Sichuan Church Condemns Forced Lawyer Appointment
Imprisoned Pastor Wang Yi Continues to Face Legal Persecution
08/12/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on August 10, Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Sichuan issued an emergency statement regarding the government’s planned appointment of lawyers for the church’s imprisoned senior pastor, Wang Yi. Through various channels, ERCC has been informed that officials in Chengdu are planning to bypass the lawyers appointed by Pastor Wang Yi and forcibly assign other lawyers, including Christian lawyers, to defend him.
In the statement, ERCC said, “According to Pastor Wang Yi’s public statement before his arrest, he does not accept, recognize, and even condemned the consistent acts and performance of these officially appointed lawyers.”
“He does not accept any appointed lawyers who are not assigned by him or his direct family members,” the statement added.
ERCC also endorses the two lawyers assigned by Wang, Mr. Zhang Peihong and Mr. Ran Ton. The church reiterated that it would rather have Pastor Wang Yi defend himself if Mr. Zhang and Mr. Ran are unable to defend him due to the government’s interference.
Meanwhile, ERCC church member Li Chengju was released on August 9 after five weeks of being criminally detained. She lost weight and much of her hair due to the conditions at the detention center. Her “crime” was distributing Gospel leaflets while she went grocery shopping on July 4.
Li had previously been detained for 15 days for serving in a Bible class, and her husband Chen Shaowen was also detained for two weeks after they opened up their house for a small group gathering.
Thankfully, most of the detained ERCC members have been released or put under house arrest since last December’s church-wide crackdown, including Pastor Wang Yi’s wife Jiang Rong. However, two other elders, Li Yingqiang and Qin Derfu, accused of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” and “running an illegal business,” are still behind bars.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “After slapping an additional charge on Pastor Wang Yi last month, Beijing now wants to trample the rule of law and ignore the rights of its citizens to further persecute him. The world should not keep silent and allow the Chinese government to abuse human rights without facing repercussions.”
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