China Christians jailed for being members of an “evil cult”
Authorities near Lincang city in the southwestern Yunnan province jailed six Protestant Christians on 18 January for up to 13 years, accusing them of “using an evil cult to organize to undermine law enforcement.”
The Yun County People’s Court handed out a 13-year jail sentence to Ju Dianhong; 12 years to Liang Qin; and four years to Yang Shunxiang. Shorter sentences were given to Zhang Hongyan, Zi Huimei and Zhang Shaoca.
They were accused of being part of a controversial group called the Three Grades of Servants, which the government has been cracking down on. The accused have denied being members, and have said they will appeal the sentences. Almost 200 Christians in the province have been detained and falsely accused of being members of the group.
During her trial, Ju told the court: “I am a Protestant Christian believer, and I believe in Jesus. None of my evangelism has contravened any of the principles in the Bible, and my beliefs do not constitute an evil cult.”
Authorities are now turning their attentions to the detainees’ defence lawyers. Their licences to practice law will be subject to review on suspicion of “illegally” defending their clients.