Date: August 3, 2022
(Taiyuan, Shanxi province—August 2, 2022) Pastor An Yankui of Zion Reformed Church in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, and his co-worker Zhang Chenghao were arrested and imprisoned for the crime of “illegally crossing the national border” after leaving China through standard border procedures at the airport. An Yankui’s wife, Yao Congya, recently sent out a message revealing that the court hearing for An Yankui’s case will be held at 9 in the morning on August 5.
An Yankui, Zhang Chenghao, and five Christians from Zion Reformed in Fenyang, Shanxi Province, traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in late January 2020 to participate in the “2020 Gospel and Culture” Christian conference sponsored by Indonesian-Chinese evangelist Pastor Tang Chongrong. At that time, they all entered and left the country via standard procedures and through customs with valid visas and passports without any violation of the law. However, six months later, five brothers in Christ from Zion Reformed were criminally detained, arrested, and sentenced on the morning of July 28, 2021. The reason for their arrest was suspicion of “illegally crossing the border.” After serving their sentences, authorities released these five believers one after another at the beginning of this year.
On November 21, 2021, An Yankui and Zhang Chenghao were taken away by the Fenyang Municipal Bureau of Public Security in Lvliang, Shanxi province, on the same charge. During this period, defense lawyers went to the detention center several times to request a meeting with their clients, but the detention center denied them permission. The defense lawyers needed consent of the unit in charge of the case, which allegedly involved national security and state secrets.
The case was filed by a deputy branch chief of the State Security of Lvliang Public Security Bureau, and the Fenyang Public Security Team was responsible for handling the case. The crime of “illegally crossing the national border” is not a type of case that requires permission for meetings. The denial of lawyers’ requests to meet with the clients is the result of the arbitrary interpretation and expansion of the application by the relevant departments, and the issuance of a letter to deny meetings with lawyers is an illegal act.
Zion Reformed Church holds the Christian Reformed faith. Because of its refusal to join the state-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Church, Zion Reformed has been repeatedly suppressed by local authorities. An Yankui, on the other hand, has been summoned and detained by police on several occasions. Family members of the defendants revealed that officials repeatedly asked them to join the official Three-Self Church. Each family denied these requests.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid
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