CHAPTER 4: The Aftermath and AppealsOnly five days later, on November 30th, the five remaining pastors in detention, who were not formally charged or given a trial, learned of their dire fate—two years arbitrary Re-education through Labor for each. The families of Yang Caizhen (wife of Yang Xuan), Ms. Yang Hongzhen, Mr. Li Shuangping, Ms. Gao Qin (also known as Gao Fuqin), and Ms. Zhao Guoai all signed the notification of sentence papers, even though no notices of arrests were ever given (a violation of Chinese criminal law).
Yang Rongli returned to the Taiyuan Detention Center, with her husband, Wang Xiaoguang, and Cui Jiaxing, Yang Xuan, Yang Caizhen, Yang Hongzhen, Li Shuanping, Gao Qin, and Zhao Guoai all returning to the Yaodu Detention Center in Linfen City, with Zhang Huamei held in poor condition at Yicheng County Detention Center.
The families’ outcry for these ten Linfen church believers was immediate. Each family immediately agreed to file for appeal, with only Cui Jiaxing, under pressure from the government, being represented by a state lawyer instead of his former defense. Nine appeals have been filed, though several lawyers have were barred from meeting with their clients. In recent weeks, the condition has worsened for many.
Zhang Huamei has still not been allowed to meet with her lawyer Zhang Kai to sign the file for appeal. Having been re-routed to the detention center, to the courts, to the local government, and back, Zhang Kai fears her to be in grave danger. Reports of severe beatings continue to circulate. According to a witness, Ms. Yang Caizhen was seen being beaten severely during an interrogation. Having had one of her front teeth knocked out during a beating, and fasting and praying during her detention, Ms. Yang is reported to look very fragile.
The Linfen Church case is one of the most severe cases of persecution against Chinese house churches, in both sentence and widespread impact, in the last decade. ChinaAid will continue to follow the developments of the appeals, and advocate on the Linfen leaders’ behalf.