Updated: Xinjiang woman receives three-year sentence for holding Bible study

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Chinese Communist Party often
persecutes house churches, such as
this one in Guangdong province,
which met outside its regular worship
place because officials sealed its
doors. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid

Updated at 3:30 p.m. CST on Jan. 4, 2017 

(Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang—Jan.1, 2017) A local court in China’s western Xinjiang sentenced a Christian woman to three years in prison on Friday for holding a Bible study.

Ma Huichao, who was taken into police custody along with three other Christians when officials claimed their Bible study met without government approval, stood trial in mid-November for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” Her lawyer, Li Dunyong was disallowed to plead innocent on her behalf, and she received a three-year prison sentence—which began today—on Dec. 30.

An anonymous Christian said, “It was not even a formal gathering. There were no pastors or preachers, only a few people reading the Bible at [Ma's] home. In Urumqi, there are many [Christians] who gather in homes. Why is it possible that they have no problems? [The authorities] know very clearly that it is impossible to arrest everyone if they do not gather. In those private gatherings, there are no foreigners or cult activities [Editor's note: The Communist Party forbids Chinese Christians to have contact with Christians from outside the country]. Their only ‘crime’ is their reluctance to attend the official Three-Self Church. There's no way to put them all in jail. Some young police officers don't know anything about religions; they simply think they can win honor for themselves by arresting the believers during gatherings.”

Ma does not plan to appeal.

China Aid reports abuses, such as those suffered by Ma Huichao, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom.

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