Bao Shuguang, a senior leader of The Church of Almighty God from Shandong, was picked up by authorities in June last year. She and four other church leaders were handed lengthy prison sentences this October.
Established in 1991, The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is one most targeted religious movement in China. Many believers and leaders have been persecuted in the past two decades after it was officially designated as a xie jiao in 1995. According to article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, being active in a xie jiao organization may result in a prison sentence of three to seven years. However, the authorities are stricter on CAG, and many members of the Church receive lengthier sentences. At present, the longest prison term received by a CAG leader is 14 years.
Bao Shuguang comes a close second with her 13-year sentence. She was arrested last year in June, along with Jiang Xingmei, Bai Lanxiang, Chen Hong, and Gu Liya. All five of them are senior CAG leaders and instrumental to the church.
Their trial was held in October by the Intermediate People’s Court of Zaozhuang in the eastern province of Shandong. Ms. Bao was charged with “organizing and using a xie jiao organization to undermine law enforcement” and sentenced for 13 years in prison. She has also been deprived of political rights for four years and fined 130,000 RMB (nearly 19,000 USD).
The other four leaders have also been stripped of their political rights, but a year shorter. Gu Liya will spend 11 years in prison and pay 110,000 RMB (nearly 16,000 USD), the others will be incarcerated for 12 years and pay 120,000 RMB or (17,000 USD approximately) in fines each.
A member of the Church was also sentenced during the trial. Charged with the same crime as Ms. Bao, the believer was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 50,000 RMB (or a little over 7,000 USD).
Between April and October this year, the Communist Party regime has arrested at least 3,000 CAG believers across China. Many of those arrested were detained again merely due to their previous record as members of the CAG. Church leaders are often tortured in secret during interrogations and while serving their heavy prison sentences.
Reported by Jiang Tao