China Sentences Missionary To Labor Camp And Blind Activist To Prison

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife) -- Chinese authorities sent a female Mongolian missionary to a labor camp and dissidents, including a blind activist, to prison amid a crackdown on evangelical churches and political dissent, investigators said Monday, August 28.

US-based religious rights group China Aid Association (CAA) told BosNewsLife that missionary Wu Guilan, 50, was sentenced to one year in a so-called "re-education through labor camp" as her evangelical work angered local officials in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

"It is said that Sister Wu Guilan was evangelizing the Mongolian people on [the] Yi Jin Huo Luo Flag [area]" CAA said, adding that she began serving the sentence August 5.

In documents obtained by BosNewsLife, the local Yijinhuoluo Flag Public Security Bureau said the decision was made as "since July, 2006, Wu Guilan has been spreading heresies among the Mongolian masses in the territory of Yijinhuoluo Flag."


The authorities added that the missionary claimed that "illness could be healed without medicine by believing in the Heavenly God, and that someone could become rich without working…"

They stressed that the missionary threatened “the traditional lifestyle of the Mongolians” as she allegedly said that "one should believe in the Heavenly God instead of worshipping Genghis Khan, which is useless."

Soon after her detention, on August 19, a house church in Liang Jiagou village in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in China was raided by the local police, CAA claimed. "The local police, accompanied by the officers of the Local United Front Department and the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee went to the Liang Jiagou Church and confiscated church properties, including stools and a blackboard."


Authorities also "warned the Christians that they can not gather except at the government sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church (TSPM)," explained CAA, which has close ties with the 'underground' churches in China.

Elsewhere in China, last week, August 24, the People's Court of Yinan County of Shandong Province, "sentenced Chen Guangcheng, a renowned blind civil rights activist, to four years and three months in prison on charges of willfully damaging property, organizing a mob, and disrupting traffic," CAA and other sources said.

Several other activists, including Chen Gengjiang and two others were allegedly tried secretly August 18, and sentenced to seven months in detention. Chen Guangcheng’s wife is currently under house arrest.


In 2005, Chen exposed the local authority harsh measures of enforcing the one-child policy in the Linyi area of Shandong Province. Chen filed a class-action lawsuit against Linyi officials on a woman's behalf and drew attention to the plight of the villagers.

"Although the law suit he filed was rejected, the incident was publicized on the internet by Time Magazine who interviewed Chen. Three hours after the interview in Beijing, Chen was shoved into an unmarked vehicle by Public Security Agents from his hometown," CAA said.

"They took him back to his village, where he was held under house arrest for months. Chen was removed from his house in March 2006 and formally detained in June 2006 by Yinan County Officials," the group explained.


None of Chen's lawyers, as well as his wife, were reportedly allowed in the courtroom for the trial. "The authorities appointed a public defender for Chen. As a result, the lawyer did little to help his new client," and Chen was sentenced to four years and three months in prison, CAA stressed.

Chinese officials have denied any wrong doing and say they only protect the country against "dangerous cults" and claim there is religious freedom as Christians can worship in the state churches.

However, "The attack on the House Church and the labor camp sentence of the missionary in Inner Mongolia are certainly contradictory to the Chinese government’s repeated claims of protecting the minority people’s religious freedom," said CAA President Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church pastor.


"The obvious disregard for the rule of law by this illegal trial and the heavy sentence of the blind rights activist, Mr. Chen Guangcheng, should shake the confidence of conscientious international investors in China," he added.

Despite reports of persecution the number of Christians is growing in China. There are as many as 80-millions Christians in China, many of them evangelicals, Christians rights groups say.

Analysts have linked the attacks to concern within the Communist Party of China over the spread of Christianity, a development it fears could harm the Communists' powerbase. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife Research and reports from China).

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