Court of Appeal in Lincang, Yunnan, confirms heavy prison sentences for Christians accused of being members of a banned movement they insist they never heard of.
On May 3, 2018, Bitter Winter reported that house church Christians in Yunnan were being arrested and sentenced under the false accusation of being active in the Three Grades of Servants, a new religious movement founded in the late 1980s in Henan by Xu Wenku (1946–2006), and reduced to a handful of followers after the founder’s capture and execution. The Three Grades of Servants (三班仆人 San ban puren) are included in the list of xie jiao, “heterodox teachings” banned in China. Being active in a xie jiao is a crime punished by article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code with a jail penalty of three to seven years “or more.”
China Aid has now published English translations of decisions rendered by the Court of Appeal of Lincang, Yunnan, in several cases of Christians accused of being active in the Three Grades of Servants. The decisions show that the defendants insisted that they do not even know what the Three Grades of Servants are and had never heard the name of the movement before being arrested. Any material of the Three Grades of Servants police found in their homes, they claimed, should have been planted by the police officers themselves. Notwithstanding this vigorous and persuasive defense, the Court of Appeal just upheld the lower courts’ decisions, and confirmed the application of Article 300, with jail terms up to 13 years.
Falsely accusing house church Christians of being active in a xie jiao seems to be a new strategy in China to crack down on any form of Christianity independent from governmental control.
Source: China Aid
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).