CHINA: Police set up cameras to monitor released pastor John Cao

John Can holding protest signPolice have installed surveillance cameras to monitor Chinese pastor John Cao (64), who was released from prison in March 2024 after finishing his seven-year sentence.

A resident of North Carolina, the pastor is staying with his 88-year-old mother Sun Jinhuan in Changsha city, Hunan province, and cannot leave the city because the authorities have not given him an ID card or passport since his release, making it impossible to travel or access services such as medical care. Pastor John’s wife and sons live in the US but Changsha police have told him that they plan to supervise and “educate” him for five years.

The photo shows him in front of the Furong district branch of Changsha Public Security Bureau holding a sign that reads “I am a Chinese citizen, and I love my country, but I don’t have an ID card“.

Pastor John was detained in March 2017 while returning to China from a humanitarian trip to Myanmar and a year later he was sentenced to seven years in prison for “organising illegal border crossings” between China and Myanmar.

Cameras installed

On 4 June 2024 police detained Pastor John for twenty hours without giving any reason. Two days later he walked out of his mother’s apartment at around 4 pm and saw two workers whom he described as plainclothes public security personnel installing a high-definition camera facing his mother’s doorway.

Pastor John shouted, “Mom, come quickly and see, the public security is installing a high-definition camera at your doorway to monitor you, an elderly person.”

His mother came out to look and reportedly said to the security personnel, “Welcome, welcome. In case I fall, you must come to my aid in time.”

The pastor later wrote, “Of course, these plainclothes public security personnel installing a camera at my mom’s doorway are not tracking my mother, I am the target they want to control… The public security also installed two high-definition cameras at the entrance of the apartment complex. This way they can easily track my every move. There are also cameras everywhere on the streets, and all these cameras are interconnected.

These cameras are not just for tracking my whereabouts, but also for monitoring who comes to visit me. The police have let it be known that they will not go after people who only visit me once, but people who come to visit me a second time must enter the public security’s records… Their strategy is to harass my friends so that they dare not come to see me, thus achieving the goal of completely isolating me. The Public Security Bureau’s wishful thinking is that I better just stay in my mother’s apartment and not go anywhere, only see some people occasionally. Without an ID card, I can’t leave Changsha city… But I have to have contact with people, I can’t possibly sit in an ivory tower. It seems that in the future, the police will be busy running circles around me.”

Read Pastor John’s Prisoner Profile.

(China Aid, churchlist)

Photo: Pastor John Cao’s family via China Aid