Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) will represent a Chinese Christian man in his legal battle to obtain asylum in the United States after being persecuted for his faith in China.
The Christian man, named Li Xiaodong of Ningbo, China, was denied the asylum application by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit Aug. 9 under the Convention Against Torture Act.
According to statement released by ADF on Aug. 29, Li was a member of an underground evangelical Christian church, which gathered believers at his home on Sundays. Li was arrested and interrogated at length by the local police that year for holding an illegal church service.
The Chinese police tortured Li physically, labeling him as a "reactionary," the ADF statement noted. He was handcuffed, beaten, forced to kneel, and hit with a police bar. The police then jailed him for five days and forced him to clean public toilets without pay.
After obtaining a visa, he left China in the same year, fearing further torture and imprisonment.
Under the existing Regulations on Religious Affairs of China, the government only allows worship in "official" state-sanctioned churches. However, millions of Catholics and evangelical Christians in China refuse to join these churches and attend unauthorized gatherings, often in private homes, placing them under the threat of arrest and harassment.
Although the U.S. Court noted that Li's case reflects "that the Chinese government ... [has] harassed, interrogated, detained, and physically abused members of unauthorized religious groups,¡¨ it still denied Li¡¦s asylum application
Now, after the court ruling, Li faces deportation to China where he will be imprisoned for two years under the charge of illegal practice of faith.
In response to Li's case, ADF Chief Counsel, Benjamin Bull, said in a statement, "In one of the most egregious religious persecution cases coming out of China in recent years, we will seek review of the case by the full 5th Circuit, and if denied, appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court."
"The three-judge panel erred as a matter of law and as a matter of human rights," stated ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman, Li's attorney.
"This is one of the most clear-cut cases imaginable, and the torture and persecution for merely being a Christian are undisputed. We just hope that fear of embarrassing China did not play a role in this terrible decision."
According to the 2003 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics prepared by the Office of Immigration Statistics, 407 out of 4,750 cases of asylum application from China were responded to in the fiscal year 2003 and 2,024 requests for asylum were granted during the year.
ADF is America's largest legal alliance defending religious liberty through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. The alliance was launched in 1993 by the leaders of more than 30 ministries including the late Dr. Bill Bright, the late Larry Burkett, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, and the late Marlin Maddoux.