China Aid Association
Photo: Pastor Cai Zhuohua and Son
September 11, 2004. The weekly leadership meeting at Beijing’s Po Shang Cun Church ended at 10:30 a.m. Last to leave, Pastor Cai Zhuohua (35) was approached near the bus stop by several plain clothes police and dragged into a white van.
“This has nothing to do with religion,” insisted Judge You Tao. “This is an economic crime.”
That night, police raided a company legally registered to Cai’s wife, Xiao Yunfel. They discovered more than 200,000 bibles and other Christian literature, confiscated the computers and arrested six female employees. Another woman was arrested in her apartment about 1 a.m. the following day. All seven were questioned about their activities and released that afternoon.
Cai’s wife and brother-in-law, Xian Yunfei Gaowen, both of whom were involved in the editing, printing and distribution of Christian literature, went into hiding. They were caught and arrested two weeks later.
During the first weeks of Cai’s detention, police used his cell phone as bait “to allure fishes.” Their net yielded an underground seminary, which they immediately traced and shut down. Throughout his detention, Cai was forced to peel 50 pounds of garlic each day. And his family was required to pay 300 to 500 Yuan (US$40-$60) per month for his “living expenses.”
Photo: Pastor Cai Baptizing Believers
Confessions to profiting from “illegal business practices” were secured by police under torture and recanted in court.
Cai’s attorney’s argued that “the publications printed by the prosecuted are all copies of the Bible or supplementary books on Christian belief. They are not something against laws, regulations or morality and tradition which proclaim eroticism, superstition, gambling, violence, etc. On the contrary, these publications actively promote social stability, since they teach people about kindness, mercy and love. Therefore, the Christian literature printed by the prosecuted does not belong to publications that seriously harmed the social order or disrupted the market.”
Photo:The prison where Cai was held.
The economic arguments, said the defense, were a tactic for avoiding a battle over religious freedom. Presiding Judge You Tao, however, insisted that “This has nothing to do with religion. This is an economic crime.”
On November 8, 2005, Pastor Cai Zhuohua was declared guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. His wife and brother-in-law were sentenced to two years and one-and-a-half years respectively.
On April 4, 2006, Cai was transferred to Qianjin Prison, where he is forced to make footballs by hand. His poor vision requires him to work harder than others to meet his quota. Absolute silence is the prison rule, and the poor quality of prison food is taking a heavy toll.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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