Beijing Christian Businessman Shi Weihan Released under International Pressure

China Aid Association
Press Release
Beijing
Christian Businessman Shi Weihan Released under International Pressure

Photo: Mr. Shi Weihan with his family members
(Beijing,China—January 7, 2008) China Aid Association has learned that on January 4,
Christian bookstore owner, Shi Weihan along with two dozen others associated
with his case, have been released on bail. Chinese officials have decided
against a formal trial for Shi, and criminal charges against the accused have
been dismissed. Eyewitnesses told CAA that Shi was in good spirits and
relatively stable physical condition. Shi’s family members asked CAA to thank
the tireless efforts of the international community for his release. Shi, and
the others, have been detained for the past 37 days under charges of illegal
printing and distribution of Christian literature. According to Chinese law
after 37 days of administrative detention, a formal arrest warrant must be
issued or the accused must be released. Sources state that the Beijing Haidian
District prosecution office assigned to Shi’s case determined that they were
unable to proceed with formal charges due to “insufficient evidence”.
Regardless of the reasoning for Shi’s unconditional release, it is evident that
international attention and pressure on the case were instrumental in
influencing the court’s decision.

“The Chinese government has made a positive step in the
right direction regarding this case”, CAA’s President Bob Fu was quoted as
saying. “This is a clear victory of rule of law and international
intervention.”

The Government’s upright decision to release Shi and the
others is a virtuous development following the Communist party’s conference on
the collective study of Religion and Religious policy on December 18, 2007.
During the conference President Hu Jintao, reiterated the Government’s stance
on the “implementation of free religious policy”, stressing law-abiding
management on religious affairs and support to self-governance of religious
groups.

While the Government’s decision in the Shi Weihan case
should be lauded, hundreds of prisoners persecuted for their beliefs, still
remain in custody. As is the case of Xinjiang church leader Zhou Heng, who was
arrested in August of 2007, for receiving “illegally printed” Bibles. Zhou, who
was arraigned on the same charges as Shi Weihan, continues to serve an unjust
sentence behind bars. These accounts, and others, are examples of the Chinese
Government’s failure to remain consistent in cases receiving less international
attention.

CAA encourages the Chinese Government to follow the example
set in the Shi Weihan case, and maintain consistency in its policies and
rhetoric on religious freedom.

Issued by CAA on January 7, 2008.


China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected] 
Website: www.chinaaid.org

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