ICC Note: According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Living Stone Church Pastor Yang Hua was released from prison on June 19. He has completed a two-and-a-half-year sentence for ‘illegally possessing state secrets’. He is in dire need of medical care as he suffers from several health problems.
06/20/2018 China (CSW) – Pastor Yang Hua of Living Stone Church in Guizhou Province, China was released from prison on 19 June.
Pastor Yang Hua of Living Stone Church in Guizhou Province, China was from prison in the early hours of 19 June after completing a two and a half year sentence. According to friends and supporters, he is in urgent need of medical care and is suffering from several unspecified health problems.
Yang was placed under criminal detention in December 2015 on the charge of ‘illegally possessing state secrets’. On 6 January 2017, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Another leader at the church, Pastor Su Tianfu, was sentenced to one year in prison suspended for two years, with a further six months’ residential surveillance, following his trial on 26 April 2018.
Both pastors were also fined over US$1 million for collecting ‘illegal’ donations from members of the congregation. Pastor Su Tianfu and Pastor Yang Hua have filed several appeals on the basis that the money was voluntarily donated by church members and was only used to fund church activities. All appeals were rejected.
In March 2017, Pastor Yang’s lawyer reported that he was “on the verge of paralysis” as a result of severe inflammation in his legs. He is also suffering from skin complaints which began in detention. He received only basic medical care in prison.
Pastor Yang’s release comes amid increasing violations by the authorities against both registered and unregistered churches in China, including forced closure of churches, demolition of religious buildings, harassment and physical attacks against church members, and a ban on under-18s attending church services.
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