Shuozhou Pastor’s Home Destroyed; 6 Christian Leaders Detained
ICC Note: Latest Chinese attack against Christians shows falling trajectory of freedom
1/28/09 China (ChinaAid)–On November 17, 2009, nearly 600 Christian brothers and sisters gathered together in Yangshupo Village in Shuozhou City, Shanxi Province. In the afternoon of November 18th, armed police guards arrived at the gathering site and besieged the group. The police detained all 500 house church attenders on the site for several hours, before arresting Ren Boqing, Jia Jun and Gao Wenjun, church members who drove vans to help bring many of the Christians to the church meeting.
Ren Boqing and Jia Jun were both charged with criminal detention for ‘evil cult involvement,’ a typical sentence for house church believers on November 19th; Gao Wenjun was arrested, but released on bail soon after, and is now awaiting news of criminal trial. Two locals, Ma Fei and Lin Zhengyuan, were additionally arrested on November 19, 2009, and have been criminally detained since for allegedly “participating in a cult.”
Brother Gao Mao, the group leader, was seized and immediately placed in criminal detention at the Detention Center of Pinglu District in Shuozhou. On November 20th, more than 400 police ransacked Mao’s home, stealing both valuables and daily necessities, such as blankets, food, oil, and removing Bibles and Hymnals from the site. They destroyed his entire property during the raid, inflicting close to 1.4 million RMB in damages and loss. In an attempt to cover-up the utter destruction of Gao’s home, the police immediately planted trees among the debris on the ground to conceal their tracks.
Already in a fragile state from her severe heart disease, Lin Zhengyuan’s wife deteriorated rapidly in health after she heard that her husband had been arrested. Both Ma Fei and Gao Mao’s wives each suffer from diabetes and other related illnesses. Their husbands’ arrests were a heavy blow against them, both physically and spiritually.
On December 18, 2009, the police contacted the families of Ma Fei, Lin Zhengyuan, Jia Jun, and Ren Baoqing, and issued formal notices of arrest. Brother Gao Mao has not yet received a notice of arrest, though he did receive a criminal detention paper. All five men were originally detained at the Shuocheng District Detention Center in Shuozhou City, and then moved to the Chengqu Detention Center after receiving formal Notices of Arrest.
After learning of the case in mid-January, 2010, human rights attorneys Li Baiguang (of the Beijing Gongxin Law Firm) and Zhang Kai (of the Beijing Yijia Law Firm) agreed to take on the Shuozhou case, and represent the four formally charged leaders in court. Both attorneys are also currently leading the defense for two other high profile cases: Li Baiguang is heading up the appeal for Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti; Zhang Kai represented pastor Zhang Huamei in the Linfen Case trial in November, 2009, and continues to advocate on her behalf for the case appeal.