|Yang Hua poses with his family in an undated photo.
(Photo: China Aid)
By Brynne Lawrence
(Guiyang, Guizhou—March 26, 2016) Authorities in China’s southern Guizhou province allowed the lawyers of an incarcerated pastor to meet with their client on Wednesday after multiple denied requests.
On the morning of March 23, the local Procuratorate phoned Chen Jiangang and Zhao Yonglin to inform them that their requests to meet with Yang Hua—a pastor of Huoshi Church who has been arrested and charged with “divulging state secrets”—had been granted. According to Yang’s wife, Wang Hongwu, they met with him later that afternoon. Previously, officials had not allowed them to meet with Yang.
Zhao reported that although Yang had lost some weight and missed his family, he seemed mentally peaceful.
Wang told China Aid that officials had not tortured her husband in an attempt to force him to confess; however, she learned that they repeatedly said, “We know we cannot change your beliefs. However, we control everything and can completely succeed in painting you as a greedy pastor, causing you to lose all of your reputation.”
Government personnel charged Yang with “the crime of obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and sentenced him to five days in administrative detention for each charge on Dec. 10, 2015. When Wang arrived at the detention center to collect her husband on Dec. 20, she witnessed his head being covered in a black hood as officials forced him into a vehicle without a license plate. She learned that his charge had been changed to “illegally holding state secrets,” and that he had been criminally detained. On Jan. 22, the Procuratorate authorized Yang’s formal arrest, changing his charge to “divulging state secrets.”
China Aid reports cases such as Yang Hua’s in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.