Believers in China wait for verdict

By September 9, 2009

China (MNN/CA) — Christians in Sichuan Province China are waiting on a verdict for two fellow Christians. On June 28, 2009, Wei Sanhong and Wu Han were arrested by Nanbu County Public Security Bureau in Sichuan for allegedly disturbing the peace and endangering the health of others.

According to China Aid Association, Ms. Wei and Mr. Wu were visiting the Huaguan Town house church from their home in Zheijiang, as members of the extended congregation. That evening, local police broke into the building without a warrant, illegally searched and confiscated church property, and seized Ms. Wei and Mr. Wu. They were then interrogated at the police station, without legal notification to their families in Zheijiang. CAA received the Official Statement on the Administrative Proceedings for their trial on August 26, 2009.

Officially detained for "acting under the guise of religion" and "disturbing the society and impairing others' health," Wei Sanhong and Wu Han were among several members of the Huaguan Town church who had previously worked to provide disaster relief to victims of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. In the aftermath of the disaster, relief workers helped local victims to access medical care, rebuild homes, and receive counseling for grief, mental illness, and alcoholism related to depression.

On October 16, 2008, the Fuhu Village Party Committee and local Government in Nanbu County commended the Huaguan Town Church's relief efforts in the community. The church had been meeting peacefully in Nanbu County since it was founded in 2006, and merged with Zheijiang members in 2008.

Litigation lawyer for the plaintiffs, Wu Chenglian, called the Nanbu County Public Security Bureau's charge "based on wrong facts and flimsy evidence." In her Statement on the Administrative Proceedings for the case, Attorney Wu presented to the court her defense of plaintiffs Wei and Wu, exposing the Nanbu County PSB's violations by citing the Chinese Constitution:

"In accordance with Article 36 in Constitutions of the PRC, "'The citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state or public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.'"

Attorney Wu argued further that Nanbu Public Security Bureau misapplied "The Law of Punishment in Respect to Management of Public Security" to the plaintiff, citing its lack of expert knowledge on the religious proceedings and providing evidence of Huaguan Town churche's peaceful existence and contributions to the Nanbu County community.

Attorney Wu further upheld the rights of house churches to meet without official registration, noting that Article 12 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs "is a general regulation and not mandatory," according to Chinese law.

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