Beijing (AsiaNews/ChinaAid) – A Protestant clergyman was sentenced to a year in prison for opposing the removal of the cross from his church. A court in Wenzhou (Pingyang County, Zhejiang province) convicted Rev Huang Yizi (pictured) yesterday for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.
The clergyman had been arrested on 2 August 2014 after he and some of his parishioners tried to stop police from removing the cross form the Salvation Church in Wenzhou.
In Zhejiang province, local authorities have tore down at least 400 crosses from officially registered places of worship as well as demolished some churches.
For local Christians, the local government is trying to stifle the growth of Christian communities, whose numbers have been steadily rising across the region.
The cross was removed on 21 July. Huang and his parishioners tried to stop it, but were beaten back by force. During the scuffle, 14 protesters suffered injuries.
Huang then tried the legal route and hired lawyers to sue the police for violating China’s constitution. This is probably why he was arrested in early August of last year and later convicted.
During the trial, some 500 of his supporters crowded outside the Pingyang County courthouse.
Yizi Huang is the first person to be convicted for opposing the cross demolition campaign.