A Chinese Christian man was severely beaten after arriving at a “re-education through labor” camp, while a believing woman died after apparently being roughed up by police, reports Voice of the Martyrs.

According to the nonprofit organization, which aids persecuted Christians worldwide, Chinese Christian Zhang Yi-nan was badly beaten by fellow inmates last week at a “re-education through labor” facility in Ping Ding Shan City. It was Zhang’s first day at the camp where he is serving a two-year sentence.

A sympathetic official at the camp gave the information to VOM sources inside China, the group said. Zhang was beaten by fellow inmates at the behest of prison guards, who considered the beating to be “lesson one” in his so-called re-education.

“Zhang Yi-nan is a strong man,” said the official, according to VOM, “but he was terribly beaten. His hands were bleeding badly.”

The report states Zhang was arrested Sept. 26 before receiving his sentence. His wife was allowed to see him briefly before he was driven to the labor camp.

“There is no excuse for this welcoming committee for Brother Zhang,” said VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton. “Yet this is business-as-usual for Chinese Christians. We urge Christians around the world to pray for Zhang’s safety, and that he will have many opportunities to witness for Christ.”

VOM says other sources inside China have confirmed the death of Chinese Christian Zhang Hong-mei. The 33-year-old woman was arrested Oct. 29 by local police in Dong Miao Dong village in Jiu Dian Town near Ping Du City in Shandong Province.

According to the report, on the day of her arrest, police called her family and told them to pay a bribe of about $400 U.S. to secure her freedom.

The family couldn’t raise that money, so later that evening Hong-mei’s husband, Xu Feng-hai, and her brother went to the police station to request her release.

They saw her, VOM sources report, bound with heavy chains to the so-called “tiger bench.” She was visibly wounded, and could not speak to them.

The following afternoon the family was called to the station, where they were told Hong-mei had died that day at noon. An autopsy reportedly showed numerous wounds to her face, hands and leg, and serious internal bleeding.

According to VOM, the following day the family went to city officials to request an inquiry. About 1,000 people joined in a protest march in front of city offices.

“Our hearts go out to this Christian family,” said Nettleton. “We join them in asking for an investigation into this incident. We also thank God for the example of Chinese Christians like Zhang Hong-mei, who are ready to die rather than deny their faith in Christ.”

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