Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In jail since
2001, Pastor Gong Shengliang,
leader of the evangelical South China
Church (SCC), is dying in prison as a result of torture and lack of care. The
news was reported by his daughter Gong Huali, who
recently sent an open letter to
President Xi Jinping, to demand her father's release. "My
father - the text reads - was arrested because
of his faith in Jesus Christ.
When he was arrested, he suffered many savage
tortures. He was imprisoned in a very damp area for the first two years, which
led to severe rheumatism and gastroenteritis".
The government banned the SCC in 2001, defining it an "evil cult", condemning pastor Gong to death for launching attacks against the state. Due to pressure of several international organizations, the court did not carry out the sentence. In 2002 the judges succeeded in framing Gong accusing him of raping other prisoners and sentencing him to life imprisonment. In these 10 years, his health has deteriorated due to constant torture. According to the daughter the prison officials have never provided any medical assistance.
At the time of the Gong's arrest, the SCC had over 50 thousand faithful scattered throughout the country. In a few months, the authorities carried out multiple arrests, incarcerating more than 500 religious leaders and seizing their property. In these 12 years, thousands of members have been harassed, beaten and forced to pay fines for clandestine meetings.