Saturday, December 12, 2009

10 Chinese house church leaders

by Art Toalston

WASHINGTON (BP)--Ten leaders of a Chinese house church have received years-long criminal detention and "re-education" labor camp sentences for their attempts to protest an attack against their facilities in mid-September, according to reports by the ChinaAid human rights organization.

The harshest punishments -- criminal detention sentences handed down Nov. 25 -- entail incarceration in a high-security prison where inmates often are mentally abused, starved and beaten, according to a spokeswoman for ChinaAid. Yang Rongli, wife of pastor Wang Xiaoguang of the Linfen House Church in the northeastern Chinese city of Linfen with more than 4 million people, received a seven-year sentence while her husband, Wang Xiaoquang, received three years. Three others also received criminal detentions.

In addition, five others received two-year sentences of re-education through labor Nov. 30. Re-education through labor is comparatively milder than criminal detention but involves despicable working conditions and other forms of abuse as well, the spokeswoman said.

ChinaAid President Bob Fu, after the Nov. 25 court proceedings, said, "To punish an innocent house church leader for seven years' imprisonment is the most serious sentence since 2004 when the senior Henan house church leader pastor Zhang Rongliang received a [sentence of] similar length.