Date: December 31, 2021
|The family members of the five Christian defendants of Taiyuan Xuncheng Reformed Church
(Photo: ChinaAid source)
(Fenyang, Shanxi Province—December 31, 2021) On December 28, Fenyang court held a trial for five Christians of Taiyuan Xuncheng Reformed Church, all of them tried for the charge of “illegally crossing the national border”. Officials allowed lawyers and family members to attend the court session, but the court did not immediately announce its verdict.
The defendants were Zhang Ligong, Wang Runyun, Wang Shiqiang, Zhang Yaowen, and Song Shoushan. All five testified their faith during the trial. God was with them the whole time. They even shared the gospel with the judge. Everybody in the court was able to learn about God.
A very experienced lawyer told ChinaAid:” According to the law, defendants of this kind of case usually receive no more than 1 year of sentence. These 5 Christians have been detained for more than 5 months, so the court is in a hurry to hold a trial.”
These 5 co-workers of Taiyuan Xuncheng Reformed Church travelled to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to attend the “Gospel and Culture Conference 2020” organized by Stephen Tong Tjong Eng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the morning of July 28, 2021, they were criminally detained by local police officers under the charge of “illegally crossing the national border”. Later they were formally arrested.
Family members of the defendants told ChinaAid that officials have asked them to join the government sanctioned Three-Self Church several times, which were all denied. The so-called “illegally crossing the national border” charge is a fabricated charge to persecute house church. This case is related to the “Measures on the Management of Religious Professionals” published by the National Religious Affairs Bureau in February. The law will take effect on May 1, 2022. The following articles enable the officials to charge Christians for attending evangelical conferences in foreign countries:
Accept domination by external forces;
Accept clergy from foreign religious groups or organizations;
On July 13, 2021, police officers raided brother Zhang Ligong’s home in Fenyang, and administratively detained him. On July 28, the scheduled day for his release. Brother Wang Runyun and Zhang Yaowen traveled to the detention center to pick him up. Police officers, however, criminally detained them under the fabricated charge of “illegally crossing the national border.” Police officers then arrested brother Wang Shiqiang and brother Song Shoushan. Although each Christian had obtained their passports and visa legally to attend pastor Tong’s conference in Malaysia the year before, officials charged them with the fabricated indictment of “illegally crossing the national border.”
On November 21, 2021, Lüliang county police officers arrested Minister An Yankui and co-worker Zhang Chenghao after the Sunday service. Their family received detention notice 2 days later. They were also charged with “illegally crossing the national border.” The notice stated:
Per the Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China Article 82, on November 22, 2021, our bureau criminally detained An Yankui who was suspected of illegally crossing the national border, and he is detained at Fangshan County Detention Center at present.
Brother Zhao Weikai is Minister An Yankui’s co-worker and classmate. Brother Zhao and his wife sister Li homeschool their children. Consequently, officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau, Education Commission, and National Security Agency repeatedly “invited” Brother Zhao to “talk” with them. Although these Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members threatened to arrest him, trying to force Brother Zhao to send his children to public school, he refused to compromise his belief and continued to provide a Christian education to his children in his home.
On May 17, 2021, police officers summoned brother Zhao to their station in the name of “proselytism,” and raided his home. Zhao’s charge basically means that he proselytized his children. He was administratively detained for 15 days. Police officers found documentaries about June 4, 1989 Tiananmen square massacre and Xinjiang riot on his hard drives, which became new evidence against him.
During the morning of July 7, police again summoned Brother Zhao to their station. Authorities notified his family that they had criminally detained Brother Zho and held him in Fangshan County Detention Center under the charge of “illegal holding of materials promoting terrorism and extremism.” Authorities soon turned their sights to Minister An.
An Yankui is deeply influenced by Pastor Wang Yi. In 2018, Pastor Wang Yi initiated the joint-signature campaign “A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith.” Minister An is one of the first Christian leaders to sign this proclamation. CCP authorities have also repeatedly raided Xuncheng Reformed Church, as well as summoned and detained Minister An several times.
~Yu Bing, ChinaAid Special Reporter
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