On the day of his trial, police blocked the road in front of the court and members of the public were barred from entering, according to China Aid. Yang’s wife, Wang Hongwu, was also “forcibly escorted” back to her apartment and police patrolled outside her home the rest of the day. She has said Yang plans to appeal the sentence.
Pastor Yang Hua, also known as Li Guozhi, was formally arrested on 22 January 2016 on suspicion of “divulging state secrets”. Charges relating to “state secrets” are often levelled at activists and dissidents and can entail certain restrictions, such as family members not being allowed to attend the trial. Yang had been placed in administrative detention in December 2015 for “obstructing justice” and “gathering a crowd to disturb social order”, before being put into criminal detention for “illegally holding state secrets”. Church members see this as part of an attempt by the authorities to pressure the church into registering with the state-sanctioned religious association, the Three Self Patriotic Movement, or face closure.
In September 2016 Yang Hua’s lawyers revealed that he had suffered from serious health conditions as a result of his ill-treatment in detention.
Living Stone Church, an unregistered Protestant church with over 700 members, has experienced increasingly repressive measures by the authorities. A “Rectification Order” received by the church on 18 November 2015 from the Nanming District City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau stated that the church’s use of a commercial building was illegal and gave the church three days to respond or incur fines. An application by the church for a reconsideration of the penalty notice was rejected by Guiyang Municipal People’s Government, and several church members have been detained or fined in connection with the case.
- That Pastor Yang Hua’s health will improve and that God will help him endure the many hardships he faces
- That justice will prevail and that the deeds done by wicked men will come to nothing
- That although the church is without her pastor, the church will remain united in Christ and set their goal to gain the prize for which Christ has called them heavenward
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide