Sudden trial date change surprises Christian's defense team

Thursday, October 6, 2016

China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Edited in English by Ava Collins.

(Guangzhou, Guangdong—Oct. 6, 2016) Authorities in China’s southern Guangdong suddenly rescheduled the trial for a house church member one week before the original hearing date. Additionally, another house church in Guangdong continues to face harassment from police, even after being driven from their original meeting place.

A visiting pastor from abroad teaches at Renyi Church in
Jiangmen, Guangdong. (Photo: China Aid)
Li Hongmin, a Christian who has been detained since June 3 after printing religious materials, was originally slated to go to trial on Sept. 20, accused of “illegal business operations.” Li’s case was unexpectedly postponed on Sept. 12, after the courts claimed that there was no venue available to hold the trial.

Ma Ke, the leader of Guangfu Church, which Li Hongmin attends, criticized the action, which he believes to be an intentional attempt to sabotage the defense. “You government agents, you have to give yourself some credit, don’t you? You already set a time, you can’t just change it casually. It cost us a great deal to hire the lawyer and to book his flight tickets. You change the date however it suits you. You said the venue is going to be occupied, but how did you not know it wasn’t available when you first scheduled the hearing?”

Li Baiguang, the lawyer representing Li Hongmin, purchased plane tickets for the trail before it was rescheduled.

Li Hongmin’s wife told China Aid’s reporter that she feels helpless in the face of these developments. “They phoned to say that the day [Sept. 20] was not available, because the venue would be occupied. I asked when the [new] hearing would be, but he said I would be informed later.”

Recently, Guangdong has seen increased pressure against other Christian activities as well. Renyi Church, located in Jiangmen, Guangdong, has reported constant scrutiny and demands from local police, despite relocating to a new venue for gatherings. The church has more than 100 members, many of whom are local migrant workers.

Most recently, the Xinhui District Public Security bureau ordered Renyi Church to remove all belongings from their rented space on Aug. 8. Despite complying with this demand, church members report that authorities have continued to monitor the church, asking for lists of attendees as well as their identification and background information.

The leader of Renyi church said he was specifically warned not to speak with foreign reporters and that retaliation would follow if news of the situation was leaked.

China Aid reports on instances of religious persecution such as the trail process of Li Hongmin and the harassment of Renyi church in order to expose abuses perpetuated by the Chinese government against Chinese citizens.

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