of the beating and asked him to come to her apartment because plainclothes officers "along with hired thugs" had broken in and were throwing her belongings onto the street.
"When I got there, I saw my mom lying on the ground, being knocked down by these thugs who were led by a man who claimed to be the cousin of the property owner with whom my parents had signed two-year rental contract less than a month ago," Zhang Jian told China Aid. "My younger brother Zhang Chuang was badly beaten up already with his mouth swollen bleeding.
"I asked, 'How can you guys throw other people's private items on the street?' I tried to use my body to protect my mom from being hurt by them. Then this group of 15 officers and thugs immediately surrounded me and started beating my head and body with iron bars and said, 'You are the one. We need to teach you a lesson as troublemaker.'
"I was very angry and upset in the beginning," Zhang Jian said. "How could this happen in the daytime? My parents do not deserve to be treated like this just simply being preachers of the Gospel. My blood ran over from upstairs to the downstairs until I lost consciousness."
Zhang Mingxuan, the pastor, was traveling in Yunnan province at the time and was unable to be contacted. Once Zhang Jian lost consciousness, his younger brother called 110, the Chinese equivalent to 911, but police did not arrive for more than an hour, Zhang Chuang told China Aid. Chinese law requires the police to arrive within 10 minutes of a call, and the PSB office is in close proximity to the Zhang residence.
"Ironically, seeing the police arrive, one of the guys who beat up my brother pretended to fall down, claiming he was beaten up by my brother Zhang Jian," Zhang Chuang said. "Then the police even called in the ambulance to help that guy who was not hurt or wounded at all. But the ambulance refused to come to rescue my brother whose clothes were soaked with his blood all over after our repeated plea to 110. How could he or how dare he fight back when surrounded by 15 strong guys with iron bars? It's very evil and is a joke to claim he could beat others at that time."
Zhang Jian told China Aid that the doctors wanted him to have surgery to correct some of his wounds, but his family did not have the appropriate funds.
"I want to see some justice to be done and I want my father to be back home," he said. "Where can we find a place to stay? No one in Beijing is able to host us. Pray for us, especially for my mom. She is exhausted."
"The physical assault on Zhang Jian is the most serious of the recent attacks on Zhang Jian and his family. During the past 22 years, Zhang Jian's father, Pastor Bike, has been arrested 26 times, beaten and evicted from his home numerous times because of his faith," the human rights group said. "Despite the persecution, this family continues to boldly preach and help the house church Christians."
In order to receive medical reimbursement for his injuries, PSB officials coerced Pastor Bike's eldest son, Zhang Jian, to sign a statement that he received only minor injuries in the beating, China Aid reported. Hospital records, however, indicated he received severe injuries that required complicated surgery.
On Oct. 10, police sealed the door of the house church where Zhang Mingxuan preaches and blocked it with two truckloads of garbage, even though the government just weeks earlier had given the church permission to meet, China Aid reported. Pastor Bike has been arrested 26 times, beaten and evicted from his home numerous times because of his faith.
China Aid, on the web at www.chinaaid.org, said it is assisting Zhang Jian and his family with medical expenses, legal help and other needs and urged concerned citizens to contact the Chinese Embassy by writing to 2201 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007 or by calling 202-338-6688.