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Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Archive for December, 2006

Released Christian Leader Re-Arrested on Christmas Eve in Xinjiang; Christmas Celebration Disrupted in Beijing: Closed House Church Appeals to the Local Government in Anhui Province

Posted by radiofreechina on December 29, 2006

By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

XINJIANG, CHINA (ANS) — A house church leader in Xinjiang, who was just released November 26, 2006 after 32 days detention by the local police, was arrested again December 23, 2006.
According to China Aid Association (CAA), Brother Lou Yuanqi was arrested October 20, 2006 for organizing and participating in Christian gatherings in Qingshuihe town, Huocheng County, Yili city, Xinjiang autonomous area.

CAA says: “It is believed that the arrest is to deter the Christians from holding any Christmas celebration activities. Brother Lou is currently held at the Detention Center of Huocheng County. So far, none of brother Lou’s family members have received any official notice regarding the reason of his detention.”

Moreover, CAA learned on Christmas Eve, a Christmas celebration was disrupted in Beijing. While about 150 young people were celebrating Christmas in a house church in Haidian District, Beijing, two-dozen Public Security Bureau officers and officials from Religious Affairs Bureau suddenly surrounded them. The hosting house church used to be pastured by Cai Zhuohua who is serving three years imprisonment because of bible printing work. All of the participants were videotaped and forced to register their ID numbers. The government officials declared the meeting as an “illegal religious gathering” and warned them not to meet anymore. In addition, CAA says that on December 19, 2006 a recently closed house church appealed to the local government for the church’s illegal closure by the local Religious Affair Bureau.

For the full text, click
http://www.chinaaid.org/english_site/press_release_detail.php?id=1321

The house church in Tongling city, Anhui province was established by Brother Wang Xingquan in 1953, according to the previous report by CAA. The local Religious Affair Bureau had resorted to administrative measures, including holding the church leaders’ salaries and threatening to fire them from the national unit, to force the Christians affiliate the government run Three Self Patriotic Movement church.

“We are very concerned about the arbitrary detention of brother Lou again,” said CAA’s Bob Fu. “We urge the Xinjiang government to release him immediately.”

The closed House Church’s Administrative Reconsideration Application Request states that the administrative punishment made by the local National & Religious Affair Bureau to close the house church is illegal. The church is asking the government to revoke the administrative punishment made by the local National & Religious Affair Bureau of closing the house church, and compensate the church 1 dollar in accordance with the provisions of Law of the People’s Republic of China on State Compensation.

In its request, the church offers the following facts and reasons for requests: Being converted in his young age, brother Wang established the house church in Tongling in 1953, though the current church building was bought legally in 1994.

On November 20, 2006 Tongling national & Religious Affair Bureau sent the church an “Administrative Punishment Decision” proclaiming that it is illegal for the church to hold their religious activities in the church building, and the church is to be closed down, according to “the State Council’s Regulations on the Religious Affairs.”

On December 5, 2006 upon the request of the Christians, the government held a hearing in which the church expressed its stand and arguments. But the Religious Affair Bureau’s decision to close the church was upheld.

The Tongling Religious Affair Bureau “proclaims that the church is an illegal gathering point and should be closed down referring to Article 43 of ‘the State Council’s Regulations on the Religious Affairs,’ which states:

“If a place of religious activity is established without authorization, or if a place of religious activity is deregistered yet continues to conduct religious activities, or if a religious academy is established without authorization, the department of religious affairs shall outlaw such place or academy and seize illicit income. The departments in charge of construction shall handle illegal buildings and structures according to law. Violations of public security shall be subject to public security penalties. If a non-religious group or a place of non-religious activity conducts a religious activity and accepts donations of a religious nature, the department of religious affairs shall order a halt to such activity and will seize illicit income, if there is any.”

The Religious Affair Bureau also proclaims that the church set up gathering place violates that article 20, item 2 of the Chinese State Council’s Religious Affair Regulations.

The RAB states: “Places of religious activity may, in accordance with religious customs, accept contributions from citizens. However, they may not coerce or apportion such contributions. Non-religious groups and places of non-religious activity shall not organize or hold religious events and shall not receive contributions of a religious nature.”

The church believes that the church’s administrative punishment made by the Tongling Religious Affair Bureau is illegal and should be revoked because of the misunderstanding and misusing of the above law.

According to the stipulation in the Law on the Legislation article 78, “The Constitution is the highest legal authority; no law, administrative regulation, local regulation, autonomous regulation, special rule or administrative or local rule may contravene the Constitution.”

