China Aid Association
For the love and righteousness in China
Reflections on relay fasting
Xianzhi “Sarah” Liu , a missionary worker of South China Church
Email: [email protected]
Fasting has become a part of the Christian life and I often fast for the Gospel mission, for the brothers and sisters detained in the jails of our motherland and all the more for the bloody persecution against the Christian belief by the Chinese government. No matter how insignificant my effort is, the occurrence of these man-made incidents has brought me pain for the horrible crimes against human rights in my motherland and for the sufferings of my innocent compatriots. What I usually do at this time is to fast and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ who rules the universe.
Ever since I learned of the establishment of the Association of Human Rights Attorneys, it has become the focus of my attention. It is like a bright light of hope flickering in the dark surface of the Orient and the light threatens to destroy the tyrannical and arrogant bureaucratic power and influence. It is exactly what I have been praying for for the Chinese rulers. At a time when human rights, human nature and the people’s conscience in China are getting lost in the current reign of hollowness and darkness, Jehovah has carried out his new project—the establishment of the Association of Human Rights Attorneys.
On February 3, 2006, I was deeply moved when I read the news on the hunger strike relay by the Association of Human Rights Attorneys. During lunch, a sister and I prayed earnestly in tears for this. We immediately applied through email and became its members. Though we have not yet gotten a reply to our application, I began my 24-hour hunger strike today and prayed in pain and gratitude as a Christian yearning for righteousness, human rights and in support of the Association of Human Rights Attorneys. I have had a similar experience before. That was on December 25, 2001, the Christmas universally accepted as a day of celebration. Yet, on this day, 17 leaders of South China Church were respectively sentenced to long imprisonment and to death because of their belief (among them, three were sentenced to death and two were sentenced to death with reprieve). It was the first time ever that I have truly felt how the ruthlessness of people’s desire for power leads to the sacrifice of human lives in my dear motherland from which I derive pride and honor.
Throughout the process from the arrest to the trial, I witnessed the barbarity of the so-called “People’s Police.” I was once almost tortured to death by their torture instruments. I heard and saw how my cellmates and brothers and sisters yell in extreme pains when they were tortured. There was no chance for us to discuss human rights. I heard their bellowing in extreme self-conceit, “We have received documents from our superiors that we are free to torture you. After you are tortured to death, we’ll just drag you out and bury the body. There is no place where you can file your grievances against us. Even if you want to file, no one will accept it. If you want to make up a story, you’d better make up a good story. Otherwise, I’ll take off your clothes and beat you up here. This is the world of the Communist Party. Do you know what it means to say “Those who comply with me shall thrive and those who resist me shall perish?”
If farmers in China are executed without referring to the law purely because of their spiritual belief, it would be difficult to assess how many ghosts of the wronged are buried in this yellow earth of China and we would like to know if there are still people in China with virtues and an ardent devotion to a righteous cause of God. At this time of sorrow, pain and tears when there is no place for us to file our grievances, waiting for death is not the only option for the underdog Christians. We have begun our 3-day hunger strike prayer before the God we believe in. We pray to God that He get involved in these unlawful and shameful incidents and change the hearts of the rulers! God has found a way to demonstrate his omnipotence—through China Aid Association, brothers and sisters all over the world and our friends from all walks of life. They have demonstrated God’s love and righteousness and have rescued three lives those of Pastor Gong and two others a brother and sister from the gun barrel.
This special experience has brought a special affection in me for the Association of Human Rights Attorneys. The long suppressed desires of over 1 billion compatriots of ours have finally pierced through the hollow and dark skies of China. God’s righteousness, honesty and compassion have found their exit in the China He loves. Let me give my salute to the Association of Human Rights Attorneys. I spent this day of hunger strike in prayers and work and I am feeling the obvious weakness in the body. However, it is my belief that because of the supplications from His sons and daughters, God will bring sane and lawful law enforcement personnel in China and that He will let every citizen and Christian there truly enjoy the rights defined by the law. May the true light of God disperse the darkness plaguing Chinese society. May the righteousness of God and the burning Holy Ghost rule the sky in China and burn away all the injustice and filth and rid China of its evils. May He bestow a society full of love and righteousness!
Attached here with this essay is a testimony on a case involving South China Church.
