Source: China Aid and CESNUR
Date: May 3, 2018
China Aid has reported that on April 24, the Dali Intermediate Court in Dali, Yunnan, ruled that Christians Tu Yan and Su Min had participated in the Three Grades of Servants, a religious institution listed as a xie jiao by the Chinese government. Tu received a two-year sentence, while Su was sentenced to a year-and-a-half under the provisions of the Chinese Criminal Code, which make being active in a xie jiao a crime. More than 100 Christians have been arrested in Yunnan in 2018 with the accusation of being members of the Three Grades of Servants, with several of them already sentenced under Article 300 to jail terms up to 13 years.
The Three Grades of Servants are a new religious movement founded in the late 1980s in Henan by Xu Wenku (1946–2006). Xu was arrested in 2005 and confessed having ordered several homicides. At trial, he claimed that his confession was obtained through the use of torture, but was sentenced to death and executed in 2006. Scholars believe that the movement either disappeared or was reduced to a handful of followers in the following years.
This makes the claims by those arrested in Henan, that they have never even heard of the Three Grades of Servants, and are just members of ordinary House Churches, believable. China Aid also agrees with this version of the incidents.
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Bitter Winter plans to report 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 plan to 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).