China Releases Church Leaders From Labor Camp

Monday, January 21, 2008

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- Four Chinese house church leaders spent another day in freedom Saturday, January 19, after they were unexpectedly released from a labor camp following an "unprecedented legal victory" a Christian advocacy group involved in the case said.

United States-based China Aid Association (CAA), which has close ties with the Christians, told BosNewsLife that the four men, Du Dongliang, 32, Wang Caizhang, 34, Ma Zhao, 35 and Yang Situan, 39, were released last week from their labor camp in Hubei province. "In a stunning ruling on January 8, the Hubei Provincial Re-education through Labor Administration Committee decided to repeal the decision" made by another "re-education" authority, CAA said. "After the ruling, the four leaders were released..."

The men and five female church leaders were detained and sentenced in August last year to 18 months and 12 months "re-education through labor" respectively, after they were found having a Sunday worship service in a Christian home. Authorities accused the group of "engaging in organizing and making use of an evil undermine the enforcement of State laws.” CAA told BosNewsLife it had hired attorney Wu Chenglian from Beijing, who was successful in his effort to overturn the ruling for the men.

"After three months deliberations, the final ruling said that after reviewing the applicants’ application for reconsideration and the answers and evidence submitted by the respondent, the committee believes that the decision of education through labor...was not based on clear facts and not supported by sufficient evidence,” CAA explained.


It said however that it remains concerned about three women still being detained in a labor camp and two others held under house arrest. They were identified as Qin Daomin, 33, and her 40-year-old biological sister Qin Daofang, as well as Ren Xianxue, 35, Hu Rong, 42,
and Li Mei, 42.

The 65-year old father of the detained sisters, Qin Hongjun, was meanwhile sentenced to ten days administrative detention "for hosting the Sunday worship service at his home" and "severely beaten," CAA claimed. There was no immediate response from Chinese officials.

"We are truly pleased by the ruling from the Hubei government [as this] is clearly another victory of the rule of law in China,” said CAA President Bob Fu “We certainly hope the other three female leaders can be released from their labor camp because they were related to the same case.” China has been under increased international pressure to improve its religious and political rights record ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Chinese officials have denied widespread human rights abuses, saying Christians are free to worship within the established churches backed by the government.

However church watchers and rights groups claim most of China's up to 130 million Christians prefer to gather within the increasing house churches, outside the control of China's Communist government.

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