(Suqian city, Jiangsu—Jan. 23, 2012) A Chinese house church pastor and vice president of the Chinese House Church Alliance sentenced last summer to a two-year labor camp term was unexpectedly released last Friday and is now home, ChinaAid has learned.
The legal basis for the early release of Pastor Shi Enhao is not yet known, but his case was No. 3 on ChinaAid’s list of 2011’s Top 10 Cases of Persecution of Churches and Christians released last Thursday, Jan. 19. (See http://www.chinaaid.org/2012/01/chinaaid-picks-2011s-top-10-cases-of.html)
On March 4, 2011, while preaching in Nanyang, Henan province, Pastor Shi was seized by officers from the Suqian Municipal Public Security Bureau and religious affairs bureau officials who had made a special trip to Nanyang to take him into custody. He was brought back to Suqian and detained, getting beat up in the process. On May 31, 2011, Shi Enhao and some of his co-workers were formally arrested by local authorities, and he and a lay leader, sister Chang Meiling, were sentenced to 12 days of administrative detention. On the night of June 1, Shi’s residence was searched by more than 10 people who confiscated books and documents. Immediately upon his release on June 12, Shi was put into police detention. In July, he was sentenced to two years in labor camp. Afterwards, police confiscated 140,000 yuan (US$22,160) of offerings to the church, along with a church vehicle, musical instruments and the church choir robes. Police also verbally threatened Shi’s three daughters and sons-in-law.
ChinaAid welcomes the early release of Pastor Shi Enhao and also the Jan. 12 release on parole of sister Tian Hongxia. ChinaAid urges the authorities to uphold the policy of freedom of religion and also release Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Beijing house church leader and church rights activist Fan Yafeng, and Xinjiang Uygur house church leader Alimujiang.
Source: China Aid, International Christian Concern