Chinese church members sentenced

Tue 16 Sep 2014
By Joy Tibbs

Two more members of the Nanle County Christian Church in Henan Province have been found guilty of "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order". 

They were detained in November 2013 after a group of church members attempted to petition a higher authority about a land dispute involving the church.
 
Zhang Cuijuan has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison, while Zhao Junling has been sentenced to a year in prison with a reprieve of two years, during which he will be kept under surveillance.
 
According to China Aid, the hearing took place a day earlier than planned, meaning that Zhang Cuijuan's lawyers were unable to attend.

Anti-persecution group Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling for their release.

CSW chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: "The sentences given to Zhang Cuijuan and Zhao Junling highlight the many irregularities in the cases concerning the Nanle Church detainees.

"Lawyers who should have been present were given inaccurate information to prevent them from attending.

"Meanwhile, the Church itself is still under heavy surveillance.

"We urge the authorities to cease all restrictions on the church, to immediately review the sentences given to Pastor Zhang, Zhang Cuijuan and Zhao Junling, and to ensure Li Cairen's unconditional release."

CSW claims one other Nanle Church detainee, Li Cairen, remains in detention. Her whereabouts are unknown.

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