China Releases Jailed Christians; Pastor Detained

 

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

Number of Christians growing in China, despite reported persecution, Christian rights activists say.
Number of Christians growing in China, despite reported persecution, Christian rights activists say.


BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- Two more Christians detainees from 'Nanle County Christian Church' (NCCC) in China's central Henan province have been released, just days after Pastor Zhang Shaojie was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, representatives confirmed Wednesday, July 9.

Zhao Guoli and Wu Guishan were freed from a "black jail", an illegal, extrajudicial detention center, used mainly for Christians, said rights group China Aid Association (CAA), which is in close contact with local believers.

They were both detained on on November 15, 2013 after petitioning authorities about a land dispute involving their church. Wu Guishan’s wife, Zhao Xiping, was detained on 17 November 2013 and released on January 24, according to Christians familiar with the case.

In total, over 20 members of Nanle County Christian Church, which belongs to the state-sanctioned Protestant 'Three-Self Patriotic Movement', were detained in November 2013. Most have since been released, but Pastor Zhang and two other NCCC members, Zhang Cuijuan and Li Cairen, remain behind bars.

Pastor Zhang was sentenced this month to 12 years imprisonment on charges of "fraud" and "gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, Christians told BosNewsLife.

TRUMPED-UP CHARGES

He was also fined 100,000 yuan (about $16.120) on what his supporters believe are trumped-up accusations.

Church members, lawyers and Christians visiting the family of Pastor Zhang have said they were beaten, harassed and detained by “hired thugs”, including police and government agencies, since in December 2013.

Additionally lawyers have been prevented from meeting with their clients, and Pastor Zhang reportedly had to dismiss his own attorneys when it appeared they were at risk of losing their licences.

The Communist government of China says it allows wants to protect the country against 'dangerous sects', at a time when some officials have acknowledged there may be as many as 130-million Christians in the country.

Christians have told BosNewsLife the NCCC was targeted because of effective evangelical work.

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