To my understanding, this is the situation :
- The trial of Linfen house church leaders in Shanxi province, China, was held from 9:00 AM to about 10:00 PM on November 25 (Beijing time), lasting over 12 hours
- Linfen Fushan Church is a 50,000-member mega house church network in Linfen and the surrounding villages in northeastern China
- The trial came after a massive raid by police and hired security guards on Fushan Church on September 13. During the pre-dawn raid, reportedly 400 people in police suits raided and destroyed buildings on the Good News Cloth Shoes Factory property, where the Fushan Church is located. The raid was one of the worst crackdowns against a house church in the past decade, according to CAA (China Aid Association) .
- During the September 13 raid men tore at the building’s foundation with shovels as bulldozers worked to level other buildings on the site. Church members sleeping at the construction site of the new church building were reportedly attacked with bricks and other objects, according to CAA. Several members were seriously injured and were sent to the emergency room.
- Following the raid, Yang and other church officials attempted to travel to Beijing to protest the destruction of their church to the central government authorities. However, they were arrested and detained during their trip.
- The case presented to the court as a result of their arrest was tried on November 25. The court's conduct throughout the trial caused many to question if the government had decided upon the verdict and prepared it in advance. There were only two 20 minute breaks for recess, and only four family members of the convicted prisoners were allowed to be present during the trial. Government prosecutors showed over 1000 pages of so-called "evidence materials" related to this case, but the defense lawyers were only allowed to review about 50 pages before the trial to prepare their defense. The six Christian rights defense lawyers, including renowned Attorneys Li Fangping and Zhang Kai, were said to present a satisfactory defense of the innocence of the five church leaders.
- Pastor Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli's son was able to briefly chat with his parents during one recess time near the bathroom outside the court room. Sister Yang and Pastor Wang encouraged their son to stand firm in his faith in Christ. Yang and Wang have led the Fushan church for more than 30 years.
- The verdicts were severe and were announced immediately following the trial. Two criminal charges were used-- the crime of "illegally occupying farming land" and "disturbing transportation order by gathering masses." Sister Yang Rongli received 7 years severe sentence for both charges; Pastor Wang 3 yrs for the first charge, brother Yang Xuan, 3 and a half years, and Cui Jiaxing earned 4 and a half years for the first charge; Sister Zhang Huamei was found guilty of the second charge, and sentenced to 4 years in prison.
- "To punish an innocent house church leader with 7 years imprisonment is the most serious sentence since 2004 when the senior Henan house church leader pastor Zhang Rongliang received a similar length, " said CAA President Bob Fu. "We strongly condemn these unjust sentences, which are based on trumped-up charges. This case clearly shows the serious deteriorating situation of religious persecution in China. We call upon the Obama administration and international community to speak up unequivocally in its concern about this case."
How do you think the Obama administration will respond to this serious situation of religious persecution in China? Do you think America should respond to these type of situations? Who, in your opinion, should be responding to religious persecution?