(Guiyang, Guizhou—June 30, 2017) Following an inconclusive hearing, officials in China’s southern Guizhou province issued a notice to two church pastors re-stating that they must pay an exorbitant fine.
After a long series of persecution, including arrests, detentions, the torture of a pastor, and the closing of their meeting place, Huoshi Church pastor Su Tianfu received an administrative penalty notice on June 27, which charged the church a 7 million yuan fine ($1,020,200 USD), saying that the donations the church has received since its founding are “illegal income.” It also falsely charged Su and Yang Hua—a fellow Huoshi Church pastor who was wrongly convicted of “divulging state secrets” and is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison term—with establishing unregistered religious sites, organizing religious activities without permission, and acting as pastors, despite the church’s meticulous care to report all of their events to the government and follow the law.
Su first learned of the fine on May 19, when officials unexpectedly arrived at his door and handed him the first administrative penalty notice, which was almost identical. In response, the church contested the fine in a court hearing on June 9. The hearing was conducted by an official previously involved in collecting false evidence against Huoshi Church and suppressing the congregation. Su and his two lawyers requested that he be excluded from the hearing, but the court ignored their requests, and the two sides did not reach a consensus.
Because the hearing’s results were inconclusive, Yang’s wife, Wang Hongwu, said the June 27 notice came as a surprise.
According to Su, the church used their donations over the years to cover operating costs does not have enough money to pay the fine.
This event follows on the heels of Su being arbitrarily charged with “divulging state secrets” on May 12. The investigation into his case is ongoing.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those inflicted on Huoshi Church and its members, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law in China.