Date: November 10, 2017
(Dali, Yunnan—Nov. 10, 2017) Authorities seized hundreds of Christians in China’s southwestern Yunnan province over the past year after officials wrongly accused them of belonging to a persecuted cult. Today, handfuls of them are still imprisoned, some facing trial.
A special investigative force established on March 15, 2016, led to a crackdown launched on Oct. 21, 2016, on the religious organization, the “Three Grades of Servants.” The Communist Party labels this institution an “evil cult” but often uses that term to target innocent religious devotees. During this operation, public security personnel seized hundreds of Christians temporarily, and lawyers said that everyone had the right to be defended and demanded that the officials guarantee that defenders will be provided for everyone. In reply, they alleged that the imprisoned persons were not highly educated and resided remotely, so it was not easy to appoint them lawyers.
For more than a year now, at least 34 of the hundreds arrested are still in custody, and, currently, most of them have lawyers. Seven of them—Liu Wei, Li Yunxiu, Hu Yuxin, Li Chunyu, Li Wanhong, Yao Jiaping, and Zhong Yonggui—were originally scheduled for an Oct. 26, 2017, court hearing, but a few days beforehand, the court informed their lawyers that the case needed supplementary investigation and postponed the case.
Wang Zongyue, Liu’s attorney, said that his client had been taken from where he lived.
In Dali, Yunnan, another two Christians, Tu Yan and Su Min, face sentencing on charges of belonging to the same cult. Repeatedly, the procuratorate has demanded additional investigation on Tu’s case. Her sister, Tu Kui, says that she is innocent and maintains that her sister never participated, or even knew about, the cult.
Next week, the cases of Xu Zhihui, Ma Changyin, Wang Liping, A Wei, Ge Ge, Yao Yongbin, and Li Jianhua, who are also accused of belonging to the “Three Grades of Servants,” will be handed over to the court. Ma, Wang, A, Ge, and Yao have not yet hired lawyers.
Last July, three of the arrested Christians, Li Shudong, Li Meihua, and Peng Zhenghua, received four years in prison each and were fined 5,000 yuan. Their verdict accused them of belonging to the Three Grades of Servants, recruiting cult members, disrupting social order, endangering society, forming organizations, undermining law enforcement via cults, and disseminating cult ideology.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Christians Yunnan, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promoting religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.
ChinaAid Media Team
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