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Religious Group Leaders Trial Set on Monday; Several Death Sentences Expected
By Bob Fu
China Aid Association (02/26/06)

To read the full story, click here: Religious Group Leaders Trial Set on Monday; Several Death Sentences Expected

CAA learned that 17 top leaders from a Chinese religious group are set to be trialed on February 28, 2006 at Shuangyashan Intermediate court, Heilongjiang province. According to the prosecution paper, a copy of which was obtained by CAA, Mr. Xu Wenku (also known as Xu Shuangfu and Xu Shengguang) along with 16 of his top leaders will be accused of having murdered 20 leaders from a group called Eastern Lightning. Xu was also accused of having involved over 32 million Yuan ( $4 million) fraud.

Xu has been the leader of the Chinese religious group known as the Three Grades of Servants with over half a million members nationwide. He served over 10 years in labor camps and prisons since 1976 primarily for his accused “illegal evangelizing activities.” The prosecution paper indicated that Xu directed his group leaders’ murdering actions in retaliation to the Eastern Lightning groups’ penetration activities to his group.

Xu is believed currently held in the Shuangyashan detention center in Heilongjiang Province . According to those who are familiar with this case, Xu and most of the other accused were tortured very extensively during the interrogation time. One of the arrested Xu’s leaders Mr. Gu Xianggao was tortured to death during the interrogation time on April 27th, 2004 and Mr. Gu’s family received a substantial amount of compensation in exchange for silence.

Chinese central government coded this case as “Thunder No. One” in 2004 and from 2004 to 2005, an unknown number of local leaders from Xu’s group had been sentenced to death which have been approved by the People’s Supreme Court though whether they were executed or not is not clear. Xu denied all of the charges. Government sources told China Aid that Xu and at least three of his accused members on this trial will be receiving death sentence.

“Certainly any of the basic teachings of authentic Christian faith are contrary to any actions like those listed in the charges. The Chinese House church movement strongly condemns the use of violence and murder for any purpose,” said Rev. Bob Fu, the president of China Aid and a former House Church pastor in Beijing, “however, in the past few years, cases like South China Church and the sentence of Beijing House church pastor Cai Zhuohua showed that there has been a trend to criminalize any religious activities that is outside the religion embraced by the Chinese Communist Party. These criminal prosecutions have been carried out for the clear purpose of destroying the accused religious group or its leaders.”

The trial of these religious leaders in China this week is significant. Though this group does not have any formal association with or accountability to the Chinese House Church movement, yet regardless who they are, China Aid believes it is essential that they are entitled to a fair trial…a trial that recognizes and protects all of their Constitutional rights. This trial may demonstrate the degree to which the Chinese government may be willing to ignore or suspend constitutional safeguards to destroy particular religious groups. Earlier attempts to prosecute or discredit this group have failed because the evidence has been insufficient or tainted. The statement says used as evidence have routinely being obtained through torture and have been otherwise unreliable. Providing a fair trial is the only way the truth of these accusations can be tested.

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