Lawyer barred from pleading innocent for Christian woman

China’s Communist Party often
persecutes house churches, such as this
one in Guangdong province, which is
meeting outside its regular worship
place because officials sealed its
doors. (Photo: China Aid)

China Aid
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song.

(Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang—Nov. 30, 2016) Officials recently barred a prominent human rights lawyer from pleading innocent on behalf of his client, a Christian woman detained for holding a church service in China’s northwestern Xinjiang.

A trial of the first instance commenced in mid-November for Ma Huichao, whom officials charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after apprehending her and the four others gathered at her house for a church meeting. Alleging that they held religious services without government approval, authorities administratively detained Ma’s companions before releasing them and decided to prosecute her.

During the trial, Ma’s lawyer, Li Dunyong, said that the court disallowed him from pleading innocent on her behalf.

According to Li, the court is currently adjourned.

In Xinjiang, crackdowns on religious belief are intensifying. On Nov. 11, police dispersed a church meeting and administratively detained three of the attendees for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and “spreading illegal religion.” In the past two months, dozens of Christians from across the region have been taken into police custody for practicing their faith.

China Aid reports abuses, such as those suffered by Christians in Xinjiang, in order to stand with the persecuted and promote religious freedom in China.

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