South China Church on Trial for the First Time
Since the year 2001, great persecution befell South China Christian Church. Common believers and co-workers alike were arrested and put to jail one after another in Hubei Province (Zhongxiang, Jingmen, Lichuan, Shi’en, Tianmen, Qianjiang, and Zaoyang), Sichuan Province, and Chongqing municipality. Most of the Christians arrested were transferred to the “special team for the case” for concentrated interrogations in Zhongxiang City and Jingmen City, Hubei Province. Some were sent to the labor camp, some received fines, and some others’ belongings were confiscated. Seventeen of us (Pastor Gong Shengliang, Brother Xu Fuming, Brother Hu Yong, Brother Gong Bangkun, Sister Li Ying, Sister Sun Minghua, Sister Xiao Yanli, Brother Dong Daolai, Brother Yi Chuanfu, Brother Qiu Chunyi, Brother Du Qingfeng, Brother Fu Shijun, Sister Cao Hongmei, Sister Xiang Fengping, Sister Liu Xianzhi, Sister Meng Xicun, and Sister Li Yingping) were detained at the No. 1 Detention Center of Jingmen City, Hubei Province as the “principal and important criminals” of the SCC case. We had been interrogated through torture for seven months, which were unspeakably horrifying. We had been struck with electric clubs, dragged in shackles, burnt with cigarette ends, hung up to be whipped, handcuffed in the “carrying sword” fashion, head soaked in water, and rounds and rounds of interrogations, which would last for two, three, five or eight days and nights. The “special team” would use all vile measures they could to force us into signing and fingerprinting the records, which they had made up for themselves. That was how they came up with the testimonies, which did not contain a word of truth. On December 7th, 2001, the Procuratorate of Jingmen City passed down the indictment papers according to the testimonies presented by the special team, and the case was heard in private session in People’s Middle Court of Jingmen City on December 19th of the same year.
Though we had barely survived the interrogations of the special team and saw with our eyes how the executors of the law were ignoring the law, we were still innocent enough to believe that the court was solemn, the judge just and uncorrupted, the lawyers caring for the rights of the citizens, and laws and human rights upheld and respected. We still cherished a hope in our hearts that there would be a just sentence for all of us.
After breakfast on December 19th, the seventeen of us, who had been detained there for six months, were called out by the police. Seeing the brothers had little clothes on, Xiao Yanli went back to the cell for some clothes, just to be yelled at by the officials. We received the indictment papers, and asked those in charge of the detention center to allow us to contact our family to hire lawyers. An official named Li Guang told us, “You are not allowed to do that. The court has appointed assistant lawyers for you.” We were shocked to learn that we had been deprived of the right to hire lawyers. So we could only write our defense speech. (The pens and papers were given to us under our protest.) There were many armed policemen there waiting at the door of the duty office. They told us to line up by the wall, and called our names. Each time a person answered, two policemen (a policewoman for the female believers) came up and handcuffed his or her hands from behind. We were escorted to four police cars. When we entered the yard of the court, we saw that our relatives had been there waiting to see us. As it turned out, the bailiffs yelled at them and pushed them backwards to the gate. Some were even kicked to the ground. The armed policemen escorted us from the cars, forbidding us to look back. We were pushed into a small detainment room at the gate of the court.
When we were taken to the court, the judge, jury, public prosecutor, lawyers, secretary and civil plaintiff had each taken their position. In the corner of the public gallery were some familiar faces of those who had interrogated us before. But our relatives were nowhere to be found. The armed policemen sat in a row behind us, each with a bottle of mineral water in their hands. We stood before the court in a row, with no seats to sit on. A camera videotaped us. After we took our positions, the judge ordered that the fetters be taken off. (But Pastor Gong was still in shackles.) Then he read the list of names of those in court. (Pastor Gong, Du Qingfeng, Meng Xicun, Xiang Fengping, Gong Bangkun had their own lawyers, but the others couldn’t contact their family and had assistant lawyers that the court had appointed. Qiu Chunyi, Cao Hongmei, Liu Xianzhi, and Li Yingping got no lawyers.) We all said no when he asked if there were anyone we would like to challenge. Then he asked if the resume of the defendants were based on the truth. Xiang Fengping and Liu Xianzhi said, “The time of detainment is not accurate. The fifteen days of interrogation before we were sent to the detention center was not counted.” The judge simply turned a blind eye to them.
