China Aid Association
(Jinmen, Hubei—Feb. 22, 2012) A Christian newspaper editor and house church leader sentenced in 2002 to 15 years’ imprisonment for “intentional assault” was released almost five years before the end of her prison term as the result of a world-wide letter-writing campaign and other international efforts on her behalf.
Li Ying, of the South China Church in Hubei province, was released on Dec. 25, 2011. She tearfully told ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu that during her 10 years in prison, thousands of letters for her were sent to the prison. She said the letters had helped to significantly improve her prison conditions and contributed to her early release. She expressed thanks to ChinaAid and asked ChinaAid to convey her gratitude to the international community and churches worldwide.
Li was one of the first prisoners featured by the international human rights group Voice of the Martyrs on its www.prisoneralert.com website, from where concerned Christians to write letters of encouragement to imprisoned Christians. According to Voice of the martyrs, more than 11,400 letters were written to Li through the site since 2004.
Li is the niece of Pastor Gong Shengliang, founder of the South China Church, one of the fastest growing house-church movements in China. She was also editor in chief of the church newspaper, South China Special Edition (Huanan Zhuankan). She had been arrested several times and had previously spent a year in prison in 1996.
As a condition of her release, Li was required to sign a guarantee to submit to “community correction,” which included the requirement that she live only in government-appointed neighborhoods and attend government-appointed churches.
In December 2001, Li was one of 17 South China Church leaders who were convicted of “using a cult to undermine enforcement of the law,” five of whom were sentenced to death. Li was one of them. But as a result of the ensuing international outcry, a higher court in Hubei revoked the death sentences in September 2002, citing lack of clarity about certain facts and insufficient evidence, and the Jinmen Intermediate Court in October 2002 retried the case. Instead of the crime of “using a cult, ” the five who had been condemned to death were convicted of “intentional assault.”
The five were Gong Shengliang, Xu, Fuming, Hu Yong, Gong Bangkun, and Li Ying. Gong Shengliang was also convicted of rape. Three of them—Gong Shengliang, Xu Fuming, and Hu Yong—were sentenced to life imprisonment. Gong Bangkun and Li Ying were given 15-year prison terms.