Officials in China Block Christians from Appealing Illegal Prison Terms, Advocacy Group Says

Banned ‘Shouters’ sentenced beyond legal limit.

LOS ANGELES (Morning Star News) – Local officials in China’s Inner Mongolia region are blocking three Christians convicted as “cult” members from appealing prison terms that exceed the legal limit, according to advocacy organization China Aid Association.

The Yuquan District People’s Court in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia, convicted Hu Gong, Wen Weihong and Liu Aiying on July 25 of “forming and using a cult organization to undermine the implementation of the laws of the State,” which according to Article 300 of China’s Criminal Code is punishable by three to seven years of prison. A court sentenced Hu, however, to nine years in prison, and Wen and Liu to eight years, according to China Aid.

The Hohhot Intermediate People’s Court ruled that the three Christians, members of the controversial Shouters, a banned offshoot of the Local Church, were ‘cult’ members; that literature and CDs in their homes were ‘cult propaganda’ materials; and that ‘the circumstances were particularly serious,’ leading to the exorbitant sentences. Defense lawyers, according to China Aid, said the “particularly serious circumstances” consisted of the defendants possessing several hundred copies of Local Church literature, including a booklet published by the Christian Research Institute called “We Were Wrong,” in which the U.S. apologetics ministry reversed its earlier designation of the Local Church as a “cult.”

When the three Christians informed the court that they planned to appeal, local government departments used threats and scare tactics to prevent them from filing the appeal and blocked them from hiring lawyers, China Aid reported.

“While the Local Church has aroused controversy in the past, most Christians worldwide no longer regard the denomination as heretical, and the Chinese government is clearly using the ‘cult’ label as a tool for its persecution of religious believers,” China Aid said in a press statement.

Hu’s family, however, managed to hire attorney Zhang Peihong of the Shanghai Huiye Law Firm, who requested the case files from the court. The judge told him that a higher court had already dismissed the case and that it would not be re-tried, according to China Aid.

“This being the case, the only thing Zhang can do is to file a complaint on behalf of Hu’s family members and appeal to higher authorities,” China Aid reported.

Police took Hu, Wen and Liu into custody on July 4, 2012 for distributing several hundred copies of evangelical literature published by the Shouters and the Local Church. They were formally arrested on Aug. 11, 2012, and indicted on April 10.

China Aid is appealing for financial help for the families of the three Christians; Hu’s wife has a meager income from cutting people’s hair, Wen’s wife is unemployed, and Liu’s husband is disabled.


© 2013 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. Our mission is to inform those in the free world and in countries violating religious freedom about Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact [email protected], or send check to Morning Star News, 24310 Moulton Parkway, Suite O # 157, Laguna Hills, CA 92637, USA.


Speak Your Mind