Then the civil plaintiff read his plaint. Xie Dong the plaintiff (male, from Zhangxiang, Hubei) cursed the defendants out loud, but the court did nothing to stop him. After the civil hearing was over, the civil plaintiff was still sitting there while the court began the hearing of the criminal case. Pastor Gong, Li Ying, Sun Minghua, Meng Xicun, Li yingping, and Liu Xianzhi were kept in court for further trial, while the others were led out to wait for their trials.
The public prosecutor accused South China Christian Church of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization.” The reason was that South China Church had issued “cult” publications— the SCC periodical— held illegal gatherings, and illegal evangelizing. The public prosecutor accused Pastor Gong of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization,” and pinpointed him as a cult leader. The accusation went as following, “Gong Dali had been a Christian since childhood. Since 1983, he have been spreading the gospel and establishing churches in various provinces and areas. He started the publication of the SCC periodicals, and founded ‘schools of theology’, training and sending evangelists to various places for illegal evangelizing.” The public prosecutor accused Li Ying of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization,” pointing to her as the one responsible for the church affairs and evangelizing, contributing articles to the periodicals, and hosting various kinds of large scale meetings. The public prosecutor accused Sun Minhua of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization,” pointing to her as the one responsible for the financial management of the church, and undertook illegal evangelizing in various places. The public prosecutor accused Xiao Yanli, Xiang Fengping, Liu Xianzhi, Meng Xicun and Li Yingping of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization,” that they were typing, printing and issuing the periodicals, and were active in all kinds of gatherings. Liu Xianzhi was identified as the author of four articles. All this time the lawyers were laughing, talking, whispering to each other, walking around, and even eating snacks. After the public prosecutor had finished the indictment, the judge asked if the defendants and their lawyers had any objections to the accusations. The seven of us, as well as Fu Lang (Pastor Gong’s lawyer), He Dalin (Meng Xicun’s lawyer), Ma Jun (Xiang Fengping’s lawyer) all said, “Yes!” But Zhang Qiong (lawyer appointed by the court for Li Ying), Wu Xuesheng (lawyer appointed by the court for Sun Minghua) and Li Wanhai (lawyer appointed by the court for Xiao Yanli) all said, “No.” The evidence that the public prosecutor presented was copies of SCC periodicals and some material from the sermons, and read aloud a paragraph from an article The Recent Situation in the Small World in the first issue of the SCC Periodical. When the bailiffs showed the “evidence,” he was so impatient that he just cursed and swung them before us. He took them away before we could even see them. After the day’s hearings were over, the bailiffs handcuffed us from behind, and escorted us back to the prison. Our hope was disappearing after the hearing on the first day.
After breakfast, we were escorted again to the court for the hearing of the second day. Those accused of committing injury were led to the court, while the others were kept in the detainment room. The public prosecutor accused Pastor Gong, Li Ying, Gong Bangkun, Xu Fuming, Xiao Yanli, Yi Chuanfu, Dong Daolai, Du Qingfeng, Qiu Chunyi, Cao Hongmei and Fu Shijun of intentional injury. Pastor said, “I have nothing to do with committing injury. I have never injured anybody.” The public prosecutor said, “How do you explain your testimony at the police department?” He answered, “That was a trap by the Zhongxiang police. I have a paper to make the truth clear.” Then he took out two papers to hand in. Then the court asked each defendant, “Hu Yong the defendant, did you commit injury at the command of Gong Dali?” He replied, “No.” Then the judge asked all the ten defendants, “Did you report to Gong Dali after you committed injury?” They all said, “No.” The court produced the “evidence” of injury, which were just swung before the defendants. Some were not even taken to the accused to identify. Qiu Chunyi asked to see the photos, and said, “I don’t even know this person!” The bailiff slapped him, saying, “Behave yourself.” The court never showed any proof that the so-called evidences of injury were real. But the cameras were busy photographing the “evidence.” The assistant lawyers were indifferent, some even said, “No objection.” without even taking a look at them. The court confirmed the charges.
We had been standing through all the trials, and we felt too weak to go on like this, having been badly beaten during the interrogations. Pastor Gong would have to support himself by holding on to his knees. Finally he couldn’t make it any longer, and said, “Your Honor, I’m going to pass out.” Then he fell to the floor. The judge had to ask a bailiff to find a stool for him. When the court was adjourned, a bailiff walked up to Pastor Gong and said, “Gong Dali, behave your-fucking-self, don’t try to play possum!” After the hearing was over, we were too tired to walk. We had been standing for so long that the legs had grown numb. We had to move slowly out of the court. The bailiff urged us with a vicious tone, “Move your ass! I’m simply disgusted at the sight of you Christians!”
