By Qiao Nong, Carolyn Song, and Ava Collins
China Aid (30.08.2016) – http://bit.ly/2chbuhp – Five Christian detainees in China’s coastal Zhejiang were suddenly released on Aug. 28 after four months in prison. Local sources believe the release came because of a government order in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit meeting in Hangzhou.
Ji Qingcao, Ji Qingcou, Ou Jinsi, Mei Xueshun, and He Lijing are members of Yazhong Church who were arrested last April on the charges of “obstructing government administration” and “disturbing public order.”
Beginning on September 25, 2015, a group of people, including the five prisoners, came into conflict with authorities while protesting a planned demolition of Guankou Church. Over the next year, many of those involved in the protests were detained or arrested for various reasons, of which the April arrests were the latest.
“A few days ago, I’d heard that [the five Christians] had been released in the past few days,” a Wenzhou Christian told China Aid’s reporter. “I feel like the government is trying to pacify the people before the summit meeting. Since the summit meeting will be held here [on September 4], the government begins to worry that they have detained the Christians for too long. The local government was concerned about petitions organized by the family members, thinking higher officials would pressure them.”
Though the five from Yazhong Church have been released, Wen Xiaowu, the leader of a house church in Rui’an is still being held and has not been heard from since his arrest on April 15. Wen was detained with his wife, Xiang Lihua, and their son, on the charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after travelling to meet with diplomatic officers at the American Embassy in Shanghai.
China Aid raises awareness for prisoners of conscience in China who are detained unlawfully like Wen Xiaowu, and works to secure the releases of detainees such as the five Christians of Yazhong Church.