ICC NOTE: The Huoshi church in the Chinese province of Guizhou has been a consistent target of the government as it has been raided multiple times, threatened with closure and fines, and finally arrests. Li Guozhi, one of the pastor’s of the house church was formally arrested on suspicion of “divulging state secrets”. It is not the first time Mr. Guozhi has been detained as he has served three detentions in total, but in those cases formal charges were never filed. The Huoshi church continues to appeal the fines and threat of closure but to no avail.
1/25/2016 Guizhou, China (China Aid) – After serving two administrative detention and one criminal detention sentences, the pastor of a house church in China’s southern Guizhou province was arrested on suspicion of “divulging state secrets” today, shortly after officials rejected his colleague’s administrative reconsideration application on Jan. 11.
Li Guozhi, also known by his alias, Yang Hua, was last seen donning a black hood as officials herded him into an unidentified vehicle. As a pastor of Huoshi Church, which the government has been serially targeting, he was detained twice consecutively for a total of 10 days.
According to previous notices delivered to family members, Li originally served time in administrative detention for “the crime of obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” On the day he was scheduled to be released from his second administrative detention in late December, authorities added the charge of “illegally holding state secrets” and transferred him to criminal detention.
Following another accusation that Huoshi Church had been using its venue to hold religious activities while it was not authorized to do so, officials imposed a fine that began on Nov. 22, even though the church consistently reported all religious events to the government. The original notice, delivered on Nov. 18, informed the church that they had three days to comply with legal stipulations, otherwise, a fine of 10 Yuan [U.S. $2.00] per day for every square meter of church property would be imposed.
After the church refused, the Guiyang Municipal Urban Management Administrative Law Enforcement issued an administrative penalty notice to church members Su Tianfu, Zhang Xiuhong, and Liang Xuewu, under whose names the venue is officially registered, stating that the church had 15 days to pay the fine. If they failed to do this, an additional 3 percent per day charge would be added to the overall expense, totaling 110,296 Yuan [U.S. $16,768.00].
Su, who is a pastor at Huoshi Church, informed a China Aid reporter that he had applied for an administrative reconsideration: “… otherwise, we don’t have the money to pay the fine.”
On Jan. 11, the Guiyang Municipal People’s Government rejected his application.