(Guiyang, Guizhou—Nov. 15, 2017) The pastor of a serially persecuted house church in China’s southern Guizhou province received a summons to court, ordering him submit evidence on Nov. 20 and appear in court the next day for a hearing.
Huoshi Church Pastor Su Tianfu sued local municipal and district religious affairs bureaus after the government refused to conduct a court hearing reconsidering the Nanming District Religious Affairs Bureau’s decision to fine him and Yang Hua, a pastor at the church who is currently imprisoned, 7 million yuan [$1,020,200 USD]. On Nov. 8, he received a court notice informing him that a hearing will be held on Tuesday, and that all evidence will be submitted to the court on Nov. 20.
Last May, officials ruled the 7 million yuan Huoshi Church received as donations from its church members constituted “illegal income,” and fined the two pastors the entire amount, even though they contended that the money was freely given by their congregation and spent only on church-related costs. They also argued that the money belonged to the church, not them, so they should not have to personally bear the fine.
When Su accompanied his lawyer, Yan Xin, to file the lawsuit, government employees demanded that he first remove the sections of the suit that contained religious commentary. Otherwise, they refused to file the suit, so Su complied.
Yang also attempted to file a lawsuit, but it was not accepted because he did not remove the portions of it that discussed religion.
Yang is currently serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on a falsified “divulging state secrets” charge after he tried to prevent officials from confiscating a church hard drive.
Since its founding in 2009, Huoshi Church’s numbers swelled at a rapid rate, quickly making it the largest house church in Guizhou’s capital, Guiyang. Even though its leaders routinely reported the church’s activities to the government and took great care to comply with all Chinese laws regarding privately-run churches, authorities eventually targeted it, subjecting it to multiple raids and its members to detention and arrest.
ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Su and Yang, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.
ChinaAid Media Team
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