Wang Yi, who
leads the Early Rain Church in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, has been
sentenced to nine years in prison following his conviction on charges of
‘inciting to subvert state power’ and ‘illegal business operations’.
Early Rain Church Facebook page
links to a court statement
and states that Pastor Wang Yi has been jailed for “proclaiming the gospel”. It
also states that in addition to his nine-year prison sentence, the pastor is
also deprived of his political rights for three years and has been fined 50,000
RMB (approximately 7,100 USD).
Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns the sentencing of Pastor Wang
Yi, who has been convicted on baseless criminal charges simply for standing up
for his beliefs. We call on the Chinese authorities to drop the charges against
Pastor Wang and to release him and all remaining members of Early Rain Church
Wang was detained
along with over 100 other members of Early Rain Church on 9 December 2018, in a
large-scale crackdown by the authorities. In August the UN Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention adopted the opinion that the detention of Pastor Wang and his wife Jiang Rong, who has
since been released on bail, was arbitrary.
Wang criticised the government’s policy towards unregistered or independent
churches (sometimes known as “house churches”) like Early Rain, and the revised
regulations on religious affairs, introduced that year, which tightened the
state’s control over religious activities, increasing the pressure on
unregistered churches to either register or disband. He was detained overnight
on 11 May 2018 and accused of “picking quarrels and
causing trouble” after authorities detained or removed over 200 members of
Early Rain Church in order to prevent them from holding a prayer vigil for
victims of the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008.