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Christian Mistreated in Prison for ‘Insulting’ Muslims

ICC Note:

A Chinese Christian, Liu Huiwen, beaten and imprisoned in April for distributing gospel leaflets entitled “A Letter to our Muslim Friends,” is reportedly being abused by guards and Muslim inmates. His wife discovered the suspected abuse on one of the two yearly visits she is allowed with her husband, describing Liu as limping and very thin.

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3/18/08 China (CompassDirect) Liu Huiwen, a Chinese Christian sentenced to 18 months imprisonment last November for distributing a gospel leaflet to Muslims in Gansu province, is suffering mistreatment in a Muslim-majority prison, local sources told Compass.

After a recent prison visit (allowed only twice a month), Liu’s wife Miao Hui Lian said that he was limping badly and looked very thin. Liu, unable to speak openly, told his wife that the prison was a “very bad place” and that he was being “bullied constantly.”

When Liu’s wife attempted to travel to Beijing to report the suspected abuse, police warned her to stay at home and make no complaint.

She is under heavy police surveillance, a Compass source confirmed.

After his wife’s recent prison visit, a local source told Compass that, “We have reason to believe the guards or inmates are punishing him for what he did and trying to cast terror into his heart.”

They also claimed prison guards had withheld food and other items taken into the prison for Liu.

Liu, 39, was arrested on April 28, 2007 after distributing a leaflet entitled “A Letter To Our Muslim Friends” during a funeral in Manping Groupin Ketuo village, part of the Dongxiang Autonomous Region, a Muslim-majority ethnic area in Gansu province.

Villagers immediately reported Liu to police.

A Compass source said police severely beat Liu before detaining him at the Dongxiang police station.

They officially arrested him on May 31 and held him for several months in a nearby town. For about five months, police would not allow family members, including Liu’s wife, to visit him.

In September, the Dongxiang County Procuratorate charged Liu with publishing literature that “discriminated against and insulted people of ethnic minorities.”

Court evidence included a copy of the leaflet, the contract with the printer, and testimony from several Muslim witnesses, according to a China Aid Association (CAA) report last November.

Liu’s lawyer argued that the leaflet did not contain any discriminating remarks or insults against ethnic minorities and that the distribution of the leaflets was a minor incident. He also asserted that Liu had not overstepped the boundaries of freedom of speech outlined in Chinese law, CAA reported.

The leaflet spoke of Jesus Christ as “the only person in this world who overcame sin and death” and appealed to Muslims to turn to Christ, a local source told Compass.

Judges rejected the lawyer’s defense and found Liu guilty as charged, sentencing him to 18 months of imprisonment.

The court determined the day of Liu’s arrest – April 28, 2007 – as the first day of his prison term, meaning he is due for release on October 27 this year.

After sentencing, Liu was returned to a prison in Dongxiang. Many of the prison guards and inmates were Muslims, alarming family members concerned that Liu would be mistreated in prison.

Liu’s wife fears that without intervention her husband’s well-being could be severely impaired.

She and their 4-year-old son are living with Liu’s parents, as she has no income to support herself during his imprisonment.

Liu became a Christian in December 1995. The couple moved from Lanzhou to Dongxiang in October 2004.