CAA states that Article 36 of the Chinese constitution stipulates, “The Citizens of People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organization, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. ”

CAA continues: “Religious freedom means that the place for religious activity can be set up without the approval of government, because religious belief concerns simply the inner feelings or mental activity of a citizen, secular law can only regulate the outward conducts of a citizen, rather than examine the inner emotion or mental activity of a citizen. Secular law shall not at any time intervene and evaluate the specific religious contents of a citizen, nor shall it exercise its ‘authority of license’ on the religious activity.”

It adds: “At maximum, the place for religious activity of believers may be filed in the entity holding the public power for reference, without the need to receive a license or permission, otherwise, the action of the entity holding public power constitutes illegal intervention or discrimination of the religious freedom protected by the Constitution.

CAA also says that Article 2 of the Chinese State Council’s Religious Affair Regulations states: “Citizens have freedom of religious belief. No organization or individual shall force a citizen to believe or not believe a religion. No organization or individual shall discriminate against citizens who believe in a religion (hereinafter referred to as ‘religious citizens’) or who do not believe in a religion (hereinafter referred to as ‘non-religious citizens’). Religious citizens, non-religious citizens, and citizens who believe different religions shall all respect each other and co-exist harmoniously.”

According to the White Paper “The Situation of Freedom of Religious Belief in China” (issued by the Information Office of the State Council on October 16, 1997), the religious activities conducted by Christians according to customs of Christianity at their homes such as Bible reading and prayer, attended primarily by family members and friends (customarily referred to by Chinese Christians as ‘house gatherings’) are not required to register. Thus the local Religious Affair Bureau’s requesting the church to register to the government contravenes to the Chinese government’s religious policy.

CAA says religious freedom is proclaimed to be a legally inalienable human right of Chinese citizens by the Constitution and laws. Religious freedom is one of the greatest achievements in the modern legal domain for the development of human civilization. This achievement is the result of the arduous efforts and bloody struggle of the Protestants for several centuries, part of whom lost their lives for the struggle.

CAA also cites Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed in the UN General Assembly on December 10 of 1948, which recognizes that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

CAA concludes: “The house church was established as early as in 1953, long before the ‘the State Council’s Regulations on Religious Affairs’ took effect. Even the local government affirms the history of the church in its documents. Thus as a government acknowledged religious organization, the church is protected by the Chinese Constitution. The administrative punishment made by the Religious Affair Bureau has no legal basis in that it contravenes the Chinese constitution, which is the superior rank in the Chinese legal system.”

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For further information, contact: Bob Fu
China Aid Association, Inc.
PO Box 8513 Midland, TX 79708
Tel: (267) 205-5210
Fax: (432) 686-8355
info@ChinaAid.org
http://www.ChinaAid.org
http://www.monitorChina.org

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Eight Zhejiang House Church Christians Sentenced; Prominent Beijing Christian Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Receives Court Verdict

Posted by radiofreechina on December 22, 2006

By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — After an almost 12-hour marathon pre-Christmas trial on December 22, 2006 (Beijing Time), eight House Church Christians in Zhejiang were quickly sentenced to time in prison by the People’s Court of Xiaoshan District, Hangzhou city.
China Aid Association (CAA) reports the trial started at 8:30am and ended at 9pm. The verdict, sentences of between one year and three and a half years, “were clearly prepared by the government in advance before the actual trial started.”

CAA says that during the trial, the 75-year-old Elder Shen Chengyi fell on the ground in the court and lost consciousness. He was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment.

Pastor Shen Zhuke (Elder Shen’s daughter) received a sentence of and half years; pastor Wang Weiliang, three years; brother Feng Guangliang, two years and brother Luo Bingliang, one year. The other four, including elder Shen Chengyi, brother Ni Weimin, brother Shen Jianjian, brother Guo Lijun were sentenced to imprisonment from 1 to 3 years but the sentence was postponed. They are likely to be released.

Meanwhile, in another prominent case, the Beijing Intermediate Court sentenced the well-known Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng for three years but the sentence was postponed for 5 years. Gao was arrested on August 18 this year for his human rights advocacy work.

“Though today’s sentence against the faithful is less heavy than expected because of the international pressure, yet it is not acceptable,” said CAA’s Bob Fu. “The international community should urge the Chinese government to release those innocent House Church believers immediately.”

