Authorities Pursue Charges Against Autumn Rain Covenant Church Members
06/13/19 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on June 11, 2019, Chinese authorities released a key Christian leader of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, as well as another church member, from prison. The authorities conducted a massive series of arrests of the church’s members this past December.
Jiang Rong and her husband, Pastor Wang Yi, were detained in December 2018 on charges of inciting subversion of the state. The couple was separated, and Jiang was issued “residential surveillance at a designated location.” These facilities are also referred to as secret prisons where torture and abuse run rampant.
According to a church news release, Jiang was “released on bail pending trial and has been reunited with her son. In addition, Sister Li Xiaofeng was also just released on bail pending trial after six months in jail.”
Jiang’s release this June was anticipated. Chinese law states that authorities can detain individuals for six months without trial, and a number of other church members have also been released on bail from prison. It is anticipated that Jiang will face a difficult trial as charges continued to be pressed against her because of her leadership role at the church.
According to a statement by China Aid, “We are not currently sure about Jiang’s health condition. The Chinese government should allow her free access to medical examinations and care. She has been released under bail, which means she could be re-arrested at any time; that is one method the Chinese government uses to restrict her freedom of speech and movement.”
The status of her husband, Pastor Wang, is unclear. Pastor Wang was vocal about the government’s human rights abuses targeting Christians. Just prior to his arrest, he made several comments about China’s attempt to prevent Christians from worshiping.
He wrote, “We need to repeatedly tell the ones in power that to disrupt Sunday worship and disband churches is the evilest crime in this world… we truly hate to see the whole nation under great disaster. Lord, have mercy on this nation, and give us the courage to disobey [the government].”
The crackdown on Autumn Rain Covenant Church was widely interpreted as a signal of intolerance by the Chinese authorities toward human rights activism and religious freedom. China is designated as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom because of its abuses toward religious minorities.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “While we are pleased that Jiang Rong was released from prison and finally reunited with her son, we cannot forget that her ordeal is far from over. Her husband remains in prison. Jiang and other members are facing serious charges which can land them up to 15 years in jail. The authorities are clearly persecuting Autumn Rain Covenant Church to send a clear message throughout China that freedom of worship and conscience will not be tolerated.”
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