A Chinese vicar imprisoned over a land dispute with the Chinese government was almost tortured to death by guards trying to force him to plead guilty.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after he filed a petition in Beijing over a land dispute, according to Express. Shaojie’s daughter, Zhang Huixin, claimed that prison guards tortured Shoajie to force him to plead guilty.
“They cruelly torture my father,” Huixin said in the article. “He’s unable to see the sun during the day. He’s deprived of sleep for 24 hours at a time. The prison gives him only one steamed bun a day and intentionally starves him. According to people who have been released from that prison, my father is barely alive, suffering both mentally and physically.”
Huixin said she cannot communicate with her father about his condition or treatment during visits, as guards shut off the telephones Huixin and Shaojie use if he begins to talk about the torture. Shaojie is also forbidden from talking about his case with anyone outside the prison.
Shaojie’s sister, Zhang Cuijuan, corroborated Huixin’s claims after visiting her brother in jail.
“He was in a terrible mental state,” Cuijuan said. “His eyes burned from sleep deprivation. He said that he is forbidden to sleep during ‘strict supervision.'”
Shaojie’s arrest and torture are par for the course in China’s approach to Christianity. The Chinese government has arrested other church officials on various charges of noncompliance with government regulations of religious activity. State sanctioned churches are closely monitored by government officials, private house churches are outlawed, and China has drafted new religious regulations that could be used as justification for the removal or destruction of religious symbols and church property.
Shaojie’s family members are allowed to make 30 minute visits once a month. According to Cuijuan, Shaojie tried to file an appeal, but the government refused to process his appeal, saying they would not process it until Shaojie pleads guilty.
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