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Further information: Contact: Bob Fu
China Aid Association, Inc.
PO Box 8513 Midland, TX 79708
Tel: (267) 205-5210 Fax: (432) 686-8355
info@ChinaAid.org
http://www.ChinaAid.org
http://www.monitorChina.org
info@ChinaAid.org

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Beijing Police break into the home of a house church missionary in city

Posted by radiofreechina on December 22, 2006

Two church leaders Kidnapped in Xiaoshan, Zhejiang

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

MIDLAND, TX (ANS) China Aid Association (CAA) says that it has learned that on December 7, 2006 a group of policemen along with some unidentified people broke into the home of Xiu Ruibin, a house church missionary in Beijing, beat the people in the house and destroyed the furniture. Another church leader was put under house arrest in Xiaoshan on the eve of the court trial for 8 Christian leaders.

A CAA spokesperson said, “A few days before the attack, some ex-colleagues of Xiu in Heilongjiang Province, who came to Beijing to complain to the Central Government about illegal actions of their local government, were physically attacked by unknown assailants. Xiu took them into her own home for their safety and to preach the gospel to them.“On December 7, 2006, a group of policemen, led by officer An, came to Xiu’s home to investigate. They threatened the guests and confiscated their ID cards.

“Since the police did not show a warrant or other legal documents, Xiu protested to An. Not long after, An came and asked to enter into Xiu’s home again. Xiu refused because he still could not produce a search warrant.

“In his anger An called several policemen and a gang of ruffians. Being afraid that her guests and her family would be hurt, she closed the iron door immediately and dialed 110 (China’s 911).

“But the iron door was quickly broken. The ruffians rushed into the home, destroyed all the electrical appliances and the furniture. Xiu’s six-year old daughter was terrified and cried. About a dozen Christians were taken away.”

The spokesperson went on to say that Xiu’s husband, Mr. Zhang Honggang is very worried about the safety of his wife and other family members because historically anyone who offends a police officer in charge of their area cannot expect to receive any peace. Zhang asked the brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for them. He hoped to solve the issue by legal measures to ensure the family’s safety, but cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

According to Xiu, being a house church minister, she often hosts at home Christian gatherings, which is frequently disturbed by the police. The police even threaten the Christians with guns.

CAA also learned that on December 14, 2006, on the eve of the trial of the 8 Christian leaders in Xiaoshan, Zhejiang Province, two other remnant church leaders, Tu Shichang and Yu Fuliang were kidnapped by a group of unidentified people on their way to the church. The police refused the inquiry of their family members when other Christians who were arrested in a separate location at the same time had been set free. Three days after their disappearance, the police informed their family members that both of them have been secretly held in a hotel. It is believed the action was to prohibit the Christians to cause any trouble during the trial.

CAA also confirms that a Shanghai House Church Leader Wang Mingwei was interrogated again December 12, by the Xuhui District PSB office and later that day he was released. December 13 and 14, his girl friend was pressured to deny her Christian faith and discontinue her relationship with brother Wang by the security guards and her boss in her work unit. Their House Church was raided December 9, 2006.

“What has happened to the House Church in Beijing, the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games and the Capital of China, is a shame, “said Bob Fu, President of CAA. “The upcoming pre-Christmas trial of the innocent Christian leaders in Zhejiang will be regarded by the international community as a litmus test for religious freedom and the rule of law in China.”

“CAA is arranging financial and legal assistance to these persecuted members. We urge the international community to write and call the Chinese authority to show your concern,” said the spokesperson.

For more information,
Contact: Bob Fu
267-205-5210
info@ChinaAid.org
www.ChinaAid.org                                www.MonitorChina.org

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Jailed Rights Lawyers Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangcheng Receive Human Rights Champion Award

Posted by radiofreechina on December 15, 2006

高智晟陈光诚等获特别人权英雄奖 (Radio Free Asia) – English via Google translate

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House Church Closed in Anhui, Xinjiang – Christians Suffer in Jail.

Posted by radiofreechina on December 15, 2006

brother Liu Mingxiang 

CAA learned recently the local government of Tongling City, Anhui Province is taking administrative measures interfere with the religious affairs of Christians by forcing them to join the Three-Self Church.
 
November 26, 2006 a house church assembly in Laodong Xincui, Tongling City, Anhui Province, was closed by the local Religious Affair Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church.
 
The house church was founded by renowned Christian Brother Wang Xingquan 53 years ago and currently has a membership of approximately 200 Christians. Brother Wang was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution.
 
In order to exert more pressure on Brother Wang his daughter’s work unit stopped paying her salary, and has threatened to fire her unless she sets an example for other Christians by joining the local Three-Self Church. Another brother under threat of losing his job was coerced to resign from the church.
 