During the hearing on the morning of the 21st, the public procurator accused Pastor Gong, Li Ying and Sun Minghua of rape. When the court asked the accused if it was the truth, Pastor Gong strongly requested to confront the plaintiff. But the court refused, saying it had to do with privacy. Then Liu Xianzhi, Xiang Fengping, Meng Xicun and Li Yingping were taken to court. The judge asked, “Liu Xianzhi the defendant, the indictment holds the accusation against you that you have had sexual intercourses with Gong Dali. Is this the truth?” Liu Xianzhi answered, “No! The police staff held inquisitions by torture. They made up the whole story and forced me to make a fake testimony!” The judge said, “Be brief, just tell me yes or no.” Then he asked, “Li Yingping the defendant, the indictment holds the accusation against you that you have had sexual intercourses with Gong Dali. Is this the truth?” Sister Li Yingping said, “No.” Then he asked, “Xiang Fengping the defendant, the indictment holds the accusation against you that you have had sexual intercourses with Gong Dali. Is this the truth?” Xiang Fengping said, “No.” The judge asked again, “Meng Xicun the defendant, the indictment holds the accusation against you that you have had sexual intercourses with Gong Dali. Is this the truth?” Meng Xicun said out loud, “No!” The judge said, “Meng Xicun the defendant, you are held responsible for legal consequences if you bear a false witness in court. Is that understood?” Meng Xicun said, “Yes.” Then the public prosecutor brought out the bill of indictment used during the interrogations, saying, “There’s your own fingerprint on it! How do you explain this?” Meng Xicun said, “It was the result of the police staff’s inquisitions by torture. They employed vile means, tearing my blouse off, humiliated me, and coerced me into writing it. Your Honor, please make clear that I am innocent of these crimes!”
In the afternoon, all the defendants were brought to the court for the final statement. Pastor Gong spoke, “I thank the court for giving me the opportunity to make my statement. There are several points that I’d like to make clear. First, the South China Church is not a cult because it has a certain organization, a unified faith, fixed canons, and requires the believers to be the light and salt of the earth and law-abiding citizen.” The judge interrupted impatiently, “Gong Dali, be brief!” Pastor Gong continued, “Secondly, I have nothing to do with committing injury, the testimonies of which you have just heard from the other defendants here in the court. Thirdly, there is no plaintiff to charge me with rape, and there are no witnesses either.” The judge yelled at him, “No need to speak further. The court has convicted you of these charges.” When it was Li Ying’s turn, she said, “Your honor, my church is not a cult organization. The faith I hold onto is Christianity, not some cult belief. It holds salvation from the cross as the foundation, the great power of the Holy Spirit as evidence, the truth in the Bible as the standard, repentance as the requirement, and.” The judge interrupted her with an angry shout, “Li Ying the defendant! The court mind you, be brief!” So Sister Li Ying had to cut her statement short. She said, “I have nothing to do with committing injury. The testimony from the police was the result of inquisition by torture for five days and nights.” The judge said impatiently, “Li Ying, I warn you, what you have done has been made clear. The court has affirmed of these charges.” Same thing happened to Sun Minghua and Gong Bangkun, who had barely said anything when they stopped them. When it was Brother Yi Chuanfu’s turn, he said, “Your Honor, please take a look at the wounds I received while being tortured by the police.” Then he showed his two arms and legs. The legs of his pants were pulled up, and we saw the pus and blood running down his legs. All of us wept, while laughter was heard from the lawyers’ seats. The judge yelled, “Yi Chuanfu! Put your clothes down! Take control of your emotions!” Brother Yi complied unwillingly. He was about to continue when they stopped him. All the brothers on trial for the case testified that Pastor Gong had never incited or plotted injury, and that Sister Li Ying and Sister Sun Minghua had nothing to do with committing injury. But they were ignored in court. Not a single word they said was put down, while every word the public prosecutor said was recorded and affirmed.
