China: 'Seven Christians stand trial on false cult charge'

Christian Li Chunyu, who stood trial April 27 on a falsified cult participation
charge, sits behind bars. (Photo: ChinaAid)

Posted at ChinaAid:

(Chuxiong, Yunnan—April 8, 2018) A court in China’s southwestern Yunnan province tried seven Christians falsely accused of cult participation on April 27 and forced many of them to fire their lawyers.

Liu Wei, Li Yunxiu, Hu Yuxin, Li Chunyu, Yao Jiaping, Zhong Yonggui, and Li Wanhong, all stood trial in Chuxiong, Yunnan, in late April, combatting charges of “organizing and using evil cults to disrupt law enforcement.” Authorities alleged that they participated in the Three Grades of Servants group, a religious organization the Chinese government regards as a cult, because they openly practiced their Christian faith. Li Guisheng, the lawyer hired to defend Li Wanhong, said officials coerced several of the defendants to fire their lawyers right before the trial and replace them with government-appointed lawyers. “Out of the seven defendants, originally only Hu Yuxin’s family said they did not want a lawyer. The others all had lawyers. Now, only three people have agreed to be represented by lawyers from outside [the government]. One is Liu Wei, one Liu Yunxiu, and the other is Li Chunyu. The others all accepted officially-appointed lawyers.”

Li Guisheng was one of the fired lawyers. He continued, “Lawyer Wang Yajun is ready to take over my job and defend Li Wanhong. Li Wanhong is a young woman born in 1994. Her parents are Christians. She is considered a primary defendant in the case. In the beginning, we communicated very well, and she told me that she didn’t commit any crimes. In the past four months, however, the court sent a notification to the detention centers, preventing the lawyers from meeting with the clients. In February, I went to visit my client at the detention center, and the guards blocked me.”