A Chinese pastor who has been imprisoned for the past ten months for allegedly divulging state secrets is now suffering from failing health, a persecution watchdog has revealed.
China Aid, an organization dedicated to exposing human rights abuses in China, reports that pastor Yang Hua, one of the pastors of Huoshi Church in Guiyang, the capital of China's southwestern Guizhou province, was recently discovered to be suffering from liver pain along with various other serious diseases.
According to Yang's lawyers, Chen Jiangang and Zhao Yonglin, the pastor was incarcerated nearly a year ago after he attempted to prevent authorities from confiscating one of the church's hard drives. Officials accused him of the "crime of obstruction of justice" and "gathering a crowd to disturb social order," and sentenced him to five days in administrative detention for each charge. On December 20, the day he was scheduled to be released, his wife received an official notice stating that he had been transferred to criminal detention on suspicion of "illegally holding state secrets."
During his imprisonment, prosecutors reportedly visited the pastor twice, applied pressure to his feet, and repeatedly threatened to kill him and harm his family members if he failed to confess his supposed crimes.
After obtaining this information, the lawyers sued the prosecution team, accused them of "using torture to extort a confession," and requested that the prosecution receive legal repercussions.
Despite his bleak circumstances and uncertain future, Yang recently penned a letter to his wife, encouraging her to stand firm in the Holy Spirit and continue to pray for his persecutors.
"After this period of time, my spiritual life will be even more distinctive from the song that says 'A crowd flooded into my kingdom, but they did not want to bear the cross.' You can sing the song," he wrote.
"Let the words of God make you stronger," the pastor added. "You must always pray. Do not live in weakness and confusion; this is Satan's scheme. Be full of the Holy Spirit and leave spiritual predicaments. Seek [to fulfill] all of the Lord's decrees. Remove all of the negative thoughts and voices from your life."
He also spoke about the benefits of his prison experience, writing, "This is a good place to rest, where I am cut off from the rest of the world and brought closer to God."
According to the annual report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, China has 68 million Christian adherents and nearly 25 million Muslims. Their persecution, reports USCIRF, is part of a "deliberate and unrelenting crackdown on human rights and dissent" of any kind.
Because of the China's "long-standing trend of religious freedom violations," USCIRF has recommended the country be designated a "country of particular concern," or CPC, for its systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses.