(Guiyang, Guizhou—April 20, 2017) The wife of a gravely ill pastor imprisoned in China’s southern Guizhou province informed ChinaAid that her husband’s condition is improving, but not optimistic.
Wang Hongwu and her youngest son recently visited her husband, incarcerated church pastor Yang Hua, who contracted a critical illness while serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on a trumped up “divulging state secrets” charge. After their meeting, she said:
“We were forced to hang up only after 10 minutes of conversation. One of Yang Hua’s inmates laid him on his back and carried him to the meeting room. Although he still couldn’t walk, I could tell that the infections on his legs were under control, and the festering was also beginning to heal. His mental condition was good. Yang Hua cried when he saw his younger son, but we didn’t cry. We were so happy and full of gratefulness and peace.
“Yang Hua is a new prisoner, which means that only immediate family members are allowed to visit him, and only once a month. The government is paying a lot of attention to Yang Hua. We were surrounded by police officers when we were chatting. He will stay in the [prison in Baiyun, Guiyang] for two-and-a-half months, and then he will be transferred to another prison.”
Yang was previously hospitalized after inflamed ulcers appeared on his legs and spread rapidly, robbing him of the ability to sleep and walk. Initially, the detention center’s doctors told him they were merely pus sores and gave him only painkillers. The lack of proper treatment allowed the disease to spread. He was transferred to a hospital, where physicians diagnosed him with anaphylactoid purpura and said his condition was critical and had a myriad of possible side effects, including septicemia, alimentary tract hemorrhaging, and kidney damage.
After her visit, Wang reported that her husband’s condition, while improved, is still not optimistic.
Officials originally took Yang into police custody on Dec. 9, 2015, after he attempted to save one of his church’s hard drives from being destroyed in a raid. The next day, he was sentenced to two five-day sentences, one for “the crime of obstructing justice,” and the other for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” However, when Wang came to collect him on his scheduled release date, Dec. 20, 2015, she saw him hooded and forced into an unlicensed vehicle. She learned that he had been transferred to a new detention center for “illegally possessing state secrets.”
On Jan. 22, 2016, Yang’s charge changed a fourth time, and he was officially arrested for “divulging state secrets.”
For more than a year, Yang remained in custody without a trial and underwent torture as the prosecutors assigned to his case threatened his wife and two sons in order to force him to confess. Subsequently, he requested that the prosecutors be removed from the case, but he was ignored and tried on Dec. 26, 2016. In an act described by ChinaAid president Bob Fu as “barbaric religious persecution,” he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on Jan. 5, 2017.
ChinaAid follows Yang’s case in order to expose abuses occurring within China, stand with persecuted Christians, and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.