When our lawyers pleaded for us, the court made clear that we had been convicted as a cult, and that there needed nothing to be said about that. Many times the judge interrupted the lawyers, giving them warnings that the time was limited, and that only the articles of the legal evidence could be presented, not the contents. When Li Wanhai, Xiao Yanli’s lawyer was defending her, the bailiff went to him and said, “She’s no relative of yours. What are you saying such a whole lot of stuff for?” Then when He Dalin, Meng Xicun’s lawyer was defending her, the bailiff came up again and said, “Why are you trying so hard to help her? How much money has she paid you? Cut it short!” The public prosecutor came up with a vehement refute of our lawyers, but the court gave no chance to the latter to make their defense again. What was more absurd was that Chen Wangxin, the lawyer of Brother Hu Yong, who had been sentenced to death, never showed up on the third day. It was not until the afternoon of the second day did Wu Minhua, the lawyer of Gong Bangkun come.
Finally it was the defendants turn to make their statements. Pastor Gong said in a heavy tone, “Please be more lenient to my students.” The bailiff said contemptuously, “You are so damn fake.” and moved the microphone away. The rest of us all said one sentence too. The bailiff said impatiently, “Shut up, we knew it already.” The armed police sitting behind us all complained, “How come they still don’t call it a day? We are starved. It seems that they are going to wrap it up in three days instead of four. In this case we can enjoy our two days’ rest as usual.”
When the hearing was finished, the seventeen of us all still handed in a paper of statement that we never got chance to say, as well as the truthful account of the inquisition by torture, in the faintest hope that it could bring a change to the case.
The three day hearing was wrapped up just like that. We were totally disillusioned by the court. The hope for a second Daniel was all gone. After we went back to the lockup, we just felt the sky and the earth all darkened. We just had a heavy heart and teary eyes. Lord, you are the only one we could depend on.
On December 23rd, Jingmen Middle Court sent a secretary and a bailiff to Jingmen Prison with a record of the trial for us to sign. We were ordered to stand still by the wall, and sign our names one after another. When we requested to read the content before signing, the secretary said, “Read for what? Everything here was what you folks said in the court.” Liu Xianzhi said, “Who knows what you have recorded?” The bailiff yelled, “There are so many of you! You are wasting my time! Sign it and I’ll read it to you altogether later.” Those who were a bit slow received blows. When it was Brother Qiu Chunyi’s turn to sign, he also requested to read it. The secretary gave him two strikes as an answer. All seventeen of us signed, waiting for them to read the record to us. However, they just swaggered off with the record under the arms.
Then it was the night of December 29. All of us were in bed when the door was thrown open with a bang. An official told us to dress and get out. Then we were led into the yard, not knowing what had happened. There we saw many familiar figures standing in the dark corners. The bailiffs ordered us to squat with our hands covering our heads. We were escorted by two bailiffs one after another into an interrogation room. The light in the room was extremely strong. After we went in, two bailiffs would twist one’s arm behind the back, and press the head down before a camera. A judge in civilian clothes announced our sentence. Then we were ordered to sign, put our fingerprint on the paper, and notify if we were making an appeal. We were escorted to do these things, one after another. I could hear the announcements from the interrogation room, “Gong Dali the defendant€¦is sentenced to death, and deprived of all political rights. Xu Fuming the defendant€¦is sentenced to death, and deprived of all political rights. Hu Yong the defendant€¦is sentenced to death, and deprived of all political rights. Li Ying the defendant€¦is sentenced to death with a respite of two years, and deprived of all political rights. Gong Bangkun the defendant€¦is sentenced to death with a respite of two years, and deprived of all political rights. Sun Minghua the defendant€¦is sentenced to life-long imprisonment, and deprived of all political rights. Xiao Yanli the defendant€¦is sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. Xiang Fengping the defendant€¦is sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. Yi Chuanfu the defendant€¦is sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Dong Daolai the defendant€¦is sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Li Yingping the defendant is sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment. Meng Xicun the defendant€¦is sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment. Du Qingfeng the defendant€¦is sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment. Qiu Chunyi the defendant€¦is sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment. Cao Hongmei the defendant€¦is sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment. Fu Shijun the defendant€¦is sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. Liu Xianzhi the defendant€¦is sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment.”
