Free Yang Hua, a house church pastor detained in China
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Yang Hua is a pastor and founding member of the largest house church in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in China.
Yang has been in prison since December for resisting government attempts to seize church property.
Yang’s Huoshi Church, which means “living stone,” was targeted by authorities after the church purchased a larger venue to serve as a meeting space in 2014. Government pressure increased in October 2015, when authorities issued notices claiming the locations used by Huoshi were not officially-approved, and subsequently assessed a fine of 12,960 Yuan (U.S. $2,030) per day.
On Dec. 9, when Yang tried to stop officials from destroying a hard drive belonging to the church, he was taken into custody and served two consecutive five-day administrative detention sentences for “obstruction of justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
On Dec. 20, the day he was scheduled to be released, his wife arrived at the detention center, only to see Yang being put into a black hood and four men forcing him into a van with no license plates. Later, she was informed that he had been transferred to criminal detention on suspicion of “illegally holding state secrets.”
Authorities intensified the severity of the charge to “divulging state secrets” on Jan. 22, and Yang was officially arrested. The Chinese government frequently imposes this charge on pastors who publicly oppose government attempts to restrict religious practice.
Authorities refused multiple attempts by Yang’s lawyers, Chen Jiangang and Zhao Yonglin, to meet with their client. The lawyers were finally able to meet with Yang on March 23, and said that Yang had lost weight and had been repeatedly threatened by authorities attempting to make him confess.
“We know we cannot change your beliefs,” these officials said. “However, we control everything and can completely succeed in painting you as a greedy pastor, causing you to lose all of your reputation.”
Yang Hua has been wrongfully charged and unlawfully detained in order to cover up his stand against injustice and to serve as a warning to anyone who would consider doing the same.
Unfortunately, Yang Hua is only the latest case among thousands detained for opposing religious oppression by the Chinese government. To view details on Yang’s case and others please visit the Congressional Executive Commission On China Political Prisoner Database: Yang Hua.
Join with us in demanding that the Government of the People’s Republic of China stop unlawful detentions and immediately release Yang Hua.
To Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,
We, the undersigned, wish to call the detention and arrest of Yang Hua to your attention.
It is our earnest request that the Government of the People’s Republic of China immediately and unconditionally release Yang Hua, as well as all other Chinese citizens taken from their families and held in detention for simply for attempting to defend their right to religious freedom.
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