BEIJING, CHINA – As per Radio Free Asia or RFA, a United States government–funded, independent, nonprofit international broadcasting corporation, Chinese authorities are forcing Christians to renounce their faith in secret, mobile “transformation” facilities often run out of basements.
An anonymous informant for RFA says that they were held in one of these facilities – run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department – after authorities raided his church in 2018, and claims that during their ten-month stay, they were subjected to imprisonment in a windowless room for almost ten months, was given only two meals a day, and was forced to endure regular beatings, verbal abuse, and “mental torture.”
“They threaten, insult and intimidate you. These were United Front officials, men, women, sometimes unidentified, usually in plain clothes. The police turn a blind eye to this,” they said. “You have to accept the statement they prepare for you. If you refuse, you will be seen as having a bad attitude and they will keep you in detention and keep on beating you.”
The informant claims that they were so traumatized by their brutal treatment in the transformation facility that they had thoughts of suicide and resorted to self-harm in the form of throwing themselves into walls repeatedly.
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The informant’s tales echo those of others who claim they were also held in similar facilities, according to RFA; the common description of their time while held in detention is that they were being “brainwashed” to renounce Christianity by the Chinese government.
A second informant told RFA that facilities like this are utilized throughout China, and are not only used to “treat” Christians, but Protestants and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement as well.
The Chinese Communist Party has very strict rules in place in regards to religion, with atheism being the state-sanctioned preference in terms of belief systems; Christianity is regarded by President Xi Jinping as a “dangerous Western import” used to influence Chinese society and even “subvert” the government.
Currently, there are 9 million Christians in China, which currently allows citizens to practice the religion as long as it is part of a state-sponsored organization; however, according to RFA, sometimes even that affiliation is not enough to prevent harassment from the government.