Heavy jail penalties are sought against Christians who purchased “legal” Bibles from the Three-Self Church but distributed them “illegally” as part of house church activities.
by Fang Yongrui
In the last month of March, Bitter Winter reported about the case of Wang Honglan and other twelve Inner Mongolia Christian believers, who were arrested for selling “illegally,” meaning as part of the activities of a house church not controlled by the CCP, Bibles that had been regularly printed by a government-authorized publisher.
On May 9, 2023, Wang and other defendants should have appeared at the Huimin District Court of Hohhot City, Inner Mongolia.The court tried to rely on a pre-trial conference of March 20, which the defense lawyers regarded as held without them and irregular. Finally, the court agreed to reschedule a second pre-trial conference for May 8. However, when Wang’s attorney arrived in court on May 8, he found that nobody was there and there was no conference.
According to prayer requests circulated through the national network of house churches, this case is under the direct jurisdiction of the Inner Mongolia Public Security Bureau, which humiliated and threatened the defendants when they were interrogated, and tried to harass their lawyer as well.
The main “crime” the defendants are accused of is to buy in bulk Bibles from the Nanjing government-controlled Three-Self Church and resell them at a discounted price to local Christians in need.
They are now also accused of “collusion with foreign forces” as they accepted donations from a private overseas Christian called Peter Chang to support their distribution of Bibles. The prosecutor is seeking a jail penalty of 15 years for Wang.
The lawyers for the defendants have denounced several procedural irregularities. The trial continues.