|Yang Hua (right) with fellow pastor|
Su Tianfu (left). (Photo: China Aid)
Reported in Chinese by Qiao Nong. Translated by Carolyn Song. Written in English by Brynne Lawrence.
(Guiyang, Guizhou—March 1, 2016) A house church in China’s southern Guizhou province recently learned that the criminal investigation into a church member is nearing completion and will soon be submitted to the local court for trial.
Authorities detained Zhang Xiuhong, an accountant and the chairwoman of the deacon committee at Huoshi Church in Guiyang, on the charge of “illegal business operations” on July 28 after she allegedly used a cash register in her beauty shop to withdraw church funds. She was formally arrested on Sept. 1.
In early August 2015, officials froze the bank accounts of three church members. According to Su Tianfu, a pastor at Huoshi Church, the authorities used Zhang’s alleged offense as an excuse to freeze the accounts, claiming that they were connected to Zhang’s case.
The local procuratorate recently informed the church that its investigation into Zhang’s case will soon be sent to the local court, where she is expected to stand trial in early March.
“Her lawyer will plead not guilty for her,” said Wang Hongwu, the wife of another Huoshi Church pastor, Yang Hua.
Yang was criminally detained on Dec. 9 and arrested on Jan. 22 on suspicion of “divulging state secrets.” According to his wife, lawyers have not been permitted to meet with Yang.
Additionally, the government imposed a fine on the church, which accumulated to 110,296 Yuan (U.S. $16,800) from Nov. 22–Dec. 8, for illegally using its building to hold religious services, even though the church members claim they reported all religious activities to the government.
When the church refused to pay the fine, officials raided a weekly service on Jan. 9 and filmed different areas of the church. On Jan. 19, the church received a notice stating that, if they failed to pay the fine within 15 days, the current amount would increase by three percent per day.
China Aid exposes religious freedom abuses, such as those experienced by Huoshi Church, in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China.