12/03/2019, 13.37
CHINA
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Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu: arrests, convictions, violence

Arrested a year ago, Rev Wang Yi, the pastor who leads the community, is still waiting for his trial. He could get ten years in prison. At the end of November, one of the community's elders, Qin Defu, was sentenced to four years. The adopted children of a Christian couple have been taken away because “trapped by an evil religion”.

Chengdu (AsiaNews/ChinaAid) – The Early Rain Covenant Church, an evangelical home church based in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, continues to be targeted by the authorities.

About a year ago, on 9 December 2018, police arrested 100 members of the unofficial community, including its leader, Pastor Wang Yi, his wife and their child.

Most were released but Rev Wang was charged and is set to go on trial at a date that has not yet been set.

Defined by many as "the bravest" religious leader in China, he slammed China’s new regulations on religious activities, introduced in 2018, as a means to stifle religious freedom.

The clergyman also criticised the developing cult of personality of Chinese President Xi Jinping after local branches of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association started forcing Christians to place his picture inside churches, often on altars.

According to the latest report, the pastor appears to be in good physical and mental health, but his lawyer, Zhang Peihong, has never been allowed to meet him.

His wife Jiang Rong and young son Joshua are under house arrest in a flat in Chengdu. They are occasionally allowed to meet family members, but she is forbidden to talk about her husband and their situation.

Last Friday, one of the community's elders, Pastor Qin Defu, was sentenced to four years in prison. The authorities said that he would be released if he accepted a state-appointed attorney. Instead he was convicted of "illegal business operations". The "operation" in question was the Church’s 20,000 books.

Rev Wang said he too was involved with the use of those books. This is why his friends expect him to receive no less than ten years in prison.

Meanwhile, ant-Christian persecution is increasing, affecting believers even in their private life.

Officials, including Director Li of the Chengdu Municipal Police Station, forcibly took four legally adopted kids from the Pei Wenju-Jing Jianan family and sent them to different foster homes.

The authorities said that Pei and his wife’s adoption papers were not valid since the kids were “trapped by an evil religion.”

In late November, the family received an eviction order from the police and the water at their residence was shut off.

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