We felt as if it was a death notice. The court we had hope in still made the sentences according to the one-sided accusations in the bill of indictment, ignoring the pleadings of the lawyers and our testimonies, defenses or arguments. We wouldn’t resign; instead, we would make a further appeal. But the officials of the lockup wouldn’t give us any pens or paper, even when we asked the policemen for them. We had limited time. If it went on like this we wouldn’t be able to appeal at all. We made the request again and again till finally a policeman threw down several papers and words, “It won’t be of any use.” We handed in the appeal anyway, waiting for a change to the case.
On June 4th, 2002, the People’s High Court of Hubei Province checked the hearing. Then on September 23rd, about 9 p.m., we were informed that notice for the retrial from the Middle Court of Jingmen City was to be issued to us. When I was in the duty office, and was about to sign my name on the paper, a political advisor of the inmates asked a question, looking confused, “Why are you always coming at night to give them the materials?” Hearing this, they just dodged the question, saying, “We have a lot of other work to do.” We read that on the notice was written the reasons for retrial, “The true situation of the case is unclear. There was also a lack of evidence. The procedure of the hearing for civil charge was totally illegal.” We were informed that the retrial would be held on October 9th, but we were given no bills of indictment.
After breakfast on October 9th, 2002, the seventeen of us were escorted to the Middle Court of Jingmen City, just as the previous time. The judge, public procurator, lawyers, and civil plaintiff were all in their positions. The defendants sat in a row, with a bailiff behind each of them, while the public gallery was all empty.
The public procurator, the Procuratorate of Jingmen city still used the bill of indictment before December 5th, 2001, and still maintained that Gong Dali, Li ying and some others were guilty of “disrupting the execution of the law by organizing and employing a cult organization,” committing injury, and rape. The wording was ambiguous and confusing. Two lawyers, Yang Dunxian and Zhao Guohong asked the public procurator to present the evidence to prove what they claimed, “South China Christian Church is a cult.” They took out a document issued by the Publishing Bureau of Hubei Province, and copies of SCC periodicals, saying, “The inside front cover from the 9th to 12th issue have the words ‘the banner of salvation upheld by SCC’. We can see the ‘tenets of SCC’ from the 14th to 17th issue. Also we can find the hidden words ‘four treasures’ in the 18th issue. These are the most powerful evidences.” Yang Dunzian argued that the document wanted formal procedures, signatures and seals; therefore it had no legal power. He also said that he went to the related government departments for the documents, which had never said SCC was a cult. He also listed articles of the law, proving that the accusation could not stand. The three lawyers Yang Dunxian, Qian lieyang and Chen Zhikai firmly held both the law and the facts, and pleaded not guilty for Gong Dali, Li Ying and Sun Minghua. The other accused also testified that Gong Dali had not plotted or commanded the injury, that he had nothing to do with it, and that Li Ying and Sun Minghua knew nothing about the injury. The public then came up with the accusation that the seventeen of them were a criminal organization, that they were all principal criminals. The lawyers were totally unexpected of this charge. Two lawyers, Zhao Guohong and Yin Qiaohong argued on what a criminal organization was, the nature, and the aim. As for SCC, its aim was to believe in Christ. Their committing injury had a certain background. Since the bill of indictment accused them of revenge though injury, then how come they came up with another charge? The public procurator had nothing to say to that.
As for the charge of rape, the public procurator never said a word about the charge. The judge never asked, “Gong, have you raped so-and-so?” There was neither the plaintiff nor legal testimonies, but only the oral testimonies from the police department, which was accomplished by inquisition through torture. Yang Dunxian urged the court to present the evidence and witnesses to call to account, but the judge ignored him. He didn’t even call the chief witness to court. He simply deprived the rights off the lawyer of the defendant, while allowed the witnesses from the public procurator side to yell in the court.
The four of us (Xiang Fengping, Liu Xianzhi, Meng Xicun and Li Yingping) were kept in the detainment room during the first hearing. Two policewomen said in surprise, “Why aren’t these people in court? We have heard that four were to be released. Are these the ones?”
When it was finally the defendants’ turn to make their statements, the seventeen of us all proposed to the court that just judgments should be given, base on the truth and measured by the law. Brother Yi Chuanfu showed everybody in the court the wounds. Eighteen months had passed, but the wounds were still festering. Before Brother Yi Chuanfu could say anything, he had already burst into tears. The lawyers present were all shocked to see this, and let out heavy sighs. Then Sister Sun Minghua, Sister Cao Hongmei, Sister Xiang Fengping, Sister Li Yingping and Sister Meng Xicun all testified again that they had never had sexual intercourses with Pastor Gong. Liu Zianzhi said in tears, “The police got the testimony through nothing but torture. They even pulled my bra off by force.” Mr. Qian addressed the judge immediately, “I’d like to call the attention of the court to what this girl had said. Please take heed to the inquisition by torture.”
