Christians argue sentences illegal, file appeals



Friday, May 19, 2017

The Chinese Communist Party often
persecutes Christians such as these by
giving them unjust prison sentences.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
ChinaAid

(Changji, Xinjiang—May 19, 2017) Five Christians with various sentences ranging between three to five years in prison have opted to appeal their verdict in China’s politically volatile northwestern Xinjiang.

In the midst of rising religious tensions, authorities sentenced five Christians to a range of years in prison on April 18 after they hosted a private Christian meeting in a home last year, which the court ruled was “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Yang Zhaocun and Wang Lulu were sentenced to five years, Cheng Yajie to four years, and Liu Yan and Zheng Lan to three years. All five believe their sentencing to be unfair and are submitting appeals to overturn it.

Liu’s appeal argues that, based on the stipulations outlined in Article 290 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, their official charge is meant to only convict behaviors that disrupt the process of work, production, business teaching, and scientific research and is determined by the “seriousness” of the infraction. In addition, it must cause significant loss. She also pointed out that Article 12 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs states that religious activities usually should be held in registered religious sites but does not formally stipulate sanctions against small religious gatherings in private homes. Her lawyer, Li Dunyong, agreed, saying that private gatherings do not break any laws in Xinjiang.

Unlike the rest of the defendants, Zheng had no connection to the Christians who met in her home and was prosecuted for agreeing to accommodate them and for organizing large-scale, “illegal” Bible studies. Her appeal contends that she grew up in abject poverty and did not receive a high-level of education, causing her to be unaware that there was even a stipulation about gathering.

A translation of Zheng’s appeal is forthcoming.

ChinaAid exposes abuses such as those experienced by Yang Zhaocun, Liu Yan, Cheng Yajie, Wang Lulu, and Zheng Lan in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.


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