CHINA: Authorities on High Alert for Evangelist’s Trial

15 May 2024

Source: ChinaAid

The case of Chen Wensheng, who was charged with “organising and funding illegal gatherings,” was tried in the Hengyang City, Shigu District People’s Court on the morning of 18 April 2024. Several black-clad security guards pushed away Chen Wensheng’s supporters who wanted to enter the court to attend the hearing, not even allowing them to approach the court.

On 1 September 2023 Chen Wensheng was arrested for years of street evangelism and has been deprived of his freedom for seven and a half months. On the morning of April 18, the police mobilised a large number of personnel to block the roads outside the court. There were only about a dozen seats in the public gallery, and except for Chen’s wife, son, elder brother, and sister-in-law, the remaining seats were all occupied by people of unknown origin. Chen Wensheng’s second brother was unable to enter, and his 86-year-old mother was restricted from coming by the community and had to stay at home. The trial lasted only an hour.

Chen Wensheng was prosecuted under Article 290 of the Criminal Law for “illegally organising and funding illegal gatherings.” The procuratorate recommended a sentence of less than three years with severe punishment, and no sentence was announced in court. Chen Wensheng stated that he would appeal regardless of the verdict.

Chen Wensheng’s relatives, friends, and other concerned Christians arrived at the entrance of the Shigu District People’s Court at around 7am on 18 April. At that time, there were already police cars at the entrance, and there were about 40 black-clad ‘special police officers’ nearby, as well as staff from various departments, totalling more than 70 or 80 people, with strict security. The entire street where the court is located was blocked off under the pretext of a “drill.” Christians from Chen Wensheng’s concern group were driven away when they arrived at the main entrance of the court. Although they were pushed and expelled by the police, the Christians showed patience and calmness. Christians from Hengyang City who wanted to attend the hearing were also jointly dissuaded by relevant departments. On this day, Hengyang mobilised at least a hundred people to deal with this trial.


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