URGENT BREAKING NEWS: China Releases Elderly Prisoner To See Dying Husband

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent

BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News) -- Amid mounting international pressure the frail Christian activist Shuang Shuying, 79, was released Sunday, February 8, after spending two years in prison, and went immediately to see her dying husband, Hua Zaichen, 91, in a Beijing hospital, Worthy News learned.

Shuang languished two years in jail on what human rights groups described as "fabricated charges" for accommodating Christians "persecuted for their faith" and her family's involvement in supporting impoverished people and dissidents.

The Chinese government charged her with "willfully damaging public and private property," including using her cane to destroy the hood of a police car and electronic equipment. But Shuang's supporters have always maintained that incident happened when she tried to protect herself with a cane against a police car trying to run over her in February 2007.

In a statement, Shuying said she had been tortured during her captivity. "During my imprisonment [officers of the Public Security Bureau] PSB of Beijing went to my prison interrogating, threatening and harassing me numerous times. They even directed other prisoners to take off all of my clothes and forced me stand alone outside in the evening without letting me sleep," she said in a letter distributed by advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA) and monitored by Worthy News.


"Seven prisoners kept watching me in turn. I was not allowed to move even when the mosquitoes bit me or I would be slapped on my face and poked on the veins on my hands. I still have wounds that are unhealed on my hands," the elderly woman wrote. "The PSB officers even forced me to drink my own urine [and] threatened me not to tell anyone about the tortures I experienced."

However Shuang stressed that, "during these terrible circumstances, I prayed without ceasing. I asked God to give me strength. Every time when my son came to visit me and shared with me that brothers and sisters from all over the world had been praying for me, I felt greatly strengthened and empowered which has enabled me to continue to live."

She said that soon after her release she rushed to visit her "hospitalized old husband who is not even able to recognize me anymore because of losing consciousness." Family members and friends have said that security forces have threatened to force him out of hospital. "So I sincerely plead to brothers and sisters all over the world to continue to pray for me and my husband. At the same time, I want to thank each one of you for your continuous prayers, care and support for my husband, Hua Zaichen, and me," Shuang wrote.


CAA said hospital officials at Beijing Dainli Hospital are still allowing her husband to stay in the facility, after "receiving numerous calls, faxes and press requests from around the world." Yet,  "Hua Zaichen has been banned from seeing any visitors except direct family members and [up to] eight military police are now guarding the entrance of the hospital," the group said.

The Hua family's home is reportedly being closely monitored by PSB officers and Shuang Shuying's son, Pastor Hua Huiqi, and his wife are being followed wherever they go, friends said.

The reported troubles for the family come amid what rights groups have called a campaign against Christian worship across the country apparently because of concerns among in Communist officials over the spread of Christianity in the country.

China's government says the country's up to 130 million Christians are free to gather in the 'official' churches, backed by authorities.