A 72-year old South China Church leader from Yunyang County, Chongqing City, was recently beaten, and crippled while in prison, according to China Aid Association sources.
In a statement released by the Chinese Aid Association (CAA) on March 29, it was reported that Chen Jingmao was beaten by prison guards as punishment for leading 50 prison inmates to the Christian Faith. During the beating, both Chen’s legs were broken and he was so severely injured that he now requires assistance in daily activities. Fellow believers must now carry Chen to go to eat and to go to the toilet. The source told CAA that during Chen’s beating the guards said “his action, of bringing others to Christianity had brought shame upon the Communist Party.”
Bob Fu, president of CAA stated, “This news is heartbreaking. The sentence was unjustified, and the brutal beating illegal, and inhumane, especially to a 72 year old man.”
Chen was arrested on July 9, 2001, and was sentenced to four years by the People’s Court of Yunyang County, Chongqing City, on May 14, 2002. The official charge was “using an ‘evil cult’ to obstruct the law,” referring to his association to the South China Church. His crime was described in the official court verdict paper as “active recruitment of evil cult members”, “organizing secret illegal religious gatherings numerous times” and “distributing the evil cult propaganda materials – ‘Salvation and China,’ ” a South China Church magazine. The main piece of evidence used against Mr. Chen was sending his granddaughter to a Sunday School teacher’s training in 2001.
Nine other House Church leaders from the South China Church were sentenced along with Mr. Chen. Because of their involvement in organizing the Sunday School teacher’s training their sentences similarly ranged from three to eight years in prison. According to his church leaders, since his conversion in 1991, Mr. Chen was previously arrested twice; once in 1999, and then again in April 2001 for his accused “illegal evangelistic activities.”
CAA is calling upon the international community to raise the issue of violation of various International Human Rights Laws, including the International Covenant for Children’s Rights which guarantees the rights of children to receive religious education, and guarantees the rights of parents, or legal guardians, to choose what type of education their children should receive; this includes non-public school, religious education, and moral education. Also the brutal beating is a direct violation of Chinese Prison Law, which guarantees a prisoner’s rights to protection from beatings.