December 5, 2006 upon the request of the Christians, the government held a hearing in which the Religious Affair Bureau’s decision to close the church was upheld.
 
Currently the Christians hold worship services in their homes; they said they are preparing for further legal action to regain their right of religious freedom.
 
“The Religious Affair Bureau is only one department in the government in charge of religious affairs. It is definitely not powerful enough to force a work unit to stop paying its employees.” said Bob Fu, President of CAA, “It is obvious that the entire course of action was formulated by the upper level government. Tongling government’s resorting to administrative methods to interfere with religious affairs ultimately tramples the spirit and promise of religious freedom stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and International Laws. We hope that the Tongling government corrects their mistakes and protects religious freedom of its citizens.
 
CAA also learned that all of the Christians arrested October 20, 2006 in Qingshuihe Town, Huocheng County, Yili City, Xinjiang autonomous area were released by November 26, 2006. Four brothers were locked in the detention center for 32 days, one brother and two sisters 14 days. No legal documents were issued when they were arrested and released.
 
Four brothers who were locked up for 32 days are now in the hospital for medical treatment as a result of being severely tortured by other prisoners. “I was beaten daily morning, noon and night! They beat me if I ate the food or did not eat the food, ate too much or too little, went to the toilet or did not go to the toilet! They just beat me for no reason.” one brother said. What’s more, the Christians were clearly told by the prisoners that they were beaten according to the instructions from the police officers in charge of the detention centre.
 
Brother Tan’s experience is especially horrible. He was intentionally placed in a cell with homosexual prisoners where he suffered the humiliation being sexually abused as well as physically beaten. “I would not come out alive if I had been with them any longer.” said brother Tan.
 
“It is totally intolerable to treat a sixty-year old man like that!” said Bob Fu, President of CAA. “We appeal to the Xinjiang government to investigate this event and punish the people involved in detaining and abusing these Christians.”
 
CAA has sent a representative to Xinjiang to comfort and encourage these suffering brothers and sisters. Please contact CAA if you wish to help them.

China Aid Association, Inc.
PO Box 8513 Midland, TX 79708
Tel: (267) 205-5210 Fax: (432) 686-8355
 
Contact: Bob Fu
info@ChinaAid.org
www.ChinaAid.org
www.monitorchina.org

Also see coverage of this by AsiaNews.it

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Christianity Today’s article on Christian Legal activists in China, spurring civil rights movement forward

Posted by radiofreechina on December 15, 2006

China‘s New Legal Eagles
Evangelical lawyers spur civil rights movement forward.
By Tony Carnes
 
“We pray that a Chinese Martin Luther King will arise from the church in China,” say Christian leaders of the new Human Rights Protection Movement (HRPM).
These lawyers, pastors, journalists, and human rights leaders across China are trying out the strategies of the historic American civil rights movement, using litigation, media publicity, and nonviolent protests.
Fan Yafeng, an influential constitutional scholar in Beijing, says, “We are seeing the intersection of law and religion in China. More and more Chinese public intellectuals say that only Christianity can provide a solid foundation for the rule of law in China.”
Inspired by examples of American civil rights activists, such as the freedom riders of 1961, HRPM members travel at a moment’s notice to fight injustice and defend villagers thrown off their land, persecuted believers of any religion, and the human rights of all.
Four years ago, the Human Rights Protection Movement began with about 24 members. Now there are 300. HRPM lawyers are official legal counsel for the Chinese House Church Alliance, established in 2004 to represent 300,000 members of smaller independent churches. The lawyers also represent older house church networks. The demand for legal services is high. On average, they receive 30 requests per week.
New Strategies
In the beginning, Chinese church leaders were wary of the civil rights movement. The older generation believed suffering silently for Christ was more ennobling than actively opposing injustice.
Older leaders were more likely to emphasize a Bible-only approach that viewed scholarship as worldly. Fan recalls that in 1997 his church in Beijing ordered him to read only the Bible and to cease his academic work on the comparison of other religions with Christianity.
The older attitudes were reinforced when the officially sanctioned Protestant Three Self Movement sent out pastors five years ago to preach that unquestioning loyalty to the government and its religious policies was God-ordained. But recently, the top deputy in the State Administration of Religious Affairs office told Christianity Today that religious believers have a right and a duty to oppose civil injustice.
Three things have happened to influence thinking among Christians about human rights.
• More civil rights leaders became Christians or at least sympathetic to issues of religious freedom. For example, one Beijing lawyer grew interested in Christianity as he dealt with church clients. He wondered what gave ordinary people such confidence. As he became more involved in freedom-of-religion cases, the lawyer says, “I found light in ordinary Christian faces. I came to realize that Jesus is the origin of justice.” Every week now, the lawyer fasts “for myself, the church, and justice.”
• The leaders in the civil rights movement became leaders in local churches. They planted new congregations in regional capitals. About a dozen of these churches now exist, and they emphasize human rights.
• These churches sent out emissaries to other churches, recounting the lessons of their legal protection of peasants that could be applied to religious freedom cases.
Christians developed other resources. Li Baiguang, a Christian legal scholar, translated a book on Protestant Huguenots under French persecution. He and others prepared materials for family church presses like the Hubei Family Church Press, Light of Life, Sparrow Press, and Gwangzhou Pastors Press.
Li traveled to ten provinces to help farmers and churches. Li is preparing a book and video on how Christians can defend their legal rights. “The churches had a reaction of endurance and prayer for those who persecute them,” the scholar says. “I told them they also need to stand up for their legal rights.”
The Chinese government is caught between its rhetoric proclaiming the rule of law and its practice of ignoring or abusing the law when it suits its purposes.
Arthur Waldron, a University of Pennsylvania China specialist, says that this dilemma is the same type of contradiction that Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement exploited. “How can the Chinese leaders explain their inconsistency?”
Chinese leaders also face an old cultural dilemma: Respect the law, or favor relationships. One of China’s most famous legal scholars put it this way, “Respect the law and lose your family; respect your family and lose the law.”
According to opinion polls, many Chinese believe that misconduct by public officials is the top social problem nationally. In March, one example unfolded in a village in Anhui province. CT interviewed several participants in a confrontation between a pastor, HRPM personnel, and police. This is an area north of Shanghai that is rich in grapes (for wine) and red sorghum, and it has a growing cottage industry of piece-rate sewing for fashion houses.
Concerned about the poverty, pastor Shu Huai-ting set up a sewing school in the home of a local Christian. Each day, the school opened with Bible study, singing, and prayer. Not all students were Christians.
One day, local police burst into the school, saying that they were going to search for and confiscate evidence that the school was an illegal church. Article 36 of the Chinese constitution of 1982 guarantees freedom of religious belief and “normal religious activities,” but the government heavily regulates religious practice, approving leaders, doctrine, and organizations.
Human rights lawyers say that key religious regulations are ambiguous on the size of a meeting that requires government approval. A hostile or overzealous official could ban even small Bible studies. HRPM believes such enforcement is unconstitutional.
To pastor Shu, the government seemed to be systematically dismembering their new house church alliance. Every leader of the alliance had been or would shortly be arrested or detained by police. So Shu, who is vice president of the house church network, hired HRPM lawyers who prepped him on what to do if the police interfered with Christian activities.
Shu told the police to stop. “What you are doing is illegal. I am calling my legal counsel in Beijing!”
The police officer in charge watched warily as pastor Shu used two cell phones to alert legal counsel. One call was to Fan Yafeng, the Chinese legal scholar in Beijing. The other call was to a former Communist Party intellectual who has become a Christian.
After brief phone conversations, the pastor told the police officer, “My legal counsel says you need a search warrant with an official red seal. Where is it?”
Unwilling to provoke Beijing-level attention, the policeman gruffly shouted, “We don’t have a search warrant, but we will get one. You stay here until I get back!”
Professor Fan explains later that he didn’t expect this would stop the police. It would only slow them down. “Our goal,” he tells CT, “is to get the police to think and act in terms of legality. It is a grassroots way of building a rule-of-law culture in China.”
Sure enough, the police returned. Their leader triumphantly presented a warrant. “See!” he said. “This is a warrant signed by my captain, and it has a big red stamp!” He ordered his men to continue their search and to confiscate Bibles, songbooks, furniture, sewing machines, and everything else of value.
The pastor protested. The officer’s face soured, as if to say, “Now what?”
“My legal counsel says you can search, but you can’t seize the sewing machines and furniture,” pastor Shu insisted, because the warrant only covered items related to illegal church meetings.
The police officer rebutted, “We are not seizing anything. We are just moving things!”
The reply was worthy of a Laurel and Hardy comedy. But Fan claims that it showed the police felt that they had to at least show the appearance of legality. Weeks later, the pastor was arrested again. This time, the police had all the right papers with red stamps. The pastor only spent a short time in jail.
Good Citizens
For Chinese Christian writer Yu Jie of the HRPM, the experience of pastor Shu is “a hopeful step.” Yu, who is one of China’s most well-known advocates of democracy, argues that Christians need to learn to be good citizens. They need to prod the government as it takes small steps toward democracy and the rule of law. (See “A More Practical Approach.”)
“We cannot rely on the people in power to just hand religious freedom down to us,” Yu says.
Yu belongs to Beijing Family Church. His church is not registered with the government, but it is not underground. “We use the designation ‘family church.’ It is a more neutral term than ‘underground church.’ We believe you should be above ground and have an active role in society.”
The writer is a thorn in the side of the government. His 1998 book Fire and Ice, which sold more than 1 million copies, tartly criticized government corruption. When Yu was arrested in 2003 for drafting a freedom-of-religion statement, 20 million people registered their support for him online.
More Christians in China are beginning to realize that while reform is possible, it happens slowly. One lawyer, who became a Christian last year, tells CT, “Before I believed in God, I wanted to subvert the government [in] one day. After I believed in God, I came to believe that reform is gradual.”
Typically, Chinese receive education about the American civil rights movement. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is used in schools, and it inspired China’s slogan for the 2008 Olympics, “One World, One Dream.”
Martin Luther King Jr. has become a standard for the government to respect. It puts them in a difficult spot when they want to silence incipient Martin Luther Kings in China.
Party leaders are struggling with whether the law serves the Communist Party or whether the party is under the law. The unresolved tension has generated immense social stress. The number of unresolved legal disputes sent to Beijing rose to 30 million in 2005, up from only 20,000 between 1979 and 1982.
Recently, a play about King’s civil rights leadership opened in Beijing. The government gave permission to American Caitrin McKiernan to put on the play, which featured gospel singers and was performed on Sundays at the National Theater. Producer McKiernan wondered how Chinese audiences would respond. She found that audiences knew King and related his moral courage to their own situation. According to The New York Times, at a discussion of the civil rights movement at a Beijing university, one student named Paul said, “The significance of Martin Luther King for me is that we have to have the courage to stand up for our legitimate benefits.”
Currently, HRPM is preparing dozens of cases to protect villagers from corrupt officials and businessmen and to uphold Chinese citizens’ human rights.
China watcher Waldron observes that Chinese Christian human rights activists are a huge challenge for the government. “Li Baiguang and others like him are feared in China. They are citing chapter and verse of laws that are flouted [by the Chinese government].” One Chinese pastor supportive of the civil rights strategy says that “Martin Luther King’s phrase sums up the Chinese view: ‘I have a dream.’ ”
China Aid Association, INC
PO Box 8513 Midland, TX 79708
Tel: (432) 689-6985
Fax: (432) 686-8355
E-mail: info@ChinaAid.org
http://www.ChinaAid.org
http://www.monitorchina.org
Contact: Bob Fu
(267) 205-5210

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Human Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng convicted for “inciting subversion”

Posted by radiofreechina on December 15, 2006

Gao Zhisheng

CHINA: CHRISTIAN LAWYER IN CHINA CONVICTED OF ‘INCITING SUBVERSION’

December 14 (Compass Direct News) – A Beijing court convicted human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng of “inciting subversion” on Tuesday (December 12) after he mysteriously entered a “guilty” plea, according to reports….

MORE

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Top Chinese Civil Rights Lawyer Tried in Secret: Recordings

Posted by radiofreechina on December 12, 2006

Radio Free Asia
HONG KONG—Chinese authorities in Beijing have secretly tried a top Chinese civil rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, on unspecified subversion charges, but his family haven’t been informed of the verdict, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

“I just returned home from lawyer Mo Shaoping’s office,” Geng told a friend who recorded the conversation and gave it to RFA’s Mandarin service.

“They concluded his trial in secret this morning. The family had not been informed. Nor do we know the two court-appointed attorneys. We’ve never met them. We know nothing,” Geng said in the recording, which was made with her knowledge and consent.

Her telephone appeared to be out of order when RFA Mandarin service reporter Ding Xiao subsequently tried to contact her.

Mo, appointed to represent Gao by Gao’s brother Gao Zhiyi, confirmed in an interview that he had not received prior notice of the trial and wasn’t permitted to attend. He declined further comment.

But a Dec. 12 letter—co-signed with lawyer Ding Xikui, addressed to Gao’s brother and wife, and obtained by RFA—states that the family-appointed lawyers learned Monday that Gao had been tried that morning in an “open” hearing by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court.

The court has said it announced the time and venue of the trial on Dec. 9.

The two lawyers learned that the court appointed two defense attorneys to represent Gao at the trial, where Gao was said to have confessed to subversion charges against him, according to Mo’s letter. The “hyping” of Gao’s case by international media may adversely affect his sentence, the letter said.

In the same letter, lawyers Mo and Ding charged that the Beijing public security apparatus barred Gao Zhisheng from meeting with his lawyers during the investigative phase of the case because it “involved state secrets.”

A judge identified Wang He verbally informed lawyer Ding that “Gao Zhisheng refused to have any legal representation,” also documented in writing by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court, the family-appointed lawyers wrote.

“The fact that the Court appointed two attorneys to represent him at the trial is something that defies common sense, logic, and the law,” they wrote.

“We cannot comment on the claim that at the trial Gao Zhisheng confessed to the charges of subversion because: We were unable to meet with Gao Zhisheng to know his view on the charges ; we have not seen the written indictment and evidence presented by the prosecution regarding ‘subversion’; moreover, we did not attend the trial this morning,” they wrote.

Calls to the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court went unanswered.

Earlier, Mo said state prosecutors had also stood in the way of a meeting between the lawyers and Gao. “From a lawyer’s point of view, the procuratorate has acted against the law,” Mo told Mandarin service reporter Fang Yuan. “According to the Criminal Guidelines for the Procuratorate, the prosecutor is bound to hear the opinions of the defense lawyer.”

“They did not carry this out in the correct sequence, and effectively they have stripped Gao of his right to see a lawyer. So they are in contravention of the law,” he said Monday.

On Dec. 6, Mo made an attempt to submit his instruction papers to the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court, and put in another request to meet Gao. Judge Wang Jia and the official in charge of Gao case, Gu Lianchun told Mo and Ding that Gao had refused legal representation. The judge told them not to contact the court again.

Meanwhile, court official Gu told RFA’s Cantonese service Monday he was unable to answer queries on Gao’s case owing to “internal regulations.”

Calls to the procuratorate office during office hours went unanswered.

Gao lost his law license after he criticized the government for its treatment of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. He also began a rolling hunger strike earlier in the year to protest the ill-treatment of lawyers and rights activists at the hands of police and local government officials.

The protest began in reaction to the beating of top Guangdong rights lawyer Guo Feixiong. Guo was a close associate of Gao, and both lawyers had worked on a number of sensitive cases, including the Taishi village standoff in the southern province of Guangdong last year.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao and Fang Yuan, and in Cantonese by Grace Kei Lai-see. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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Chinese House Church Closed

Posted by radiofreechina on December 12, 2006

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

MIDLAND, TEXAS (ANS) — Authorities in a Chinese province are reportedly forcing Christians attending a house church to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Church.
House churches are not officially registered organizations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Self_Patriotic_Movement).

According to the China Aid Association (CAA), on Nov.26, a house church assembly in Laodong Xincui, Tongling City, Anhui Province, was closed by the area Religious Affairs Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church.

The house church was founded over a half-century ago by a well known Christian, Wang Xingquan, and currently has a membership of about 200, CAA reported. Xingquan was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution.

In order to exert more pressure on Xingquan, CAA reported his daughter’s work unit stopped paying her salary, and has threatened to fire her unless she sets an example for other Christians by joining the local Three-Self Church. Another church attendee quit the unregistered house church rather than lose his job.

At a Dec.5 government hearing held at the request of house church members, CAA reported the Religious Affair Bureau’s decision to close the church was upheld.

Currently the Christians affected hold individual worship services in their homes. CAA reported they are preparing for further legal action to regain their religious freedom.

“The Religious Affair Bureau is only one department in the government in charge of religious affairs. It is definitely not powerful enough to force a work unit to stop paying its employees,” said Bob Fu, President of CAA, in a news release. “It is obvious that the entire course of action was formulated by the upper level government. (The) government’s resorting to administrative methods to interfere with religious affairs ultimately tramples the spirit and promise of religious freedom stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and International Laws. We hope that the Tongling government corrects their mistakes and protects religious freedom of its citizens.”

In another incident reported to CAA, the group reported it learned that all of the Christians arrested Oct. 20 in Qingshuihe Town, Huocheng County, Yili City, Xinjiang autonomous area were released by Nov.26. Four males were incarcerated for 32 days; another male and two females for 14 days. According to CAA, no legal documents were issued either when they were arrested or released.

According to CAA, the four males who were locked up for 32 days are now in the hospital for medical treatment as a result of being severely tortured by other prisoners.

