5 Linfen Church Leaders Sentenced to Labor Camps Without Trial
December 3, 2009
SHANXI, China, (christiansunite.com) -- On November 30, five more church leaders from Linfen Church, Shanxi, were each sentenced to two years re-education through labor, in an arbitrary administrative sentence by the Public Security Bureau which circumvents the court and prosecution systems. The sentence allegedly took effect November 11th, while they were already detained.
The five Christian leaders included Mr. Li Shuangping, Ms. Yang Hongzhen, Ms. Yang Caizhen (whose husband, Yang Xuan, received three years sentence on Nov. 25), Ms. Gao Qin (a.k.a. Gao Fuqin), and Ms. Zhao Guoai. Among the five, ChinaAid confirmed three members' two-year re-education through labor sentences through their family members--including Yang Caizhen, Yang Hongzhen and Mr. Li Shuangping. The other two members' sentences were confirmed indirectly by Linfen-Fushan church leaders, since their family members were being held under severe government surveillance.
The five church leaders were accused of "gathering people to disturb the public order, " referring to the one-thousand-believer prayer rally held on September 14 for the victims of the midnight attack on Fushan Church. 17 church buildings were destroyed and over 30 believers were seriously wounded during the unprecedented mob attack on September 13.
According to a witness, Ms. Yang Caizhen was seen being beaten severely during an interrogation. One of her front teeth was knocked out during an interrogation, and Ms. Yang is reported to look very fragile.
Government authorities asked the prisoners' family members to sign the Notification-to-Family-Member sentence document, but refused to give them official copies. They claimed the church leaders themselves had received the documents while held in detention (a procedure which violates Chinese law). The family members of Yang Caizhen, Yang Hongzhen and Li Shuangping all signed the notification papers respectively. All ten Linfen church leaders plan to appeal.
"To arbitrarily send five innocent citizens to labor camps directly violates the international human rights covenants and norms the Chinese government has signed and even ratified, " said ChinaAid President Bob Fu. "This case shows the Chinese government is determined to be on the wrong side of history by clenching its power with suppressing the basic freedom of religion and conscience for Chinese citizens. We call upon the international community to hold these rights abusers accountable."