The pastor of a major Chinese evangelical church and his wife have been sentenced to one year “re-education through labor” for “engaging in illegal religious activities,” trial observers confirmed Wednesday, July 1.
Advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA) told Worthy News that Pastor Dou Shaowen and his wife Feng Lu of Rock (Panshi) Church in Zhengzhou city of Henan province were sentenced to a labor camp.
However his wife has meanwhile been released to serve her sentence at home to care for her 12-year-old daughter, CAA added. “She is required to report to the Public Security Bureau regularly, and could be sent to labor camp again if she is found ‘engaging in illegal religious activities’,” the group explained.
The couple plans to appeal the verdict. “Attorney Li Dunyong has traveled to Zhengzhou city to represent Pastor Dou and Feng Lu for the Administrative Review and Appeal,” the group said.
Pastor Dou Shaowen and his wife Feng Lu were detained June 14, when several dozen security officials from broke into the church’s Sunday worship service, Christians said. Officials allegedly forcibly photographed and videotaped the more than 100 Christians present, cut off the electricity and forced the Christians to leave.
“Finally, the authorities posted sealing tape from the Bureau of Religion, sealing off all the worship areas of Rock Church,” CAA said.
Five other Christians,identified as Li Zhemin, Wei Jianhua, Zhang Julin, Ma Jianbo and Li Cuiying were arrested with Pastor Dou and Feng Lu and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention. They were reportedly also forced to pay fines of up to 900 Yuan each ($132).
The case comes amid a reported crackdown on unauthorized worship services in several parts of China, a Communist-run nation where authorities say Christians are free to gather within state-backed denominations.
CAA said it had urged its supporters to contact authorities and demand the release of the Christians. It said Zhengzhou’s Mayor could be reached via phone: +86-371-12345, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Zhengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau could be reached via +86-371-66228710, the group said.