CAA reported one of them said, “I was beaten daily morning, noon and night! They beat me if I ate the food or did not eat the food, ate too much or too little, went to the toilet or did not go to the toilet! They just beat me for no reason.”

According to CAA, the individuals learned that they were beaten in accordance with instructions from the police officers in charge of the detention center.

The experience of one of those beaten was especially horrific, commented CAA. This 60-year-old man, CAA reported, “was intentionally placed in a cell with homosexual prisoners where he suffered the humiliation of being sexually abused as well as physically beaten. “I would not have come out alive if I had been with them any longer,” CAA reported the man said.

“It is totally intolerable to treat a 60-year old man like that,” Fu commented in a news release. “We appeal to the Xinjiang government to investigate this event, and punish the people involved in detaining and abusing these Christians.”

CAA reported the organization has sent a representative to Xinjiang to comfort those who have been subjected to this persecution.

For more information about the China Aid Association go to http://www.ChinaAid.org

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Blind Chinese Activist’s Sentence For Exposing Human Rights Abuses Upheld

Posted by radiofreechina on December 4, 2006

Charges said to be trumped up fabrications for exposing forcing sterilizations and abortions

By Meg Jalsevac

BEIJING, December 4, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The three year, four month sentence for Chen Guangcheng, a blind, human rights activist in China has been upheld by the Yinan People’s Court for “willfully damaging property” and “organizing a mob to disturb traffic”. The charges stem from a protest against human rights violations in Chen’s home town. Chen’s lawyers assert that the charges are trumped up fabrications to penalize him for his vocal denouncement of local officials physically forcing sterilizations and abortions to uphold China’s ‘one-child’ policy in the eastern Shandong province.

The sentence was upheld at a retrial ordered by the Linyi City Intermediate Court after it deemed Chen’s first trial in August of this year invalid “because the process of the first trial was unfair, and facts and evidence … were not tenable and did not hold water.” At Chen’s initial trial, he was denied proper legal counsel because all three of his lawyers had been arrested just the day before on charges of “stealing a wallet.”

As previously reported by LifeSiteNews.com, Chen was first placed under house arrest in August 2005 after filing a class action lawsuit to protest the more than 120,000 claims by local inhabitants of Shadong of forced abortions and sterilizations at the order of local officials. Since that time, Chen and his family and friends have suffered continually at the hands of the communist regime undergoing illegal arrests, beatings, house arrests and intense questioning.

When the abuses were brought to national and international attention, senior family planning officials in Beijing immediately condemned the activities of the local officials saying that their actions were “definitely illegal” and claimed that an investigation into possible abuses would be carried out.

Teng Biao, one of Chen’s present lawyers, immediately condemned the upheld verdict saying, “We hereby express our strongest condemnation about this verdict. We will go after the criminal activities such as the torture and kidnapping of witnesses, the detention and beating of lawyers and illegal house arrest.”

Chen’s defense team faced unique challenges before and during the trial including the recent disappearance of three key witnesses, severe beatings of the lawyers themselves as they attempted to gather evidence and what they claimed was illegal interference by local officials during the trial.

Li Jingsong, one of the attorneys representing Chen, says that he saw one of the defense’s key witnesses being taken away by eight men in civilian clothes just days before the trial. Li believes that the men were either plain clothes police men or men with ties to the police. Li also claims that he was prevented from collecting evidence for the trial and was attacked by a mob of 30 shortly before the trial.

Chen wife and brother were allowed to testify for him and Chen was allowed 30 minutes to defend himself.

Chen has not received any formal legal training. When he was college-age, Chinese law prohibited blind individuals from earning a college degree. He taught himself the information and skills that he has employed to bring this human rights violation to the forefront of global attention.

Chinese treatment of Chen and his family and friends has garnered global condemnation from human rights groups and nations alike.

Chen’s legal team said that they would appeal the verdict once again to the Linyi City Intermediate Court.

Read Related LifeSiteNews Coverage:

Wife of Chinese Forced Abortion Opponent Hauled in for 9 Hours of Questioning
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/oct/06100501.html

US Urges China to Release Blind Anti-Forced-Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/aug/06081404.html
Blind Chinese Activist to be Prosecuted for Opposition to Forced Abortion
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/06071007.html
Chinese Police Admit to Arrest of Missing One-Child/Forced Abortion Policy Protester
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jun/06061404.html
Chinese One-Child Policy Protester Missing Since Arrest Last Month
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/apr/06040507.html

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