The hearing was almost to the end by noon of October 10th 2002. We were very confused: was the rehearing wrapped up just like that, within one and a half days? It was more of a formality than the previous one. We had thought it would take at least four days or even a week, if all the procedures were faithfully observed. We had never expected the case, complicated and involving several lives would come to an end within one and a half days. We were filled with doubt when we recalled the hurriedness from September 28 when we received the notice of rehearing, the retrial held so soon on October 9th (with a week’s National Day holiday). We were filled with worry about the outcome.
In the afternoon, we were brought to court. Everything appeared to be the same, but we had no idea what the next step was going to be. Then the judge spoke out loud, “All stand up!” So everybody stood up. The entire court was in silence. All we could hear was each others’ breath. Then the judge took up the verdict paper and announced, “€¦Gong Dali the defendant is guilty of committing injury thus receives sentence life-long imprisonment. He is also guilty of rape, thus receives the sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. The court’s decision is life-long imprisonment, and the deprivation of all political rights. Xu Fuming the defendant is guilty of committing injury, thus receives the sentence of life imprisonment, as well as deprivation of all political rights. Hu Yong the defendant is guilty of committing injury, thus receives the sentence of life imprisonment, as well as deprivation of all political rights. Li Ying the defendant€¦15 years’ imprisonment. Gong Bangkun€¦15 years’ imprisonment. Sun Minghua the defendant€¦13 years’ imprisonment. Xiao Yanli the defendant€¦10 years’ imprisonment. Qiu Chunyi the defendant€¦3 years’ imprisonment. Du Qingfeng the defendant€¦3 years’ imprisonment. Cao Hongmei the defendant€¦2 years’ imprisonment. Fu Shijun the defendant€¦2 years’ imprisonment. Meng Xicun, Liu Xianzhi, Li Yingping and Xiang Fengping shall be released.”
After that, the seventeen of us were escorted to four cars. The four sisters that had been released were taken too, but not handcuffed. When the car went out through the gate, the relatives of the four sisters rushed up to receive them. But the bailiffs drove them away with electric clubs. However, the four of them were handcuffed as the car went along the way. The bailiffs simply said, “We are performing our duties.” Within half an hour after they arrived to the lockup, the four sisters who had been released received notifications for three years in the labor camp from the “Office of Reeducation through Labor.”
On October 11th, the People’s Middle Court of Jingmen City delivered the verdict papers to the seventeen of us. We asked the judge, “Since there is no evidence for the accusations, why have we been sentenced according to that anyway, and such heavy ones?” He said, “The superior has agreed on it. There was nothing we could do.”
Though this time no one had to die, it still was not what the SCC case should be like. Therefore, seventeen brothers and sisters handed in bills of appeal, just for a just answer.
On October 16th, 2002, some policemen from Jingmen Police Department escorted Xiang Fengping, Meng Xicun, Liu Xianzhi and Li Yingping to Shayang Labor Camp to receive “reeducation through labor.” On October 22nd, the High Court of Hubei Province affirmed the original judgment. On November 25th, the verdict papers were delivered to Xiang Fengping, Li Yingping, Meng Xicun and Liu Xianzhi in the labor camp, which said they had been released. On December 2nd, people of the Detainment Center escorted Li Ying, Sun Minghua, Xiao Yanli and Cao Hongmei to Wuhan Women’s Prison to serve their terms, Pastor Gong Shengliang, Xu Fuming and Hu Yong to Jingzhou Prison, and Dong Daolai, Yi Chuanfu, Gong Bangkun, Du Qingfeng, Qiu Chunyi, and Fu Shijun to Jiangbei Prison.
The case of South China Church had stirred up millions both at home and abroad, and was wrapped up just like that. All that was left in our hearts was but a series of question marks.
The accused of the SCC case:
Li Yingping, Liu Xianzhi, Meng Xicun, Cao Hongmei and Fu Shijun
Note: This account is what the five of us had witnessed in court. This hearing was held in a private session. All those not directly related were not in court. So what had been put down was but a small part of the story.
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