A Christian pastor in China has been sentenced to one year in prison for defending churches where Chinese authorities removed crosses from church property.
The People’s Court in Pingyang County sentenced Huang Yizi. He was convicted of “gathering crowds to disturb social order," the New York Times reports.
In July 2014, Huang joined with local residents to ask the Pingyang County government why more than 50 people were beat when they tried to stop police from removing a cross at Salvation Church in Pingyang.
Huang’s congregation and other supporters, numbering about 500 people, met at a government building after the clash to demand answers. Huang was then arrested.
The government removed crosses and even took down some church buildings in 2014, claiming that they violated zoning policies. According to reports, several hundred crosses have been removed.
Huang’s lawyer has said that he will appeal.
"Through arbitrary arrest, baseless prosecution, and illegal procedures throughout the trial, this case shows once again the worsening situation of religious freedom and rule of law in China,” said China Aid founder and president Bob Fu. “We call upon China's higher authorities to overturn this unjust decision and free Pastor Huang immediately."
Publication date: March 25, 2015