02/08/2007, 00.00
CHINA

Three years in jail for denouncing destruction of churches

Liu Fenggang, 48 years, a Protestant leader, was condemned for denouncing the destruction of unofficial places of worship. The court decided he had “revealed state secrets”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A well-known unofficial Protestant pastor, Liu Fenggang, has been released after three years in prison. He was arrested for denouncing the destruction by the Chinese government of Christian places of worship. His release was reported by the China Aid Association (CAA), a US-based non-governmental organization that lobbies for religious freedom in China.

Liu, 48 years, returned home to Beijing on 5 February. He had been arrested on 13 October 2003 in Hangzhou as he was visiting the leaders of some house churches that had been destroyed. He was convicted of spreading news about the destruction that was considered to be a “state secret”.

During his detention, the pastor was hospitalized five times for serious cardiac problems and diabetes. Liu had already spent two years in a laogai (camp of rehabilitation through work) in 1995 for his work in house churches in the capital.

Immediately after his release, the Christian leader said: “I am very thankful of God's grace and the prayers and letters from brothers and sisters all over the world. My mom died during my first imprisonment in 1995 and my little son [pictured with Liu above] grew without me during the past three years.”

And yet, he added: “The suffering my wife and son had to endure is nothing compared to the martyred brothers and sisters in China. I will continue to stand up for this just cause for which I am called, to speak up for the persecuted."

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