Rev Wang Yi denied legal assistance

The prosecutor in Sichuan Province, who is preparing the case against the Christian leader, suddenly informed lawyer Zhang Peihong that his client no longer wanted to be represented by him. The pastor is one of the most influential Chinese dissidents, and has always preached peaceful civil disobedience.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Authorities in China’s Sichuan province have prevented the lawyer of Early Rain Covenant Church pastor Wang Yi from meeting his client in prison.

The clergyman was arrested on 14 December 2018 on charges of "incitement to subvert state power”.

"This morning, the prosecutor that I've been dealing with this whole time called me and told me that they didn't approve me as Wang Yi's lawyer," said Zhang Peihong told Radio Free Asia. "The reason was some things I had written [online].”

Zhang previously posted on Facebook, which is banned in China, that he wouldn't be writing updates about Wang "in order to secure the right to defend him."

According to some members of Wang’s Early Rain Covenant Church, an underground domestic Church (i.e. not recognised by the government), the authorities are behind this situation.

The clergyman was taken into custody in Chengdu, Sichuan. The police raided the Church arresting about a hundred people, members of the congregation and seminary students.

Wang's wife was also detained and later released on bail a few months ago. Some of those arrested and later released accused the police of rape and abuse whislst in custody.

Unlike many underground Protestant Churches, Early Rain Covenant Church openly practises its faith, including posting sermons and material online. It evangelises on the streets, and has a seminary to train future pastors and a primary school for 40 children.

Wang also wrote a well-known essay in which he criticised the authorities for their ruthless control over religions and urged Christians to peacefully resist and disobey the authorities.

The community has about 500 members and 300 sympathisers. It is not new to arrests and raids. In June 2018 the Church’s headquarters were closed because the community wanted to hold a funeral service to remember the people killed in the Tiananmen massacre.

Some members were arrested two months ago because they were evangelising in the streets, near the Chengdu station.