Christian prisoner smuggles letter written on shoe insoles out of Fujian prison

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chen Shangkun’s family supplied
China Aid with a photo of the
insole on which Chen wrote his
smuggled letter.
Translate by China Aid
Written by Chen Shangkun

(Translation errors corrected on May 18, 2015.)

One can often see an 84-year-old lady named Lin Yuqin standing in Little Flock Church's front courtyard in Haikou town, in the county-level city of Fuqing, Fuzhou Prefecture, Fujian province, while the cold wind of early spring blows her gray hair. She is silently praying for me, her only son, who is serving a prison sentence. She has been praying for over 10 years, and no wind or rain will stop her.

Some people have told her that it is of no use to pray for me because I am serving a felony sentence and that if she doesn’t send money for “formalities,” there is no hope for me to receive an easy sentence or have my sentence reduced.

My mother says in reply: “Both my son and I were chosen by God to serve at Little Flock Church. A few years ago, we were persecuted by the government, who claimed we were members of a “cult” called the Shouters. They took us into custody and demolished our house. I prepared two sets of clothes and got ready to be a martyr. Because we prayed, our church has been blessed by God… It has been 15 years since my son was taken away to serve his sentence. God has His own arrangements for my son. Why should I do what is unrighteous by sending the government money? Besides, neither I nor my grandson, who was left behind by my son, has any source of income. We help and depend on each other for survival. We can’t even afford to give my son any pocket money, let alone money for a bribe. Even if we wanted to bribe the officials, we couldn’t afford it.”

I have suffered endless discrimination and persecution in prison. For no apparent reason, I was caught in the middle of a vicious fight against local villagers, leaving my elderly mother behind. Additionally, my new wife and our newborn son were put in the No. 11 Branch of No. 4 Prison in Jianyang, Fujian for reeducation through labor. I am in poor health due to bad treatment from sharing God’s teaching with my fellow prisoners and my inability to bribe officials. Because of my poor health, my work is very hard and tiring, which means I have made little progress towards receiving a commuted sentence. Several Bibles, for which I did extra work to have smuggled into the prison, were confiscated. When I led Christian prisoners in a Sunday gathering, officials called the gathering “illegal” and considered it a violation of the qualifications that would help get my sentence reduced. Therefore, I didn’t have the opportunity to have my sentence reduced for a long time.

On Feb. 27, 2015, I finally got an opportunity to have my sentence reduced after having served more than twice as much time in prison as most of the other prisoners. However, Nanping Intermediate Court of Fujian intentionally circumnavigated the newly transmitted judicial directive (“Several Stipulations on the Implementation of Criminal Judgment on Property-Related Part” issued by the Supreme Court on Nov. 6, 2014). Instead, the court used the old judicial mandate that had been replaced (Clause 3, Article 2 of “Stipulations on Several Questions about Specific Applicable Laws concerning Processing of Paperwork for Cases of Commutation and Parole” issued by the Supreme Court on July 1, 2012). Under the outdated directive, the court issued a verdict, coded (2015) Nan Xing Zhi Zi No. 575, and decided that I, who am without property to apply, had failed to pay the property-related punishment. Therefore, the verdict did not reduce my sentence.

Before this, under duress, I was forced by the government to write a “Statement of Voluntary Payment of Property-related Punishment” and paid 3,000 Yuan (U.S. $482) to prison authorities by asking my family members to borrow money where they could. However, in its verdict, the intermediate court never mentions this payment at all. Was this money intercepted so that the court would decide I had failed to pay the property-related punishment? Or did the court not include the payment in the case information and pretend to be ignorant of receiving the payment?

I couldn’t get answers when I submitted an inquiry from prison. However, another prisoner told me that the authorities have said the mishandling of my case is because I repeatedly gathered the Christian prisoners for Bible studies.

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