Langzhong Court in Sichuan Violates the Law in Refusing Filing a Case, Persecuted Christian Appeals to People’s Congress in Accordance with Law
After being raided and shut down in May, this 1,000 member house church located in the Southwest of China has attempted to plead its case in the courts. So far they have met stiff resistance, with one court ruling they there were “engaged in illegal religious activities” and another refusing to even file their case. This leaves little recourse but for the church members to continue meeting illegally and in secret.
09/11/2012 China (China Aid Association)- On May 30, 2012, a house church located in Zhanggongqiao Village, Qili Office in Langzhong, Sichuan province, that has a congregation of over 1,000 members was raided and banned by the authorities. The private property and the assets of the church were confiscated. Sister Xie Deyue, the hostess of the house, was summoned. The person in charge of the church is Pastor Li Ming. In June, Xie Deyue and the believers hired human rights attorneys in accordance with legal process and submitted their application for administrative reconsideration. In August, Langzhong Municipal Government communicated its decision that the church was engaged in “illegal religious activities” and that the “penalty was properly rendered.”
Following this, Xie Deyue and other house church members submitted an administrative lawsuit in accordance with the law, but Langzhong Municipal Court refused to file the case. For this, Xie Deyue wrote a letter to the Standing Committee of Langzhong Municipal People’s Congress and stated her reasons in accordance with the law. The following is the full text of her statement:
August 20, 2012
Dear respectable Standing Committee of Langzhong Municipal People’s Congress:
According to the Chinese Constitution and the related laws, the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress has the right to supervise the court. I have heard Langzhong Court is notorious within the Sichuan court system for not filing cases. In the past, this did not have anything directly to do with me; however, now it not only concerns my interests, but more importantly, I worry that Langzhong will sink into an abyss if such misadministration continues unchecked. This is because I have found that the worse the judicial environment is, the poorer the economy will be, and the poorer the economy is, the worse the judicial environment will be. Conversely, the more developed a place is, the better the judicial environment is, and the better the judicial environment is, the more developed the economy will be. This is called the Matthew Effect. The better the judicial environment is, the more likely investors are to invest because the investment enjoys legal protection. If there is no legal protection, there is risk of not being able to recoup the principle of the investment, much less to earn profits. I wonder whether you have been to Jiangsu or Zhejiang provinces. The economy in these provinces is the most developed in China and the judicial environment is known to be especially first-rate within China. I’d like to know whether Langzhong People’s Court will be required to make its dutiful contribution to improve the environment for the rule of law in our local area. If they are permitted to continue to arbitrarily refuse to file cases as a means to discourage the free exercise of legal rights, I believe a large number of potential investors will be scared away from investing in the development of our economy.
Though my case may be viewed as a minor and insignificant one, yet it can be used to test whether the judicial environment here is able to be reformed. Isn’t the court supposed to provide for judicial justice? The major newspaper the People’s Daily is closely following this case in its reports to see whether Deng Xiaoping’s native place upholds the rule of law 30-plus years after he proposed for the rule of China through the rule of law. Not only people in China are concerned about this, but many people throughout the international community are also concerned as well; therefore, the People’s Daily is planning to follow this case in its English reports. Many people in the international community are vitally concerned to know the environment of the rule of law and the status of religious freedom in Langzhong through that report. I’m sure Langzhong will become famous because of this. However, as a resident of this place, I sincerely hope Langzhong will take this opportunity to show to the world that it is reforming and improving.
It is my firm belief that this case will become a touch-stone whether there is freedom of religion in Langzhong and whether its environment for the rule of law is changing for the better. This case also tests whether Langzhong is willing to continue to be at the bottom of Sichuan in these most important two respects. I sincerely hope the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress can urge the People’s Court to file and try the case in accordance with the law and urge the court to create an excellent judicial environment for Langzhong so that investors from various places of the world and guests can feel that Langzhong is a place where one can feel safe and welcome.