By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– Chinese authorities have sentenced Christian Mao Minzi to a forced labor camp for his involvement in organizing a worship service with other believers in a house church, an advocacy group confirmed late Thursday, December 11,
US-based China Aid Association (CAA) told BosNewsLife the 55-year-old man was sentenced to “one year of re-education through labor” for “organizing an illegal religious gathering.” CAA suggested that he may appeal against the sentence, as Christian attorney Li Baiguang will defend him “with the help of ChinaAid’s Legal Defense Fund.”
At least a quarter of a million Chinese people, including Christians and dissidents, are believed to stay in the country’s harsh “re-education through labor” camps, according to human rights watchers.
Mai Minzi was detained by authorities on November 3 and sentenced a week later for meeting with other house church Christians earlier this year “at the home of Ms. Wang in Xiuzhen Zhang village” located in the Cangtou township of Xin’an county, in China’s Henan province, CAA said. During the January 11 raid, authorities reportedly also confiscated a large number of Christian books and discs.
CAA said it has urged Christians around the world to send an “encouraging note to Mao Minzi’s family” and said the address is Group 23, Yangshi village, Cangtou township, Xin’an county, Henan province, China.
Although some Christians have been released early from prison and labor camps, Chinese authorities have launched a major crackdown on the growing house church movement in the country, detaining leaders and Christian students, according to several church groups.
Most of China’s up to 130-million Christians are believed to worship outside the government-backed mainstream denominations in ‘house churches’, names this way as they are organized in homes of individual believers.
Chinese authorities have defended their policy saying that nobody is above the law and that Christians are free to gather in the official churches.
However Chinese Christians gathering in house churches say they want to worship Christ outside state control. China, a Communist nation, has come under international pressure to allow more religious freedom at a time of economic reforms in the country.